Welcome and I haven't seen your friend. If I find him I will be sure to UPS him to your place of residence, though.
No idea how long you will need to patch, that depends on your interwebs connection.
Here are Ravensteins top 20 tips for STO:
1. Realize this is a game and do not take it too seriously. Ever. If someone is a jerk in game, realize this is just a game. If you get killed in PvP, realize it is just a game. Do not let your life become this game.
2. Chat bites.
3. Sulu is in the Admiral's Office, Egg is in the middle of Earth Starbase, and Romaine is at Memory Alpha.
4. Be excellent to each other.
5. Pikes on the outside, muskets in the middle, cavalry on the flanks. I think this somehow applies to Star Trek Online...or maybe that is a late medieval battle strategy...
6. I choose you, Piplup!
7. Ravenstein is not only brilliant, sexy, and funny, she is also you superior officer.
8. You get to the next rank by getting to level 11 in your current rank and spending all your skill points.
9. Plan ahead. There is a limit to how many skill points you get.
10. There is no tip number 10
11. Kill Phil, sorry Phil.
12. If you see a Klingon smiling, something is wrong. Be on your guard.
13. When in doubt, have faith in the Emperor. Ships and soldiers can win wars, but faith alone can overturn the universe.
14. Use energy weapons to take down enemy shields, then use photon torpedoes.
15. Shoot down those big green torpedoes!
16. Play with your power settings and adjust them as needed during a fight. Pay attention to them.
17. Space skills first, then ground skills.
18. You can transfer power from strong shields to weak ones by clicking on the shield facing or by pressing the appropriate arrow key.
19. Cruisers will outlast the enemy, science vessels will use tricksy skills to win, and escorts just beat it as had as they can as fast as they can. Forget about tanks, healers, and dps specialties.
20. Memento Mori.
These tips were compiled after months of rigorous datamining during beta and launch and arranged for maximum tipability.
You make a good fleet by speaking with the Fleet Ambassador and bribing Ravenstein with cake.
You make energy credits by selling stuff you don't need to one of the officers in a Starbase or on the exchange. Remember, lower you price the item, more likely it is to sell. And for the love of the Emperor, don't price common items much above the list price. I am sick of seeing Mk II phasers on sale for 50,000 credits when they can be bought from the Weapons Requisition Officer for 1,000.
Merits are earned by completing missions. These are used to requisition new officers and train new skills on said officers.