Wow! you are doing your home work. I just have a little sujestion on charts. Those small time frames will put a lot of stress on you.
You might start of with H4,D1 charts. To much noise in small time frames.
I trade 15min, it's a good balance between scalping and trading, I find the larger the time frame the larger the capital required to maintain money management rules (in my case) and usually equals less trade executions. A must for your bookshelf is - statistics (nothing major required, just intro stuff), as well as probability theory (this will help a lot when it comes to money management and position sizing and placement).
As to Brokers, I am with Alpari UK. Low spreads, no commissions, and extremely helpful (touch wood - I usually praise companies on good service, only to have them turn bad the next month, so let me rephrase - 'extremely helpful and friendly thus far' ;-))
Platforms are more dependent on broker than personal choice, most brokerages make use of MetaTrader and proprietary platforms linked to specific account types. I would suggest picking your broker first, then see what platforms they offer.
Side note: You WILL use an EA eventually, don't think of it as an automated trader, think of it as a helping hand (auto stop loss, close out runaway negative orders...) whatever the case, it doesn't have to only open trades to be useful.
For every loss there should be at least an equal and opposite profit.