Bruce C , May 09, 2007; 02:53 p.m.
First, I'm no Nikon expert, but that's actually good because you need to focus on understanding and using your XT, not on how your friend's D70 works -- that puts you in the position of learning two new camera systems at the same time, and the results so far aren't good.
You seem to understand the AF Modes fine. The metering modes are a little less obvious:
"Evaluative" is just that -- the camera's built-in intelligence analyzes the whole scene and sets the exposure based on what Canon has taught it. For now, I suggest you stick with this setting until you find out exactly how it works and doesn't work for you.
"Partial" meters the central 9% of the scene and sets exposure to make that come out a mid-toned value. Use it when the background is much lighter than the central portion.
"Center weighted" uses the whole scene, but gives priority to the center part. In effect, this mode is intermediate between "Evaluative" and "Partial".
As I said, just stick to evaluative for now until you feel you know how it works and doesn't work for you.
Now, about your initial question: Exactly what displeases you about your results? If you can post a sample, that will make things much easier.
However, shooting close-ups is NOT the best way to start photography. If you are able, go outside and take some pictures. Or shoot inside, maybe using the pop-up flash. Chances are a substantial portion of your shoots will be fine, and that will give you both experience and confidence.