yeah, before you start a new game, go to game settings and turn off pirates, its not a patch add-on or anything, i played the retail version for about 6 months before i updated and i could always turn offf pirates.
other thing, set enemy AI to easy, maybe play a multi-star map to give you some time to develop at your own place (Derelict is good, thats what i played my first game on... it has 2 stars and a wormhole (i think)... i actually moved a fleet to a planet next door to my home planet, saw the militia there and got scared because i thought it was the enemy (it was a desert planet) so i retreated until i had a much bigger fleet than necessary... haha, loved that first game)
also, set AI behaviour to foritfier or economist, those two are the least dangerous, as they will rarely attack you and, if they are on easy, their fortifications will be easy to break. When playing TEC i always go for an Akkan and 5 Cobalts, then tech up (as in, build sufficient military labs to research LRF) to Javelis frigates. that will usually work for a few planets, but regardless, the more planets you take the more ships you need to defend it.
Lastly, as TEC there are a few things you need to research, when you get two civilian labs. Modular Architecture, Expedited Permits, Volcanic and Arctic Exploitation (two different upgrades) and Orbital Commerce (Trade Ports). You will usually want to research them in this order, though depending on if you have ice or volcanic planets close to your home world, you will want to research those as soon as possible.
Lastly, when you colonise planets, you need to do two things: you have to upgrade the planets infrastructure (the first button top left when you click on planet upgrades) until its maxed or at least until you are breaking even (underdeveloped planets cost you money). The second thing is you have to remember to build extractors at all your planets with resource asteroids, otherwise you wont get resource income. there is a setting in the menu that sets extractors to auto-place (as in, click the button and they will be placed and built automatically), i suggest you enable that, it just saves time.
other than that, just read the info for each piece of research, determine if its worth diverting resources and giving up building another ship, plan well, and never over extend yourself (once for an experiment, i researched alot of fleet supply (the thing that lets you build more ships, which has its own taxes on your income. this is another thing you shouldnt research until its absolutely necessary) and colonised about 4 planets without upgrading infrastructure, i had 700 credits and maybe 300 metal/crystal, and i was actually losing money out of my coffers.) so be careful when you expand.
sometimes, you can expand to a good chokepoint by destroying all militas along the way, but not colonising the planets, move to the chokepoint, colonise that, then work your way backwards at your leisure.