serious noob question, but i'm following my android book and it is doing something with a class that extends list activity. is that a file that i have to create on my own, or is that provided once i create a new android project? i can't seem to find it.

ListActivity will be automatically receognized by IDE if you used proper import statement and should be auto-suggested once starting to type. If this is not case you did not setup your environment for Android development properly