I'm trying to boot the install from either a usb or cd with the iso file on them, as per umbutu install page. I set my bios to first boot from them ahead of hard drive. When I try the usb it just goes to a black screen with a small cursor blinking in the corner. When I try the cd I get the same thing and then it boots windows. What am I doing wrong?
It sounds like you've copied the ISO image to the USB stick and CD.
You need to create a bootable CD/USB stick rather than simply copy the ISO image.
There are instructions on the Ubuntu web site explaining how to create bootable media.
Scroll down to
2 Burn your CD or create a USB drive and click on
Show me how.