That's sort of a lie.
I talked to Ravi at Microsoft for a few hours on Sunday and didn't manage to get the damned thing working right. Reinstalled Windows XP Pro -- again, this is the release-day version -- and got the activation issue handled, but I couldn't do a GD thing with the machine because of a can't-find-entry-point error of some kind. Ravi made an appointment for Tuesday night at 9 for a next-level guy to call.
So Sanjeev and I hacked at the thing 'til 1am. I re-re-installed XP, applied SP2, he ran the remote helper thingy, ran a script to give me explicit superduperuser access to my own PC, used microtweezers to extract the shattered remnants of Norton Internet Security from the PC ... and it looks like it's back to a working state. Sort of.
Now I can get to the desktop and all my stuff appears to be there.
But it's hard to be sure because my mouse no longer works! None of the USB works! Okay, this'll probably be easy to fix -- I'm going to try uninstalling all the USB drivers, rebooting and hope XP smartens up on awakening.
After all this, I'm thinking of doing a thorough backup, making a list of all the programs I actually use, and wiping the whole C: clean to start fresh.
That, and try this Ubuntu thing I read about in a computer magazine I borrowed from my dad.
It's hard for me to hate Microsoft when they've borne about 9 hours of long-distance charges from India to help me. In reality it's probably Symantec's fault that Norton Internet Security put a poison deathgrip on my registry when I uninstalled it the first time.
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