So we did finally get the computer up and around again (as you can probably tell...), after much difficulty. We had upgraded the OS to Windows XP Pro (thanks to the generosity of my brother) after the registry got corrupted, but that seemed to cause us no end of heartache. Most of the problems were due to much of the software and drivers coming pre-installed and only wanting to work with the pre-installed XP Home. While I have no doubt that a more tech-savvy person than ourselves could probably figure out how to fix our problems, we chose the simple solution: System Recovery Discs.
After we reset everything back to square one, it was only a matter of setting up all of our preferences again and reinstalling the rest of our software. We've still got a few things left to install and update, but otherwise we are much better off now than before the computer went belly up initally. We did go out and pick up an external hard drive to back-up everything before we did the big re-install, so now we won't have to worry so much about Windows hiccuping and losing all of our data.
So now we're weighing our options as far as possibly getting a new computer. Jenny got this Sony Vaio that we're using about 4 years ago, and it's held up pretty well. It really just needs a better graphics card and a lot more RAM to bring it up to the speed we want, but I'd like to get a second computer to run graphics applications and possibly use as a gaming machine as well. After all the problems we've had with Windows recently, I've been debating switching over to Mac, but I don't know if it'd really be worth it (especially with all of the software we already have for the PC). Eh, it's a moot point right now, since we really don't have the money to drop on a new machine anyway. Actually, now that we've got a copy of XP Pro we're currently not using, it might be more financially advantageous to pick up a bare bones machine sans OS and pre-installed anything and build it up from scratch But I don't know if that's really a project that I want to invest the sort of time that it deserves right now.