Hi all - thanks for the additional advice. I was skiing yesterday, and recovering today (From skiing not NYE) . I haven't been on line since I can't get on line from the couch without my laptop.
Wab- your link went to a 404 page for me. Thanks much for the offer of a disk, but I'm going to take it to my IT guys tomorrow and I'm sure they'll be able to restore it for me. I'll pay, but I'd rather pay them than screw around myself. They get a lot of business from our company so the bills they send for my personal problems (!) are usually very reasonable.
Trek - I will check into Firefox after this experience. I was running Semantec's virus protection, but didn't have a firewall. I have a lot to learn. I guess I have just been lucky so far!
Cadaver - I tried the F8 trick, but couldn't even get it to run in Safemode.
CT - Somehow I missed out on that offer from Vaio to build my own restore disks. It was probably some annoying icon on the desktop that I deleted.
Anyway, thanks again, guys. I will let you know how the repair goes.