My wife actually cried as we drove the final 5 mile stretch of highway to her parents' house yesterday. Tears of joy. Seattle has been so miserable for us, disconnected from good weather, and familiar and friendly people. After a false start last night trying to connect to work, I am solidly connected today from a different laptop.
OneCare and VPN
Don't ever play around with putting 3rd party security software on systems that you need to connect to your corporate VPN servers. In my case, I had Windows Live OneCare on my system. It had to have anti-virus disabled in order to allow my company-mandated AV software to work. This caused OneCare to always be in a warning status mode, telling me I need to turn on AV protection. I asked on the OneCare forum what to do, and they recommended I not have it on my system, as it could mess with other AV software in unpredictable ways. I hadn't had any problems so far, but took that as my cue to uninstall to get rid of the annoying red icon in my system tray.
Now, previously, I had to enable some ports in OneCare's firewall to enable VPN connectivity. After uninstalling it, I tried to connect to my work VPN, and got an error message stating that I needed to enable OneCare's firewall to connect. 2 hours later, my corporate IT support had tried to help me through clearing any remnants of OneCare from my system. No success. The VPN connection manager still insists that OneCare is on my system.
Aside from paving the system, which I am reluctant to do since my system disks are in storage, and we our primary copies of family photos and videos are on it, my last option was to re-install OneCare. This is proving impossible. This is not an uncommon problem, judging from the OneCare forums. Microsoft needs to really improve its install/upgrade/uninstall picture for OneCare. I never recall having these kinds of issues with Norton or McAffee. Blame also lies with my IT department's VPN software for failing to realize that I've actually uninstalled the dang thing.