1) the computer was compromised. I noticed that the dropped files were run as services, somehow. Perhaps that could've interfered?
2) viruses - Randex.gen. But I saw a Randex.gen virus on another computer and nothing nasty was happening.
3) spyware. The biggest problem i had with the spyware was trying to get rid of vx2.betterinternet (or whatever that is) - in particular, the dlls were a pain to get rid of. I ended up going into the recovery console to delete one that just wouldn't go away. I'm sure there was an easier way, but I didn't figure that one out yet.
Erm, sorry, I guess that was a little long.