Thanks Ron. I hope you're enjoying your 2nd trip.
So here's the FULL update.
1) I have successfully installed SP3 and the system has downloaded all updates. So, in essence, the computer is functioning normally again. For this, I send you many heartfelt thanks!!
The issues I still need help with are the following - the 1st being the most serious.
1) Nothing in MS Office is working still. Again, I repeat, I bought this computer in a store and it came with office preinstalled. I have never had any problems with it. Since the crash, it was the first time in the many years I've had this computer that I had a problem with it. Every time I click on the Word icon on my desktop (that always worked before), it doesn't open and instead gives me a message box saying "this action is only valid for products that are already installed". When I navigate into the programs folder/microsoft office/office 10 and I see another Word icon there, I click on it, Word actually opens but giving me the error message "Word has not been installed for the current user. Please run setup to install the application", I click "ok" and Word closes. The same happens for all Office products. How could the entire Office suite "uninstall" because of a computer crash? How can I get it back? I do not have the original CD that came with the computer, however HP keeps giving me this message at startup x1/week saying I can make some recovery CDs if I want. I haven't done that yet. Not sure it'll help.
2) I cannot install Realplayer. Every time I do, it seemingly installs correctly, but then when I open it, I get a message saying it cannot open because it doesn't have MSVCP90.dll. I have uninstalled and reinstalled Realplayer x4 (x2 before installing SP3 and x2 after), but I keep getting the same error message.
3) I once got this message but never got it again. It was something about "Sl21.tmp common language runtime debugging service" failed to load - or something like that. Sounds to me like a virus, but we've done virus checks already. 2 pieces of info: 1- I only got this message once. 2-Upon returning from my trip, I used 3 flash drives to transfer pics from my laptop to my desktop, but I was 99% sure that they were all clean because I had recently reformatted 2 flash drives and never used them in another computer, and recently virus checked the 3rd one (which has been in other computers) with 2 or 3 virus programs, included Kapersky on my laptop and it didn't find anything.
4) The temperature on the motherboard is still registering upwards of 61-63 degrees. Once I can get this computer up and running 100%, I plan to check into the fan issue you mentioned. I also plan to get a new computer within the next 1-2yrs.
Thanks again for all your help. I know your traveling and I understand you'll respond when you get time. Hope the trip is nice. Thanks once more for all the help (successful help) you've given. Eric