one thing i've learned the hard way- just because a company is the biggest name out there doesn't mean it's good (or even halfway decent). for example, an antivirus software that starts with "m" ends with "e" and has a "cafe" in the middle.
btw, almost immediately after i made the original post, i got an email to my addy (which should be clear from the very address that it is mine) addressed to my mother.
if it wasn't such a nice computer and a gift, i'd think maybe about trying somewhere else. my other one is a gateway, which isn't much better, but they sure as hell are not as bad as dell seems to be.