The removers did turn up peculiar bots deeply sited and passed over by Ad-Aware, but at the end of all that rigmarole, I still couldn't connect!
So I began the tedious process of "trial by elimination" and concluded that since the laptop worked perfectly the night before, what was causing it to fail NOW? I went over everything that had happened whilst I was online the night before and recalled that the Java Runtime Environment had been updated. Bingo! Remove that, and the Google Bar and say bye-bye to my problems. So I did that and the blessed thing still refused to connect!
By now it was early evening and I was about to kick the wall in frustration. Kick I did and very nearly missed my moggie who gave me a "what did I do wrong?" injured look before scurrying off. I retired to cook dinner and whilst I was eating, the phone rang. It was a colleague/friend whom I hadn't spoken to in a while. Jim asked me why I sounded so edgy and I ended up unloading the whole sorry story at him. His solution was simple - take the laptop outside to where the signal is stronger. And do you know, he was right!
I learned something today: sometimes the solution is right there in front of you but we belabour it with unnecessary postulations. I had suspected early on that the signal was too weak as I noticed that the connection was sending packets but not receiving any. But I chose to ignore it and paid the price.
Anyway, even if it was a wasted day, I still have the cleanest, spyware-free laptop around! And that had better count for something!