so i have (most of) my computer back. turns out my machine had a basically-dead hard drive and a stuffed stick of RAM. so, i'm running on what was going to be my secondary hard drive; and half the usual amount of RAM. plus i got them to install a new cdrom to replace the one that karked it ages ago, but i was too lazy to replace.
it is hardly optimal, but i am back up and running. the replacement parts are being replaced under warranty and so will take a couple of weeks. besides, they saved my data* which wins them a lot of points :)
so now i'm sitting here waiting for the agonising process of windows update to complete. not to mention downloading the latest virus definitions.
* ....yeah, i broke my own backup rules; didn't have enough backups. seems i should have taken my own advice.