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Device manager not responding, usb ports non-functional, unable to connect to networks

Last Modified: 2013-11-17
Yeah, by the title you might think windoze is hosed and we are SOL. This is an IBM X35 or X40 Thinkpad laptop (no floppy or CDR) running XP.  User reports the machine working fine yesterday, this morning cannot connect to wireless network. Turns out that NO network connections are functional. So I decided to uninstall/reinstall the hardware, but as soon as I tried to make any type of change to the configuration the device manager would freeze. So I ran anti-virus scan, it was clean. Then I tried to load a tcp/ip stack repair tool from a flash drive and discovered that none of the USB ports were working either. No way in, no way out...SOB!

IPCONFIG reported "media disconnected", but the loopback and the NIC lights were testing OK. Aside from these minor issues everything else seemed to be functioning fine -- no stuttering, no unusual CPU activity, none of the usual junk you find with malware, etc.

Any clues out there what might be happening?
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