Knock on wood, my Snow Leopard problems are largely behind me. There is no replacement for hiring outside expertise.
Steve Sorbo. aka MacS.O.S., came by and fixed a ton of issues in an hour and a half. Here's the list.
The disk permissions: there's a checkbox under "Get Info" to "Ignore ownership on this volume." In this case, ignoring the problem makes it go away.
Gave me the clearest explanation I've ever had on how the Mac OS stores information, and the secret lairs for settings. It would have made my life easier (maybe--one goal was to purge my system of errant app settings) had I known to just drag over my home folder to the new disk, but who knew? Not me.
Restored my missing junk mail folder in iMail.
Transferred my iPhone apps from the laptop to the desktop. I have always been furious at Apple and iTunes about this persnickety monogamy of iPhone to a single iTunes, and the casual neutron bomb explosion it sets off when I try to sync to the wrong machine.
He fixed my network! No one ever believed me when I said that networking never worked for me. I always got the "Macs don't do that" response, which settled it. He immediately figured out that my Airport and my DSL were two separate networks. I had no idea, and I would never have known how to know. Networks are one of those dark arts that require incantations and spells. But now I can full access to both computers.
Remote access will have to wait. My Netgear router apparently is the blocking agent. I'll have him back soon to cast more spells.
Found my Transmit settings so I can upload to my ISP again. I put that stuff in there once. I have no idea what any of those setting mean, so I couldn't just re-enter the information.
He couldn't fix the Snow Leopard bug that reverts the Line Out sound setting to Internal Speakers when rebooting. Same behavior in a pristine user account, so it's nothing I did. Nor could he keep Photo Mechanic from opening when I plug my iPhone in. "Well, it is a camera," he said. Fair enough.
I made him make one change that drove him nuts. Change Command-Spacebar so that it doesn't open up Spotlight. My muscle memory reserves that combo for zooming in my photo and video editing. Apparently, that keeps me out of the Mac geek club.
That masked man again? Steve Sorbo. www.seattlemacsos.com.