I've had a look at a number of other posts related to this topic, but none are quite what I'm facing. I've tried all the obvious fixes with no luck. So here's my problem:
Monday afternoon I was using my Vostro 1510 Windows XP Home laptop to do some Internet research. I left the computer to get something to eat and when I returned, the computer had shut itself down then restarted. The appearance of the toolbar and start button had changed. I was able to reconnect to my wireless network with no difficulty at that time. Some time later I attempted to install some new software from a reputable source. The install process froze and when I attempted to cancel the process the CD drive began making a lot of noise. I was unable to eject the CD or do anything else so I did a hard reboot. When the computer restarted, I had no WiFi connectivity. After some tweaking, I was able to connect to the network according to the connections manager (I'm using the Windows connection manager) with excellent signal strength and 54mbps but no IP address. The acquisition process just continues forever until I restart the computer, then we do it all over again. I've done a system restore to a date several days before the issue began and have not had any success with that either. Any ideas what happened and how I can fix it?