After nearly 2 1/2 years of the same minor glitch, my computer's fixed! The whole problem started when I got the new laptop and transferred all my music to it, so I thought it was a user error, some kind of malware or bug attached to a music file.
The glitch in question randomly removed SysTray items, most annoyingly Volume, and to a lesser extent HP Solution Center and Steep and Cheap app. To have a short term fix, I had to end the explorer.exe process and restart found here. But that didn't fix anything.
Yesterday I did a system clean sweep with A-Squared, CCleaner, and Ad-Aware. No change. I moved all my music files to my external hard drive, unplugged it, and rebooted. Still missing SysTray items.
I looked around the web for a while and stumbled across this article. Fixed. Just like that. I used The Ostuni Workaround. Turns out, its something related to Windows Media Player. All I had to to was go to My Network Places and Hide UPnP Devices. There are several other fixes to the problem and I'm glad I didn't have to patch Shell32.dll.
I still have minor issues...mainly browser related. I downloaded IE8 and didn't like it (too busy) so I did a System Restore, but then IE7 wouldn't work. It would open the window then immediately close it. So now I'm using Google Chrome. Adjusting to a new layout takes a day or two, and I have to re-order all my Favorites (poor me), but my biggest gripe is that Google Chrome is not compatible with Selling on eBay. Most of the page works, except for the Describe Your Item field, which no longer displays text formatting tools. Hopefully Google is working on this, but you never know.
I reinstalled IE7, but it came with the same problem. To sell on eBay I had to use AOL Explorer, even worse than IE. So come full circle, and now I've downloaded IE8, but only for emergencies and eBay Selling.
Another glitch is that on some password pages, I kept getting a Chrome-generated dialog box, so I had to turn off Saved Passwords. No biggie, since I never used it on IE. So here I am with an incredibly fast new browser, but I still have to use slow-old IE for some sites. Tech complicates my life.