I really thought I ran into a new challenging networking bug this morning, but after much digging.. then frustration.. I grabbed a liveUSb key w/ Ubuntu 11.10 and booted from it to try and recreate the issue on another disto. Everything pointed to a hardware issue with my new Inspiron 15R. Ubuntu's NetworkManager complained that my laptop's hardware switch was turned Off. So.. instinctively i flipped my Dell every which way looking for a slide switch like on my HP laptop... and found nothing. (??) Then i saw it!! Dell's [F2] function key toggles the wifi hardware 0/1.
#$$%& what a friggin' numb-skull am I!! I overlooked the obvious... so now I going with excuse
that it was all a "function of my age!"
There!! another problem successfully solved.