My $.02 worth of shoot from the hip says boot the usb and, uh, reinstall grub to /dev/sda. Someone with more experience will give you a solid answer, but, it really does sound like grub didn't get installed properly so as to be the bootloader of choice.
The best I can suggest is try starting the browser (Midori, firefox, etc.) from a terminal and look at the output you get there. You should, I believe, get some useful information regarding the reason the program closed.
Speech recognition is still something that linux in general doesn't do well. There are packages that are being worked on to fill that hole, but, they are no where near the commercial offerings for other operating systems.
**Apologies. The code tag has default font size settings that can't be overridden.
I imagine it boils down to efficiency. A more prolific user like Charles or Jeff searching "My Content" would generate hundreds or thousands of hits. Increasing the searched timeframe would likely do mean things to server memory for little benefit. I would imagine you could find your posts by simply searching your name and you could refine that by adding the subject you were looking for. Also, a year in computers is a fair bit of time. Your info might be outdated in a year.
Not being able to boot from USB and having no CD/DVD drive will make things "interesting". You could pull the hard drive from the Panasonic and use a second computer to write the OS to the 20GB hdd. There was a posting here about doing something similar. I don't recall what it really dealt with. It was posted this year I believe.
I imagine Charles may pipe up here. I believe the suggestion will be something like installing firmware-b43-installer.
I understand you don't have wifi. I am guessing you don't have any connection with the live system either? You should be able to download the firmware-b43-installer deb file, copy it to a usb drive and then install the deb from the usb with, I believe,
sudo dpkg -i firmware-b43-installer.deb
For the above command you will have to be in the same directory as the deb file. Easiest would be to cd /media/NAMEOFYOURFLASHDRIVE. If the file is in the root of the drive you won't have to go any deeper than the flash drive. Otherwise, keep drilling down in to the drive until you are in the right directory.
Adding icons to the desktop is not a trivial thing anymore. You would be better served by adding icons to the iBar next to the start menu, if all you want are shortcuts to applications.
One way that has been mentioned by Jeff to get icons on the desktop was to add an iBar to the Desktop proper rather than relying on the iBar in the shelf at the bottom in a default install.
To add shortcuts to the iBar at the bottom of the screen, the simplest way is to open the app, left click on the icon that appears in the top left hand corner of the application window and drag it to the iBar. Another fairly easy way is to click the Start Menu, select Settings, then settings panel, select Apps, then iBar Applications. You will see the whole list of installed applications and, if the window is wide enough, you will see radio buttons down the right side. Select the apps you want in the iBar, click apply and close. You might have to restart moksha to get the shortcuts to appear in the iBar. You can even drag and drop them in a different order, or, use the iBar Applications menu to set the order you prefer.