I finally fixed all of the problems with the laptop, and with just one step. You know what the problem was? The laptop's BIOS was incompatible with SP2, so all I had to do is go to Averatec's website and download the update. It fixed all of the problems; from the fan stopping on start until restarted and not shutting down all the way to the firefox/thunderbird notification stuck up and animations/game movies skipping and freezing.
What I find interesting is that Microsoft expects everyone to modify their software to accomidate changes in Windows, instead of the other way around or with a little give-and-take.