For whatever reason, the last time I booted my Vista laptop the network icon was missing from its usual spot next to the clock in the system tray.
I right-clicked the Start button, chose Properties, and clicked the Notification Area tab to recheck this option under "System icons," but it was grayed out.
I found the solution on Colin Cochrane's blog. Here are the steps in a nutshell:
Back up the Registry by creating a restore point.
Press the Windows key, type regedit, and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.
Navigate to and select HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\TrayNotify.
Delete both IconStreams and PastIconStream in the right pane.
Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and select Start Task Manager.
Select the Processes tab, choose explorer.exe, and click End Process.
Choose the Applications tab, click New Task, enter explorer.exe in the text box, and press Enter.
Your icons should reappear.
Another option for taskbar problems is the free Taskbar Repair Tool Plus, which I found on Kelly Theriot's Kelly's Korner.
Tomorrow: the best OpenOffice.org templates and clipart.