"Any advice from people out there? Do you know of something that works – reliably – for Windows 8?"
Junk it and go back to W7 :-)
Or do as I do, never use a Windows OS till it's at least 2 generations out of date. I'm still on XP (which causes Max to poke fun at ME.... :-)
O Brian ... it seems like only yesterday that I was reading your blog singing the praises of Windows 8 and poking fun at those of us who had said otherwise ( http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-blogs/maxs-cool-beans-blog/4402814/Don-t-talk-to-me-about-Windows-8- )
Not that I'm gloating ... I hope you get up and running again ASAP -- Max