Ok, ATI puts out reference drivers for their laptop chips. However, Acer doesn't subscribe to their (whatever) and is not a supported manufacturer under their program to provide drivers. That means when ATI puts out good, working drivers (for example, version 8.3 Catalyst drivers) for my laptop card (Mobility Radeon X1400), they won't install on my laptop, since my hardware is not officially supported.
Thankfully, SOMEONE OUT THERE SOLVED THIS PROBLEM! The good folks at Driver Heaven have a tool that makes changes to the install script(s) for the drivers that allows it to install the drivers on my laptop. I just downloaded and installed the newest drivers using their little modding tool, and everything works! Aero/Glass, Second Life, Phun... I am once again happy with my laptop. Now to take a reference backup/snapshot and move on to installing more stuff. Thank heaven for Driver Heaven! Look for a Paypal contribution from me today!