Updated to add this:
The hard drive is officially toast. At least it let me back up most of my important documents. Most are on my laptop in various forms as well. I picture maniacal laughter at Sony headquarters: "Ha! She thought it would last beyond the warranty period, and it did--a whole week beyond the warranty."
I took it to the national chain with the tech guys in red shirts, since they'd been had been pretty good in previous computer meltdowns. The tech guys had been turned into real Salesmen since I'd last taken equipment in to be fixed.
"Here's our basic and intermediate service," the guy in a Santa hat explained, "but for only $259 you can get our special 'Peace of Mind' service."
"What might that be?"
"Well, we will back up your data [I'd already explained that I had backed it up to a flash drive and an external hard drive] and will load any two pieces of software that you already own onto your computer, if you drive home and get the disks. So much more convenient, and then you can enjoy your time with friends and family, ma'am."
"So that's $80 more than the intermediate service just to load two pieces of software onto the computer?"
"Oh, but we back up your data, too, so you have peace of mind. Just think of all the time you can spend with your family! Most of our customers just love the extra service!"
Can you guess that I declined?