Well, apparently if you watch the screen while the laptop boots, you get more details, so I found the problem was ndiswrapper "couldn't initialize device".
A quick google.com/linux brought me to another thread here at linuxquestions, which offers the solution:
Apparently all you need to do is download the entire
driver package and unpack all
of the files, not just the .inf and .sys files. After doing that, removing the old drivers from ndiswrapper, installing the new, modprobing, and rebooting
, it works perfect!!!
(go to that thread for more details, and for a link to a very
functional copy of the drivers!)