OK, go ahead and go back to the Device Manager (Start >> Right-click My Computer >> Manage OR Start >> Run >> devmgmt.msc) and uncheck the option for "Show hidden devices"). We are not interested in the Hidden devices because they probably pertain to protocols and devices that are used for higher-level programming and just are going to be confusing to look at. Put them out of sight and therefore out of mind.
The Dell wireless 1500 adapter is a valid WLAN (wireless LAN) and that should allow you to access the internet via your wireless router or residential gateway. I did a quick google for that device and checked on Dell's support website to verify that this is indeed a WLAN card. In fact, the Dell 1500 WLAN is actually a stronger device than the Linksys USB adapter because it utilizes the 802.11n protocol, which gives you stronger signal and greater range than the Linksys which is most likely 802.11g protocol.
The BSoD and STOP error that you are receiving is telling me that Windows XP is having a problem utilizing the driver for the Linksys device properly and hence is causing your system to crash - as well as any number of other compatibility problems. I would suggest abandoning use of the Linksys USB device for the time being because it may lead to further damage to your hard drive or motherboard rendering your laptop completely inoperable - and we don't want that.
I'm guessing here, but pretty certain that there are multiple updates to Windows XP which need to be applied in order to get the device driver for the Linksys adapter working properly, the BSoD (blue screen of death + STOP error) means that Windows XP is having a hard time performing with stability and safely, this may be due to the lack of updates which need to be applied. Most notably, there is an HCL that Windows utilizes in order to take advantage of the Plug n Play capabilities built into the OS. The HCL is the hardware compatibility listing which aids the OS in applying device drivers for USB and other PnP devices. Updating Windows XP may help to alleviate the BSoD + STOP error problems. But what we want to avoid is future crashes caused by the device driver incompatibilities to prevent further damages.
I would suggest that you access the following link to look up the most recent driver releases specific to your laptop:http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/...tid=&impid=
Now, i know you are probably thinking, "you jackass, how the hell am i supposed to get there when i can't even connect to my wireless router or residential gateway". Use the link from another computer, borrow one, steal one, lease one, whatever option is available. OR, use an Ethernet cable to connect directly from your LAN cable port to the wireless router or residential gateway, thus creating a "wired" LAN in your home so you can access the internet. OR download the drivers onto a USB flash drive (probably will need one at least 1GB or larger) and then install them onto your laptop.
Another quick way to get to the drivers downloads which will be specific to your computer model is to use:http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/
You should be able to use the Service Tag that is listed at the bottom of the laptop which will be paired with an Express Service Code. The link above should allow you to enter the Service Tag #, the Operating system (Windows XP), the Model # (although you probably will only need to enter the Service Tag) - which will pull up all downloadable drivers which apply specifically to your system and configuration.
If at all possible, the quickest way to get to these drivers is to obtain the original Drivers and Utilities CD-ROMs that came with the system. There is an option when you load this CD-ROM to choose drivers and utilities which are specific to "My System".
Download and install all the drivers that you can find that apply to your system. I would copy them to a USB drive and then burn all of them to a CD-ROM for safe keeping - and don't lose the CD-ROM, in case for any reason you have to reinstall the devices at a later time.
But i am pretty sure that the BSoD you are receiving is due to the fact that the Windows XP HCL is not up to date and therefore it is having compatibilty issues when attempting to use PnP to install the appropriate drivers for the Linksys USB WLAN device. These BSoD STOP errors can potentially lead to hard drive or motherboard failures, and again, we want to avoid damaging your system and get it to a usable state again.
I wish you the best of luck; remember this is all a learning experience and it is only frustrating and enraging the first time around...once you get back up and running, you will feel like a genius i guarantee you. Happy hacking! Shoot me an email or repost if you have any other questions.
If you really run into problems, post the Service tag and i can look up the device drivers you will need as well as the system specifications and possibly can download them for you and put them into a WinZip archive that can be emailed.