This is by far one of the worst rants I have ever seen.
Look, performing hardware upgrades on your computer isn't something you're supposed to be doing. Its not something Dell plans for when designing their PCs, and its not something they're going to support. My friend has a 2000 Porsche and the engine compartment is completely inaccessable. The only things you can get to without taking it to a shop are the oil/coolant/windshield fluid. Are you going to say Porsche makes crappy cars because its easier to change the belts on a Daewoo?
With that said, its still a piece of cake to install a new hard drive. Hint #1 - master and slave configurations as well as *gasp* IDE cables are a part of all hard drives, whether they run Windows, Unix, or Mac OS. I would think someone that has as much experience as you would know about cable select by now. Hint $2 - RTFM! (Read the fvcking manual) - new hard drives come with CDs. You're supposed to put the CD in first, which will prepare the drive. Then you start Windows and its there! Complicated concept, I know. Honestly, you're damn lucky you didn't fry the drive with all the random messing you did. If you can't take your time and know what you're doing before you do it, you shouldn't be working on anything more complicated than a toaster.