I cannot get my machine to reboot into safe mode. I am running XP and upon restart, I should be able to press F8 at the manufacturer's (Dell) splash screen to enter Safe mode. Ain't happenin'. I need to get into safe mode to use BlackICE's uninstaller to remove this program (update) that has failed to install properly several times. Their tech support wants me to do the uninstall and then run an antivirus scan and a spyware scan, all in safe mode. They think that there is some virus or other messing with their program's installation, but I don't believe it. They will not really look into the problem unless I go through this routine, so I need to reboot into safe mode. The Windows help that I have accessed both in my own machine and from the wibsite, describes a process that doesn't coincide with my operating system. If I am remembering properly, the instructions seem intended for Win ME or 98. Anyway, I would greatly appreciate some good advice.
PS If you don't know how to get me in either, do you have an opinion on a good personal firewall?

As for the firewall, just use the Windows one. It works fine.

But, for your other answer-- if you can get into Windows, click on Start , then Run, and type in MSCONFIG. On the BOOT.INI tab, there's an option to click "SAFEBOOT". Check that, hit OK, and reboot. Your machine will automatically boot into Safe Mode. Once you're done doing what you need to do, just go back into MSCONFIG, uncheck SAFEBOOT in BOOT.INI, hit OK, and you'll reboot back into Normal Mode.