I got my phone working. iSync was getting a NULL message & giving up. I finally found a cludge that worked: backup AddressBook, delete all my groups (organizational, not informational data), sync. No NULL message - my phone has all my contacts again. Yay! I restored my groups using the backup, and later, I'll take a hard look at my groups.
I opted to stay with a clean install and manually copy just the added app files. In the process, I fixed Opera, & a problem I was having with pTunes.
Over the next few weeks, I'll add pics & ringtones.
During all of this bother, I found a reasonably recent ROM update I needed, & a newer version of Hot Sync Mgr.
This *may* slow down the rate at which I've been saving for an iPhone - but I'll be happy if it means better performance.