OK, back home -noticed during boot something about madwifi (version can't read) already installed on this kernel . Force with blah. This gets me to think that maybe I did tinker with wifi packages, but still, it's been working.
OK, more important. boot says something about ath0 /etc/wpa_supplicant string too long. Opened the file (it is huge) and commenedt out two sections that contained WEP string that I originally tried. They are 64 digit strings that netapplet has been complaining is too long. School told me that they were accepting either WEP or WPA. Couldn't get WPA to work so tried long string in WEP and that's when complaining started.
Anyway, restarted x and am now connected and posting via HD install. I could post that file if interested.
Boot info still complains about madwifi version and some argument list too long but ath0 seems to be working. Can't wait for YouCanToo 2009 repos to be back up. I bet that's where my troubles lie.
I have been trying to trouble shoot and repair this same problem for months. After reading through thread after thread and comparing every detail, I finally figured out why and how to fix the problem.
First of all the problem for me started after compiling to Kernel 2.6.38 . Yet, when the liveCD PCLinuxOS 2011.6 with the same Kernel is being used the WPA password was accepted and wireless worked just fine.
The simple fix was to open Synaptic and do a 'complete removal' of wpa_supplicant. I did a restart just to be sure it was removed. Then re-install wpa_supplicant.
I'm sorry if this is not proper forum protocol to add on to a solved thread. The fix I'm giving here is basically the same idea, just a lot simpler.