Unfortunately, we're running aground on the volume/brightness controls. On this machine, you adjust the volume with the Fn-F3/F4 controls, and the brightness with Fn-F5/F6. When you do this, a little pop-up on-screen display appears. She doesn't want those displays. She wants to be able to adjust the volume and brightness without the intrusive pop-up. This display appears to be a manufacturer-specific element of the drivers, because the ways you get at it on her IBM ThinkPad don't work here. Sony's web site isn't helping. Google's references tend to be from people trying to restore the display (or rather, restore the ability to adjust sound/brightness). I've written to Sony asking for help. I sure hope there is some way to disable that display, because it may well make the machine unusable, which would be a pity.
Update, 17:45: Much to my surprise, Sony tech support responded within a few hours, informing me, "I'm sorry to inform you that the on-screen display of the brightness or audio meter can not be disabled while using the Function keys. This is a normal operation." Well, let's hope that we can return it to Fry's, then, because she simply won't use it in this condition. And now she's learned about one more thing she must check before she can use a computer.