Latest Vaio complaint: the battery runs out nearly as fast on suspend as it does when running. Overnight, it pretty much runs out starting from a full charge. I wouldn't mind the delay that putting it in hibernate requires, but the extremely loud hardware startup chime is embarrassing when I want to just check my email in a talk. Muting the volume in every way I can think of does not stop it. Anyone ever figured how to stop that sort of thing on laptops?
The internet tells me to hold down F3 to get to the BIOS. Thanks a ton, startup screen, for not telling me this like every other computer's startup screen does. There I found an option explicitly for turning off the annoying, loud startup animation.
Even though I no longer need to use it, I found Dan's solution of plugging in headphones extremely clever.