try getting a Xantech 286 double emitter, and affixing one of the emitters to the device itself, as close to the IR window as you can. Some users have reported under i386 that the emitter only works if you use an external emitter and not the on-board one.
I really hate just throwing hardware at a problem without know why the problem is there or if it will even fix it. I'll keep it as a last resort, but I'm not quite there yet.
Perhaps this will shed some light. I pulled the USBUIRT and plugged it into a different USB port, and after the "installing new device" box in the upper left corner, I was presented with a big blue screen that read:
"The device was added but is missing some config data which can be downloaded only from Internet. The device will not work properly until that info is downloaded."
Same thing when I moved it back to the first USB port. I'm not really sure where to go from here.