2 Droid Charge questions 1 simple 1 possibly not?

First I've definitely been happy with my Charge for the couple of years I have owned it, however I just noticed in the last several weeks that my " toolbar " for a lack of a better description that is present on every homescreen which used to consist of Phone/Messaging/Contacts/Applications vanished overnight, and no matter of trying to drag drop said shortcuts from the actual applications menu is able to put them back there? Now I only have a centered " Applications " button there... I'm assuming this was some sort of patch or internal system upgrade or the like? I spent a couple of hours at the local Verizon store as well as on the phone the day after I noticed it, but no one was sure what to do other than a hard reset?

Now the easy question is I've just recently started moving pictures from my DROID to my PC, when I use the provided USB cable/charger cable to connect the phone to the PC I get the following message on my screen " USB storage in use / Before turning off USB storage, make sure you have unmounted ("ejected") your Android's SD card from your computer. " And then below that the " Disconnect from PC " button .  My question, which is rather simple and silly is, does this mean I should first UNPLUG the usb cable from the PC before attempting to push the " Disconnect from PC " button, or while the cable is still connecting phone to PC push the " Disconnect from PC " button on the phone?  I very much do not wish to dmg my phones SD card as I have a virtual treasure of photos of my children as well as apps/music/etc that I would hate to lose...

I have always just pressed the " Disconnect from PC " button on the phone before disconnecting the cable, as the one time I unplugged first the screen vanished and I did not get the opportunity, but thought I would check with those wiser than I. Thank you for your time and help with either of the above questions!

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