I used a free program called fat32format for the fat32 conversion of the HD...
apparently formatting to fat32 in win7 is a challenge now. So painful how there is so little documentation on this.
About to usb flash to 3.40 and see if my pain goes on. Anyway, I think my system is now back to exactly where my problems started again. But I think I can get it back to version 3.30 without much more of a hassle. I thought I was completely screwed here too, but at least got back to having a functional ps3 instead of a brick.
Power cycling is the act of completely shutting down your device and making sure all the power is drained.
This forces the console to recreate all the configurations before starting up.
Update - please read on for how I solved the problem.
the reformat made it so I could get to safe mode, but I'm unable to use any of the functions therein to resolve my problem.
Users experience the error code SU-42481-9 on their PS4s when they are downloading or installing updates on their console.