I posted a video to Youtube, and I think the youtube description and/or video (a short desktop recording with me speaking) pretty much sum it up.
[description on video]
I just wanted to post this to the askubuntu.com forums. This is for an up to date Ubuntu 12.04 ("Precise Pangolin") installed on a laptop. If anyone has an idea why either the software center will freeze when launching, or why the dash (or even alt-f2) can't find installed software like gnome-terminal, gedit, or firefox when I type it, I am interested to hear your comments.
Thank you for your time. :)
Edit: I noticed these problems around the same time so I have reason to suspect they are related. And I'll admit, the way I like to roll is with a root prompt - by using "sudo bash", entering my password, and running admin commands to do things that you need the prompt for. I dislike entering my password many times, and I do things that are appropriate for standard user privileges in another tab most of the time anyway. But Software Center freezing on me and nothing coming up on the dash when I hit the button with an Ubuntu logo on it and type a program's name is a slight inconvenience which less knowledgeable users may (either never encounter) or find it impossible to work around. I tried searching for a solution with Google for a while but didn't come up with much.