This may be a dumb question, but how would one go about installing extensions manually? Meaning, downloading the files, so I can compare to Magento install. I run in to too many problems trying to do this automatically from magentoconnect.
You can copy and paste the extension files(app data) into your root of your Magento. If you are using custom theme and the extension works on frontend then you might need to copy and paste "skin" and "design" folder to respective folders.
A lot of extension providers will have them availabel on their website for download as a zip. This is often the best way to get the very latest version, and to get a personal connection with the extension maker.