Glad to hear you got it to work! Couple things for extra knowledge. ..
You can also get firmware from http://sammobile.com/firmwares
. Their downloads are much faster than samsung-updates IME.
Easiest root method ever! - Towelroot (shouldn't trip the warranty bit either)
If I'm not mistaken, the recoveries having problems reading the sd card is due to your hardware version. I believe they found a solution in the Sprint forums, but I haven't had a chance to read up on it yet. If its something I can do I'll probably try to fix the T-Mobile and AT&T recoveries. I may be mistaken on some of that, but its how I understood it after a quick search the other day.