Ok, I think that we've established a few things (as far as I can tell from your info).
1) you don't have an account, which means: your phone is working from dev mode.
2) since you are in dev mode, it is normal that you cannot access the catalog
3) the USB thing, it's probably due to a bad setup or something, as you stated, the other guy did to "hack" it.
So follow the instructions that RNP just gave.
For your pictures and documents... do you have any access to the internet via a data plan with a SIM.. if yes, email them to yourself, and that'll do it...
On your computer, download and install Preware
direct link to Quickinstall (right-click and save link as)
Once installed, enable the Developer Mode on your device. (but I believe that it's already on, from what you said)
Just open the keyboard and type: webos20090606
In the main screen, the search will open and you'll be typing that in there, and once you hit enter, it'll bring you to dev mode, and you turn it on.
Plug it in the computer and WebOS quickinstall should detect your phone regardless that the phone doesn't give you a message..
In WebOs quickinstall, go get Preware and install. You can go get WIFI File Sharing here too (recommended at this point).
Unplug and reboot your phone.
If you get to this point, configure your WIFI File Sharing (might need to reboot after... ), and that will let you make your backups.
Once that's done... do the reformat of the phone.
Cross your fingers and see how you do.
If still issues, do a reset (like RNP explained) and if that doesn't work, then you will have to doctor.
And as RNP stated, get yourself a SIM with a DATA plan, so to do the initial setup and create an account.
Once an account and the main setup is done, set up your WIFI, and then you will be able to take the SIM out and have access to the internet and catalog, etc.
Using impostah and any hacks have been nothing but problems for many (so many threads about such issues), but the borrowing a SIM with data for a main setup is easy, clean, works flawlessly, and then the phone is ready to take another SIM within DATA (but still can do calls), and you'll have a phone that will run DATA from the WIFI only.
That's what I did with the kids' Pre2s.