Well, it took a year, but at least the story has a happy ending. Follow the link to read the heart-warming story of Dune hatred becoming Dune love.
The author's conclusion is worth reading for any new-ish Dune players or anyone else who feels they'll never "get" the game:
This game is worth figuring out, and certainly it does take some figuring out. It's not readily apparent what you should do with each faction. Take your time learning, play with people that know the game, and read some strategy [articles].