Nice report John. It's consistent with what I'm experiencing ... other than the swapping stuff. I haven't swapped any recently so haven't had any experience with that.
You mentioned several image defects. I was wondering if you've seen images that distort as you zoom. I've only seen (so far) this in one of mine. It's very odd. This link gives the image and view direction.
When viewed in GE and zoomed in/out near the most narrow view the log in the picture distorts. There are other places in the same image that do this but this log is the most obvious. Are you seeing anything like this?
Another thing I've noticed is that I have some image defects the occurrence of which are dependent on how I view the image in GE. For example, if the first thing I do after entering the sphere is to pan around, the defects don't appear. But if I zoom to full wide first then pan around they do appear. The most common defect that acts like this is about a 5-10 degree wide top-to-bottom distortion where I normally see the dotted line at the 360 wrap junction.