My Powerbook's been back for a couple of weeks now, and I had a good overall experience dealing with OC Data Recovery to get my data off the drive. Their San Diego Location is in Sorrento Valley. I didn't test their speed, since my main concern was cost, but they managed to get about 98% of my files back by their estimate, and my most important files are fine: my VoodooPad notes, my preferences, and my iTunes purchased music. Everything else is duplicated elsewhere - all my projects and research files, for instance - but some things change often enough that even weekly backups aren't often enough, like my notes in VoodooPad.
That's a relief, but the $2,200 cost should be a warning to anyone who hasn't taken the time to start a comprehensive backup strategy - if the idea of spending a few hundred bucks on backup media is stopping you, consider that a likely alternative is to wait and spend much, much more to get almost back to square one, without any way of knowing for sure which files are OK or even present until you need them later. That's not a good scene.
So back it up.
Finally, despite earlier reservations, my current backup scheme does use Apple's Backup 3 - I've tested it a few times recently and I'm comfortable with its restoring, and it's just simpler to use than Retrospect for some things like very frequent backups to .mac and backing up to multiple DVDs. Those programs are the only ones I own, so I can't say anything useful about alternatives. I've heard good things about other programs, and the cardinal rule is to use whatever makes it easiest for you to back up often, starting now, and don't worry about finding the perfect solution first.