I now own a used MIDI pedal. I am the dork with the laptop. But unfortunately, Niall's Pedal Board seems to take issues with the window manager in Windows 2000--at least, that's the only reason I can think of that it would work on an XP machine, but none of my Win2K laptops at home. And since I'm skipping the upgrade cycle until Vista, that means it's not very useful.
As an alternative, I've been playing with Phrazor for a couple of days, and it seems to do the same kinds of things that Forte does, but for much cheaper. Right now, fully functional betas are free to download, and you can pre-order the final version for 29 Euro, or about $40 (much cheaper than it will probably be once released). It takes a little while to understand--signal chains are built as "tracks" and then you recall their states with MIDI Note On messages--but it seems much more intuitive than the patchbay style interfaces for Bidule or Psycle. In fact, it's very reminiscent of Live.