I didn't actually set up a network account I don't think? I didn't connect to the net. So I probably don't need to deactivate.
The squeal problem was reported in another thread. At least some people got Black Friday bundle "super-slim" PS3s (with Infamous 1&2/Uncharted 1&2) that make a loud high-pitched noise when playing a disc. Fortunately ours doesn't seem to do that.
While I'm at it - another quick question. Can you plug the controller into any USB charger to charge it? I'd like to have the controllers fully charged up for Xmas, and if I can do it that way I won't need to set up the system again to do it.
EDIT: I'm trying a support chat and will see what they say about resetting it to factory state (I want them to get the system setup prompts when they power it up on Xmas). I'll report here what they tell me.
Not sure what you have to do to have it become activated, perhaps if you used the PS Store or ever signed in on the console it would've become activated.
A quick format should be fine if you're giving the PS3 to someone you know, if you were to sell it to a stranger and you put personal files/info on it you might want to do a full format.
From what I've read you can charge PS3 controllers using usb on a PC. Not sure about usb wall chargers.