I'm hoping someone will recognize this cluster of symptoms and be able to relate it to a specific underlying problem. I'm going to list the strange things that are happening in no particular order.
Symptom 1: If I fire up Internet Explorer, it will appear on screen and then most times (9 of 10?), it will hang. The progress bar along the bottom will indicate that the desired web page has partially loaded but nothing appears in the window. It doesn't seem to matter what web site I'm requesting. I can fire up both Firefox and Chrome and they have no problems. If I manage to fire up IE and it works, then so long as I do not dismiss it, it will continue to work fine.
Symptom 2: I can be working in any program and suddenly the system will become unresponsive. A glance around the screen shows that all video activity has frozen but music keeps playing. If I keep typing, the typing buffer captures my input. In a moment, when the screen unfreezes, the stuff I typed during the freeze appears. These freezes always last between one and two seconds and control always returns. I haven't been able to discern any pattern as to what provokes these freezes except that I seem to be typing. In other words, I can't recall a time where a freeze has occurred when I was not typing - but then if they did occur then, I'd probably not be looking at the screen anyway.
I don't know that the problem with IE and the freezes are related though it seems that they both showed up at the same time.
I have rebooted the system and I have run scans with my AVG software looking for viruses and/or root-kits or whatever. Nothing turns up.
I'm running XP on an AMD Athlon X2 CPU. XP is up to date with all security patches and service packs.
Does anyone recognize this scenario?
Your help will be much appreciated.