Thanks for a prompt response - I do appreciate that!
In fact, it was so prompt that you didn't get to see the change I made to the post almost immediately. (refresh and you'll see it).
It turned out it was all feeds and it helped to restart.
I'm running virus scans regularly. No viruses. I've got Trend Micro Internet Security 2007 and it's been perfect protection for years.
No, no programs that "interfere". A few add-ons to IE (such as Google bar) but I've now set Firefox to be the default browser in Awasu and there's nothing extra there and it didn't make any differene.
I don't experience any kind of problems with any other Internet based software on my computer.