Recently (yesterday) I updated both my video card driver (GeForce3 Ti200) from NVIDIA's site and WinXP from windows update. after this all happened i started getting page fault errors upon booting my machine so basically i had a worthless chunk of hardware. long story short, i solved the issue by booting into safe mode and rolling back the display driver to one supplied by windows update and now things are working again. my purpose in posting this here is just a heads up to anyone who might be in this same situation as i was. i also had to temporarily disable the program "stylexp" but dont think it was the problem. so yeah, anyone with the same situation might not want to update one or the other, but then again maybe it was my computer telling me that it's format time =). hope this saves someone a pain in the neck.