Ok, so this might be funny to some people - I actually hope somebody gets amused by this:
My problems started the other day while going online. I have Win ME from 2001. I had just closed out of Firefox and was attempting to open up IE (I don't know which version.) My computer froze up. No big deal, it does it all the time. I hit ctlr+alt+del and nothing happened. Again, no big deal. I turn it off via the start button. Everything loads normally.

I try to open IE right away. Again, it freezes. Turn it off via the power button. Turn it back on. My desktop picture is gone. Almost all of my icons are gone. When I open My Computer is says, "Your current security settings prohibit running ActiveX controls on this page. As a result this page may not display properly." How true. I can't see anything inside of folders. I can see the folders themselves, but not the files.

Now for the odd part. I can get online with Firefox but not with IE. In fact when I right click on the IE icon and go to properties, it is as if IE has been stripped of all pertinent information. When I go to security settings, I can move the little bar up and down so that normally it would change the security setting. However, when I do that, there are no pictures or text that change - very bizarre.

Also, I can't save anything from websites because it either says "specified path is invalid" or some other crap. I can't even download a virus scanner. Obviously I need a new computer but I can't get one at this point. Additionally, I want to salvage a bunch of files. Any clues on how to get my machine back to not totally jacked up?

Thanks in advance.

Hey there, your story is a bit amusing, even more so for me because I've experienced similar. Unfortunately I am yet to strip down the computer sooo I can't give you any help there.

My laptop was doing something similar, I couldn't open IE, I couldn't open My Computer, I couldn't open My Documents. When I double-clicked on the icons, it came up as if I had right-clicked and then gone to 'Properties'. My keyboard was also spitting random characters, not what key I pressed. Anyways what I remember doing is leaving the computer off for a few days, maybe a week, and then going back, and it behaved better. So I just took the chance, and copied all of my files onto my external HDD, and left it to be returned to when I have more time.

So to summarise I would suggest giving it time to get its head right so to speak, having an external drive ready, and gettin in touch with someone who can take computers apart & test parts (you can have a go urself, there's help on here or through google). Also, are the specs not good enuff to change your OS? If you don't wanna invest in XP, try a Linux Distro, Debian or Ubuntu, its free pretty much, and many people will tell you as i will, you won't regret it!