Pretty sure it's a non-malicious virus. After spending a good amount of time with the geek squad over the phone, it's pretty much agreed that the most likely cause for my "redirection" on google searches is a virus. I need to get me some "recovery" discs from Microsoft, back everything up, and completely wipe everything off the computer and "start over". Like a "new" laptop... but not really. :T
This is of course, no problem, if you are good about backing up your data... which I'm not. UGH! AND, of course, I didn't make of copy of the "RECOVERY" drive on my HP laptop before it was corrupted... hence having to get the discs from Microsoft. What ever happened to the good ole days when they included the discs for the operating system and drivers with the laptop when you bought it?
Has anyone gone from Vista to Windows 7 and noticed a big difference? At this point, I could invest $30-35 for Vista or just put that money toward Windows 7, which is 5 times more, but maybe worth it??
thank you, Ally and Domanique Alicia for your help in the first post!