XP Home on a laptop, Firefox, Sun Java. Worked fine since forever. Suddenly
two web sites would malfunction; www.gold-eagle.com would immediately make
the browser disappear, another site would do the same if a certain option
on one page was selected.

Tracked the problem down to Java yesterday; deinstalling and reinstalling
Java made the browser stay and the pages work. BUT... now, as soon as
either page is accessed and Java loads (in about thirty seconds!), the
entire computer will freeze for 20 seconds and unfreeze for 5 seconds,
cyclically, repeatedly until the computer is rebooted.

I have reinstalled repeatedly, in three ways: letting Firefox find the
missing plugin and install it, going to java.sun.com and getting the
short-file install method and going there for the long-file install method.
In each case I've deinstalled and then looked for detritus left over and
deleted any I found.

Any ideas welcome.