okay. i admit i jumped the gun here. i used to use puran utilities on my last computer, and dl'd it and set the defrag to run at next startup--before making sure it was compatible with 8.1--which it isn't--i found out the hard way. set it to run at next startup and things went south from there. apparently, this created a problem in windows that caused it to do a scan/repair, which would not go past 10%--for hours. i finally did a forced shutdown and when i started it again, there was something strange on my 'start' page---directy above the first tile, under the word 'start', these characters:
does anyone have any idea what this might be and how to get rid of it??
i did fix the other problem, but this remains to remind me. before you ask, virus/malware scans come back clean.
thanks in advance, guys. hope someone has an idea--you always do.