astropulse is something to do with BOINC... I stopped it, BOINC and Iconaid, and it didn't make any difference, but then when I tried to work in safe mode with networking, there was no connection to the 'net at all.
Safari couldn't find the server on any sites, and when I checked through things there were two errors, one with the DNS and the other with the key ports ...
I got out the lap top and plugged the ethernet into that and OMG it couldn't connect to the 'net either, something to do with a DNS error, I eventually found Vista's version of system reset and used that to get things working again...
and to pile misery on top of everything, I was telling someone (who I've already told that my computer is wrecked) and she tells me to ring this fella as he knows how to fix computers and will come to your house
Now why didn't she say that 3 weeks ago?!?!?!
Thanks very much for your help Jehanzeb
you've been an utter star!