Larry, you're welcome! I'm glad that worked for you. If I had a dollar for every time a codec packed caused someone trouble, I'd be a millionaire. :-)
1) Firefox can get bogged down by lots of add-ons, or conflicts between add-ons. Try starting the safe-mode Firefox at Start -> All Programs -> Mozilla Firefox -> Mozilla Firefox (Safe Mode). If that loads fast, try disabling add-ons to see which might be the culprit. If you don't have a lot of add-ons try reinstalling Firefox.
2) I don't know of such a tutorial. XP Pro and Vista Home Premium come with built-in backup software that can write to CD/DVD. XP Home does not have it built in, but you can install it. If you have any CD burning software such as Nero, Roxio, NTI, or other you could use that. Most systems come with at least some stripped down CD burner software. You should backup your data even if you don't need to use System Restore.
3) I'll take a look at the other thread.