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XP Disappearing task bar icons:angry:

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XP on a Dell Inspiron 8500, Spybot, AdAware, AVG (formerly) now Avast
After an update to AVG 8.0 I noticed that all of the usual taskbar items in the botom right (the network indicator, volume, power status, etc...)were missing or altered. When I tried to investigate I found that their icons were either missing from the list or altered in the "customize taskbar" dialog. IE... "safely remove hardware" icon wtht the little arrow was now appearing as the AVG 4color square... others were similarily strange or just gone..
Also Verizon VCast manager would no longer autorun for some reason. The icon for "i8kfangui" fan speed app was missing, although if I stopped the program in task Man, it would reappear when restarted.
So I removed the new AVG 8 and problem left. I wanted an antivirus so I installed Avira, fine for a few days then same thing happened. I've just uninstalled Avira and installed Avast. SO far no changes and the odd icons are gone.
So what could be causing this odd behavior? I think that Msoft did a major update about the same time I noticed problems, if that helps. You want HJT! logs or anything? Avira found items to remove, which i did. Avast has also found 1 Trojan so far.
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