I've noticed small blips recently (Safari closing out unexpectedly... abnormal clocking times) but yesterday we had a power failure here in CT. nothing abnormal and the computer wasn't doing anything at the time. Only the browser was open.
Upon rebooting, all hell broke loose. The volume was defaulted to be VERY loud. the first few tries, my icons and task bar location was fine. I could go into the Finder but once I tried to access any applications, it would immediately freeze and that was that. This happens with Safari, iPhoto, iTunes, even the Address Book. after about 3 reboots, the task bar defaulted to large icons on the bottom of the screen.
I ran the hardware test disc and passed without errors. I'm bummed... please help!
sounds like your user folder preferences have been corrupted. easist thing to try is to create a new user, see if everything goes back to normal. Also, of course, boot off cd and run disk utility and permissions.