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It shouldn't be happening. VirusScan has always had script scanning but it shouldn't have any effect except if there's an infection present.
Is XP fully up to date? What browser version?
Try uninstalling Java from Control Panel/Add or Remove Programs, and then download the latest one: http://java.com/en/download/index.jsp
I checked and have the latest version of Java and XP, and Java was installed quite a while ago and at those times I had no problems with it. The reason why I suspected McAfee was because this week I saw there were a lot of updates happening to the McAfee programs with the swirling arrows appearing quite frequently next to the Mcafee icon on the bottom righthand corner of the screen. Browser version: 70573011
First of all check for spyware using the free version of this tool, just in case: http://www.superantispyware.com/superantispywarefreevspro.html
It sounds like your McAfee updated to the 2009 products as normally you would only see one update every weekday for a VirusScan DAT. That is about to increase sometime soon.
However, it could be that your McAfee installation has somehow got corrupted so do the following:
1. Uninstall all McAfee programs through "Add or Remove Programs" in Windows "Control Panel".
2. Use the MCPR tool, see this article: How to remove supported McAfee consumer products using the McAfee Consumer Products Removal tool (MCPR.exe). This will remove all McAfee remnants from your computer. (you must have Windows Vista, XP or 2000 SP4 to use this tool)
3. Launch Windows Explorer and delete all McAfee files in "Program Files" but especially in "C:\Document and Settings\<user>\Application Data" and "C:\Document and Settings\All Users\Application Data". You have to set Windows Explorer to show all hidden files and folders (Tools > Folder Options > View tab). Just delete the McAfee folders even if they are empty in all the "Application Data" folders. Can be more than one!
In Vista: C:\Program Files, C:\ProgramData and C:\Users\yourname\AppData\Roaming
4. Reboot and redownload/reinstall your McAfee products directly from your account at the McAfee web site, not from an CD that you may have.