I think it's a hardware issue.
Terribly sorry to be so vague in my initial post.
I am convinced that my problem lies somewhere on my motherboard. Without going into detail, I was sold a piece of **** -- sorry faulty -- board and the tech who eventually fixed the problem had to do some serious workaround to get it to function at all.
Like I said, I'm poor, so I have no choice but to use this board. I would like to take th opportunity to say DO NOT DEAL IN ANY WAY WITH ATIC COMPUTERS IN VANCOUVER BC!!! However, CALS' COMPUTER WAREHOUSE is fantastic.
I tried some of the apps on my roomies machine, a true frankenstien box if ever there was one, and they work much better. Hence my conclusion that it's a hardware issue.
So until I get a new board and a card that is definitely Linux-friendly, I'm putting the issue on the back burner.
Thank you all very much for taking the time to respond and I will let you know how it goes.