Painfully slow system all of a sudden

Hi there,
Today my system slowed to the pace of a snail, and I'd love some help from you guys to work out why. Here are the facts:
- EVERYthing was running slow, all applications, rather than just one. What I had open was: Mori, Appleworks, iTunes, Stickies and Firefox (which had about 30 tabs open, so I don't know if that may have caused it, but I do often have that many open and it's usually ok.) Even bringing up the login window after the screen saver had been on took almost a minute from when I pressed a key!
- I opened Activity Monitor, which I'm not too experienced with using, but I hoped it could give me a clue as to what was up. Here are some screen shots if you'd be so kind as to look.
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b163/HeavenOnEarth/Picture9.png
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b163/HeavenOnEarth/Picture7.png
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b163/HeavenOnEarth/Picture6-1.png
I'll happily provide any more shots of particular areas of activity monitor if it would help.
I noticed that a widget 'UK TV Guide' was highlighted in red, but I can't figure out what that means. It seemed to be using alot of CPU considering it shouldn't even be doing anything, so I trashed it. I'd love to know why it showed up red if anyone knows. I had downloaded this only yesterday, so it would be the one variable that's changed recently that I can think of, but I'm hoping it wasn't causing the problem as I'd like to have that widget!
It did seem to me that it was Firefox that was taking up so much power on my CPU, as you can see on the pics, it's maxed out, and I'm not running something like Photoshop. It couldn't be spyware slowing me down could it? I didn't think there was any for Macs.
I did a shut down and came back and re-started half an hour later and now it's running fine, but I don't want this to happen again and I'd like to work out what was wrong. Today has been so frustrating for me, especially as I work from home online so my computer goes wrong it panics me a bit.
I've also recently had some issues that it's been waking up for no apparent reason just after I've set it to sleep. It also froze the other day for the first time ever i.e. mouse moved but clock stopped, couldn't get any reaction from clicking on things. I did a hardware test and verified my hard disk, and both were fine.
I have 512 MB of ram, so could it be I need to upgrade?
I'm also running 10.4.7, so maybe if I get the combo upgrade to 10.4.8, that could help.
I'd love some help on this, sorry the message is long, I was just trying to provide the info someone may need to help me figure what's wrong.
Thanks for your time,
Charity
iBook G4 12 inch   Mac OS X (10.4.7)   80 GB internal Hard Drive

Thanks for your reply.
I think it must have been some Flash content, I could easily have had pages open with flash, coupled with my lack of RAM. I'm suprised I had too many programmes running, as I thought most of them were pretty un-demanding. My computer's usually works at a reasonable speed, so I think it must have been a particular page I was on at the time. You said Firefox uses alot of processor cycles; did you mean just Firefox or all web browsers? I don't want to change really, but it would help to know.
Still, I can upgrade my RAM by 1 GB, making a total of 1.5 GB. I'm strapped for cash right now, so unless this problem persists and I am forced to buy it now, I may wait a bit. I'll have to see how it goes.
I think my maintenence routine could be improved, although it's better than most people's.
- I always repair permissions before and after an upgrade, and I usually use the full combo upgrades.
- I don't use any apps to run CRON scripts right now, but I do have the widget 'Maintidget' which tells me when they were last run. I CAN also run the scripts from within that, but I'm not too sure whether that's wise, do you know if it's reliable and safe?
- I clean out my internet caches by using the 'Clear Private Data' tool in Firefox. I'm not sure if it came built in or was part of an extension, just incase it was and you have no idea what I'm on about!
- I don't defragment, use disk warrior or force prebind my system, but I do repair or verify my hard drive once in a while using Disk Utility.
Thanks for you help Gulliver, I'd appreciate if you'd briefly answer the other couple of quick questions in this post.
Charity

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       Nov  7 09:35:08 wl0: Roamed or switched channel, reason #8, bssid c8
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       Nov  7 09:49:35 wl0: Roamed or switched channel, reason #8, bssid c8
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               <key>Minute</key>
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    Font issues: 36
    DNS: 128.171.1.1
    Wi-Fi
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    Restricted files: 1767
    Elapsed time (s): 2096

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