Suddenly, the hotlinks in email and other programs don’t cause my default browser (Chrome 11.0.696.71) to open the link. Hot links within Chrome work fine.
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Open Google Chrome, click on the little wrench in the upper-right corner and select Options from the menu. Look at the bottom of the presented Options page and if it says 'Google Chrome is not currently your default browser,' click on the button above it that says 'Make Google Chrome my default browser.' (I'm guessing that something else was installed that took over the browser protocols and/or file types.)