I've read through several of the discussion, and I cannot find a solution for the problem:
HHC3004: Warning: THe HTML tag (string of random symbols) is not a valid HTML tag (it does not begin with an alphanumeric character).
I read in one of the discussions to compile from RH instead of the MS compiler -- I am compiling in RH, but it says Microsoft HTML Compiler, so I may be missing something there.
I was getting this on the <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?> tag today. I scoured the source on the HTML tab and couldn't find anything peculiar. Then, I pointed to the topic in the RH Project Manager and got a ToolTip that showed Condition [<tagname>] and then a whole bunch of Chinese characters. I duplicated another topic and copied/pasted the content from the Design view into the new topic. Then, I deleted the bad topic in Windows Explorer and renamed the filename of the new topic to what the old topic was (to avoid broken links) and that fixed it. No clue what caused it...
Thanks. It turns out that my paticular problem was related to my path. We use MS Team Server as Source Control, and my local path included my name "catherine.holliday." Apparrently, you cannot have anything with ".h" because is causes this problem with the images. I changed my path, and voila! Everything is working normally again.