I may be unable to post for a few days. After one of the better tech support calls I’ve had the unfortunate need to make, Dell will be sending someone over to replace my motherboard, video card and heat sink. I’m very impressed with their tech support on this. There was no b.s., no condescending questions along the line of (have you tried rebooting), and the person on the phone was instantly able to work out what the problem was from my fairly disjointed description.
So, what’s happening seems to be that my vid card (imbedded in the motherboard on this model laptop) is overheating and possibly taking the motherboard out with it. This is leaving me able to use my computer for somewhere between 5 minutes and 2 hours before it crashes badly. Hopefully this will be fixed soon so I can be rambling endlessly here like normal.