My laptop is now officially toast.
If I try to start it up, the green light blinks, and then goes off. After much trouble shooting by myself, and also getting the thing analyzed by the Dell tech support folks (working all night in some office in India, it seems), it appears most likely that the motherboard needs to be replaced.
Anyway, about one week from now, I might be poorer by mucho dinero, but might have a functioning computer again.
Till then, enjoy the weather. Hopefully blogging will resume after a week.