See, Mike was able to get me back up and running yesterday with the replacement video card (which began exhibiting the same problems as the original) and also cleaning out more gunk from the fans than I had. He also cooled down the entire system and the chip area on the motherboard around the video card, and removed a stray lead (which he said didn't look like it was touching anything or shorting anything out) from the motherboard. So I was up for just about 24 hours and then it started again. In the middle of working in Windows, the display just went completely blank again. Exact same symptoms as before with the original video card so now I know that's not the source of the problem. Unfortunately, even a full power down won't bring it back up anymore.
We'll have to do more work on it tomorrow. But unfortunately I wasn't able to get a backup from it yet, so all the data I was so happy to finally be able to get at again... bye bye again! Hopefully we can get an external display up and running off it tomorrow. I think we might have better luck using a DVI connection to a newer flat screen display instead of the crappy old 15" CRT I was hooking it up to for my previous testing (which wouldn't run once Windows booted). If I have to send it back to Dell for out-of-warranty repairs, I need to get my data off it first, especially since the hard drive is still good and I can't chance them wiping it.
I'm not sure how much a new LCD screen will cost if it's that. If it's the reed switch problem I read about, that would be cheaper. When I bought this system though--a Dell Inspiron E1705/9400 1.83 GHz Dual Core Processor with 17" widescreen WUXGA Truelife screen--I pretty much maxed it out with all the best equipment so it cost over $3,000 when all was said and done. So even if the display ran me upwards of $500-$800, I'd still be better off than having to buy a new system.
But anyway, all I can say at this point is.... WAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm feeling: frustrated