Note: This is not my real laptop.
I just wanted to give a quick update explaining the lack of posts here for the past couple of weeks. Basically my trusty Compaq V3030CA laptop bit the dust about a week and a half ago, after a series of increasingly serious problems finally took their toll. After a bit of research, I discovered that there were several lines of HP and Compaq laptops that had an issue with the default BIOS, and HP was offering a "Limited Warranty Service Enhancement" that essentially offers an extension of the manufacturers warranty if you:
A) Have laptop that is a member of one of the following HP/Compaq series of laptops:
B) Are experiencing wireless problems and/or display problems.
In my case, I had the pleasure of experiencing the wireless problems for some time (though I chalked it up to my router rather than my notebook) before I started getting random lockups and eventually extremely distorted video that would be immediately followed by my system locking up.
The Root Cause
It turns out that the default BIOS for these particular laptops were configured to turn on the case fan when the processer (an AMD Turion x64 in my case) reached a temperature of 55° Celsius; a perfectly acceptable temperature for that chip. Unfortunately the rest of the components in these laptops depended on that fan for cooling, and by the time the Turion chip reached 55° (which takes a while because the chip runs quite cool) the rest of the components in the machine were literally cooking themselves into premature failure.
So my machine is off at HP getting repaired free-of-charge, so if you are experiencing the same problems and have one of the laptops listed above, by all means contact HP and they will take care of everything (shipping, repairs) completely free of charge. I'm expecting my machine back in about a week or so, at which time I'll get back to a more regular posting schedule.