The Demise of My Aurora Has Been Greatly Exaggerated...
Well, I spaketh too soon. I have revived Big Blue! Turns out the video card wouldn't stay seated properly even though I had run it successfully for months with 2 of the 4 mounting posts broken at the soldering joint. A third post broke off, and after a big mental debate whether to try to have these posts re-soldered and possibly throw good money after bad, or just retire the laptop after nearly 4 years, I decided to roll the dice on the fix.
After hunting far and wide for a shop that would attempt a laptop solder repair, I finally found one. They did the job, but when I got the laptop back the next day it still wouldn't boot. I had pretty much resigned to giving up on it, yet I couldn't help but keep messing around with it myself every now and then.
Finally, by some stroke of dumb luck, the thing booted! The screen came on and everything worked. I couldn't believe it. As I type this right now, I'm using the venerable Aurora to do so. IT LIVES!!!
Still, I can't trust it and have gotten authorization to purchase an M17x, which I'll do as soon as Alienware runs a decent promotion on 'em. With Xmas around the corner, I would hope they'd run a nice discount or something.
So the Aurora story continues, but for how much longer is anyone's guess. Maybe it has 9 lives or something.