The new cover arrived today. I got the replacement machine out and snapped the cover into place. It having been a while since I last powered it up, I put it on the docking station and booted it. No obvious problem, and I let the battery recharge. (It trickles away a little bit even when you aren't using it, although I think it would take a year before it discharged entirely.)
The machine also complained that there were many Windows updates that it wanted to download. I told it to go ahead, and then the ungrateful thing said most of them failed! I tried several more times, including downloading two of them individually instead of via Windows Update. In the end, there was still one update that stubbornly refused to install. It was for a piece of Windows I never used, so I decided to stop worrying about it.
I then got the idea of trying to figure out why I had been previously unable to get it to drive video to the television set, even though (as far as I could tell) it was configured identically to my own machine. My own machine drives video out the S-video port without any problems.
I tried all sorts of different combinations of things, but nothing seemed to get the video driver to recognize that an S-video cable was plugged into the port. Thinking that maybe the driver needed reinstalling, I dug out the drivers disk and tried to run it. It got part-way through and said the installation failed. When it rebooted, it was running only the default drivers, not the higher-powered ATI Radeon drivers that should be there; moreover, a driver installation failed again.
Trying to come up with a common theme, and noting that one of the Windows Update failures had been due to a generic "disk error," I ran a full-blown reboot-and-try-to-fix everything CHKDSK. About 85% of the way through stage 4, it started finding bad clusters on the hard drive, including the subdirectories where that update and the video drivers should have been. Well, that probably explains why they wouldn't load!
This is actually the hard drive out of the damaged computer, not the replacement. When testing which parts appeared to work and which did not, I found that the hard drive would boot, so I put it into the replacement machine. This saved me having to reinstall stuff on that machine, and given that the machine is mostly used as a game-playing machine for Lisa now and then, it did not seem like a big deal. But if the disk is full of errors, it may continue to get more, even if CHKDSK is able to wall off those clusters that are currently bad.
The drive that came with the replacement PC went into cherylmorgan's laptop when her hard drive failed. Cheryl has told me to go buy a new comparable hard drive and charge her for it whenever I want to do so; this was just a case of having the right part at the right time.
I wonder if Dell might be persuaded to replace the unreliable hard drive under the coverage of the replacement machine. Stranger things have happened with Dell support.
Lisa still wants us to get the older, broken machine repaired someday. I reckon it's a $500-$700 job, based on the cost of parts, mainly the replacement screen, but also the keyboard and cracked baseplate. The company that sold me the QuickSnap cover looks to me like they must have bought up a bunch of spare parts from Dell when Dell discontinued the Inspiron 600m line, and they offer repair service.
And before any of you say, "Why bother?" The answer is "because Lisa wants it, that's why," and it's not susceptible to the normal sort of logic, in my opinion. Lisa has some very strong opinions about some things, and I try to avoid arguing with her on those things. The only question will be if I have the money to afford the repairs, and right now, the answer to that question is, "No."