Is the computer problem anything I might be able to help with, P?
I don't know!
It was acting funny yesterday so I decided to try to restart it. Then I got a "fan error" after the Windows startup page and it shut back down. I can't get it to restart. It seems like something a techie needs to go in and play around with, but if there's some kind of easy solution, let me know! I'd much rather try that than send it off to China for repair. (It's a late-model ThinkPad running XP, btw.)
Fan errors, appropriately, mean something is going on with the main cooling fan. Could be easy to fix, could be a pain. On the bottom of the computer, there should be a grille, behind which the main fan sits. If there are some screws around that grille, you should be able to safely take them off, if you're comfortable doing so. If not, that's okay, but the next step (blowing canned air onto the fan) may not be as effective. If you don't have canned air, you can use a vacuum on reverse if you have a wand attachment, but there needs to be a good, strong, steady wind coming out to blow anything lose. If the fan doesn't move when wind is hitting it, that's not enough air flow. It should definitely spin if you hit it with canned air.
After that's done, disconnect the power and take the battery out for a couple minutes. Put the battery back in and power it up, and see if it starts properly. If you get the fan error again, the fan is likely going out and will need to be replaced. One alternative Matthies has used is a pad with a large cooling fan on it, blowing directly into the bottom of the laptop. Might be an option for you.
Wow, thanks for this! Goalie is right!
My warranty won't cover it if I open it up, but I will try to get some canned air tomorrow and see if that does anything. It's not overheated (I unplugged it and left it open upside-down with a fan on it all day), but it won't start up without the fan working, so I don't think a pad like Matthies' would help, alas. I am (as I implied earlier) still under warranty, so I can send it off to get fixed, but it's bad timing because I'm about to leave town. Oh, well. ThinkPads have really gone to *&^% since Lenovo started making them.