I poked the power switch thinking it had just gotten bumped by Ra during our absence... and nothing happened. I checked the power strip, since Ra has been known to step on that and turn the switch off.... nope, that's still fully operational, and my monitor and speakers are on, so it's not like the strip is lying to me or has a blown fuse. I plug the computer directly into the wall and throw the switch -- nothing. I look inside the case and the LED on the motherboard that's supposed to glow to indicate power from the power supply isn't glowing. I pull the machine apart, check for loose connections, nothing seems to be awry here except for the small fact that my PC will not turn on.
The way I see it either the mobo is shot or the power supply is shot, or possibly even both. The only way for me to test and see where the actual problem lies is to get a new power supply tomorrow and install it -- if the machine doesn't boot than it's very likely the mobo is shot.
I'd like to take a moment to say that it's just this sort of uncertainty and inability to allow user troubleshooting that makes me HATE the ATX system that is so prevalent in PCs today. In the old days you could tell if the power supply was shot because the power switch was wired directly in. If you pressed the switch and the fans didn't whir into life then the supply was gone. If they did and the system didn't boot it was probably something else (mobo, RAM, controller cards, etc). You could also clip a multitester to the power switch's leads and see if there was voltage on the line, another sign if the capacitors and internal guts of the supply was working as designed. With the ATX system you can't do that... or if you can, nobody has shown me how and it's not nearly as straightfoward. I've said it before, I'll say it again: the power supply should not be controlled by the motherboard! No, no, no! This is ++ungood design, stop doing it!
The part that tweaks me the most is I can't even troubleshoot it because I:
I really hope it's the power supply because that's cheap and easy to handle. Mobos are cheap as well these days but are a little more annoying to replace, and it's not a battle I want to fight unless absolutely necessary. Harumph. Oh well, this will give me something to work on tomorrow while everyone else is out of the apartment attending the MFF staff meeting.