A reader writes in to tell me that based on my description, it is almost certain that my motherboard is dying – post warranty, of course. This is the second Dell laptop in a row in which the motherboard has croaked. The other one, fortunately, was still under warranty when it passed away. The good news is that I can start thinking about my next machine, which will certainly NOT be a Dell. Of all the things there were to be learned from the object lesson of the American auto manufacturers, why is it that planned obsolescence should be the one that they latched onto.