Before removing the bottom plate, I thought to myself, `Wouldn't it be a lot easier to check if it were missing critical components, say RAM, first?' So I unscrewed the RAM lid, and hey, both DIMMs were missing!
Good news: the wireless card is still there! 
So I took the computer home, found a 40GB IDE disk and two 512MB SO-DIMMs. One of the memory modules was rated at 266MHz and the other unknown, which might be a problem. I put in the components, plugged in the laptop, and pressed the power button. No cookie. However, the battery charging indicator went from a constant green light to four short blinks of orange and one longer flash of green. I searched online for possible indicators, but no conclusive answer showed up. The Dell service manual was pretty lame as well. Since Grant made no guarantees that the power adapter would work, I found my voltmeter and tested the plug. The reading showed +19.0V, not bad for a +19.5V unit (or at least I hope so).
At this point I don't know what to do; I also have my dad's old 14.1" `gaming laptop' (full with a Pentium 4!), but the CPU cooling fan does not start at bootup. This is a serious problem especially for something powered by a Pentium 4. The Dell is a nice unit too: it has a Pentium M processor, ATi 9000 series graphics card, and weighs approximately 4.5lbs, making the perfect netbook. It is currently laying on the top of the family room couch in a half-disassembled state. Any suggestions?
 Sorry Julia, my desk is still a mess =P
 My current `netbook' is my 15.4" MacBook Pro 1,1.