to boot into Safe Mode by repeatedly pressing the F8 key as you power on the system?
If you can boot into Safe Mode try logging in with the default Administrator account and creating a new account. Can you boot into the new account - if yes then your old account is most likely corrupt.
If you cannot boot into Safe Mode does ANYTHING show up on the screen such as the BIOs screens?
If you have a floppy drive see if you can boot with a floppy boot diskette. If you do not have a floppy drive try booting with a bootable CD (you can download several Linux distros to make bootable CDs or a quick and small ISO for burning a bootable CD can be found here:
If the boot diskette or Cd boots see if the hard drive can be seen. The CD based on Linux will show the drive if it can be read but the DOS floppy will need you to make use of the FDISK command to see if the hard drive is recognized by entering FDISK /STATUS on the command line.
This is my first problem during 6 years I've owned a Gateway 838GM: "while playing a utube video of the allman bros' going down slow, experienced screen and sound freeze. tried to restart several times with ctrl-alt-delete-twice,,, nothing happened. mouse frozen too, eventually did a power off shutdown. Here's the Problem: upon power up the next day, I can hear what sounds like a fan or drive running HARD, but the screen stays black and it never boots up. it just continues with the hard run sound without advancing through the start up sequence."
What can I do, short of taking it in to a computer repair store? (if I ever made a recovery disc when it was new, I don't recall where it might be now)