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If you're brave enough, you could DIY it using the guides here: http://www.tim.id.au/blog/tims-laptop-service-manuals/Hopefully this guy won't charge you too much though, especially on a 10 year old laptop
This is a laptop right ?What make/model ?
I know, but it will save electricity usage to use the battery!
in that case it sounds to me like a hardware issue such as a bad memory chip but it might also be a bad connection at the power jack, with the battery out try gently moving the power plug at the laptop end from side to side to see if it causes the laptop to shut down suddenly
Did it shut down with a message "saying" it was shutting down, or did it just immediately go off (as though you'd pulled the plug ?
Link to Gareth's Blog