So after about four years of blissful ownership, my PS3 refused to turn on one day. I went straight to YouTube and typed in, "PS3 blinking red light" and got a ton of hits on the RLOD.
Long and short of it is that the cooling system in the first generation PS3 is somewhat inadequate and if you leave it on for long periods of time, the heat cycles wear down the solder integrity and the solder begins to crack, disrupting the electrical signals on the motherboard. Sony is not taking care of this globally - if customers call for service, they charge for the fix. With shipping, about $200. Another option are private repair techs of which there are a bunch. They charge about $50 for the fix, but you have to pay for shipping both ways which brings it closer to $80.
Luckily there was a DIY fix (a bunch of them) that essentially use a heat gun to "reflow" the solder. I literally watched two or three repair techs do it their own way on YouTube, picked my path, bought the parts and did the fix. Essentially all I needed was an adjustable heat gun (harbor frieght - $29) and some thermal paste. Got the paste from Amazon for about 7 bucks.
Disassembly - a little scary the first time.
Cleaned off all the old thermal paste and dust, reflowed the solder, applied new thermal paste (Artic Silver 5) and put it all back together. It fired up the first time.
The follow-on recommendation is to store it vertically and to clean dust off the vents often. A lot of guys mod their PS3 with heat sinks, water cooling systems, extra fans or fan upgrades, etc. There's really no limit to how far you want to go. I might look into another cooling mod just to stop this from happening again. Some people that reflow the motherboard report the same failure again in the future - anywhere from a couple of months to a year or so depending on how much use. Other people never have a failure again.
Theory is that the factory thermal paste blows and the new thermal paste fixes the cooling issue. Anybody that has a second failure just didn't reflow the solder properly or completely. Guess time will tell if I did the reflow properly. The only indication is that it works... which it does for now! Cool experience for the DIY type!