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It sounds like the battery is end of its life. If you plug the power adapter into the camera, does it power on? If it does then it's the battery. (some cameras might requre you to have the battery in there..so put the battery in, but also plug in the power adapter and see if it powers on)
The best way to download pictures from your camera to your computer involves removing the memory card from the camera and plugging it into a card reader (either built-in to the computer or connected via USB or FireWire). This is likely to be faster than connecting the camera to the computer, and won't run down your camera's batteries.
Once the card is plugged in, it will appear to your computer as a removable drive. You can use the operating system's drag&drop facility to copy pictures from the card to the computer's hard drive, the same way you copy any other files. Or you can use any photo cataloging program.
Some models of camera have an ultra capacitor in them to extend battery life. This ultra capacitor is indistinguishable from a battery to the camera electronics. If the charging light starts blinking when there are no batteries in the camera, it will not cause any damage. After a few minutes, the light will stop blinking.