I know every computer box needs a CD/DVD reader in order to boot the thing up under adverse conditions (and your system should always be set up so that you can do this, by the way!). But as a matter of actual functionality, maintaining a current and high-functioning version of this sort of device, or two or more of them especially, built into the box is usually a bad idea for me. My computer boxes are not ever conveniently located. For my main computer, I can reach the off on switch with my toe, which is how I start up the machine. (The button is not needed to turn it off, of course.) So I can’t really easily reach the CD/DVD drives. And, over time, these drives get old, or slow, or just don’t do everything you want, and if you have two or three computers in the household (don’t forget to count everyone’s laptop) an external DVD/CD burner/reader might be a better option than trying to keep each machine functioning in top form.
Anyway, that’s what I thought, so I bought one.
It turned out that an HP with LightScribe technology was what I settled on, but not for the LightScribe technology. It just had the functionality I wanted and was not very expensive, and happend to hae LightScribe technology. LightScribe technology is the ability to burn a label right into the disk while it is in your drive. Supposedly.
I figured that might be nice, but I did not consider it essential to be able to burn a label in to the disk after putting something on there. Besides, I know the media that allow this technology to work is more expensive than regular media, and I doubted that the technology was well implemented. (I can now verify that both of these are true, BTW.)
But, once I had the external disk reader/writer home, I figured I’d try to see if I could get LightScribe to work. I realized that the best use of this technology would be CD’s I’d burn using iTunes, which is on the Evil Windows Computer in the basement. So I skipped the part about whether or not Linux would have drivers and software to run LightScribe and went right to installing the software o the Windows computer.
That was a mistake, because it brought back all the horrid memories of when I actually used and operated and fixed and messed with Windows computers. I had to be sedated twice. I’m re-starting therapy on Tuesday. It was bad.
Do you know what it is like installing software on a Windows computer? Like this:
The machine (DVD/CD reader/writer) came with a disk with software. So I put the disk in the drive and picked “install.”
I did not know it, but I ended up installing an entire suite of software, called Nero or Neato or some such thing, which is utterly and totally redundant with about half of the software on any normal desktop computer, attempts to take over the entire computer, much of it is only trial ware, and there is now an entirely new and unwanted toolbar thing on my Windows Taskbar that says “Nero Search” on it.
This installatoin required hitting “Install” and “Yes” and “I Agree” and “OK” about 12 times in total. Compare this to installing a complex Linux application, which is done with one or two clicks at the beginning and no further interaction. With this sort of Windows install, I am commanded to “shut down all applications, save your work, back everything up” and the “OK” and “Install” and “Yes” and so on and so forth buttons come up for no good reason at various intervals throughout the install process. So, if you are not watching the whole time (and the process is painfully slow) then every time you come back to your computer it is sitting there with some dumbass message asking for you to do the only possible thing you can do … click “OK” …
And, at the end, the final “OK” button results in a cryptic error message. A disturbing and cryptic error message. Then you reboot the computers.
Here’s what I want. I want this: Every time Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates, from now on, get a medical procedure, I want them to reboot. Defib the heart to a stop, let the body rest a minutes, then defib the heard back on and let the whole system back up again.
Hangnail? Zap! Wart removal? Zap! Routine round of blood tests? Zap! Zap! Zap!
Now that the installation process is over, I am now subscribed to a newsletter or two, my hard drive is full of crap, screen real estate has been taken away from me, and guess what….
… the actual software I need was not installed. Somewhere among all the crap that was installed by the disk that came with this HP disk drive is a button I can press (when I finally find it) and this brings me to a web site from which I can install a “simple” version of a disk labeler. Or, if you happen to notice the fine print on the web site, you can install another piece of software that claims to be able to actually create labels for use with your LightScribe device.
So I made one disk that had some Indigo Girls on it, and labeled it Indigo Girls 1200 Curfew 2, selected, or words to that effect.
In order for this to work, I had to flip the disk upside down and reinsert it. The LightScribe technology does not work in such a way that you can burn music or data onto a drive then press a button and put a label on there. No. You have to design and muck around with the label quite a bit, then you have to flip over the disk so the laser in your drive has access to the label side.
For the simple case of the Indigo Girls selected songs, the software indicated that he process would take 3 minutes. It took 4.
My next effort was to use the “template” software, which needed to be installed, of course, and comes with a bunch of dumbass templates, to burn a disk with graphics and more detail (but fewer words). That burn time is listed 23 minutes. But it takes about 40.
About half way through that process you’ll be thinking “crap, did I put the disk in upside down like I was supposed to? And if I did not will that ruin the damn disk drive????”
I chose a label for a brand new Ubuntu 8.10 CD, that I will burn and give to the next Windows user I encounter.
So if you want to have a real live disk label that actually looks like something on your cd, like to make your life a bit more efficient and stuff, this technology will ad about a half hour per disk, including dicking around and the actual burn process.
Or, you can get one of these and it’s really freakin’ fast: