Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2004-12-29
  Successful Burning
Last week I was looking at all of my workstation disks, and as they're all filling up with various things, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and try and burn some disks.

I put the new combo DVD-RW/CDR drive in my resurrected workstation months ago and its been taunting me ever since.

I started out pretty slow, just doing a speed test for burning a 698MB file over the network off of my server to a 700MB CDR blank. With a little bit of trouble due to Roxio reseting the burn parameters on the preparations dialog every 2-5 seconds, I finally got it started and it zipped through the test successfully in three or four minutes. Very cool.

Disc recorders have gotten a bit more sophisticated since the early days of the $2,500 pioneer 4X SCSI frisbee maker. Getting a success disk out of that monster was a black art of defragmented partitions, optimized layouts, and rube goldberg vibration dampening isolation platforms. (we eventually ended up with a sandwich of mouse pads and 35 pound free weights off of a used exercise gym.) Even once we had a successful receipe, the experience was complicated and painful enough that we didn't make very many. With the cost of the media relatively high, and the low number of disks made (divided into the cost of the machine), on average each disk cost us about $22.

Now, my new $80 recorder does CDs & DVDs (even dual layer), and has buffering circuitry smart enough to slow down and speed up dynamically so that it stays in sync with data delivery.

Unfortunately the free software wasn't really worth what I paid for it, and it proceeded to annoy me repeatedly.

First I tried a speed tested a DVD (after resolving the fact that a 4.7GB disc only holds 4400 MB). The recorder throttled down to between 1.9-2.3X speed (from a possible 4X selection), and after five minutes, I figured it was probably going to work, so I hit cancel. That was a big mistake.

I don't know if it was the software or the drive, but the entire thing jammed up completely. Even killing the software and restarting didnt help. Eventually I gave up and rebooted the whole thing. Unfortunately there was more fun to come.

I setup a set of files again and decided to take the plunge. Pulling up the settings page, I selected disc-at-once, and hit go. Unfortunately at the last moment it flipped all the settings back to its defaults, and it was about to start burning. I pounced on the cancel button, but the dumb GUI then popped up a "are you sure" dialog while the burn started on the disk. I followed through on the confirm, but it was too late. The disk was toast, and we were all locked up again.

After another reboot, I collected what wits I could find and readied for another try. It seemed like there was sort of a pattern to the reboots, though only sort of, so I watched for an opening and took the plunge. Amazingly, I hit it.

Twenty five minutes later it was done, and after a brief check out, I declared success. I managed to get three disks in total, freeing up quite a bit of space and archiving stuff I'm not likely to need anytime soon. My favorite disk was the last one: "Movies I'm Never Going To Watch"

I really collect too much stuff.

 
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Life in the middle of nowhere, remote programming to try and support it, startups, children, and some tinkering when I get a chance.

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Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
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Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
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The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

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Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

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Scramjets take to the air
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Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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