Thursday, April 02, 2009

Geek Ranting Alert 1: how the optical drive was won

LiteOn SmartEraseYesterday I wrote "All is well now" at the end of the paragraph about having to replace my CD-RW drive, and that's still true. But there's more to the story that came along later. If computer wrangling talk isn't your thing just skip this and go to yesterday's entry, I'll understand. Seems everyone I've told the bare bones of the story to so far (having Facebook and a couple messenger programs open while I was doing the work) has universally used the phrase, "if I understood what you were talking about..." So here it is in bullet point form:

* Noticed on the drive's box that "SmartErase", which can securely destroy a CD or DVD that you had previously created (this doesn't work on store-bought disks so your music and movies are safe), is prominently mentioned. Also noticed this is not mentioned anywhere in the owner's manual, which does go on at length about the LightScribe label maker (which this drive doesn't have -- its sister model the HAP422 does that trick), and that the drive came with Nero 7 Essentials, a very basic burner software that is two full versions behind the current Nero version.
* I am using Nero 8.1, so I don't see the point of downgrading. But I want that SmartErase feature. Nero 8.1 doesn't offer it on the menu. Checked a drive review website, it mentions only Nero 7 Essentials and has a description of SmartErase being used. I am thinking that maybe the software didn't 'adjust' when I put in the new drive so I should reinstall it in hopes it will say, "oh, you have a LiteOn HAP322, let's add the option to the utilities menu!"
* Uninstall Nero 8.1 and reboot.
* Download Nero 9 from the maker's website. Download manager crashes twice due to other things I was doing. I remember when Nero 4 was like 14 megabytes because all it did was burn CDs; Nero 9 is like 835 megabytes and wants to be your everything. So this takes about an hour to complete.
* 23% of the way through the unpacking of Nero 9, error dialog: File corrupt.
* Delete and re-download Nero 9. No crashes.
* Gets 100% of the way through the unpacking of Nero 9, program disappears completely. Repeat this a couple times, it doesn't begin the install. Look up available hard drive space, figure 900 megs isn't enough, move my photos off that drive to another and this frees up 2 gigs.
* This time it completes the unpacking before putting up an error dialog: This will not work with this version of Windows, see website for details.
* Takes me 10 minutes to find the product specs, and this is the first I see anywhere that Nero 9 is for XP and Vista only... they dropped Windows 2000 use?!
* Spend time hunting for version 8.3.13, since if I'm going to be stuck with version 8 I might as well make sure it's the latest one. Don't find it offhand on maker's site, don't want to Torrent it, find that someone's made it available on Rapidshare as two RAR archives. Not being a member it's gonna take me an hour and being sneaky due to the site's limitations to download both parts...
* An hour and one modem powercycle later, I have both parts of Nero 8.3.13. They reintegrate fine. The program installs fine, and as usual I spend five minutes cutting down the install options of this 250 meg program into the three components I will ever use. I do not see SmartErase mentioned.
* Run program, insert an old CD-R of music, I still don't see how to erase a disk. Look on Nero's site, it mentions nothing about the SmartErase. But Nero 8.3.13 is working otherwise so that's one victory.
* Do yet another search on Google, and this time it points me to the SmartErase application which is available for download from a CD/DVD tweaker site's utilities section, uploaded in the same month in which the sticker says my drive was manufactured. The application looks like the screen pictured on the box, and the description only says it was part of a software bundle. Not Nero 7 Essentials, a different package. Hey, whatever's clever.
* Search the Nero 7 Essentials disk for this application as a stand-alone program, do not see it readily, figure it might be hiding in one of the CAB files but I'm not going to go hunting all over the disk for it if I can download the thing.
* Download SmartErase utility, run, erase the music disk as proof of concept, happy happy. Wonder aloud why this was so hard and why this is the only place with the utility. Add to the "Nero Tools" folder since that's where it should have been in the first place. There's no credits screen in this program to tell where it came from, who wrote it, or anything else that would be useful for seeking the source or newer versions. I visit LiteOn's site and find a few disk utilities but not this. Shrug.
* Mission accomplished, it's 3:30 a.m., consider myself victorious and go to bed.

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