Known Johnson

May 2, 2006

The CD underbelly of home-built computers

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:39 pm

,em>Really bad title, sorry.

After a year of dilligent CD-ripping and writing, my latest CD-writer is pushing up daisies, has kicked the bucket, bought the farm, keeled over, is pinin’ for the fjords. I’m more than a little annoyed – this has become a yearly event with me, it seems. And I’m not buying the cheap-o no-name deals that pop up in OfficeMax ads every week. This was a very well-researched decision and the result, in general, was spectacular – never a coaster in the entire year, if I remember correctly, and its one big fault was choking on dreaded DualDiscs, which it really can’t be blamed for since DualDiscs violate every industry-standard for CDs and DVDs known to man. So I’m on the hunt, again, because I really can’t afford to be without a CD-writer or decent reader. I do have a back-up, a 6 year old, very, very slow DVD-reader, but this is not a great drive to use – I have kept it solely because it handles DualDiscs like a champ. I’m hoping that today, a year after DualDiscs darkened our proverbial doorsteps, there are a few drives that can handle them with no problems.

This comes on the heels of another, more general computer problem: I need a new one, essentially. My computer is acting like a tortoise to everyone else’s hare, only in this instance, the tortoise doesn’t wind up finishing first because he took his time. He just doesn’t finish. Why this is a problem now, I don’t know – I had the same setup for the past 4 years and it worked fine until I reinstalled Windows XP last fall, when all of a sudden it acted like it had gotten a cramp in its side and never recovered. So in the past 6 months or so, I’ve had to deal with an extremely annoying issue: when ripping a CD in Itunes (which I do A LOT,) pretty much anything else on the computer is off-limits. If I dare attempt to open a browser, everything will slow down and chug along. The window will appear as just a titlebar, then a white background, and at some point a couple minutes later the contents of the browser will actually show up. And don’t even think about getting email – it will freeze everything up. So it’s hands off while ripping CDs, which has resulted in some very frustrating lags in between when I buy a CD and when I finally do get it on my Ipod – I am still waiting to rip the King Crimson stuff I got last week, for instance, so I just carry those discs, and anything else new that has gripped my interest, with me everywhere I go. Thus making the point of the Ipod null and void, kind of.

So now I have decided that I simply cannot go on like this – my time is limited (and happily so – I’d much rather play with Amanda than sit behind this ugly box) so my time on the computer needs to be productive. And this one is not cutting it. So I’m setting off on a journey of research to find just the right combination of motherboard, processor, and RAM to get me back to normal again. And I’m completely unexcited about it. I used to scoff at people who simply bought Dells, but now I get it: all of you are smart, and I am very dumb because I’m about to justify saving a few hundred dollars by putting it all together myself and dealing with all the driver downloads, adjustments, etc. I never thought I’d say it, but buying a pre-built computer actually makes sense now. I just can’t make the added price and lack of choice in internals make sense.

But first: a new CD-writer, because I’m that dependent on it.

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