Sunday, September 03, 2006

The DVD burner

We have four DVD burners in this house. Two of em are in my computer, the one I'm writing on right now. I don't actually need two DVD burners any more than I need two heads but that's how it fell out.

The third DVD burner is in my Home Theatre PC (HTPC) and it's never actually been used to burn a DVD. It was used as a CD reader when I built that computer and installed Windows XP MCE.

One of the burners in this computer, and the one in the HTPC, are dual layer burners. Sounds like a great technology until you try and actually use it but I've found dual layer so unreliable that I stick to single layer media and will for the foreseeable future. I'd rather stick twice as many blanks in during a backup if I want a reasonable hope of them being readable a year from now.

On the other hand, have you tried buying a DVD burner recently? They're all dual layer whether you like it or not. Come to that, tried buying a CD burner recently? They're still available if you're willing to pay twice the price of a DVD burner. Given that a DVD burner can burn a CD why would you spend twice the bucks?

We're talking about 60 US bucks for a DVD burner these days though my first DVD burner, bought the same week I arrived in the US to live, cost about 400 bucks.

By contrast, back in 1995 Heino and I investigated the purchase of a CD burner. It was going to set us back about $6000 Australian. We built the cost of the burner into the business plan but little did we know that the people we were presenting the business plan to were underfunded and a bunch of charlatans to boot! A story for another day...

A couple of weeks before our Chicago trip Andrew intimated a desire for a CD burner in his computer. Well, at first he thought he already had one. Andrew's not very technologically inclined; he sees me sticking a blank into my computer, burning a backup and thinks that any device that can accomodate a blank will record. Thus a request for a blank. I was content to pass one up knowing that nothing he could do on his computer would damage the blank!

A few minutes later a question about why it wasn't burning a copy of his iTracks tracks. 'Well Andrew', I said, 'maybe it's because your computer doesn't have a burner!'. Sheepish grin...

So he asked for a burner. Ok, he can have one on certain conditions. The main (indeed only) one was that he damn well earn it! Mom and I came up with a schedule for him to earn it. If he cleans up around the house (not just his own stuff but everyone's) for 28 days we will buy him one. He agreed to this about six weeks ago.

Yeah, we got the usual teenage wail; 'that's not fair'. I asked him to show me the contract he was given when he was born, the one that promised life would be fair. Sheepish grin; I've asked to see that contract before!

The next day I went out and bought his burner and showed it to him. A DVD dual layer burner as it happens; it's the least expensive option and the hitherto unnaccounted for fourth burner. It's still in the unopened original packaging. I bought it the next day because I think it's important that we keep our promises to him if we expect him to keep his to us.

In the 45 or so days since the bargain was struck his 28 days has dropped to 7 days. He got 14 today for washing and cleaning my car inside and out. I was a harsh taskmaster! 'Missed a bit'. Protests. 'I can see dirt there' I said. He scrubbed a bit more and rinsed a bit more. 'Missed another bit!'. More scrubbing and rinsing!

He can now feel the burner is within his grasp. Only 7 days to go. But I'm betting it'll take another 3 weeks in total to get to zero. I'm in two minds whether to make my installing it another day!

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