Thursday, June 18, 2009

Don't have a heart attack until you're sure you should

I was showing a coworker how I burn disks with our software on it. We were about to release a new version of our program and the guy who used to do it had been fired a couple of months ago. I used to do that job and knew what program to use. We'd had problems in the past when we used the free software that comes with most new computers to burn disks because the free software wouldn't "close the session" when we were finished. We would send the disk to the company that did the mass production and they would come back with, "The session isn't closed on this disk. We can close it but that will change the way the files look when you examine it. You should close the session before you give it to us." Whatever "closing the session" means!

When I was given the responsibility of burning the disks, I looked around for a better program and found ImgBurn. It is free, too, but it works better and, apparently, "closes the session" when it is done. When someone else was given the responsibility of burning disks, I showed him what I used and it continued to work well. But then he was fired and new disks needed to be prepared. No one else knew what to do so I volunteered to do it. In the spirit of teaching a man to fish, I was showing how it is done, which program to use and explaining the background of the problem.

I took the stack of blank disks, picked the top one and put it in the disk burner all while continuing with my explanation. After a while, we noticed a funny noise. It was coming from the disk burner. It sounded horrible. It was making a scraping, swishing sound. I hurried to remove the disk. It took a while because the computer was apparently trying to make sense of what was going on. When I finally got the tray open and took out the disk, it was scrubbed completely clear! I almost had a heart attack. What had happened to my disk burner?

Lucky for me, I focused on the problem and didn't give my heart a chance to succumb to the stress. As I looked around and examined the stack of disks, I realized what had happened. There is a clear plastic spacer (or protector) on the top and bottom of the stack of disks. While I was busy talking, I'd taken the plastic piece (which is the exact size of the real disks) and put it in the burner. The disk is pretty flexible and must have flopped around when the burner spun the disk up to high speed. I was able to burn nine disks successfully so I don't think I ruined the disk burner. We'll see.

No comments: