How to Make Your Own CD-ROM

Article excerpt

Editor's Note: CD-ROM by definition is a read-only medium, so who would think you could make your own disc, almost on the fly? But it's possible that a CD recorder could be your next computer accessory. Recent enhancements in the technology have lowered the price of CD recorders and discs to within the range of other computer peripherals. Now you can make your own CD-ROMs (usually called CD-Rs in the industry) by using a special combination CD recorder/drive, discs, and software. Back up your new 1GB hard drive, share large files among colleagues, distribute a database or catalog to a small audience-all these uses and more are possible using CD-Recordable. Here's ct primer to the latest technology to hit the desktop. Explore the related articles listed in the box in the article for more in-depth, how-to information.

CD-Recordable is the culmination of breakthrough technology in optics, lasers, mechanics, electronics, and chemistry. When you consider that, for under $1000, a CD recorder can record sub-microscopic optical marks in a photosensitive dye medium that is spinning not only at a high rate of speed, but at different rates of speed over the surface of a disc, and that those marks can then be read by a device that costs less than $100 and is available in 80 percent of computers sold today (a CD-ROM drive), it's amazing that it works at all! But it does, and reliably enough that many forms of data are being placed on CD-Recordable media due to its reliability and longevity

CD-Recording can be performed successfully with little or no knowledge of the concepts, strategies, and standards behind the technology. Current recording software allows great flexibility and power, and some also let neophytes produce a CD without headaches or heartaches.

NO LONGER OFF-LIMITS

Easy? Simple? Even I can do it? Then what's the fuss? For starters, a little more than five years ago the price tag for a CD-R system was $100,000. That price included a steep learning curve that required a user to know about such things as pregap, postgap, sector size, optimum file placement, and other exotic concepts buried deep in the Red Book, Orange Book, Yellow Book, and ISO 9660 specifications-all incomprehensible to the average user. Because CD-Recordable technology was first adopted by large CD-ROM developers, and because these large developers were originally the only ones who could afford it, CD-R retains some of the aura of cutting-edge, don't-try-this-at-home technology.

Today's $1000 price tag for CD-R hardware and software includes this learning curve only as an option for those who enjoy minutiae, and whose curiosity compels them to seek out and understand seemingly arcane concepts such as multisession, multitrack, multivolume, disk-at-once, track-at-once, and a host of others that can soon have your head spinning like a disc. BASIC USE

Not everyone must be a developer of the next whiz-bang multimedia title to find CD-R useful. Chances are that many users of the technology have other applications in mind, such as archiving records or files, backing up a hard drive or building a basic database that others can easily search. So let's start with some ground rules-no video, no sound, no animation-just text files in ASCII or a word processing format.

Much of the confusion that causes potential CD-R users to shy away from the technology is caused by CD-R software that does a variety of things, none of them necessary for the average user. If you look at the disc formats that can be written with some of the more powerful CD-R packages, you wonder why people call CD-ROM a technology with standards. The list includes CD-i, CD-ROM/XA, CD-DA, CD Bridge, mixed-mode, CD+ Hybrid, Shared Hybrid, HFS, SCSI Device Image, Bootable CD, Video CD, Game formats, MMCD, and User-defined Format. All of this software will make a CD-ROM. WHY WOULD I WANT TO MAKE A CD-R?

CD-R takes the basic rules of thumb for CD-ROM data and extends them to encompass many applications. …