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Win BeGone!: Win2K, BeOS, and CD-R

by Robert A. Starrett

It wasn't necessarily a surprise when Microsoft announced that it had integrated Adaptec's CD recording technology into Version 7 of Windows Media Player. It's about time Microsoft got serious about CD recording. But this is not the way I expected it to happen. Years ago, I mused that native packet writing would be an ideal addition to the Windows operating system. That still has not happened, of course. The integration of audio recording technology into Media Player came about not through any foresight or market acumen on the part of Microsoft, but rather just because the other leading programs in the field, like RealJukebox and MusicMatch, had already implemented recording technology in their software MP3 players.

Of course, we still hope that Microsoft will someday realize that when you put a blank CD in your recorder that you plan to use it, and Windows someday may have the smarts to offer to format it as a UDF disc. But don't hold your breath.

OS unplugged
Beyond the built-in support issue, the good news for recording fans is that Windows 2000 Professional seems pretty stable, although several recording programs initially did not work with it, and needed revisions to comply with whatever they did up in Redmond to screw it up. Personally, I prefer it to 95 or 98, but it takes a little getting used to since it is based on NT, even though the familiar Plug 'n Play features are there. A few things like Device Manager are moved around, so you have to go out and look for them a little. The main problem on my machine is that Windows 2000 cannot start or shut down the computer. When you turn the thing on, the hard drive accesses some things and then it just sits there. You need to reset it to make it start. When shutting down, it saves the settings and then locks solid. You have to hit the power switch manually to shut it down. Never mind that it is an ATX motherboard and amenable to being powered down by the OS. Cannot start, cannot stop, works okay in between.

Now we hear that some recording programs that did work without modification will not work if you install Service Pack 1. I love that term, service pack. Sounds like what Detroit calls it when they send you a letter saying that a million or so of the model car you just bought have connectors on the master brake cylinder that "might fail under certain adverse conditions, causing a loss of braking ability." Yeah, that would be a bummer for sure. If recalls were applicable to computer operating systems, Windows would have been recalled long ago and would be recalled every time a service pack was released. Then they would have to recall the service pack, too.

just Be

But that won't be happening anytime soon either, so next time you get the Blue Screen of Death, or perhaps get it five times in a single day-whatever it takes to drive you over the edge completely-do this: back up your data and reformat your drive. Go over to http://www.be.com, take that $59 that you have been saving for Windows ME, drop another dime and buy BeOS Professional Edition. When it comes, install it in 10 minutes, go over to http://www.bebits.com, download for free any applications that are not already in the OS, and you can forget Windows altogether. You'll never regret it.

new tricks

Except that you will need to learn a few new recording tools. But it's a small price to pay not to have to use Windows anymore, right? For audio, you can start with CDBurner, an application that comes with the OS. Then move up to CD Manager, which gives you a few more features and detailed drive information. While the supported drive list is rather short, at 10 models, other off-list drives work anyway; the only way to find out is to try it. The HP 9300, for example, was not on the list but worked fine, returning an error message at the end that meant nothing to the integrity of the disc.

For data in addition to audio, start with CD Record and add the Melt interface. Record away. And don't look for cartoon characters here. The interfaces are so simple that none are perceived as needing such lame-brained leavening. Be programmers don't lack humor, however. Whatever an 0x26 Qual 0x00 is, I got one. The button on the pop-up box says "Damn" instead of "OK." Other audio tools abound for BeOS, if it's audio you are into. The Bebits site (http://www.bebits.com) shows many audio compression and editing utilities. They've even got BeNapster and Napster for Be. If you are worried about other utilities that you might need in your Windowless room, shoot over to this site and take a look. You'll find hundreds of programs.

Even if you can't give Windows up completely, Be will install its boot manager and peacefully coexist with Windows. If you can't do that because your job or other obligations bind you to Windows, download the free Personal Edition, a 512MB file which, when run from within Windows, kicks Windows out of the memory and processor and takes over your machine. Of course, the options of current Be recording software are a little sparse at this point. But I'm not kidding, folks, this thing really works and is a true alternative to that other operating system whose name now escapes me.

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