If I never see another removable magnetic media product from Iomega, I'll be just fine. They have never bothered to drop media prices to a level that makes sense, and as a result their Jaz drives have floundered and their Zip drives are getting killed by optical media. Remember the "Click of Death", where you pop a disk into your Zip or Jaz drive and it would just sit there, clicking, and before you knew it the disk became totally unreadable? I sure do, and their pathetic response to the problem soured me on them completely, even after years of being a loyal fan. Did you have as much trouble getting warranty replacement disks from them as I did? I have to pay $3.95 shipping for a $10 disk? Please, I can purchase 6 gig of CD-R's for that same $10. Their peerless product seemed intriguing, back before 80 gig drives were $99 at CompUSA. Now, they are also highly over priced.
Optical disks are a great thing, but the optical drive market is confusing as could be. I cannot believe that we are looking at 40x and higher rates of burning. It is utterly amazing. How fast is fast enough? Of that I'm not sure, but I know that it is becoming harder and harder as time goes on to pick a drive maker to purchase from. TDK, for instance, switches OEM suppliers all the time, so you never really know just what you will get with a TDK drive. Cendyne has four or five constant OEM suppliers, and even though their drives may say 32x, on any given day you may end up with a drive from Asus or Aopen or if you are lucky, Lite-on. It is enough to drive you nuts.
The Softer Side
One thing that I have discovered is that Nero 184.108.40.206 has really matured into a stable product that gives me much more consistent results than the perpetually trouble plagued Easy CD Creator, now manufactured by Roxio, the Adaptec spin-off. The deluxe version of this program has been buggy for years, but now even the basic version is less than stable and I'm sick of them sacrificing function for form. Nero supports formats that Easy CD barely acknowledges, and it has a much better level of success in making disk to disk copies than the Roxio made CD Copy application. Roxio's web pages that have you login just to download bug fixes and patches is a total annoyance, and I have no trouble jumping ship over to Nero full time now that they have stepped up to the plate. By the way, CD-Mate has replaced Clone-CD for me too. It is simpler, easier and more reliable than Clone-CD, and is almost always faster too. If you have not given that product a look, you really should.
As fast as gaming machines have gotten over the last few years, it seems like the software makers are going in the opposite direction. The kind of fat, bloated code that passes for game demos and final releases is embarrassing. Is there any reason you can think of why Comanche 4 chokes on resolutions above 1024x768 even on an AMD XP 2000+ with a Geforce 3 TI 500? There should not be. The explosions actually look a lot cheesier than I expected, and who really cares that much about actively deforming terrain textures? I love to play the game, but I'd rather play it at 1600x1200x32, you know? Does Comanche 4 look better than Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena? Not to my eyes. So why is it so darn slow?
Do any of you use products from the AutoDesk affiliate Discreet? You know, makers of 3D Studio Max and the newer Gmax products? If you are a game designer you probably have, but now even MOD makers are needing tools like this to put out good levels for some of the new gaming engines. However, if you think Microsoft has predatory pricing and monopolistic practices, you better take a look at AutoDesk. I've used their software from way back in the day, when AutoCAD was just starting, and over time they have become one of the biggest players on the planet, and boy, do they know just how powerful they really are.
For example, they have this policy about upgrades that is a real pain. You pay $800 for AutoCAD LT 98 for instance, thinking that you can always upgrade when a decent new release comes out. But they have changed the policy so that if you did not upgrade to the minor changes in LT 2000 or later, you no longer qualify. As if LT was not bad enough, think about how you must feel if you spent $2000 on AutoCAD so you could do 3D modeling, and they pull the same stunt? Instead of $295 or even $495 upgrade, you may have to shell out another $2500 for the newest version. How many independent gaming companies can fork over that kind of dough for everybody in their office. I mean, I'm all for being legal, but they should not make it so expensive!