A Case against big software.

I had a strangely satisfying problem I had to solve earlier this week. It involved needing to burn an image of Windows Vista SP1 to a disc. While that’s usually not a problem to someone with Nero or EZ CD Creator, it was a problem for me because I’ve long since stopped using either. Instead, I use a nice freeware program called CDBurnerXP (what is it with burning software and weird capitalization?). And while CDBurnerXP is usually not a problem for me when I burn the Juno Soundtrack for Kate to listen to in her car, I realized why someone might actually need a burning utility that knew every damn file extension under the sun. Here is where the problem was, the file extension of the disc image was .img, CDBurnerXP only seems to ready ISO!

However, this is when the entire thing became hugely satisfying for my problem solving abilities. Without thinking about it much, my first instinct was to see if DAEMON Tools could read the .img file extension of the Vista SP1 DVD image. And while the extension wasn’t in the list of valid file extensions, it was able to read it just fine, thereby creating a somewhat roundabout way of burning a simple disc image file. So in essence, one program was emulating a DVD Drive from an image file, while a second program was reading that emulation to create yet another image file so that it could burn that to an actual disc.

To my surprise, it all worked pretty well, especially since my dying computer didn’t even crash at the thought of doing all that work. The reason this entire little problem was so wholly satisfying to me was two-fold. First, it sometimes still amazes me how when things just work, it makes people happier. This experience was just reinforcing some of the concepts Joel Spolsky talked about in the first chapter of his “User Interface Design for Programmers.” Secondly, it also made me feel pretty good that I didn’t have to resort to big software to get stuff done; two small, free and very specialized applications gave me the results I needed.

March 12, 2008 11:14 PM Software


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