Still trying to come up with a vignette.
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Well, Ashampoo can take a flying leap; the application is crippleware and I can't made audio CDs with it. Made one using CDBurnerXP and it works fine.
So, the idea I had, to use a laptop optical drive, as an external one was successful. All it takes is the drive itself and a cable that costs under $10 shipped from Amazon (if you have Amazon Prime). Minus side, there's no fancy case or anything. Other minus, the cable isn't even a foot long. But for the amount of use I get out of optical drives, I don't think it really makes much of a difference.
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It looks like I need to clean my keyboard again. Oh well.