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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I want to send many pictures to a relative and he suggested that I put them on a CD. How do I do that?

A. The term for what you want to do is called "burning a CD." This is not the easiest process to learn, but after you have done it a few times you will find that it is not very complicated. First, you should obtain a supply of CDs. They are produced in a variety of formats but the ones known as CD-Rs are the most compatible with your equipment. This format is referred to as "CD dash R" or "CD minus R". These CDs are readily available at local merchants (office supply or big-box stores) for about $15-20 per spindle of 100.

Next, you will need a CD burner and burning program - both of which were probably included with your computer. For many people, the included burning program is sufficient to meet their needs. However, if you find that it is of poor quality or difficult to use you might consider purchasing a better one. Currently, there are two major CD burning programs, Nero and Roxio, on the market.

Nero has many more features than does Roxio, but it is not very user-friendly and most people do not require all the extras that it provides. Roxio is far more useful and understandable to most people seeking to burn CDs. Either program may also be used to burn DVDs. However, to do that you will have to purchase the proper DVDs as well as confirm that your computer includes a DVD burner. A DVD burner will usually burn CDs, but the opposite is not true.

Using either program can be confusing and you should be prepared to spend some time reading the manual and making a few "coasters." These are CDs that didn't burn properly for one reason or another. They are not reusable and, instead of throwing them away, they may be used for the purpose for which they have been named. Because each CD burning program is different and there are variations even within the same program, you will have to learn the idiosyncrasies of your particular version. In very general terms, you first select the pictures or files that you wish to burn to a CD and then tell the program to handle the rest of the process.

There are also different procedures required for burning pictures to a CD or making an audio CD that you might play in your car. In addition, there are numerous ways of converting your music collection currently on CDs into a format which may be played on your MP3 player or iPod.

The Prescott Computer Society often conducts meetings dealing with many aspects of using your computer. Burning CDs is a topic which is discussed frequently, so please feel free to attend our meetings. For more information, visit our website.

Published: Courier 1/3/10 - Page 5C