The search for an optical drive

Uploading a CD was so much trouble! But it was so worth it.

white compact disc

There was a Christian band I listened to back in college by the name of Sapientia. They’re not around anymore; they haven’t been for a long time now. (Insert Ben Kenobi “I haven’t heard that name” meme here.) Amongst all the CDs which Jessica and I have — some of which date all the way back to 1999 — I had a burned CD of as much of their music as I could fit on one disc.

At least, I thought I still had it. Much has been lost, found, and lost again; misplaced; and perhaps even absconded of its own accord (you never know) in the years of our marriage. Add to that the clutter of boxes which now reside in our basement, the direct result of moving 15 years of stuff into a new residence.

I have been looking for this CD off and on for the better part of the year since we moved. I’d spend more time looking, to be quite honest, than I would for things we needed or could actually use. Part of the problem was that the band was so obscure, that there is practically no record of them on the Internet of having existed at all. I’ve found song lists and discography, but no audio files. Certainly nothing on YouTube.

I was downstairs looking for something completely unrelated. (Isn’t that usually how it goes?) I was actually looking for an HDMI switch to use with a repurposed Raspberry Pi as a Steam Link. (If you know some of those words but haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, you’re probably not alone.) In a box nowhere near the other boxes of music, I found a stack of CDs I hadn’t seen before. On a whim, I flipped through them — and behold, there was my CD, looking quite scratched. There were no copies, so it would have to do.

You would think that was the hard part. But no: equally difficult was locating a computer with an optical drive. My work laptop has none, nor does our family laptop. Namine’s school laptop is a Chromebook, so it has none. The previous family laptop is also a Cloudbook (a non-Google branded laptop intended only for use with cloud-based storage), so no luck there either.

Fortunately, I am a technology hoarder. I even still have all our old smartphones (some of which look quite tiny, now). I never got rid of the old, old family laptop — which does have a CD drive. It took just as long booting up as I remembered, but I was able to play the CD. Even as scratched as it is, all the songs played, save one.

I was able to rip the CD, a term I had to explain to Namine as I was doing it. (Today’s history lesson? I’m old.) I uploaded the songs to my YouTube Music account, allowing me to listen to them from my phone or broadcast to any of the speakers throughout the house.

Finding my long-lost CD completely hijacked my evening. I never did find the HDMI switch.


Tangentially related, and possibly further cementing how very old I’m feeling, I remember when Apple released their first laptop that eschewed an optical drive. I recall the outcry: “How will we get our files on — or off — the computer?” The cloud wasn’t as prevalent as it is today. Now, needing an optical drive has lost its necessity. Storage is cloud-based. Movies and shows are streaming. It’s a whole different world.

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