My wife wanted to make a gift for some friends, a gift of sorts commemorating the end of a bible study she was leading. She asked for my help and I agreed, which resulted in me burning CDs. My first thought was "Does OS X even do this anymore?" Luckily - it does. I made 15 CDs, and 4 of them didn’t work (thanks iTunes). After the burn OS X detected them as ‘blank’. I haven’t burned a music CD in years! I'm actually surprised they didn't strip this feature out of iTunes. It wasn't any more fun that it was 5-10 years ago. Seems that technology should be faster now. It still took about 8-10 minutes to burn, even on my external blu-ray/cd/dvd burner.
Once I got the bad CDs sorted, she was determined to make CD labels for 15 discs (even though we had a perfectly good sharpie nearby...). Luckily I happen to know of a great labeling program, DiscLabel, and I have a bit of experience with it, so I knew I could quickly whip up an impressive label.
I found some Neato CD (2 Up) labels in an old box in my office, and I’d estimate they were from 1999. My resulting estimation is due to having some previously printed labels inside the package, and I know they were from the late 90s when I used to make backups of my Playstation games. But would they work? They say Laser & Ink Jet - so that's promising, especially since I was out of ink for the inkjet.
I used DiscLabel to make a quick default design - a nice simplistic design that looked fitting for the group she was giving it to. It had a wonderful selection of pre-defined templates, but I chose one of the more simple ones. With the click of a couple of buttons, it quickly imported the tracks from the playlist I'd burned in iTunes. I admit, I was dreading the thought of having to type each track name on the label manually, but the import feature made it a breeze.
With my design complete, I gave a test print to my Brother B&W laser. It's 1200dpi should be sufficient for the task, but I was wrong — it looked like junk. There was no way I could give that label as a gift. I wanted to do a better job for my wife. I HAD to do a better job — because that quality wasn't acceptable for me, and my standard was pretty low - especially since it was already really late - midnight in fact. DiscLabel gave me the "wow" factor, and now I needed to get that from the screen to the disc.
Now the fun part begins — I hopped into the office and I used Parallels Desktop and installed the printer driver for an old HP Color CP1215 laser printer someone abandoned at our home. Who would do such a thing? Well, it ONLY works Windows (yes I can’t believe it either). This behemoth of a printer has no place in a family home made up of only svelte Macs. I couldn't share this printer with the Mac, as it has no drivers, so I figured I'd give PDF format a try. I went back to DiscLabel, printed the labels to PDF, then switched over to Windows 7 and printed onto the Neato labels, and it worked like a charm. Alignment was spot on and the print quality was great. I'm giving a +1 to the PDF format, and a +10 to DiscLabel for the ease in creating these discs with zero friction.
Software. DiscLabel, Windows 7, & Parallels Desktop. DiscLabel made a killer design in just a few clicks, Windows 7 was available, and I'm grateful that Parallels Desktop made it super easy to interface to Windows and the printer I needed. (My 16 gigs of ram and super fast SSD didn't hurt)!
Hardware. HP CP1215. - I had to use a printer that doesn’t have a Mac driver (not even a generic one!). But, it was the least resistance at the last hour to create a color label.
My Car. I had to go out into my car to test 15 CDs at the wee hour of the morning to verify they worked. Seems my car is the only place I had to play a CD anymore.
My Hands. I Couldn’t find my CD stomper - so I had to hand labels the discs. This was the most aggravating part — because the labels were so old, peeling them off of the laminate was quite difficult and actually ruined a few of them, so I had to revert back and print again.
One good looking CD.