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Archive for December, 2017

Tips on laying out a user friendly CD-ROM disc

Friday, December 29th, 2017

As a software or multimedia developer your aim is to educate and/or entertain your user. Therefor giving them a CD which takes them straight to the contact they desire will undoubtedly enhance their user experience. Generally speaking it’s not beneficial if you pop a CD or DVD into your computer and have to guess what to do next. Here are a few ideas to consider before sending a master disc in for duplication.

layoutFirstly… Does it have autorun? It makes sense to do so, as the vast majority of Windows users expect their discs to do so. You can achieve this by popping a simple text file called autorun.inf, into the root directory of your disc.

Don’t overlook assigning an electronic volume label on the disc. Set the volume label using your burning software; alternatively try using the ‘label’ command inside the autorun.inf file. This way users navigating their PCs using Explorer can see that the CD in the drive is more descriptive then the default text ‘New’ or ‘1320982_04’.

Ask yourself…Is the root directory free of clutter?Generally speaking people do not want to be confronted with choice, especially when they unsure. Simplify the process, make the choice for them and only leave the most important file in the root directory ( along with the autorun file) To make it obvious name the file ‘start’ or ‘run’ and move all other files into¬† sub-folders. Remember these sub-folders and files should have real names. By giving these folders and files everyday readable names it allows users to navigate and locate documents/images outside of your software.

Remember that when creating a master disc to be sure that any unnecessary files, images or templates have been removed. As well as enabling a clean file structure, it prevents the possibility of sharing your source codes or any uncompleted or unused ideas.

Finally … Is your CD going to be used on both PC and Mac? If so then make sure your disc is a true hybrid CD in order to run on both platforms. This way you can hide the PC files from the Mac and vice-versa. This makes for a clean disc.

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Does 2012 bring the end of the CD?

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

As the music industry as a whole struggles in a down economy and direct download business models like iTunes flourish, the compact disc, which was commercially introduced in 1982, has the appearance of going the way of vinyl.

In 2007, CDs accounted for 90 percent of album sales in the United States, with digital accounting for the other 10 percent. Just two years later, the sales of CDs decreased to 79 percent and digital sales increase to 20 percent, and the remaining percentage point being made up of vinyl and other media.

A report by Side-Line music magazine has cited that a number of anonymous music industry insiders who confirmed that the major labels are planning to stop pressing new CDs by the end of next year, if not sooner.istock_000009422052xsmall

The main reason is that CDs cost money to create, store, and distribute, therefore shifting to all-digital distribution will free up more resources for marketing and other parts of the business. There is however one problem with the notion of killing the CDs. Labels are still making money off of them.

It would seem that record labels have shown no desire to ditch the CD. The format still accounts for most sales revenue. It also appears that labels have been able to encourage the development of new digital business models while enjoying the considerable revenue CD sales provide.

Digital download and subscription services may indeed be eroding away at the CD’s dominance. However, a report by Gartner predicts that CD and LP sales will still amount to $10 billion in 2015. Although online music revenue is making a big jump, it is still trailing physical media, in the form of CDs, with a projected $7.7 billion. It would appear that record labels are unlikely to kill of a major money-maker just yet.

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Image Resolution vs. Dimensions vs. Size: How the Numbers Stack Up

Friday, December 15th, 2017

So when looking at an image file you have three basic numbers that you’ll want to pay attention to. The first is the DPI, which stands for “dots per inch” and is also the resolution of the image. To confuse matters, people make a very poor distinction between this number and the second, which is the number of pixels an image has in both height and width. These are the dimensions of the image, but many people call these numbers the resolution. (See, confusing!) The final number you need to understand is the image size, or how much storage space it takes up.

Now, let’s break this down, shall we? DPI is the actual number of ink dots in a one inch line. It is a physical printing term. The higher the DPI of an image, the clearer the image is when it is printed. In addition, higher DPI images will be displayed more clearly on high resolution displays, such as high end tablet and telephone screens. There is less of a difference in how an image appears from higher to lower DPI on standard computer monitors because of how such equipment is made. (This does not mean, however, that you should reduce the DPI of images to a lower level if they are only intended for web use.)istock_000020084611xsmall-1

The dimensions of an image are the number of actual pixels wide and high. Many people are used to a certain number of MP or megapixels in a specific image because of how digital cameras work. Changing the image dimensions reduces the number of MP in an image, and is a common way digital cameras can be tuned to take more pictures before running out of room. (But size is up next, remember!) An image with larger dimensions (and less DPI) can be printed out in larger format. So for example if a 5MP image that is 2338 x 3264 pixels is printed at 72 DPI you would get a 34 x 45.3 inch printout. That same image at 150 DPI would be 16.3 x 21.8 inches. 300 DPI is considered an appropriate print resolution for professional work, and that means that your image would now be printing at 8.2 x 10.9 inches. As you can see, the larger your images, the better blown up pictures you will be able to print out. (This is not the only thing that goes to quality, of course. A better camera sensor produces better images of course.)

Now, finally, we reach size. There are many factors which go into how much storage an image will take up. The larger the dimensions of an image the more space it will take up of course. But factors in the image itself have a great deal to do with this. As an example, using the same dimensions as above, 5MP images might range from as much as 4 megabytes to 0.5 megabytes. The first example would be a very complex image with a huge amount of color differentiation. The latter would be a very simple image with very little color deviation. This might be the difference between an image of a child behind a screen door on a sunny day as compared to a picture of light reflecting off of an object outdoors at night, with no flash.

So, now for these parting tips:

  • Do not reduce the dimensions of your master copies of your images!
  • When reducing the dimensions of your images, make sure you set them to a size appropriate for your medium, and no less.
  • When setting the DPI of your images for online use, always go with 300+ when possible.
  • When printing your images, go with the DPI that gets you the size of printed image you desire, while conforming to the printer’s specifications, but always use 300+ DPI for any high quality prints.
  • Never skimp on storage, and keep backups of your images. DVD discs can make a good backup because you can store them away from your PC.

You should have a good grasp of what the three numbers you need to keep track of are for your images now. Bearing them in mind can make it so you are always sharing the best quality images online, and getting only the highest quality printouts.

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