Well, I've finally managed to burn out my DVD-ROM drive. I'd heard that it was possible, I knew that the day would eventually come, and after several years of faithful service, my Pioneer DVR-109 has finally gone the way of the dodo. She still reads okay, but the writing capability on it is completely shot and the disc hardly spins up anymore.
The good news is that optical drives are cheap as borscht, so I've already replaced it and am just waiting to get at the guts of my computer in order to install the new one.
I'll be up and running again in no time, I'm sure.