I don't use packet writing, so I can't tell you much there. So on to the other 4 questions.
A firmware update is something you really should do- SS08 is kind of old. I've been using SS0E
for years (2 that is
). You can get it directly from LiteOn: http://www.liteonit.com/ODD/webfw/LTR-48246S/R48SS0E.zip
(LiteOn's firmware page
doesn't function properly with browsers other than IE
). The zip file contains the firmware with integrated Windows-based flasher. Just use that.
I doubt that this is reponsible for your MRW problems, but it sure won't hurt with general burning results
Also, the only CD-RW's I've used are Verbatim. I think it's generally agreed that these are the best available. So if you want to remove that variable from your investigations, try some Verbatim media.