Firmware upgrade for newbie help

Hi,
I have a IBM thinkpad T42 laptop hooking up to a external (via USB 2) NEC 3500A DVD burner. The firmware is stock.

I read that the manuf. limits ripping to 2.5x or something. This does take quite a while to rip/burn a DVD so I’d like to upgrade the firmware to 2.17 or something and remove this “limitation” so I can rip faster.

Question 1: Which version of hack (should I use hack or original 2.17?) should I use for this purpose?

Question 2: Since it’s hooked up via USB, I can’t flash via pure DOS mode (no usb recognition in DOS) and I only have a laptop so can’t connect the DVD drive in any other way. How “safe” is window flashing? What are the success rate upgrading via window mode?

Question 3: If flashing from windows, which software (flasher) will I need to do this?

I will move your thread to our NEC Forum since I think you have a better change of getting some answers there. I don’t own any NEC drives so I can’t really answer your questions except for flashing drives via Windows. I have flashed many drives in Windows and never had a problem so far. I tend to do a fresh boot, check if there’s nothing in the drive and then flash it and reboot again. This has worked perfectly for me, even with external drives.

I suggest you to use Binflash.
Read all about it here:
http://club.cdfreaks.com/showthread.php?t=105676

And about firmware I think you should read this:
http://club.cdfreaks.com/showthread.php?t=105995