I agree with you that new firmware seems better than previous one.
Expecially after [B]C0deKing[/B] Patch !
Moreover I want to say that that Nvidia driver [B]CAN [/B]occasionally cause some problem when updating firmware to optical units, but this doesen’t mean they [U]have[/U] to cause problem.
Looking at your post I realized that what I had written before can be missunderstud : I was in a hurry and wrote in a quite bad way ;).
I just had the same problem twice in about four years ;), all times with other optical units (Nec and Pioneer).
All the times i had resolved easly with the method below, and as i know many had the same issue, expecially with Nforce and Nforce 2 chipsets.
Just my experience.