I just received the DVD burner I ordered last week, this afternoon, and installed it. Everything that went wrong is now right again. It was able to boot my live disks, including the last one I created on the now dead Samsung burner. I can even play movie dvds once again, etcetera. The new optical is an ASUS E-green. I hope it lasts longer than the Samsung, because 2 years is an extremely short amount of time for an optical drive.
Thank you, to everyone for all the trouble shooting tips!
I am so relieved that it was not the motherboard.
I will mark this thread as solved.