When in doubt re-install. It shouldn't be that difficult to play cd's. I have never messed with the settings on Media 10 and never had a problem.
Is the cd player working at all? Right click start, explore, right click "my computer", properties, divice manager, cd roms and then see if your player is detected.
As for burning, I wouldn't do anything microsoft for that.
Just use Easy CD creator, Nero or something like that.
As for burning cd's without the pauses, eith eliminate them if you can or use the option "DISC AT ONCE", or "Track at Once". This copies a disc in its entirety.
Sorry if I haven't been that much help. I am not good at explaining, but the main way to learn is messageboards and trial an error.