It’s the trickle-down effect: In August, my wife overflowed her 20GB iPod with Click Wheel, and took my 60GB iPod (pre-video). Somehow, in that process, I ended up with a black 80GB iPod with Video.

I’m not complaining!

The new iPod holds a ton of music — most of my library. (I don’t bother exporting all my iTunes playlists, because I know there’s music that I’ll never listen to while traveling or in my car.) But there’s still a lot of room for movies and files.

Putting movies or TV shows on an iPod is a new experience. The Mac and iTunes doesn’t support copying information from a DVD directly. However, I found an open source package, called Instant Handbrake, that will extract a DVD into the right MPEG-4 format for copying into iTunes and then playing on the iPod. For this trip, I copied over the new complete collection of Firefly, which I’m enjoying greatly.

(I have found that the Instant Handbrake’s H.264 encoder makes files that are smaller than those made with the MPEG-4 encoder. However, the H.264 files don’t always work on the iPod. So, better to stick with MPEG-4.)

With files, I have configured iTunes to allow the iPod to be mounted as a volume. Because there’s no intrinsic security on the iPod itself, I used Mac OS X’s Disk Utility to create a 20GB sparse disk image on the iPod disk volume — and encrypted it with AES-128. This lets me keep some of my data files, which normally don’t fit on my traveling PowerBook, on the iPod instead. After mounting the iPod as a read/write volume, I can then open the encrypted disk image, which also mounts as a read/write volume. Nice.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick