From the Kenosha News on 6-25-06

iPods can do more than just play tunes

My son is starting college in the fall, so we ordered him an Apple MacBook laptop. Apple is currently running a promotion to get a free iPod nano (free after rebate) or get a big discount on the new video iPods. We opted for the video iPod, which my son gets, and I’m now using the hand-me-down. I don’t have much time to listen to music, but there’s much more you can do with an iPod than just play tunes.

Since an iPod is basically a computer hard drive with software that facilitates music playback, it can act as a USB hard drive that you can back up your files to. To do this, plug it in to the USB port of your computer. (This will also charge its battery.) Open My Computer and look for a “removable disk” device, which might be called “MyPod.” Right-click on it and go to Properties to see how full its disk already is. Even though my son has 1446 songs loaded on this one, it still has 2/3 of its 20Gb hard drive available.

To view its file system and copy files to it, open My Computer and double-click on the MyPod icon (or whatever yours is called.) DON’T delete any files or folders that you don’t know what they are, especially those that appear in a lighter color or start with a dot in their file name. These are the iPods system files, and deleting them will render your iPod unusable. You will not see nor can you manipulate your songs this way; they must be managed by iTunes software.

What you can do is to create folders in which you can store “regular” documents like Word files, Excel spreadsheets, or digital photos. Create folders as you would on any other drive: Right-click in an open space, then click New, then Folder. Name your folder. Now you can drag files to it from your computer. You cannot manage these files through the iPod interface; they must be managed using your computer with the iPod attached.

The iPod can also serve as an address book using the Contacts feature under Extras. Read the instructions provided to sync with your Outlook or Palm software contact list. You’ll need to export your contacts individually as .vcf files and save them to your iPod’s Contacts folder.

Also under Extras, the iPod has a calendar feature. No instruction file was available on my iPod, so I downloaded the user manual from www.apple.com/support/manuals/ipod/. In my Palm calendar software, I click on an event and export it in vCal format to the Calendars folder on my iPod, which shows as drive E: (MyPod) when connected to my computer. This isn’t terribly convenient since I need to export each event separately and give it a unique name; however, it does replicate recurring events like weekly meetings just by exporting one of them. There appears to be no way to add or remove contacts or calendar events using the iPod itself since it has no keyboard or delete function.

Always remember to stop your iPod’s USB connection before you disconnect it from your computer.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 6-25-06