My Geeked Out Road Warrior Survival Pack

I've built up a respectible arsenal of gadgets and devices while logging almost 200,000 miles in frequent flier miles this year.

Some are necessities, and some are just for fun. Some are just to keep my sanity on longer trips like the one I'm taking this week to Cologne, Germany.

My geeked out road warrior survival pack includes everything from a lithium-ion battery pack that gives my iphone 2 extra charges, to a sleek pair of noise canceling Bose headphones that block out the majority of jet airplane engine noises.

It also makes a great Christmas shopping list for the business traveler or technology addict in your life ;-)

Here's my Letterman's countdown of top ten must-have gadgets when traveling for business or pleasure:

10. Starbuck's Via 3-pack. Technology aside... Let's face it - hotel room coffee tastes horrible no matter what brand they use.

I really need a good cup of coffee to start the day off right (especially for east coast trips where it feels like I'm getting up at 4 a.m.) and these instant coffee packs from Starbucks are just as good as the real thing. You can get hot water from just about anywhere, including an in-room coffee maker without the coffee grounds.

9. iPod nano with armband. Yes, I have an iPhone too (see #1 below) but a small ipod is more convenient for working out, and also provides more hours of music for helping long flights go by faster.

8. Camera. I bring my Nikon D50 DSLR camera along with a 300mm zoom lens when I want to be sure and capture the city views in high quality (and I usually have some time after business hours for touring the city).

Sync iTunes to an External Hard-Drive

Question: I saw your article on how to copy music to an ipod, but is it possible to point the ipod to an external portable drive, so that it finds music files there instead of from the main hard drive?

Answer: Since iPods get their music by syncing with iTunes, you'll need to either 1) tell iTunes to store music files on your portable external hard drive instead of your regular drive, or 2) import music files from your external drive into iTunes.

Option 1: Tell iTunes where to store music files

Open iTunes and select Edit -- Preferences. Then click the Advanced tab where you'll find the iTunes Music folder location.

Click the Change button and choose a folder on your external hard drive (you might want to create one first if you want files to be stored in a particular folder on the new drive).

If you want all of your music files to be moved over from your main drive to the external drive, then make sure the Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library option is checked.

Option 2: Import music into iTunes from an external hard drive

If you already have music on a portable hard drive, and just want to get them into iTunes so you can sync up and get those songs on your ipod, then you can just drag and drop those music files onto iTunes.

You can also use the File -- Add Folder to Library menu in iTunes, choose a music folder on your portable drive, and iTunes will add those to your library.

If you uncheck the Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library option, which is on this same tab shown above, then iTunes will leave the files on your external drive.

iPod Sound Quality

Question: I've resisted buying an ipod so far because I am an audiophile and I hate the idea of compressed music, which I equate to poor sound quality! Can you transfer whole CDs directly into an ipod from a CD player without compression? If you could, it would still mean you could store around 220 full CDs onto a 160 gb ipod and get absolute sound quality.

Answer: You're going to love the sound that comes from an ipod, for a number of reasons.

First, to answer your question - yes, you can transfer whole CDs to your ipod without compression. Using iTunes, select Edit -- Preferences and then click the Import Settings button to configure CD import settings.

The default import encoder setting is AAC, and you have options for importing at 128kbps or 256kbps (stereo bit rate), or can choose a custom import quality level up to 320kbps.

If you prefer using an MP3 encoder, then you can select that option as well - with custom bit rate options up to 320 kbps.

You probably already know this, but for others reading this article: keep in mind that a larger bit rate settings (the kbps number) means higher quality music files but also larger files. The larger the files, the better they'll sound - in theory anyway - and the less you can store on your ipod.

Most ears won't notice the difference between 128kbps and 256kbps however, especially considering you'll most likely be listening to the music with headphones in an area where other background noises can be heard.

iPod Touch Content Filtering

Question: I just bought my two daughters Ipod Touch 2nd Gen for Christmas. They are 10 and 12 yrs old and a bit more technology savvy than I when it comes to handhelds. I am concerned about security. I want to filter their internet on the Touch, but I guess it's not really easy because Apple seems to have missed this, other than shutting off their access all together.

Do you know any solutions? I have a wireless network in my home and the girls desktop computers are running Panda and PC Tattletale as per your recommendation. I want to give them internet access, but want to filter the objectionable content out. Just call me "Parentally Cautious". Thanks for any input!


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