The iPod is a deeply personal device. The music, contacts, calendars and notes you store on it reveal a lot about your personality. From playcounts to playlists, our iPods can tell others what we enjoy, how we think and even who we are. But if you truly want to transform your iPod into an engine of extreme personal expression, why not customise it?
Hacking your iPod – whether it’s modding the case, installing custom software, or tearing it up and doubling the memory – can transform the ubiquitous music and media player into something unique.
Note: You should be aware that trying any of these tricks carries the risk of ruining your device.
1. Penguin power
iPod Linux is the essential hack, table stakes for many of the other hacks you might want to try. It fully supports iPods in generations 1-3, and has been successfully installed on all others with a display. You should grab ‘Podzilla’, which will add a graphical interface to iPod Linux. There are multiple versions of Podzilla available from which to choose. Once installed, iPod Linux and Podzilla will let you boot your iPod to a barebones Linux mode. Furthermore, it will serve as the foundation for many other hacks.
2. Wikipedia on the go
Everyone loves Wikipedia. It’s free, user-built encyclopaedia with entries on more topics than Britannica. It’s a great information resource, but what if you’re away from your desk? Now, you can get it on your iPod and carry Wikipedia with you everywhere you go. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available for all models of iPods; nano and video users are left out for now, and since there’s no display on the iPod shuffle, there’s no point in installing Wikipedia. First, you will need to install iPod Linux.
3. Double your memory
Not content with the 4GB of memory on your iPod nano? Why not double it. First, you’ll need to buy a broken nano from eBay. Crack it open and remove the memory. Then open up your working nano, solder the memory chip from the broken nano to the empty pad in the working one, seal it back up, and perform a factory reset. You’ll now have a working nano with 7.2GB of space.
4. Mobile movies on the go
Transfer movies on DVDs to your iPod easily and free using a free software (HandBrake) available for both Mac and Windows. Be warned though: unless you use an analogue capture method, it’s illegal to rip DVDs you own onto your iPod.
For Mac (and Linux) users, get a free copy of HandBrake. Handbrake is already available as a Universal binary – good news for those who have a new MacBook, Mac mini, or imac – and can rip video from DVD directly to MPEG-4 video, the format you’ll need to watch it on your iPod. Windows users need to make a few extra steps. Get a DVD ripping program such as DVDFab Decrypter or DVD Decrypter. Convert your video to AVI using a decoding tool. Finally, convert the AVI file into MPEG-4 video that can play on your iPod using Videora iPod Converter.
5. iPod to TV
Want to watch content from your iPod on your TV? You can easily do so by purchasing a £15 iPod AV cable from Apple or use a standard mini-jack to three-plug RCA cable. These cables cost between £7-10 from outlets such as Maplins (www.maplins.co.uk). Set your iPod to output to TV, plug in the cable via the mini-jack, and plug the RCA connections into a TV using a non-standard setup. Apple outputs the iPod’s video to the red cable – rather than the traditional yellow. So you’ll want to plug the red cable into the video (yellow) plug on your TV, the yellow cable into the white plug, and the white cable into the red plug. This is an easy hack that anyone with an iPod can try.
6. Pac attack
Thanks to iPodMAME, you can play Pac-Man on your iPod. This hack will install a version of MAME, the arcade game emulator program, on your iPod. As with the Wikipedia hack, iPodMAME requires that you first install iPod Linux. The program comes with romsets (the set of files including all the game data) including one for Pac-Man. PodMAME should work with any iPod with a colour screen.