Sleek and smart as the iPod may be, it can’t do much by itself until it meets up with a computer. Once connected to a Mac or PC, however, the iPod is ready to accept whatever you want to give it—your whole music library, of course, but also everything from the complete recorded works of Tom Petty to your phone book, from news and calendar information to files too big to fit on a burned CD.
This chapter is dedicated to that concept of iPod as Satellite to Your Computer (and it concerns all iPods except the Shuffle, which has the next chapter all to itself). It explains FireWire and USB 2.0, and how to use these connections to get songs and files off the mother ship and onto the ultraportable, ready-to-go iPod.
Apart from boosting magazine sales, there’s never been much value in sitting in front of the computer, waiting for large files to copy onto external drives and other add-ons. In the eternal search for faster data-transfer speeds, Apple developed a new high-speed cable called FireWire in the mid–1990s. It’s easy to use, it’s hot swappable (you don’t have to turn off anything before plugging or unplugging the cable), and—unlike SCSI cables, which came before it—it doesn’t force you to go through configuration acrobatics to get multiple devices to all work properly.
Dozens of other companies, including Windows PC makers, eventually picked up FireWire. Some gave it other names along the way: IEEE 1394 (its official moniker from the Institute ...