As you read this, I will be standing in line at some airport somewhere. It seems that January is my month to travel. Between the 10th and the 27th I will not see home but I will see four strange cities for work, pleasure and education. In anticipation of this, I have set up my iPod to be as useful as possible, because this delightful little tool really shines on the road. And because Apple reports that almost everyone else in the known world received an iPod this Christmas, I thought I would share what I was doing so you, too, could have the ultimate travel iTool. The first thing I need on the road is to have my iPod become a PDA, remembering and displaying all of my contact and calendar info as I need it. To perform this trick, install iPod-it ( www.zapptek.com US$14.95) on your Mac. IPod-it transfers selected data from Entourage, Stickies, Mail, Address Book, and iCal to your iPod for viewing when a computer is not available. Once you realise how handy the iPod is, you will want to install PodQuest ( www.versiontracker.com ) shareware. It places an icon in your Mac menu bar that enables you to download driving directions from MapQuest or MapBlast to your iPod. This is an amazingly useful travellers' tool but imagine if you did not have to read directions or text on the tiny iPod screen? The answer is an application called Text Reader ( www.codepoetry.net/projects/textreader/freeware ). Install it on your Mac and it converts text files to audio files that iPod will play. Besides listening to PodQuest directions, you can now listen to your schedule, e-mail or whatever you care to hear. Or perhaps you might like to assimilate a good book or two. When you are travelling, lugging even a few paperbacks can be a hassle. It would be nice if your iPod could store and read a book to you while you cruise along at 30,000 feet. Well, Book2Pod ( www.tomsci.com/book2pod/freeware ) is just what you need. It bypasses the iPod note reader file size limitation, allowing the iPod to store and read huge files. Free e-books are available at www.gutenberg.org/catalog/ , which boasts an awesome selection of titles and authors. I mentioned earlier that part of my trip was educational, and I will use the iPod to record lectures that I hear. To accomplish this, I will use Griffin Technology's ( www.griffintechnology.com/products/italk/ ) iTalk. This US$39.99 gadget plugs into the top of any third-generation iPod (except the mini) and will record live speeches and interviews. Because it has a small speaker built in, it will also play that audio book, lecture or grocery list back without the need for ear buds. When I travel, I like to eat well and it seems the nicer the restaurant, the lower the lighting. I take pride in the fact that I do not yet have to wear glasses but reading menus by candlelight is a pain. Once again, the iPod comes to my rescue. Griffin Technology sells a device called the iBeam ( www.griffintechnology.com/products/ibeam/ US$19.95 ) that is essentially a mini flashlight that plugs into an iPod and uses its power. You get two products in the box: one is the flashlight and the other is an equally useful laser pointer. They come with caps, making them look like little thumb drives, and with holes so they can handily attach to a key chain. After I have travelled, been read to and finished a good meal, I'm generally a happy camper. And when I'm happy, I sing. Normally, back at the hotel, I can be found with my iPod securely wired to my ears and belting out a favourite oldie both off key and with highly improvised lyrics. As enjoyable as this is for me (remember I am wearing earphones), I have noticed that my fellow travellers do not get the same satisfaction. The cure is another handy iApp called KaraTunes ( www.ideographer.com/karatunes/ US $11.00), which goes online to lyrictracker ( www.lyrictracker.com/ ) and collects the lyrics to favourite iTunes songs. From there, it uploads the lyrics to your iPod as notes. When viewing the lyrics on your iPod, just press the Select button to listen to the corresponding song and sing away. It is at times like this that you really appreciate the wonder of new technology. E-mail Dave Horrigan at firstname.lastname@example.org with your Mac queries.