You probably already know that last week Apple released iTunes 4.8. When you use iTunes 4.8 to sync with your iPod, an interesting thing happens: the filenames of your music files get squished into incomprehensibility on the iPod (they're not changed on your computer).
It's been well documented that your iPod holds music in invisible folders named iPod_Control/Music/F00, F01, F02, and so on. Until iTunes 4.8, files didn't change their names when copied to the iPod: Judith.mp3 on your computer was Judith.mp3 on your iPod. But when you sync with iTunes 4.8, it becomes something like BLDN.mp3. All other files are similarly renamed: every filename consists of four upper-case characters followed by the extension. Apple probably did this to make iPod file handling a bit more efficient, because every little bit of efficiency helps.
So what are the drawbacks for iPod users? Basically, none. You can no longer scan or search your iPod's invisible folders looking for a particular song, but that's pretty minor. The iPod utilities such as PodWorks still work, because they rely on the iTunes/iPod database, not the filenames. And, if you're running Mac OS X Tiger, you can use Spotlight to find songs on the iPod -- all the metadata, including song and artist name, is still there. If Spotlight doesn't seem able to find stuff on your iPod, go to Terminal and use mdimport to ask Spotlight to index the iPod. You can also use mdls with a particular file to see its metadata (and so figure out which song is in that file).
iTunes 4.8 is out. It's an update with a fascinating new feature: you can add QuickTime videos to your library, and iTunes knows how to play them. Some music in the iTunes Music Store now comes with videos.
Another big part of iTunes 4.8 is the ability to sync your contacts and calendar with your iPod -- no iSync needed.
According to this article, 8.6 percent of all train commuters in and around London have an iPod with them, just ahead of the number that have a Blackberry (8.3%), but way behind those with a mobile phone (52%).