I got it. What began as yet another evening of fun with FOSS encoding tools, in an effort to figure out HOW THE HELL to get reasonable compression on video files for my iPaq w/o rebooting to Windows has, I think, ended up with success.
I could compress video and play it back, certainly…but my options were limited to what I could encode that was decodable on the iPaq. WM9 works great…but I have to do it on Windows, and ripping of DVDs is a PITA (my goal here is, among other things, to be able to rip and view DVDs that I own or presently have rented [ie, don’t keep copies of video files if I return DVD] on my iPaq.)
I’ve used WM encoder on public domain video (I highly recommend archive.org’s moving images archive; they’ve got some great stuff), but was most interested in Free Software solutions on GNU/Linux. mencoder and transcode have been my workhorses…but are awesome pieces of software. My problems, as I suspected all along, have really been in learning how to ask for what I wanted properly. Oh…and finally finding a good DivX player for the iPaq as well!
With the right options (my last challenge was realizing that the iPaq wasn’t handling variable bit rate audio encoding properly — switching to constant BR did the trick) … voila! mencoded DivX of XFiles episode 1, coming right up! I have something new to play with on MARTA tomorrow!