Best way to randomly place objects?

I’d like to randomly place objects in a scene to make it look like they’ve been poured or dumped in place (a junkyard). I imagine at least several hundred objects in the pile or piles, so I’d like to find a way to automate this.

I can think of two ways.

One would be to use the SaltShaker script, but it looks like this only rotates objects that have already been put in place and doesn’t account for collisions.

The other would be to duplicate the objects many times and use the rigid body physics simulations to have them tumble into place from above the scene. I can do this, but I’d like to delete the IPO curves afterwards since I wouldn’t need them and I don’t want them to have any motion.

Is there a way to use the physics sim to get the ‘dumped’ look and then mass delete their IPO curves. (the benefit of this would be that I could also delete the objects that can’t be seen under the piles). Is there a way that I could then turn off their rigid body status en masse, so if I want to animate more objects dumping on the pile these will remain static?

Hope that makes sense, and thanks in advance!

If you use the game engine and record IPOs, go to the frame you want to freeze, select all the objects and join them (Ctrl+J), In the IPO editor delete the ipo curves. Delete any rigid body settings if you want to. Then go into edit mode, select all vertices and press P, select Separate all Loose parts.
In blender 2.49 you can only see the IPO of one object at any one time. In blender 2.5 you can see all the IPOs of multiple objects at the same time so you could delete them without the joining operation.

you can also use particle paint. That’s what I do for grass patches.

This is probably the best technique: http://blendernewbies.blogspot.com/2009/02/painting-instanced-objects-into-your.html