Posts from 2007

Converting to Flash video - (almost) free and not so easy

How do you convert an arbitrary video file into a playable Flash video using freely available programs and methods? After close to an afternoon of searching, testing and head-scratching, I finally have a whole answer that can be applied ad-hoc to almost any video you can get your hands on.

This "guide" (more anecdotal than how-to) assumes knowledge of video encoding basics, I'm not going to cover the difference between container and video formats or how to use VirtualDub, there are plenty of other tutorials and guides that cover those topics.

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Day 4 - Incline, Insanity and Inebriation

The morning routine ended up with Matt and I having breakfast in another, proto-kitchen located on the second floor which involved traversing a set of stairs and navigating around some barbarous looking corrugated sheets. The tradition of good coffee and unidentifiable jam continued accompanied by omelette and various fruits.

Alfredo and the mechanic from the previous day were already present when we finished breakfast, evidently ready to take us on our planned trip which today was to be Gran Piedre, a mountain 30 kilometres from Santiago.

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Day 3 - Car, Castle and Closed

After a good nights sleep I woke up around 7am, showered and tidied the room before having breakfast. Our casa, like a lot of buildings within a Cuban city, is very vertical; while only two rooms wide, our casa was four stories high including the balcony and a cornucopia of side corridors and hidden rooms folding in on themselves. Our breakfast was on the first floor kitchen which housed an immense sink and cooker along with sturdy, tiled surfaces. Once breakfast was finished and Matt had showered, we were introduced to a man called Alfredo who looked like his skin had been spray-waxed directly onto his skeleton; angular without being dessicated. Alfredo spoke a wide variety of basic English and informed us that he could organise a trip outside of Santiago for us.

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Day 2 - Trucks, Travel and Tracheotomy

My sleep was fractured at best, the air-conditioner sounded like it would tear itself apart while still managing to cool the room down; at times I woke and wondered if it was cool enough to turn it off or whether I could endure the cacophony for the sake of being at a comfortable temperature. Eventually rising at 7am I showered and was treated to another excellent cup of coffee accompanied by a breakfast of bread, Spanish sausage, an omelette, that same unidentifiable jam/preserve and some butter.

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Day 1 - Heat, Height and Hustle

By the time I had sweated out all of the water I had drunk the evening before, it was 3am and I found Matt still not back from his escapades in Holguin. At this point of the holiday I was still painfully aware as to how nervous I was at being in a foreign country where I didn't speak the language and didn't rightly know exactly where I was; scenarios of having to phone the British Embassy (carefully noted down before coming to Cuba) and explain that my friend had disappeared flashed through my mind until I heard the comforting sound of the casa owner let him in. Satisfied I was not going to have to phone the embassy or expatriate Matt's body to the UK, I went back to sleep.

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