Category Archives: software

How To Convert An Old Flash File Into A Video File In 2019

This blog post is about how to convert an old Flash file (.fla) into a video file (.mov/.mp4).

This blog post is NOT about how to convert an old .swf file (compressed Flash video file). I have left a small note about that at the bottom of this blog post.

Summary for the TLDR people

  • You will need to download and install trials of Adobe Animate and Adobe Media Encoder.
  • Open the old Flash file (.fla) in Animate, then click Export > Export video. This will then automatically launch Adobe Media Encoder (on an older computer be prepared to wait 30 seconds to a minute for Media Encoder to open!).
  • Choose the Format and Preset you want in Media Encoder, and then press the green triangle play button to encode.


I had an old Flash file from 2003 I wanted to share with my friends. Given Flash is deprecated now I knew I wanted to convert the Flash file to a video file. Here is how I did it…

What you will need:
You will need a computer which you can install applications on. If you can’t do that on your computer, you will need someone to install the following software trials on your computer for you:
Adobe Animate
Adobe Media Encoder

(Note: Once you install one of the above, Adobe Creative Cloud manager will be installed along with it. Creative Cloud has a one-click install functionality which is super handy).

How to convert an old Flash file into a video file

  1. Open the .fla file in Animate
  2. (You may get a warning like I did about the fact that your old .fla file uses ActionScript 1.0 which is no longer supported. In my case the ActionScript the Flash file used was so minimal that this didn’t stop me from being able to successfully export the file to a video file.)
  3. (If you have music in your Flash file it may not play when you export it to a video file unless you take the following steps…
  • Click on the first keyframe of the layer with the audio:
  1. Click File > Export > Export video
  2. Choose your Export video settings. I chose to increase the Render size because screen resolutions are much better since 2003! (Make sure ‘Convert video in Adobe Media Encoder’ is ticked). Click Export. On an older computer be prepared to wait 30 seconds to a minute for Media Encoder to open.
  3. What happens now is Animate will make a uncompressed .mov file of your Flash file, but you will still need Media Encoder to compress it into an .mp4 file.
  4. Once Media Encoder launches you will see your .mov file in the Queue. Before pressing the green triangle play button to encode, you will probably want to choose a Preset for your .mov file. Click ‘Custom’ under Preset which will launch Export Settings. Then click the drop-down next to Preset under Export Settings. Because I wanted to upload my video file to YouTube I chose the Preset ‘YouTube 1080p Full HD’. Click Ok.
  5. Click the green triangle play button to encode.
  6. Test your video file.

Converting an old .swf file (compressed Flash video file) into a video file

As I also had the .swf file as well as the .fla file, I did try converting my .swf file to a video file first. Truth be told, I tried a bunch of search results specifically for this (some freeware options, some dodgy-looking options that I would have rather not tried!) and none of the results were satisfactory for me. Some were able to convert the visual part of the Flash file but not the audio.

There is an official Adobe article on importing .swf files into Animate but there are a lot of limitations. But give it a try if you are desperate and you only have the .swf file.

How To Get Great Long Form Journalism Sent To Your Kindle Automatically

Update April 9, 2019:

Since I first wrote this post Instapaper, the company that makes the product I recommend using to get long form journalism sent to your Kindle automatically, have made their product subscription-based. In short, getting the digests sent to your Kindle is now no longer free. However, if you are willing to pay for an Instapaper subscription, the advice below should still work.

Original post:


These are my instructions to get great long form journalism regularly delivered to your Kindle e-reader. Fair warning: there is some work involved to choose the articles that you would like to read on your Kindle, so you will probably want to be a fan of long articles to justify the time doing this takes.

Using this approach, when you see a long form article online you will send it to something called Instapaper which will automatically send a digest to your Kindle once a week. In the Instructions below I suggest some good sources of new long form journalism for you to use.


  • Access to Wifi internet
  • An Amazon Kindle that has been connected to the Wifi Internet
  • An Amazon account
  • An Instapaper account: You may also want to download the Instapaper app for your phone/tablet, up to you.
  • A desktop/laptop computer that lets you click on bookmarks in your browser. A tablet should work as well but that’s just a guess.


1. Firstly, you will need to find out your “send to my Kindle” email address. If you use like I do, you should be able to find out the email address on this page:

2. Create an account and log in to it. You may want to make your Instapaper Profile private unless you are comfortable with people being able to see what articles you are choosing to read:

3. Get some good sources of new long form journalism. My preferred sources are the weekly emails from and Also by having an account you can also choose to receive their weekly email which also has good articles.

Some other sources I like for good new long reads are:

Because the Instapaper digest is sent to your Kindle once a week, the weekly emails from and in particular set you up with a good rhythm where those websites send you their favourite Longreads from around the web for that week and then you add them to Instapaper to read on your Kindle in your next Instapaper digest.

4. Add a ‘Send to Kindle’ button to your web browser. This is where things start to get a little technical but don’t worry, I’m going to step you through it all slowly. This button you are adding is technically a “bookmarklet”. Basically this means it’s like a smart bookmark. What you are going to do is create a bookmark in your web browser that, when you click on it, will send an article to Instapaper.

To set the scene, here’s approximately what it is going to look like on your bookmarks bar in your browser once you have set it up:


To set up the Send to Kindle button, log into and navigate to the ‘Settings’ page which is here: Then scroll down the page till you see the button that says ‘Get Kindle Bookmarklet’ and click on it. You should then see the instructions to set up the button which will look something like this:


As the instructions say, drag the Send to Kindle button onto your bookmarks bar. If you can’t see your bookmarks bar you may need to make it visible. If you use the Google Chrome browser like I do you can make it visible by clicking the three vertical dots at the top right of the browser then clicking ‘Bookmarks’ and then clicking ‘Show bookmarks bar’ as shown in this image:


In Microsoft Windows 10 you can also achieve the same thing by pressing Ctrl + Shift + B on your keyboard.

You should hopefully now have a Send to Kindle button on your web browser. To test it out, find a long form piece or a news article on the web and then click the Send to Kindle button. Once you’ve done that, navigate to this URL: and all things going well you should see the web page listed there. If you do, well done. Here is an example of my Instapaper homepage with some articles I have sent to Instapaper:


5. Set up Instapaper to automatically deliver a digest of your saved articles to your Kindle once a week. You may remember earlier in the Requirements I said you needed to have a Kindle connected to Wifi internet. You need this because this is how Instapaper will deliver its weekly digest to your Kindle. To set Instapaper up to send this digest navigate to this URL and scroll down the page to the ‘Kindle’ section.

In this section you will need to paste your “send to my Kindle” email address from step 1 of these Instructions into the ‘Your Kindle Email Address’ field.

Make sure that ‘Kindle Automatic Delivery’ is checked, like in the image below:


Under ‘Delivery Frequency’ choose the settings which make the most sense to you. If weekly delivery appeals to you then set to deliver every week, the digest will arrive on your Kindle on the weekend.

MAKE SURE YOU CLICK ‘Save Kindle Preferences’ before you finish with this step!

6. Regularly add longform articles that you want to read on your Kindle by clicking on your Send to Kindle button. The articles will arrive regularly automatically:




Bonus advice

Q: What if the Send to Kindle button doesn’t work for an article?

A: If this happens here are three things worth trying:

1. On the Instapaper homepage, try clicking the ‘Add Link’ link at the top right and try adding the URL of the article you want that way.

2. If that doesn’t work, try entering the URL of the article into the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and once you have found the page in the archive try clicking the Send to Kindle button again.

3. If the first two suggestions haven’t worked, a final suggestion is to save the text of the article to a rich text editor, e.g. WordPad in Microsoft Windows, save the text to a .rtf file and email that file as an attachment to your “send to my Kindle” email address. You will want to use a .rtf file as your Kindle will then let you change the text size once you are reading it on there. To tidy up the text before you copy & paste it to WordPad I like to use the Mercury Reader extension in Chrome.

(Last updated: 15/April/2019)

How To Stop Windows 10 Collecting More Of Your Data Than It Needs To

Updated July 1, 2018: updated to reflect the slight changes to the Diagnostics & feedback settings following Windows 10 April 2018 Update (version 1803)

If you are someone who uses Windows 10, you may or may not know Windows 10 is sending a whole lot of data about your computer back to base including potentially your personal files.

In Windows 10, under ‘Diagnostic data’, is a setting for how much of your data gets sent back to Microsoft. To get an idea of just how much data Microsoft is grabbing, it is only on the lowest setting called “Security” that “No user content, such as user files or communications, is gathered“.

If you are a Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Professional user (you can find out what versions of Windows 10 you have by searching for ‘System Information’) you will not even get the option of setting the data grab to Security: for Home/Pro users the lowest setting you can go down to is Basic. What a lot of people don’t realise is Home/Pro both default to Full, the highest possible setting for hoovering up your data.

For Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Professional users, here are the steps to change your system privacy settings down to Basic:

1. Click in the search bar at the bottom left of your screen and type in “Feedback”
2. Click ‘Feedback privacy settings’ under Best match
3. When the ‘Diagnostics & feedback’ window appears, you should see a section called ‘Diagnostic data’ which has two radio buttons, one for ‘Full’ and one for ‘Basic’. Click the radio button next to ‘Basic’.
4. Nice job! You have now changed your system privacy settings. The section under ‘Diagnostic data’ should now look like this:



Steve Jobs quotes

You may have seen before those lists of quotes from so-and-so that get linked to or forwarded around.

Recently I got sent a bunch of quotes by Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO. Some of them I really liked and I wanted to share them here.

Unfortunately, I cannot say whether a: these are all verbatim or b: whether they are actually quotes from Steve Jobs at all. I can tell you the “…in the face of death” quote rings true because I’ve watched the commencement speech where he says the same thing. As for the rest of them, they feel right so hopefully they are all real quotes.

“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve Jobs

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” – Steve Jobs in Business Week

Recommended Free Software List

My machine is overdue for a format and with that in mind I have put together my list of free software that I use daily. As a Windows user of many years I am still a creature of habit, but some of this software is Mac OS X/Linux compatible.

Ad-Aware SE PersonalAd-Aware SE Personal (Windows)
Still the most effective anti-spyware available for free. Lavasoft regularly issue update definitions which are a free download from within the program.

AxCryptAxCrypt (Windows)
AES-128 and SHA-1 file encryption. An easy way to encrypt files for restricted access. For users wanting access to encrypted files but not wishing to install any software, an install-free “viewer” can be downloaded, only 70kb in size.

K-Lite Codec Pack/Media Player Classic (Windows)
Easy way to solve all your codec worries and get a free media player in one hit. Media Player Classic has a built-in DVD player, support for AVI subtitles, QuickTime and RealVideo support. It can also be configured to play video files in a dual monitor setup.

Mozilla FirefoxMozilla Firefox (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
Browser of choice. Fast, secure and has decent web standards support. I am particularly fond of Firefox for the ease with which extensions can be installed and managed. Some of my favourite extensions include Adblock which will let you block images, embedded objects, etc from entire domains/IP addresses and Web Developer, a powerful toolset which lets you quickly access technical aspects of a website. See DB’s Best Firefox Extensions for more.

Mozilla ThunderbirdMozilla Thunderbird (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
A long-time user of Microsoft Outlook, I switched to Thunderbird once I ran out reasons not to. A sleek email client with the same inbuilt support for themes and extensions that Firefox has. Thunderbird’s adaptive junk email filter can be quickly trained to keep your inbox free of spam. I still haven’t found an easy way to export email and archive it to files but your email can be backed up under Windows XP by manually copying the mailbox store in Thunderbird’s ‘Application Data’ folder. (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
Faced with forking out for Microsoft Office 2003 or lumping it with Notepad/Wordpad/Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003, I turned to somewhat reluctantly. So far it has been stellar as I’ve transitioned from version 1.1 to 2.0. OpenOffice supports Office formats like .xls and .doc and will let you save to those formats as well. It is a rock-solid program and now includes Base and Impress, alternatives to PowerPoint and Access.

Audacity – record, edit and export audio (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
Azureus – excellent BitTorrent client (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
Crimson Editor – a text editor that just works (Windows)
CutePDF – free PDF maker (Windows)
dBpowerAmp – right-click ‘Convert To’ music file conversion (Windows)
FileZilla – solid FTP client (Windows)
Skype – top notch VoiP and instant messaging (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)

Update (2007-07-21):
100 Open Source Downloads – (Windows/Linux/Unix/Mac OS X/Classic Mac)

Blake Ross on open source marketing of Firefox

Sounds like an interesting Firefox session at Gnomedex.

The conference espouses a bottom-up, audience-driven approach, making it an unpredictable if not outright chaotic affair… Discussion leaders included Blake Ross, of Firefox fame, whose presentation was upstaged by audience member…

Blake then referenced the Firefox flicks project – and played a video called “Wheee!” from it that poked fun at Microsoft IE, which got a great response from the geeks in the Gnomedex crowd. However Dave Winer found it in poor taste, because it doesn’t address users. Dave asked: “what are you going to do for us?”. Dave said that he thinks Firefox will become just like Microsoft. Blake didn’t accept that – at which point a bit of a ‘Dave vs the crowd’ ruckus ensued. Chris Pirillo, Gnomedex organizer and host, had to step in and ask that the “conversation” be carried on later.

A final question asked about how Firefox will scale. Blake said that “I’m not looking to scale up to the size of Microsoft”. Overall a very interesting session, spiced up by Dave Winer and also Steve Gillmor’s interventions. The crowd was very much in support of Blake and Firefox, but even so Dave’s point that Firefox has to appeal to normal users instead of focusing on fighting Microsoft was a good one.