Saturday, 19 March 2016

Some Technicalities Behind my Travel Writing Research

Time to review our Malta DVD . . .

With the Sicily chapter of Island Interludes drafted it was time to meander further into the Mediterranean Sea and re-visit Malta.

It is some years since  we visited this lovely and charming island steeped in culture and history. I already had a rough outline of the places that we explored that I had written some years ago but I needed more detail. Off to the video cupboard I went and fished out the DVD which I had made from the camcorder film. On this DVD I had also included a slide show of the stills which Allen had taken. I soon found that I hadn't made the video to Mpeg file on the PC  as is my habit now, but had made and burnt it directly to disc after capture and editing. Such fun.

Popping the disc into the computer I hit a brick wall. Clicking on the DVD drive a VTS folder came up on the screen. This contained all sorts of files needed  for playback on the TV.  As a new train of processes began to access the files I needed for review and detail, actual writing was pushed to one side for the morning.

Opening up (or trying to) a Windows Media file from the disc I found that it would not play.
  • I had been using Pinnacle Studio 8 at that time. I did say that it was some years ago.
  • Since then my desktop computer had been upgraded from Windows XP and then to Windows 7 a couple of years ago.
  • In the meantime I had upgraded to Pinnacle Studio 10 with enhanced features. All was well and I had been happily adding other older DVD files to the PC as I needed them, as well as making new films in Mpeg 2 or 4 (depending what I wanted them for) as well as saving to disc. By now I was making lots of book video trailers for You Tube and putting other film on Facebook.
  • When I upgraded to Windows 7 I found that my Nero 6 Burning software was out of date. I upgraded to Nero 14 with massively enhanced features. I could adapt to it.
  • Last year I upgraded to Windows 10 under the free upgrade option. At this point we decided that we would let Windows 10 settle in and that this year we would start from scratch and have a complete new system. (That is another story.)
  • The driver for Pinnacle Studio 10 was not compatible with Windows 10 but no matter; with all the features of Nero 14 I could capture from the camcorder and edit in that although the editing features were more restricted unless I forked out more money.
  • It appeared now that the Windows Media files on the DVD's made in the old Pinnacle Studio 8 were not compatible with Windows 10.

No need to recode - which you can do in Nero 14 - I simply opened a new project and dragged the files that I needed onto the timeline. I played them through to ensure that all was well and exported to Mpeg4 in the video folder on the computer. It took just over an hour. Then I realised that when I had added a theme for the start and end with scrolling credits, I had left the box 'apply theme music' ticked. So the existing music and my narrations were drowned out. I needed this narration for my chapter. 

Another hour was to pass before the second export was complete. What to do?

I took myself off to the our WHSmith Local in the village for birthday cards and then to Lidl around the corner for bits and pieces.

Back in Business.

I  have re-lived our wonderful visit to St Julian's Bay in Malta and the excursions to Mosta (the unexploded bomb which went through the roof in a packed church is on display - I think it was defused), Mdina, Qormi, Ta'Qali Craft Village, strolls around Sliema, Valletta, and the boat ride around the Grand Harbour. Now it is all systems go to put pen to paper.

This is just a flavour of Island Interludes and the research that I undertake - along with maps of course and web searches - to make sure that my facts and recollections are correct.

Rosalie xx

P.S. I asked my husband once why the burning software was called Nero. With a 'look' he patiently explained that Emperor Nero stood by while Rome burnt. Simple!

By the way, my essential professional software - Adobe X Pro, Adobe in-Design, Photoshop -  for our book self-publishing is all OK in Windows 10.  So all is well there. The all-in-one PC which we ordered did not materialise and was cancelled. We are now waiting until after our travels this Spring when I can allocate a week for installs etc. With the problems I am having I don't want to do the Easy Transfer but have a clean slate and install what I need now.
Copyright Rosalie Marsh 2016

Return to Gran Canaria. Another escape to the sunshine.

San Agustin, is set on a lovely sandy bay on the south-eastern coast of Gran Canaria in the Atlantic Ocean.

This was well-timed to say the least. While the UK was shivering and sliding about in the snow and ice, we were basking in the warmth of the winter sunshine of the Canary Islands.

Staying again at the Dunas Don Gregory on the beach we truly relaxed while enjoying the facilities of this wonderful hotel. San Agustin was the major resort until the Maspalomas area was developed. Now, this area is quieter and utterly charming. With direct  access to the promenade you can walk along to Maspalomas or, you can turn left  and walk along the mix of rocky coast and sandy beaches to the town itself.

It is a pleasant stroll with an option of turning inland to meander through the park. One day - one of the rare days when I moved myself off the sun bed or sunny pool terrace - we were entranced at the antics of two green cockatoos and two doves which flitted about. I think that the cockatoos were nest-building as one was tearing away furiously at a dead twig on a bush.

I enjoyed the frequent fashion shows of beach and casual wear in the pool area. The night-time one featured items from the Italian boutique in the hotel. I promise you that I was very strong-minded when browsing in there. I only spent a little.

This time around  we had decided that we wouldn't go on any excursions as complete relaxation was on the menu. However, on our first visit two years ago we did take advantage of the tour of the island and the visit to the beautiful Puerto Mogan. Read about these in my blog post at where there are also lots of photos.

The only downside was that we both came out in streaming colds which we are still getting over. Quite a few people were so it must have been something in the air. Fortunately there as a good Farmacia in the Centro Commercial near the hotel - as well as good red wine in the hotel bars and the restaurant which overlooked the sea.

I thought that it would either kill them or drown them. C'est la vie!

Rosalie xx