Online video is a mess. The video tag in HTML5 could help to clear things up, eventually, but there is no single dominant format for online videos. Every company has its own format/codec, and every browser has its own set of plugins to play these. And as we know from the mobile wars, not all the companies play nicely. Apple still won’t let iPhone users play Flash videos. All of this makes working with videos a bit of a pain.

Two sites that help me deal with competing formats and browsers are Video Toolbox and Online-Convert. Both of these are free, and both are pretty powerful. Video Toolbox is a terrific tool that lets you upload video files (up to 600MB) and cut, split, merge, add audio, convert, and do other useful things to them. The best tool I found in this set was the crop feature. Videos come in a range of resolution sizes and aspect ratios. If you are working in 4:3 but have a 16:9 file, you can use the crop tool to pare down the video. I recently used this site to trim a very unwieldy high definition video with a variable aspect ratio (geek talk for weird size) down to a tidy 4:3. I would have used the site to convert the video to an html-friendly .ogg format, but .ogg is not one of the many options offered (hint hint).

No worries, though. I just headed to Online-Convert, which sounds like sounds like a religious site, but is actually a really useful service for video and audio conversions. Here too, you simply upload your file, select the format you’d like, and wait a minute or two for the converted file to pop up, ready for download. You can also grab video that is already online by plugging in the URL (didn’t work with YouTube for me), a feature that Video Toolbox also includes. I converted the .flv to .ogg, and I was good to go.

Both of these sites also have quite a few extras: not sure you could weave straw into gold, but just about any other change is no problem. This includes all manner of text documents and ebooks, too. Check out both of these sources. They are the best that the cloud has to offer.