Saturday, January 31, 2009

How to use Gmail to with your own domain name for free.

It is possible to send and receive email from your domain based email address using the Gmail service (currently Google do not charge for this). This includes the Gmail webmail interface, its mobile accessible version, IMAP (with a very large inbox) and SMTP delivery from email programs like Outlook. These instructions explain how to set this up.

First of all you will need a domain name with email forwarding. Many domain registrars already provide this free when you register a domain name e.g.

There are a number of things you need to do in your domain registrar's control panel, the gmail web interface and your email program.

Things you need to do in your domain registrar's control panel:

1. Decide what email address you want to use at your domain name and set up a single email forwarder in their control panel or administration system to forward mail from that address to your gmail address.

Things you need to do on the gmail web site:

1. Create a gmail account through the google web site.
2. Click on the "accounts" tab in settings and under "send mail as" click on "add another address". Enter the address under your domain that you have set the forwarder up for in our control panel. An email will be sent to this address. You will need to recover that email (it will arrive in your gmail account) and click on the link to confirm you have the right to send mail from that address.
3. Now go back to the "accounts" tab in the gmail settings and click on "make default" next to your domain based email address.

You can now send and receive from your domain based email address using the gmail web interface. If you want to use an email program like Outlook then see the steps below.

Things you need to do to use an IMAP email program like Outlook:

1. Log into the gmail web interface click on settings (in the top right hand corner). Under settings click on "Forwarding and POP/IMAP". Enable IMAP. Do NOT enable POP3.
2. Click where it says "configuration instructions" and configure your email program accordingly, making sure you set up all the advanced settings or it will not work. You need to set it up as an IMAP account in your email program.
3. Make sure you enter the log in user name for IMAP as your gmail address and gmail password.
4. You need to set the email address in your email program as your domain based address so that it sends from the correct address. For example, in Outlook Express this is the address in the general tab in account settings (the field called E-mail address).
5. (optional) In Outlook Express you can hide some of the unused folders marked [Gmail] to keep things tidy. Do this by clicking on the account in your inbox area in Outlook Express and then on the "IMAP folders" button at the top of the page. I only have inbox, sent items and spam folders showing in my Outlook Express.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Windows says my external USB hard drive is full when it is not - problem fixed.

I am posting this because I spent a couple of hours trying to fix a fault like this on Friday night. I was moving a file to my USB hard drive and windows reported that the device was full. I did a check and the drive was only quarter full. I checked the disk for errors and there were no problems. It had not gone read only, and there were no errors. It also did not need defragmented and the size was reporting correctly in My Computer and Tree Size (a very useful free utility).

After much faffing around I finally discovered that Windows was misreporting the fault. The drive was not full - the file was too large for the FAT 32 file system on the drive (it was a 4.2 GB disk image and the file size limit is 4 GB). All my machines are formatted NTFS which has no file size limit. I have not used FAT 32 for a long time so the USB drive must have been formatted that way out of the box without me noticing.

So the moral of the story is: don't take Microsoft's error messages at face value. A lot of time would have been saved if Windows had reported the error as "file too large for FAT 32 formatted disk".

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How to make a low D penny (or tin) whistle

This article originally appeared as a thread on the Chiff & Fipple forum. It was written over a two day period as a commentary on me building a low D whistle.

I have modified the original posts to try and make it read more like an article, but its still a commentary on what happened.

Part 1
I found these instructions:

and as I had a piece of 1 inch diameter aluminium alloy tubing I decided to give it a go.


Cut the tube to approximate length plus 2 cm to give me some leeway for error.

Cut the window and filed out the burrs.
To do this I put masking tape on the tube, marked it out in pencil, drilled the short edges with a small drill bit and used a fine junior hacksaw blade to cut the top and bottom, then I filed them out using a needle file.

Made the fipple plug.
To do this I cut a bit off the end of the handle of an old garden brush which was a good fit in the tube already. Put some sandpaper on my workbench and rubbed it backwards and forwards till I had taken enough off it to get an airway 17mm wide (to match the window)

Made the ramp.
I used a hammer and the round end of a radiator plug to "panel beat" the depressed area over a large number of strikes with the hammer. I tried to align the edge of the lip so it was straight but this is not easy with aluminium, I can see now why so many makers mill out the lips in aluminium whistles. Then I filed the edge slightly sharper to give me a start at being able to make a sound.

Shaped the wind way.
I put the fipple plug in the tube, taped the tube to my bench with gaffer tape and used a block of wood and a hammer to shape the top of the airway slightly flatter. Again a lot of short sharp strikes while moving over the area to prevent the tube being damaged. The wood protects it also.

Took whistle indoors and left it to reach room temperature then blew some air through it to warm it up. Taped the fipple block in place and was surprised to make a sound, this was a bottom C#.

Glued the fipple block.
I used impact adhesive because thats what I had.
I also used it to fill the gaps between the wood and the tube now that it had been slightly distorted.

Total time so far: one hour plus coffee break.

I had to leave it for the glue to set overnight.

Tools used so far:

Wood block
Mitre saw (to get the fipple block ends straight, although you could use any saw).
Junior hacksaw with a fine blade
electric drill and drill bits
needle files
chromatic tuner (could use a piano or other tuning aid)

Part 2


Checked for seal round the fipple block and all was OK
Warmed it up and tested the tuning, still just under C#.

Spent one hour (yes one hour) trying to get the manufacturers label off the tube!
It was laminated on with plastic and I ended up using solvent. I am not going to include this in the overall time for making the instrument.

Tuning of root note D
Cut the tube with hacksaw about 6mm at a time till I was showing a flat D.
Then very carefully took small amounts off (filing might be easier) until I hit it correctly.

Making of holes
I put masking tape right down the centre of the tube and marked the centre line in pencil. Then calculated the positions of the holes using the formula in the article. I decided to offset some of the holes as I have short fingers and I did this by looking at pictures of commercial whistles. Drilled the holes with a small drill bit and removed the masking tape.

Started on the furthest away hole, enlarging it with successive drill bits until it got higher in pitch and nearly in tune. Then used tapered reamer to adjust it more precisely. Could use a rat tail file for this or just successively larger drill bits.

Tools used today in addition to yesterday:

Tapered reamers (not necessary, could use a file or drill bits)

Time spent in total so far: about two hours in total

So far I have bottom two notes playing in tune. Next task will be to tune the other notes and then make sure the lip adjustment is right for a good tone on every note.

Couple of photos of the progress so far (click on image to see larger version):

You can see that the holes are all still small apart from the bottom one which has been tuned.
The rest will get bigger as I work my way up.

The mouthpiece will be cut at an angle and filed smooth. The lip will need adjusted to make a clear sound on all notes, but even in this state its actually sounding good on the two notes that work.

Part 3

I work from home so at lunch time I made a quick sandwich and started tuning the whistle. I did each note in turn, opening up the hole with successively larger drill bits till it was just below pitch, then I went back and used a tapered reamer to finely adjust the holes. It was a bit fiddly, but took half an hour to complete. Because I knew I would have to clean the holes I stayed slightly flat on the note so I can adjust again later. I was surprised at how big some of the holes were but they were in line with the sizes the author of the article ended up with. At this point I was glad I offset the holes.

Total time so far : 2 hours 30 minutes

I then used a half round needle file to de burr the top and bottom surfaces of each hole.
I used some P600 paper to clean up the lip which has improved the volume.

OK, we have a working whistle.

Here is a clip of me playing the Dark Island on it:

I still need to shape the mouthpiece and varnish the end of the fipple block to protect it. I think making that diagonal cut might be quite difficult with hand tools. Will do it later and report back.

A functional low D in under three hours using basic household tools, and I have never made a woodwind instrument before. I have to say, I am surprised and even slightly shocked. Its not an Overton or even a Susato but it works!

A couple of the notes are still a bit flat and need pulled up but I will do that with a rat tail file, gradually over the next few days. I will cut the mouthpiece to shape later today and varnish the wooden end. I may also adjust the wind way to make it more efficient and send more of the air onto the lip blade.

Photo of what it looks like with the holes correctly tuned (click on image for larger version):

I have shaped the mouthpiece end and am re gluing the fipple block, then I just have to varnish the wooden end to protect it. Going to lacquer coat it and also the top of the mouthpiece because I had a bad reaction to an aluminium trumpet mouthpiece once (so did a lot of people which is why they stopped making them).

If anything, resetting the fipple block made it louder. I meant to burn the top of the block to harden the surface a bit but its too late now. Maybe the next one I build. I can see me doing more of these. Maybe a very mellow C made from half inch plumbing pipe next.

Having made the angled cut for the mouthpiece I realised that there was going to be a tendency for my bottom lip to lever the wooden block up the way and slightly narrow the airway. To stop this happening I drilled a hole through the bottom of the tube and screwed the fipple block to the tube using this. The adhesive might be strong enough but a bit of over engineering does no harm.

I have now sprayed the mouthpiece end with clear lacquer and its going to take some time to settle down. Will give it another blow tonight and see how I get on. One not is noticeably flat in both octaves so one hole needs enlarged slightly and then that will be it.

I have adjusted the tuning again and recorded a bit of Hot Asphalt to try out a faster tune. I am glad I offset those holes.


This instrument has been well used and features on my new CD.

I went on to scorch the inside of the fipple block as a way of hardening the wood. This video is a final demonstration of the finished instrument. Having experimented with this one I have found an easier way of doing it. Instead of flattening the tube at the fipple end to make the air pass over the blade I could make the bit taken out of the block wider at the open end and narrower at the blade end. This is how the Clarke original whistles are made. I think I could reduce the air requirement by doing this and bringing the blade down to the level of the top of the fipple block. I will be building another one soon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Early Scottish Music from the Skene Manuscript

The Skene Manuscript is one of the earliest written records of Scottish music. It belongs to the Faculty of Advocates and is kept in the National Library of Scotland. It was converted to staff notation and published with a commentary in:

From A Manuscript Of The Reign Of King James VI With An Introductory Enquiry Illustrative Of The History Of The Music Of Scotland By William Dauney, Esq. F.S.A. Scot., Edinburgh, 1838

This book is available for free download from Google Books - Click Here.

The music starts at page 215.

Contents of the Skene Manuscript
The manuscript is a collection of eighty five pieces of music written in mandore tablature. The mandore was a form of lute tuned to a similar pitch to the modern viola. The closest modern equivalent would be the mandola.

Here is a facsimile example of the original tablature (click on image to see a larger version):

The music contained in the manuscript was written for secular entertainment purposes and would have been played in the noble houses of Scotland. Some of the tunes refer to members of the family of James VI (e.g. Prince Henries Maske) and this music would no doubt have been played at the royal court. Much of the music is French influenced because of Scotland's close connections with France, but it does contain some specifically Scottish melodies including the first written down version of the Flowers of the Forest. Some of the melodies are written for specific types of dances.

Here are some excerpts played on penny whistle:

And here are some more, including the version of the Flowers of the Forest (the first written version of that tune):

A full commentary and explanation of the origin of the tunes plus any lyrics is contained in the book by William Dauney, referenced above starting at page 253.

Origins of the Skene manuscript

The date is uncertain, sometimes between 1615-1625, but possibly as late as 1630. Written by, or for, John Skene of Hallyards Castle, Lothian.

Sir John Skene was Lord Curriehill (1543-1617) a member of the Faculty of Advocates since 1575. Appointed as a judge he served as Lord Advocate from 1589 to 1594 and was involved in the prosecution of many alleged witches. His book Regiam Majestatem is a record of the laws of Scotland as they stood before James VI became James I of England.
He also served as Scottish ambassador to Holland.

Hallyards Castle was a fortified tower in the usual Scottish style. The foundations still exist to the north west end of the runway at Edinburgh Airport, although this is a later version of the house built by John Skene's son.

The castle was affected by undermining and was a partial ruin by the 19th century. It was finally demolished in 1975 when the airport runway was extended.
The family also owned Curriehill Castle in Currie.

Location of Hallyards relative to Edinburgh Airport (click on the image to see a larger version):

Closer view (click on the image to see a larger version):

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

English translation of the Scots lyrics for Freedom Come All Ye

Freedom come all ye is one of the most significant Scottish songs. It describes the post war collapse of empire and presents an internationalist image of a world of freedom and justice where Scotland will have its own place free from the stain of imperialism.

The original Scots lyrics are rather impenetrable even for Scottish people so I thought I would have a stab at an English translation.
I started with the English translation found in the Wikipedia article.

This does not scan with the melody, is not singable and loses any poetic sense.
It tries to translate "Broomielaw " which is a place name, which does not seem worth doing.
I also don't think its necessary to take all the Scots words out of the song to make it more accessible.

So here is my attempted translation:

Freedom Come All Ye
Original Scots Lyrics by Hamish Henderson, this version by Gordon Hudson

Rough's the wind in the clear day's dawning
Blows the clouds head-oer-heel across the bay
But there's more than a rough wind blowing
Through the Great Glen of the world today
It's a thought that would make our vermin
All those rogues who strut and swagger without care
Take the road and seek other lodgings
With their vile schemes to sport and play

No more will our fine lads be commanded
to march to war at a braggarts call
Nor wee weans from pitheads and clachans
Mourn the ships sailing down the Broomielaw
Broken families in lands we've vanquished
Will curse "Scotland the Brave", nae mair, nae mair
Black and white to one another married
Will make the slums of their masters bare

So come all ye at home with freedom
Never heed those prophets of doom
In your house all the bairns of Adam
Will find bread, drink and painted rooms
When Maclean meets with friends in Springburn
All the rose and cherry trees will turn to bloom
And the black lad from Nyanga
Will break the powers of his masters doon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Differences between the film Bram Stoker's Dracula nd the original book

Having recently read Dracula by Bram Stoker I decided to watch the film "Bram Stoker's Dracula" to see how close it was to the book.

It is pretty faithful to the narrative in the book and even makes reference to the diaries, but there are a number of changes:

  • The film starts with legend of Vlad the impaler which is not in the book
  • Renfield is a lawyer, who had been working on the property transaction before Harker.
  • Character of Dracula is less threatening initially in the book than in the film, where the vampire explantion is more overt from the beginning (I suppose because film goers won't find it a surprise).
  • Draculas ownership of Carfax Abbey is stated early on in the film rather than it being a surprise later in the book that it is next to the asylum.
  • Dracula has a shadow that operates seperately from his body movements in the film.
  • The carriage driver is not revealed as Dracula at any point
  • Mina and Lucy do not stay in Whitby and none of the action is set in Whitby.
  • Seward suggests a larger animal like a cat to Renfield, but in the book Seward is slightly bemused by Sewards request.
  • Shaving incident is not as in the book, the book only has no reflection in the mirror,
  • The baby is given to the female vampires not in a bag, thus making it require less imagination.
  • The female vampires are not described as being like Dracula physically which removes the incest angle.
  • Seward is injecting himself with morphine.
  • Dracula appears as a wolf rather than the wolf escaping from the zoo being controlled by him which is not in the book
  • The wolf still escapes from the zoo but it seems to be poseessed by Dracula
  • The ship Demeter does not wash up at Whitby with a dead man lashed to the wheel
  • Lucy is more aware of what has happened to her earlier on rather than it being dream like.
  • She does not seem very ill comopared to the description in the book.
  • Dracula only appears as a bat briefly at the end of the film in the abbey scene, not at the windows of the house.
  • Dracula seeks out Mina rather than him being spotted and not wanting to be discovered.
  • There is a theme of love in the film associated with Vlads wife killing herself which is not in the book
  • Scene in the cinema and the entire relationship between Dracula and Lucy is not in book
  • Lucy's mother does not appear in the film and does not die
  • No communion wafer for cleansing the boxes of earth, holy water used instead.
  • The undead Lucy does not attack children in the park, and seems to have abducted a sleeping child.
  • Search for the boxes does not happen in the film.
  • Renfield does not plead to be allowed out.
  • Ship to Transylvania does not divert
  • Burnig with wafer takes place in Transylvania rather than before the journey.
  • Mina trying to save Dracula is not in the book.
  • The vampires do not turn to dust when their heads are severed.
  • Dracula transforms into rats

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ancient burial mounds in Livingston, West Lothian

I came across the following article in the Google Books version of the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia by D. Brewster, published 1830.

There are several remains of the original British in habitants still visible in the county particularly a large cairn of stones upon Lochcoat Hill and another on the banks of the Forth about a mile west from Barnbugle Castle Near Kirkliston there is a circular earthen tumulus surrounded by large rough stones at some distance from each other and some sepulchral tumuli on the south bank of the Almond opposite to Livingston House.

This got me wondering if these ancient burial sites still existed in Livingston.

Where was Livingston House?
Livingston House was known locally as Livingston Peel and stood between Eliburn and Livingston Village

According to W.F. Hendrie's "The history of Livingston":

By 1483, the tower from which de Leving defended his lands stood on a rampart of ground and was surrounded by a thirty foot moat, full of water.

Livingston Village grew around the peel, and the foundations of the peel have been recreated in Peel Park which is adjacent to Leving Place (itself named after the family who originally built the peel). I have highlighted the location on this aerial photograph.

Click on the photo to see a larger version:

The peel eventually belonged to Sir Patrick Murray (1632-1671) who acquired it in 1652. He created a garden in the grounds with over 1000 species of plant which eventualy moving to Edinburgh on the site currently occupied by Waverley station. It became the Royal Botanic Garden and then moved to its present site in Inverleith, Edinburgh.

Where are the burial mounds now?
I did a search on Microsoft Live Maps which has good aerial photography of Livingston and directly due south of the Peel site is the Kaims area (streets like Kaims Drive and Kaims Place). Kaims may suggest a series of mounds (kame or kaim being the Scots word for a mound, used mainly these days as a scientific term for certain types of glacial feature). There are still some undulations to the east of the houses next to Alderstone Road near the entrance road to the football stadium.

Click on the photo to see a larger version:

Are these the same mounds referred to in the 1830 article or have they been cleared to make way for some of the houses and development in Livingston?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Do low energy light bulbs actually save money or electricity?

Having changed entirely to low energy bulbs over the past year (both fluorescent and LED types) I can honestly say that there has been no noticeable reduction in energy use.

The two reasons for this are:

  1. My house has about 20 lights in it. At an average of 60w per bulb (for conventional bulbs) this is only 1.2 Kw. My shower is 7 Kw and my oven is 4 Kw. My kettle is 1.2 Kw. My fridge is a few hundred watts but it runs all the time. These larger appliances compose a larger part of a household power bill than the lighting does. Reducing the use of these will have more impact on bills than reducing the current consumption of household lighting.
  2. Low energy bulbs produce less heat than conventional tungsten bulbs. This means that if you switch to low energy bulbs, but have thermostatically controlled heating it will run slightly harder to make up for the loss of heat from the bulbs.

Having said this, the low energy bulbs do have a number of advantages, especially their life which means that I rarely need to take an enclosed light fitting apart to fit a new bulb.

The way to save power is probably to reduce the use of high power appliances and switch things off when they are not in use.

Feel free to comment.

Euro exchange rate monitor

I have created a page that calls up the UK pounds (GBP) exchange rate with the Euro (EUR) and US Dollar (USD) from and displays them on the same page with a refresh every minute.

This was created for my own use but might be of interest to other people because it allows a quick look up and comparison of the two most important exchange rates for businesses in the UK.

Click Here to access the Euro Exchange Rate Monitor.