Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Selmer Balanced Trumpet model 19A

Being a life long Louis Armstrong fan and a trumpet player I have always fancied owning one of the distinctive trumpets Louis was known for playing. Over the years I have seen a couple of the 1930's versions for sale. These were made in a frosted silver plated finish and have Louis Armstrong Special engraved on the bell. There was also a version with Nat Gonella's name on the bell. The post war Selmer balanced models were not very popular in the UK so there are not many available second hand and most are the larger bore model 23 or 24.

I recently had a problem with a flugel horn case that went mouldy and in my search for a replacement i came across an instrument repairer who had a number of vintage instruments for sale. This included a 19A and 23A Selmers in the balanced configuration. These had been traded in at some point in the past, but he had hung onto them because they were so unusual. The 23A was in poorer condition and in need of a valve job, but the 19A was in its original case and had been well played, but well looked after. There are a few tiny dents (the usual music stand dings) but barely noticeable. The serial number dates it to 1952, but valve compression is practically as it was when new. I know who owned the instrument originally and it may have been purchased new in the USA.

The Case

This is a zip up case with a badge that says Selmer USA on it. A totally faded lable inside turns out to say "Chesterfield patent" on it when I took a photo and adjusted the brightness and contrast on it.
It is clearly the original case, or at least made for a balanced trumpet as all the cut outs are in the correct place and there is no sign of modification.

The Trumpet

The instrument has some decorative engraving on the bell, measures to 0.450" bore size (small bore) and has 19A stamped on the receiver. There are no other markings other than the serial number and usual Selmer stamps on the bell. It has the original stop rod for changing it to the key of A. The bell is small by modern standards with a very slender profile and a reinforcing ring/garland next to the rim. The ring on the third valve slide is below the slide.

The instrument has about 75% if the lacquer remaining on the bits that are supposed to be lacquered. I am tempted to have this redone by a good restorer - as much to preserve the metal as to make it look better, but as it stands it has a lot of character.

Selmer 19A Balanced Trumpet

Selmer Paris 19A

Stop rod for A and underslung adjustment ring.

Characteristic Selmer Paris pinky ring.

19A stamped on the receiver indicating a .450" bore, which is what it measures to.

Decorative engraving on the bell.


It plays more openly than I expected for such a narrow bore model and compared to 1930's pea shooter style trumpets. It has that characteristic carrying sound with not many overtones. It is not a loud instrument and won't take a huge amount of air.

The receiver is old style French which means a modern mouthpiece will not insert far enough. Here are some mouthpiece gap measurements using one of my Breslmair mouthpieces as an example.

These measurements were taken with a good quality digital metric calliper. I have put my own conversion figures to inches in brackets:

End of Breslmair backbore outside diameter: 9.84mm (0.3875")
Breslmair insertion depth: 21.58mm (0.850")
Depth from open end of receiver to top of leadpipe: 31.93mm (1.257")

This gives me a gap of 10.35mm which is far too big.

I tried with a Schilke 20 mouthpiece:
End of Schilke backbore: 9.78mm
Schilke insertion depth: 23.07mm

This gives me a gap of 8.86mm which is still too much.


I decided to have the instrument restored and this was completed in August 2015 by Bryce Ferguson at Brass and Woodwind. Bryce specialises in instrument restoration and does work for museums and many other organisations. Because I needed a useable instrument I decided to go for modern epoxy laquer which evokes the very bright look of some of the later gold plated Selmers used by Louis Armstrong.

The restoration included straightening out a minor bend in the bell, removing as many dents as possible from the lead pipe, doing a full ultrasonic clean and then removing lacquer chemically before hand polishing to ensure the engraving stayed sharp. Then lacquering and plating of the silver parts. It also had a valve alignment which is really crucial given the narrow bore. Interestingly Bryce discovered a shunt slide on the third valve which I had not noticed as it was totally seized. The compression on the valves is very good for an instrument of its age.

Hopefully this will give it another 63 years of life!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Is Virgin Galactic really about cutting edge space exploration?

I had not thought about this until the crash this week, but a lot of the news coverage has focused on how cutting edge the Virgin Galactic programme is and how dangerous space exploration is.

However, we have been going into space for over fifty years. A quick comparison of Virgin Galactic with the US Mercury space programme (Project Mercury) makes interesting reading.

Project Mercury
1959-1963 (4 years)
7 successful launches into space
7 astronauts
161-280 km max height
0 deaths
$0.4bn cost (at 2014 values)

Virgin Galactic
2004- (10 years at least)
0 successful launches into space
0 astronauts
100 km max height (planned - just enough to count as leaving the earth's atmosphere)
4 deaths
$1.73bn cost (at 2014 values)

We were sending people into space over fifty years ago so going into space is not cutting edge. Reusable spacecraft were pioneered 25 years ago with the space shuttle. It seems to me that if Virgin Galactic is an experiment, then it is an experiment in economics rather than in space exploration. Its about how money can be made from space rather than how we get there or why we should be going.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Letter received from Storefirst's solicitors

On the 29th of September I published an article asking if anyone had any experience of investing in Storefirst and whether the company had broken their lease agreement after two years.

Storefirst's solicitors have written to me asking me to remove the article.

You can view their letter here (the lawyers direct dial and email have been removed).

Friday, October 3, 2014

Opting out of my union's (UNITE) political fund

Following the referendum campaign I have written to my trade union to opt out of their political fund. Some unions have options like putting this part of the membership subscription into general campaigning or welfare funds, but Unite only seems to have the option of giving it to the Labour Party. As I am not a supporter of the labour Party I don't see any reason to continue doing that. If you would like to do the same you will find the form here. Just fill it in  and give to your branch secretary.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Are you affected by investments in Storefirst Limited storage pods?

The article that was here has been removed following a complaint from Storefirst's solicitors.

You can view their letter here (the lawyers direct dial and email have been removed).

The original article asked if anyone had any experience of investing in Storefirst and whether the company had broken their lease agreement after the two year guaranteed period expired. I would still be interested to hear from anyone who has any experience with this.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why I have not pressed the button on joining the SNP

As I write the membership of the SNP stands at 57,243 - up from 31,601 before the referendum. People are still signing up in their hundreds every hour, but so far I have resisted the urge. Why? because I don't think their policies are enough to make enough of a difference to real life in Scotland. What we need is system change not regime change. And that means no more of the neoliberal consensus that the SNP is part of.

Even though the outcome of the referendum, and the way the Better Together campaign conducted themselves sent my socialist nerves jangling, I don't think that committing to more-of-the-same at Holyrood is the way forward. I don't think that many of the Yes activists do either. The SNP at Holyrood is a very disciplined political machine and it remains to be seen how that will change with an influx of new members and a change of leader.

The SNP is not a progressive party. Here are some examples of their non progressive policies:

  • The number of university students from low income households has dropped over the past ten years. Funding cuts to further education colleges has further reduced access to higher education for young people from low income families.
  • The SNP does not support a reinstatement of the 50p rate of tax for high earners.
  • Proposing to reduce corporation tax, when this is a tax already being avoided by many multinationals.
  • The council tax freeze has caused local authorities to cut funding to voluntary organisations providing care services to the elderly and others.
  • Wanting to get rid of Trident while maintaining a nuclear cover through NATO membership.
  • The SNP do not believe in redistribution of wealth and want to tackle poverty through economic growth. Much of that initial growth seems reliant on the oil industry. Yet, if we burn that oil we submit our planet to the effects of climate change, which will make the world's poorest countries poorer still.

These are all fairly intractible problems for me and explain why, for now, I am not lining up to join the SNP.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The referendum aftermath. #the45

I have not said anything since the referendum took place because I wanted to take time out to reflect on the issues. Now that things have had a few days to settle my thoughts are becoming clearer. These are the main things in my mind at the moment.

It was not a clear, once and for all, victory for the No campaign.
They may have got 55% of the votes, but the majority of working age people voted Yes. This means that the demographic will move in and in ten year's time there will be a majority for independence.

It was a dirty fight.
Leaving the issue of the behaviour of the mainstream media aside, there were three activities by the No campaign which I found reprehensible:

Changing a No vote from a vote for the status quo to a vote for devo max after the postal votes had been cast and so close to the polling date that their proposal could not be investigated or challenged.

Better Together phone canvassers from England (they could not get sufficient volunteers in Scotland) phoning Scottish pensioners and telling them that their pensions and bus passes were at risk if the vote went in favour of independence. Most of these volunteers were Labour Party members.

It was a fight for preservation of the political class
Labour Party members campaigning with Conservatives, and even the National Front (in Aberdeen). The main focus seeming to be to retain a voting block of Labour MPs from Scotland - but to what end? Simply the Westminster political elite doing a bit of job preservation.

Where do we go from here?
Six months ago I did not mind which way the referendum went, but as it came closer I realised that the future of our country and the future of my children is best served by decision making about Scotland taking place in Scotland. The question is how to achieve this. As I am writing the SNP is on track to become Britain's largest political party. Huge numbers of Yes support rs are joining and this will give the SNP the ability to run a massive campaign for the next Scottish Parliamentary election. I have an urge to get involved in active politics too, after a few years away, but I don't agree with the SNP's central emphasis on sovereignty. Moving from one group of leaders to another will make no difference.

At the moment we have a great national consciousness of politics, but we need to move from this to wresting power from the state and back into the hands of ordinary people. What we need to come out of this referendum process is a mass participatory democracy. Scottish Labour are currently promoting a scheme which claims to do this, but without any real power, because the real power comes from ownership. Yes, I know that sounds very "clause 4", but it's plainly true that real power lies with those who control the means by which money is made: banks, investment funds, oil companies and our currently centralised state (which is itself a supplier of infrastructure). Until this power is broken we will continue to have an increase in inequality between the poorest and the richest in society.

To move power to the hands of ordinary people would require more than a change of government. It would require a change in values across the whole of British and Scottish society. A move away from the extrinsic values of status and wealth to intrinsic values like community and self fulfilment (the sort of values that Are also central to Christianity). In the mean time we need to look at promoting collectivism (social enterprise, cooperative business models and other ways of working). Those of us with pension funds might be able to pressure our pension trustees to invest in businesses which promote this type of cooperation. In banking we need to look more at the mutual model. For example, the Airdrie Savings Bank is a proper bank, but run on a mutual basis.

Above all we need to challenge the power of the state to tell us what to do. We need to start holding politicians to account, and we can start by ensuring that they carry out their promise of more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

Political parties
Now, on the issue of political parties, some friends are surprised that I am not a member of the Green Party. This is with good reason. Although I care deeply about the environment, I think the pressure on the environment is the result of our economic system which needs to continue growing to pay debt interest. This is a circle that spirals on forever. We need,to break that and I know the Greens agree. Where I disagree with a lot of Green Party activists is that they appear to not have a real understanding of poverty. It might be great to eat sustainable sour dough artisan bread and locally produced organic food if you have good job and a comfortable home in Portobello, but if you live in Muirhouse this is cloud cuckoo land. The real cause of poverty is economic and fiddling at the edges will not cure this, whether that is the SNP's sovereignty or the Greens' sustainability. This is why, at the moment, I will not be joining either, but will be looking to get involved in something to advance these issues.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A very interesting observation about the referendum. #indyref

Everyone on my social media feeds who is saying that they are fed up
with all the referendum talk or that it has all,got a bit too heated
is a No voter. In my "real" life, everyone who is saying there is far
too much talk about the referendum or that it's all "getting a bit too
heated/passionate" is also a No voter.

Perhaps a psychologist could explain this?
May be something to do with cognitive dissonance.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Escaping from o2 to 3 in Edinburgh

Since June the quality of service from o2 in central Edinburgh has declined dramatically. At times I have been unable to send texts or make calls. The data connection regularly drops to G or E even though the signal is strong. Outside Edinburgh there have been similar problems with data connectivity between Edinburgh and Livingston patchy and unpredictable. One direction it can be 4G all the way and in the other only G. Other users have been reporting this on Twitter for the past few months, with Tescomobile and Giff-Gaff customers visiting the Edinburgh Festivals complaining too (they both use the o2 Network).

The problem seemed to start when o2 introduced 4G. I understand that they did not gain any additional spectrum and have had to implement this on their old 900MHz band. It could be that this has been more technically challenging than they expected or there may be compatibility issues with some handsets. It is not very clear, but an inability to send texts at certain times has been another factor that caused me to go looking for another provider. On one occasion I was unable to make any outgoing calls so couldn't contact my kids, who were on their way to meet me.

My iPad has 3G capability and I have a PAYG SIM card in it from the the 3 network. Over the past year I have noticed that in some places the 3 network gives me 3G, but o2 does not. These places include Kirkwall in Orkney and Cowdenbeath in Fife. I have never been in a place where o2 had a signal but 3 did not, but I have been in places where neither had a signal but Vodafone did. The problem with Vodafone is that they charge a lot for data and their actual data speeds don;t seem to be as good as o2 or 3 in the tests I have read.

So after several months of difficulty with o2 I decided to switch to 3 simplay because it could not be any worse. I went into the shop and bought a SIM card on a 12 month contract for £15 a month. This gives me 200 minutes of calls with unlimited texts and unlimited data. It also includes calls to 0800 numbers and 20GB of data per month plus calls home free of charge from selected countries (although not many in Europe). They allow the use of the WiFi hotspot but with a limit of 4GB per month.

I got the PAC code for my number transfer and did it the same day in the shop. Two days later it had not worked so I phoned up and it turned out it hadn't been actioned. They did this on the Friday and on the Monday my phone went dead. I put in the new SIM card and was able to make calls (with my correct number showing in caller ID) but not receive incoming ones. By the end of the day this had fixed itself, although the phone identity in settings is still showing the temporary 3 number. The period of no service during the change over was about eight hours.

The results so far are promising. At home and in central Edinburgh I am getting 4G with download speeds of 31mbps and upload of 15mbps. However, this often reverts to HSDPA, which is giving me 15mbps download. In comparison I was getting 21-24mbps on o2 4G (when it worked). Driving to and from Livingston I have a strong signal all the way with data showing as H the whole way there and back.

Overall, it seems like good value and the coverage is better in the places I use it. Coverage in rural areas might be a challenge though.

Oh, and Hutchison 3G is a Scottish company registered in Glasgow.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why I am voting Yes in the Scottish Independence Referendum.

From the beginning of the Scottish independence referendum campaign I have been a reluctant Yes voter. I don't think that independence should be necessary to make Scotland a better place, but if we really are "better together" then we would have been better by now. 307 years is a long time to be getting it right, but that is how long it has been since the Union of the Parliaments. The reason it has never worked properly is simply the distance (geographical and cultural) between Scotland and London. Anyone who has worked in London will tell you that the people are great, but they have a very enclosed view of the world. Most have no concept of how far away Scotland is or how large it is. They tend to view Scotland as a county somewhere in the north. Lack of education on the whole of British history and the continued concentration on London as the centre of the country have cultivated this view over many years. Even the BBC weather map has an unfortunate perspective applied to it that makes Scotland seem small. Yet, those of us who live here seem to have greater optimism about making the world a better place.

When I announced on Facebook that I was voting Yes it was greeted with incredulity by some of my friends. Partly because of my long standing assertion that the final vote will be No (not long ago I predicted a 60%/40% No vote) and partly because I seem like such a sensible, level headed person.

In spite of this I am voting Yes and here is why.

Firstly, I just can't approve of sending any more young Scottish men to fight in foreign wars that we had no say in getting involved in. London decides these things and Scottish opinion is poorly represented in that decision making. Yet, Scotland provides a disproportionate percentage of front line troops. If these decisions were made closer to home they might be made better. They certainly couldn't be made any worse.

Secondly, the No campaign have shown no evidence of the additional powers they are offering the Scottish Parliament. They could have already drafted legislation but haven't. They have not been specific about what powers they would be offering. These promises made in the heat of the campaign could easily evaporate afterwards.

Thirdly, the retribution from back bench Tory MPs will be severe. Expect big public funding cuts here next year as Scots are accused of being "subsidy junkies", when we actually pay more tax per head of population than the English.

Fourthly, I think a parliament with full powers elected under proportional representation will mean that people are better represented. At the moment a Green voter gets good representation in Holyrood but not in Westminster. Scottish Conservative voters get poor Scottish representation at Westminster with only one MP. In an independent Scotland these minority views will get greater representation.

Fifthly, and leading on from my last point, I think we will get more radical policies to fight poverty and social injustice in an independent Scotland because there is a greater collective will here to make that happen.

There are some reasons I might have voted No and these are the things that make me a sceptical yes voter.

Firstly, Alex Salmond. I first met Alex when I was attending Scottish Constitutional Convention meetings in the 80's. I find him a fairly inoffensive man, but many in Scotland really dislike him, and his involvement post referendum could be divisive. I considered this and concluded that Alex will be dead in thirty years - Scotland won't. That may sound really callous, but I can't let feelings about one person cloud my decision on the wider issues. Following a Yes vote the Scottish political parties would need to realign, and my hope is that new credible leaders would emerge on the left and we would get a more radical government.

Secondly, Labour. As a Labour voter and former party member I find it hard to vote against the party. However, their main reason for supporting the No campaign seems to be to secure the Scottish Labour vote as a way of getting a parliamentary majority in Westminster. This would be fine if Westminster was likely to deliver. It seldom does. I also feel uncomfortable with London Labour's new found unionism. It used to be an internationalist party, now it seems to be veering towards a sort of jingoistic British Nationalism - no doubt due to pressure on the labour vote in some areas from the fringe right wing parties. I know that many within Scottish Labour are unhappy with this.

I have been looking at the polls and listening to what people are saying around me, and have been surprised. Over the past few weeks I have seen a number of people in my social circle move from voting No to voting Yes. What seems to be happening is that they are choosing to ignoring the detailed argument on economic questions, or the Salmond issue, and look at broader questions of values and making decisions closer to home, by the people who live here.

Last night when I was mowing my lawn I realised that the next time I am doing it the lawn could be in a separate nation.

On the evening of the referendum I will be in Edinburgh at a concert given by the English folk singer Kate Rusby. Because being an independent nation does not mean we can't be together.
Surely the best of both worlds?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Returning to blogging

In my last article dated 3rd May I explained that I was giving up blogging for the time being, but that I might return in the future.

Having considered all the options, and with the amount of interesting things going on and the number of technical tips I have not been able to share I thought I would make a tentative return. I have updated the blog template and I have given greater prominence to the disclaimer which accompanies every article. I encourage  you to read it here.

For those of you who don't know, Ecalpemos is the word "someplace" spelled backwards and is derived from the name given to a house in the novel "A Fatal Inversion" by Barbara Vine:

The day before she left he thought of a new name for his house. For some days he had been mulling this over, trying to come up with something more interesting than Wyvis Hall. Myopotamus Manor, which had occurred to him, was just a joke. He began anagramming, twisting letters round, keeping in mind where they had been going, where Mary was still going... Ecalpemos. He asked the others what they thought Ecalpemos was. 'A Greek island,' said Mary. 'Not an island,' said Rufus. 'More like a mountain. A volcano.' 'Or a resort on the Costa Brava.' 'You just made it up,' said Rufus lazily. 'It does sound rather like a community. Oneida, Walden, Ecalpemos.' `It doesn't sound in the least like Oneida or Walden. I know what it is, it's like Erewhon: that's "nowhere" backwards.'…..
…... Ecalpemos is "some place" inverted.' `Well, well, very clever. Don't you find 'some place' has too much of an American flavour?'
`I don't give a sod about that,' said Adam. 'It's not being called “some place" anyway, it's going to be Ecalpemos.' Which thereafter it always was.  (From A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

What's the bloody point?

The last entry in Kenneth Williams' voluminous diaries is a one line entry for 15th April 1988. It reads simply:

Oh, what's the bloody point?

Within hour of writing this Williams was dead from an overdose of barbiturates, probably administered accidentally.

His diary had ended, and so has mine. For now.

Blogging has been a large part of my life for the past nine years. It has covered subjects ranging from mental health to IT to my musical work to my journey of faith. There has even been the odd recipe. Some of my writing has sparked great discussion - one post has 402 comments. There have been controversies. There have also been great meetings of minds. But there has always been freedom to discuss the things that matter.

Earlier this week I deleted a blog post because I felt under pressure to do so. It was the first time I had ever removed an article from this blog. The repercussions of this have been that I can no longer write about my personal faith in this blog or anywhere else.

Freedom is not all encompassing. Rudolf Steiner pointed out in his Philiosophy of Freedom that our ability to act freely probably lies only within our own thoughts. Everything else is subject to social norms, expectations of others, the law and cultural frameworks. So for now my thoughts must stay within my own head. My faith will remain a personal matter. Unresolved and unexpressed.

For now this blog has ended. It may return in some form in the future.

I would like to thank all of the people who have read and commented on my writings over the past nine years. Your companionship has been an important part of my life.  Until we meet again May God bless you all.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Adventures in Ordination.

I noticed a while ago that the pro independence blogger Stuart Campbell ( sometimes uses the title "Rev". I haven't been able to determine what organisation ordained him. He could be a former minister of some denomination, but his biography does not mention any church activities.

Leaving this aside, it did make me wonder what you would have to do to be "ordained". I do remember someone in Edinburgh who had served as a pastor of an independent church for many years searching for a US evangelical organisation that would ordain him based on his experience. The ordination took place, I believe in absentia in the US, and he was conferred with the title "Reverend".

Ordination seems to be easy to come by in the US, usually driven by a requirement to act as a marriage celebrant, or in some states the ability to operate as an alternative therapist (ordination covers the "laying on of hands" for insurance purposes). In one episode of the Simpsons, Homer gets himself ordained through an online service, prints out his own clerical collar and starts marrying people.

The main organisation doing this is the Universal Life Church of Modesto California which can be found at There is also a rival split from the main church which can be found at In the interests of science and curiosity I decided to try them both.
Submitted the form and had a very swift, and personal, email reply asking if I was the same Gordon Hudson of another address. This was, in fact, an old address of mine, and I have a vague recollection of having submitted a similar form at some time about ten years ago. It appears I am already ordained! It is as legal as any other church's ordination, but most would consider it "irregular" under their ecclesiastical laws.
Submitted the form online and received an immediate confirmation of my ordination. There was an option to buy a certificate for $7. According to the original ULC ( this is not associated with them at all and has only existed since 2006.

I also came across a British web site selling online ordination for £35, claiming that this would give people the right to act as a marriage celebrant:
The company United Europe Church Ltd was only formed in March this year and unlike the other two that allow any belief, this has a strictly evangelical Christian statement of faith.

I am not convinced that the Registrar General for Scotland would recognise this as valid for marriages. My understanding is that all Church of Scotland ministers automatically have the right to perform marriages in Scotland. Ministers of other denominations have to be officially nominated by their denominational headquarters and the registrar general limits the number to those he thinks are necessary for those denominations. Ministers of independent churches need to be nominated by their congregational decision making body. If you were to start your own church I suppose this might work, but you don't need to be ordained to act as a marriage celebrant, having a congregation is sufficient. For example, Brethren meetings and Churches of Christ who have no ordained clergy usually nominate an elder to carry out marriages. It is also not permitted to earn a living as a "celebrant" in Scotland, even though quite a few Humanist's seem to do this.

So, now, like Rev Stuart Campbell, I remain,

Yours faithfully,

Rev Gordon

Monday, April 14, 2014

What genealogy tells us about the accuracy of the bible.

I am an amateur genealogist, and have plotted family trees for a variety of people. It combines my interest in history with my eye for detail and research. You will find articles about my own family history elsewhere in this blog.

Before I start plotting a tree I ask people for the names and dates of their parents, grandparents and any other relatives they know of. Then I ask them for any family rumours and legends. Its interesting that although some of these legends can seem quite bizarre 70-80% of them turn up in the evidence and are more-or-less true.

What does this say about the veracity of the gospels? Well, just because the stories in the gospels appear to be fantastical we should not discount them. The gospels only tell snippets from the life of Jesus. As these were initially passed around by word of mouth, people were more interested in remembering the unusual things that happened.  So in the written gospels it tends to be the more interesting and unusual aspects of Jesus life that are recorded. There are no records of his shopping trips or toenail trimming, although he must have done those things. The emphasis is on the unusual, and because these occurrences were unusual they were remembered, passed on and eventually written down.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Churches in Edinburgh on social media

As a follow up to my article Churches in Edinburgh on the Internet I thought I would have a look at churches in Edinburgh on social media.

Most active churches seem to have a Facebook page these days, but these get little interest outside the members. In some cases they have a tenth the number of likes as they have members. Generally they seem to be sharing information about events within the church with members.

When it comes to Twitter the searches I did were quite disappointing.

Church Edinburgh brings up mentions of church buildings, denominational committees and events taking place in church buildings.

Christians Edinburgh doesn't really help you find any Christians in Edinburgh.

Christianity Edinburgh does not fare much better.

What there is of church activity on Twitter seems to be either  the equivalent of the dayglo TBS bible posters you used to see at railway stations (click here to remind yourself) or the equivalent to the church newsletter. There is very little real communication going on between real individuals. There are also very few Christian bloggers in Edinburgh. This does not reflect the stated desire of so many churches to reach the people of Edinburgh.

What do you think?

The "Gospel of Jesus Wife" and why it changes nothing.

I follow a range of people on Twitter and on the issue of this small fragment of papyrus they fall into two camps:

1. The academics like Larry Hurtado, who sums it up in this article (worth reading in full as it mentions the problems with the Coptic in the fragment - for more on this see Mark Goodacre):

.... even if authentic, the fragment would have no bearing on (1) the marital status of Jesus of Nazareth, (2) the question of women’s role in churches, (3) the question of Catholic priestly celibacy, etc.  None whatsoever.  Nada.

2. Atheist critics, who seem to have seized on the fragment's recent early carbon dating by MIT and Harvard  as evidence that it must be true and therefore the gospel accounts of Jesus life aren't.

The odd thing, of course, is that the carbon dating puts it at 700AD, far later than the canonical gospels. If any of the four canonical gospels were found to be from 700AD the same critics would be using that dating as evidence that those documents could not be accurate. I guess that a late date can be used to cut any way you want it to.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Problem displaying Powerpoint presentation in Libre Office Impress

I had an interesting issue displaying a Powerpoint presentation using the Impress presentation program in Libre Office. Although Libre Office has no problem opening the .pptx file from Microsoft Office 2010 the slide layout was wrong and text was overflowing.

The reason was that the font in the original Powerpoint file did not exist on the other machine, which was running Linux Mint 16. Impress was substituting with a similar font which was not as condensed so the text was overflowing the original Powerpoint layout. This surprised me as I had already installed the Microsoft Core Fonts. However, this does not include Calibri which is the default font in MS Office 2010 and the font which had been used in these slides. To fix this I copied the Calibri true type font files from my Windows 7 laptop over to the Linux one.

Here is how to do it.

Note: Your system may not be set up like mine. Attempting this could break something. Beware.

On the Windows PC:

  • Go to c://Windows/Fonts
  • Click on Calibri, which is a font folder.
  • Copy all six Calibri files to a USB memory stick.

On the Linux PC:

  • Copy the files to /home/[username]/ using whatever file manager you have.
  • I put them in a directory called Microsoft
  • Open terminal and type: 


  • You will be asked for your password.
  • This switches you to root user.
  • Then type:

cp -r /home/[username]/Microsoft /usr/share/fonts
This copies the fonts into your font directory.

  • Now type:

fc-cache -fv

Which refreshes your font cache.

For information, the way to install the standard Microsoft fonts is to use this command:

sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts

The amount of spam I am receiving has decreased, or has it?

Having moved me email domain between three different hosting services this year I have noticed a big variation in the amount of mail being trapped by my spam filters. The rolling thirty day average has been:

Host 1 : 250-300
Host 2 : 800-900
Host 3 : 50-100

Why the big difference? Well, all hosting companies use real-time blackhole lists (RBL's) to prevent the most blatant spam from getting through. This has more to do with protecting mail servers from overloading than protecting customers from spam. When a mail server connects the receiving mail server looks up that server on a list and denies connection if it appears on it. This prevents the server having to open, write to and close a file, saving processing and I/O resources.

Real-time blackhole lists are lists of mail servers known to be originating spam. There are many in existence. Some are more severe than others. Some block whole countries, some never remove a server once it has been detected sending spam. My guess is that Host 1 was using something like Spamhaus to temporarily block the worst offenders, Host 2 was not using RBL's and Host 3 is using something far more severe.

One slightly worrying aspect is that I am currently unable to receive receipts by email from a company I buy IT gear from. This may be because the server generating them has been blacklisted. There is no real way of knowing for sure.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Linux drivers for Zoostorm Pink laptop model 7873-9043

I thought I would post this article as there are a number of out of date articles about this floating around the internet.

I recently bought a Zoostorm model 7873-9043 laptop from Ebuyer (the pink one they sell for £280). It is manufactured by Clevo (the Clevo model number is W251EL) and very nicely specified.

I installed Linux Mint 13 which is the current LTS (long term support version) and the WiFi would not work. The WiFi chipset is RTL8723AE. Some articles I found are suggesting installing windows drivers or downloading unofficial drivers via Realtec staff.

I had a look at installing drivers, but this did not make sense as the WiFi had worked when I had tried a live disk of the latest version of Linux Mint. The problem seemed to relate to the version I had chosen to install, which was 13 LTS. On examination I could see that the drivers were there but I could not turn the card on even using manual commands. I think there are software switches required in relation to this chip set which are only present in more recent Linux kernels. Mint 13 is kernel 3.2 whereas Mint 16 is kernel 3.11.

So I experimented with updating the kernel in Mint 13 to 3.11. Although the OS worked as before and the Bluetooth worked the WiFi still did not.

Rather than faffing about with drivers, the simplest way to make it work was to install Linux Mint 16. When I did this the WiFi worked straight away. The driver loads every time i start the machine and it automatically connects to my WiFi. Linux Mint 16 is not an LTS release, but it will be by the end of May 2014 and it seems stable already.

I hope this helps someone else avoid the heartache of trying to install drivers unecessarily.

Monday, March 31, 2014

My return to faith.

Those who have followed my blog over the past few years will already know my spiritual journey,  which could be summarised as “conservative evangelical” to “questioning evangelical” to “disbeliever” (following the crash of my creationist beliefs) to “attempted atheist” to “tolerant liberal”. I now have to come clean and admit that I have never really been able to rid myself of my belief in God. For the simple reason that it is based on knowledge rather than faith and I can’t totally deny something that I know to be true. I have returned to my faith.

Over the past few months a number of situations have arisen where I felt uncomfortable because things were being said or done that were jarring with my knowledge of Jesus which was still smouldering away somewhere within me. This caused me to look at who I am, where I am and how I can reconcile my dislike of church and religion with what is a very real love for the things of God.

So why believe?

Well first of all it’s not about believing, but knowing.

The Scottish pattern I was brought up with is that a minister (dressed in black advocates robes complete with white tabs) stands in the pulpit and give a forensic argument for his case, expounding his evidence and asking you to agree with him. This is exactly the same as the process you get in a court of law where a jury decides what to accept, either convicting or acquitting based on the evidence put before them. Its also why many Scottish ministers had law degrees as their first degrees before studying divinity.

Legal argument is not a method of communication you will find in the bible. Jesus said “follow me”. He didn’t say “get all your ducks in a row theologically and then agree to accept various creeds”.  He said “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”. Notice the emphasis on knowing. There is no mention of going along with things for the sake of it.

I have always been uncomfortable with the addition of different doctrines to mark someone as a “true Christian”. Whether its dispensationalism or creationism or pentecostalism, people have continually added things to Christianity.

Rather like John Lennon’s:
Ev'rybody's talking about
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism,
Ragism, Tagism
This-ism, That-ism, 
It wasn’t meant to be like this. As creeds were developed new sects split off and more and more options were added to the list of what makes someone a “true believer”.

None of the people coming up with these ideas know any of it for certain, but they need to feel certain.  So they create religious systems that allow them to live in a more solid feeling world where they “know who their friends are”. This is true for many people, not just Christians. We see the same phenomenon in the the conspiracy theory community and  “truth” movement.

Its a natural human desire, but Christianity was meant to be more fluid than this. This is why it was originally described as "the way". Its about a journey, not a destination. You don't need to swallow a camel of additional "isms" to be on that journey.  Its people who make that difference in order to puff up their own self importance. And there is no difference between little faith and big faith. Jesus talked about “faith the size of a mustard seed” and he did not treat people preferentially if they believed more things than someone else.

All I know is what I know, and this is that Jesus lived and walked in Galilee, in some way was God and in some way redeemed me. How that all worked I simply don’t know. But I do know that it matters.

Secondly, the person of Christ.

I don’t normally do relationships well so the idea of having a relationship with God is quite foreign to me. However,  I do understand the concept of following someone and I find that can follow Jesus as the first disciples did. He might be quite far in the distance sometimes and I might be hobbling along at the back with my doubt and uncertainty, but I feel captivated by him as much now as when I first believed.

Thirdly, I don’t need to be able to nail everything down.

Complete knowledge of everything is impossible. We can never know everything and I am happy to acknowledge that limitation. Paul said to the Corinthian church that “we see through a glass darkly”. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to investigate things or find out more. It is part of my nature to do so - and I would argue that our enquiring nature is part of the image of God. We want to know as much as God wants to be known. I just can’t build my house on a sand of conjecture and theorising and I don’t think the church is meant to do that either. Its about simpler creeds and accepting that some things can never be known.

Fourthly, revelation.

I think all religions contain some truth, but the greatest revelation of the divine will is in Jesus Christ and his teachings. Why? Because, as the disciple John put it “We love, because He first loved us.” All goodness comes from God, whether people recognise it or not and this love, and goodness, is personified in Jesus and him giving himself up for others on the cross. This is the secret revealed to us, which is not really a secret, it's just that we often can’t see it.

Fifthly, its not about perfection.

There is no need to be perfect to be a Christian. How often have you heard, or said, “and you call yourself a Christian!”. This idea of the Christian comes from the nominal church where people sadly and often put themselves above others simply because they attended church on a Sunday. The Christian message is that nobody is perfect and everyone needs redemption. Think about this: back at the beginning Peter denied Christ three times, yet, at no time during those denials was he any less a Christian.

Here is a thought which may have an impact on ideas of evangelism. God’s activity is not restricted to Christians. Depicting non Christians as damned or bad is wrong because we are all made in the image of God. We need to recognise that God is out there doing good without us or in spite of us and that some of that is being manifested through people who do not even know him. Imagine going into the world saying "look at this good and how it reflects the nature of God" rather than "look at all this evil".

So where does this leave me?

The only way I can describe it is this: I am simply Christian, not a simple Christian.

I don’t think I will ever be capable of attending a church on a regular basis. I will always be of the questioning type and that would make adhering to any church creed just for the sake of it far too difficult for me.  I also don't like big groups or loud noises, so it is probably not for me.

I will continue to live an imperfect life, but I can live it acknowledging the presence of God along side me. I am happy and content with this life and I thank God for what he has done for me. I have no desire for “more” and no feelings of inadequacy compared to others. I don’t want to be a leader and I am happy to stay a follower. An old friend of mine used to describe this practice as “living in the good of it”, and that seems a good description.

On the issue of evangelism, Christianity is a personal thing and nobody can be forced to believe it. You can create a scheme to trick people into saying they agree with you, but that is not actually faith. They have to “know” the truth and that in part comes from meeting people who are living a life which is on that journey with Jesus in spite of their weaknesses. Through that  weakness they may see the light of life.

For now I am just glad to be on the journey.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Panelbase referendum poll shows women moving to Yes

It's only one poll, but a couple of things stand out.

1. Gender

I have been following women's voting intentions in the various polls which have shown that women hold the key to the outcome of the referendum.

The Panelbase survey identifies more women as stating that they will vote Yes - up to 38% from around the 27% mark, men are on 42%. These figures do not exclude the "don't knows".

The Yes vote amongst women breaks down by age group as follows:

16-34 45%
35-54 48%
55+   29%

2. Those who don't normally vote

Of those who chose not to vote at the last election 39% would vote Yes but 44% would vote No in the referendum. This shows that if they stay at home this time it is likely to benefit the Yes campaign.


This is only one poll and Panelbase tended to be more favourable to a Yes result until recently. If this trend amongst women voters is confirmed by other polls then it probably marks a significant change in fortune for the Yes campaign.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review of the different Denis Wick no 2 cornet mouthpieces

I played a Denis Wick 2 cornet mouthpiece from the late 80’s till 2003. Since then I have played on similarly large mouthpieces from other suppliers, but I thought I would put down some notes on the differences between the different versions of the 2 that Denis Wick have issued over the years. These are my own thoughts and are not necessarily accurate. However, they may be of use to you if you are thinking about trying one.

The Wick 2 is a formidable cornet mouthpiece of huge cup volume and throat size. It requires a robust embouchure to be able to play on it for the length of a brass band rehearsal, but it has some advantages. Mainly the fantastic tone that it produces, but also it allowing great flexibility when yu are perhaps not as warmed up as you would like to be. The Wick catalogue says that it sounds like a small bore trombone. I don’t think that’s really true, but it can sometimes make the cornet sound like a flugel horn especially when you have a tired lip. When I was using a Wick 2 I was playing for over 20 hours a week and it worked.

There have been four main types issued: the original 2 which was made on a lathe and has machining marks in it, the current style 2 (called the "Classic") which is produced on a CNC machine, the Heritage 2 and the RW2. There is also a flugel horn equivalent.

2 (old style)

The official specifications are:

  • diameter 17mm
  • rim 4.92
  • bore 4.572 (approx #14)

My one is silver plated and was made some time in the 1980’s. It has obvious machining marks inside the cup.

Scans on the Kanstul Mouthpiece Comparator show that the rim is very similar to a Bach 1.5C.
It is very rounded with a moderate bite and a fairly defined transition from the cup to the backbore.

The shank is in the smaller, older size. This is equivalent to the Bach cornet mouthpiece fitting.

Although the Maestro has no actual gap between the end of the mouthpiece and the beginning of the leadpipe) (as found in a trumpet)  the convergence of the receiver and leadpipe tapers can lead to a similar issue. On my Yamaha Maestro cornet this mouthpiece is showing all the signs of too small a gap i.e. bottom G’s are playing in tune without using triggers and the instrument gets substantially flatter as you go up the register. It also sounds fluffy. Adding a shim of paper to the shank resolves all of these these problems. When measured the shank is inserting around  2mm deeper than a Bach, Sparx or Yamaha mouthpiece.

2 Current (“classic” style)

The official specifications are identical to the old style, but the shank is larger. Back in the 80’s there was an option for this called the 2L for use in some cornets. This seems to have become the Wick standard and was adopted into later runs of the Besson Sovereign cornet. I don’t know why this happened, but there are two possibilities.  It could be that “gap” issues were becoming noticeable or that the original ones were designed as a compromise so they could still fit very old cornets with the even smaller receiver size. However, see the update at the end of this article.

Although it is supposed to be the same as the original version, the rim is is slightly thinner and flatter than the old style 2 - almost totally flat with a bevelled edge and a smoother transition from the cup to the back bore making articulation easier but attack more difficult.

2 Heritage

The Heritage version is identical to the current style apart from the outer shape which allows for easier articulation. I tried one and found it to play colder than the Classic version resulting in more condensation and the rim getting wet. This may be a problem for people who play with a dry embouchure.


The W does not stand for wide as with other Wick mouthpieces. RW stands for “Roger Webster”, the famous cornet player.

The official specifications are sometimes misprinted as the same as the classic version but are actually:
  • dia 17mm
  • rim 4.88mm
  • bore 4.6mm (approx #13)

According to an old Denis Wick brochure:

“Roger Webster designed series brings the skill of Denis
Wick’s top engineers into play.
Slight smoothing of the inner rim and subtle changes in
the backbore give these custom mouthpieces the sound
that every cornet player is looking for.”

The rim is nothing like the current style Wick 2 mouthpiece. It is rounder and looks wider than the current 2. It feels very like the old style 2 but with even less bite on the inner edge. It is extremely comfortable to play on. Although the throat is wider it seems to have a more defined transition from cup to throat so there is some brightness on attacks. It is more similar to the original 2 in that respect than to the current 2.

Unfortunately the RW2 has been discontinued. Roger Webster now produces his own Alliance mouthpieces and I am not sure how they compare to the Wick. I did play briefly on an Alliance 2A and found it to feel wider on my lips than a Wick 2, even though it was supposed to be smaller. This is often the case as where things are measured from and where the high point on the rim is located can make comparison difficult. The Alliance 2 rim also felt narrower and sharper. He does make a version with a wider rim, but I have not tried this.


I am mentioning this because I once met a cornet player who was mistakenly using a 2F on his cornet. This is the flugel version, but in the smaller fitting used for old Imperial or Sovereign flugel horns (the more common larger fitting flugel horns like the Yamaha require a Wick 2FL). This smaller size means that it fits a cornet. Does it work? Well up to a point. It inserts by enough and you can play on it, but the cup is about 5mm deeper and it has a totally smooth transition to the backbore like a french horn mouthpiece. This means that producing any sort of attack is a struggle. My advice is keep it and use it with your flugel.


The Wick 2 cornet mouthpiece is difficult to play on and is not going to suit many players, but if you have a strong embouchure it rewards you with a great sound across the whole register of the instrument. Because of the stamina required it is probably best suited to tutti cornet players or trumpet players who play the odd cornet solo. For principal cornets who are brave enough to try it the RW2 version is probably the best option. If you can’t find one then an old style 2 might be the next best option if you can get the gap to work, unless you like the current 2 rim shape  and can work harder on attacks.

Either way, the secret to making this huge mouthpiece work is to keep back on the pressure and control your lip aperture. If your lips spread at all you will lose definition and start to sound like a flugel.

If you are a back row cornet player then playing on a mouthpiece of this size will give you great tone in the lower register. It takes a few weeks to get used to and it will affect your upper register unless you are doing a lot of practicing, but it may be worth it for the improved tone (no more thin, reedy sounds from the back row).

Other Wick Cornet mouthpieces

If you are considering the smaller sizes of Wick cornet mouthpiece than my own experience has been that the 3 was harder to play than the 2 as it has a wider rim which I felt clamped my lip down and stopped it vibrating as easily. The 4 had a lot of advantages but I felt the bite on the inner edge was too sharp. The good thing is that most band rooms have these mouthpieces in a cupboard so you can probably try a 3 and 4 without spending any money.

Update 12th October 2014

I had the opportunity to try a brand new Wick 2 last week, straight out of the factory. It had a rounder rim than recent ones, very like the original style. It also fitted further into the receiver, although not as far as the original ones. The transition from the cup to backbore was also more defined and rather like the RW2, although the throat diameter and backbore were the same as a standard one. The sound and attack were definitely more defined and not dissimilar to the RW2 although the rim was a bit narrower.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The chronicle of my (not failed) attempt to get BT Broadband installed

I don't seem to have much luck with telecom companies. Every time I move house I seem to end up in the twilight zone and this move has been no exception.

I own two properties a flat and a house. The flat had BT Broadband, the house Virgin Media cable. Virgin are using traffic shaping which means that if you stream a movie for more than an hour in the evening they cut your speed from 20 mbit to 1.5 mbit and the film starts buffering. This was not the case with my BT ADSL at the flat which was always a steady 12 mbit. The Virgin modem was also at the wrong end of the house and needed moved. As I was not using the internet at the flat I decided to move the BT service to the house, get the router in the right place and then discontinue Virgin at a future date. Nothing difficult in this as there as already a disused BT socket in the correct place in the house and it was in use until quite recently as a business line.

When I placed the order BT wanted to charge a reconnection fee, but offered free connection if I switched to Infinity. I As Infinity 2 was only £2 more than my current monthly bill I decided to go for this upgrade and placed the order on 31st January.

Here is how events have unfolded since then:

31st January
Placed order via BT web site.

13th February 
Router arrived in the post. It would have fitted through the letterbox, but postman rang the bell. Unusually I was in. Just as well.

14th February
Engineer arrived.
Got service working to the cabinet, but was unable to find a circuit that was working between the cabinet and the pole outside the house. Had to refer it to another type of engineer.

18th February
Phoned BT.
Told it would be completed on 20th, engineer to call between  1pm and 6pm.

20th February
Engineer came, put a tracer on, took it away again. Still no service.

21st February
Phoned BT
Told that engineer would call on  the 24th to complete the installation. Was promised one month free as compensation plus credit on my bill for the days the service was not active.

24th February
1:57 text to say there was a delay due to engineers dealing with storm damage and engineers visit was cancelled
2:30 I went out
2:45 Engineer put card through door to say he had come.

I think this was the point where their provisioning process could no longer cope with my situation.

I phoned and was promised an appointment at a time that would suit me. I said that Friday 28th was the only time I could do.

26th February
Call from India saying engineer appointment would be Thursday 27th. Apparently the Friday was impossible for some reason. The person did not understand my previous agreement with BT about this.
I reluctantly accepted the Thursday 27th appointment on the basis that this would be it finally fixed. BT confirmed this by text and email to me:

Hello - This is a message from BT. This is to confirm the engineering appointment to install your broadband service is on 27/02/2014. Your order reference number is VOLxxxxxxxxxxx  Thank you for choosing BT

27th February
Engineer did not turn up.
Logged into order tracking system and it said appointment was for 13th March!

Phoned BT and they confirmed that email and text refering to appointment on 27th had been sent in error. I complained and issue was escalated to a manager. They said they would contact me between 8am and 8pm on Friday 28th to arrange a specific time for an engineer so I would not have to take time off work again.

28th February
No call from BT.

It is now 15 days past the original installation date and I still have no broadband.

I will update this article as the story unfolds.

1st March
Called BT, they said they had been unable to contact me by phone. Arranged appointment for Tuesday 4th March.

4th March
Checked online and appointment listed for today between 1pm and 6pm. However, activation not scheduled until 13th March, which will be four weeks since the original activation date.

4th March
Engineer called at 1:45pm to say there were no notes so could I explain. I explained the whole story. He came round and tested it and it was all working at 68mbps. He didn;t see any reason for a 13th march activation date so he got me to  I plug the router in and do the initial sign on.

It has never given me more than 25mbps. It has varied a bit during the settling in process and is currently:

BT Infinity 2 speed
down - 21.05    up - 18.83

Compared to my other line:

Virgin 20mbps speed
down - 19.14       up - 1.11

However, there is no traffic shaping in force so I can stream movies no problem in the evening.

The speed issue is probably down to the poor overhead wire quality. I am not sure I have the energy to argue with BT at the moment over this. I may take it up in the future as from reports I have seen there are few people getting less than 50mbps on Infinity 2.

8th March
Contacted by BT Care who had seen my tweets and offered direct help to resolve it which I intended to follow up with on Monday 10th.

9th March
Sunday night and watching iPlayer. The home hub failed, orange flashing light, then rebooted itself.

10th March
Tested the speed and was getting 74 mb/s download and 18 mb/s upload.

As the problem has resolved itself for now I have responded to BT that it is fixed.

Overall Results
Even at the lower speed I was not getting any reduction in speed when streaming movies. I have been able to use Netflix, Lovefilm and iPlayer on full HD without any buffering at any time I wanted to (using Xbox 360 through a wired ethernet connection). This is a huge improvement over Virgin Media cable. I have also had fewer problems connecting to XBox Live.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Latest independence referendum poll from Yougov

Latest poll from Yougov for The Sun shows:

Yes 34
No 52
Don't know 12

This puts the No campaign 18% ahead and is  hardly any different to the polls conducted in 2012 which I reviewed here.

You can download the full poll statistics from Yougov here.

However the analysis of voting intentions by social group and gender makes very interesting reading.
It seems that income has little effect on how people will vote, but gender is a significant factor.

Yes 44
No 47
Don't know 8
Would not vote 2

Yes 25
No 57
Don't Know 16
Would not vote 2

If the yes campaign are going to close the 18% gap then persuading more women to vote yes is key.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Churches in Edinburgh on the Internet

Just a quick statistic on the visibility of churches on the internet in Edinburgh.

I did an incognito search on Google today (meaning that Google ignored my previous search history and location) for "church in Edinburgh".

The first page of results (ignoring review links for two Church of Scotland churches which are tourist attractions) were:

Church of Scotland congregations - 1
Independent churches of various kinds, mainly charismatic - 6

The second page results were:

Independent churches - 4
Episcopal churches - 2
Roman Catholic churches - 1
United Reformed Churches - 1

My thoughts on this are that it reflects the age range of the people attending these churches. The older generation don't really use the Internet to the same extent as the young. These are also the growing churches that are actively seeking new members so they have a need to advertise.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Where are Ryedale Farm Cookies made?

Well the answer is apparently - not anywhere near Ryedale.

In spite of the picture of rolling hills on the lid of the tin:

They are actually made in Indonesia!

Here is a link to the real Ryedale:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hopw to find your mobile phone's IMEI number

Just dial:


(star hash zero six hash)

The IMEI number will be displayed.

Now you have it, why not register it for free on the UK police database in case it is lost or stolen:

Monday, January 6, 2014

How to transfer a downloaded ebook (ePub or other format) to Kindle.

So you have downloaded an ebook (probably in ePub format), and want to get it onto your Kindle device.

The easiest way to do it is using the Kindle Personal Document Service:

1. Convert your eBook file

The Kindle service can't handle an ePub file, only .mobi (but see the end of this article for other document formats supported). You will need to convert it to .mobi format. Here is an online converter that will do it for free 
[There may be some formatting issues with the conversion process, but I have not encountered any significant issues with text based books].

2. Find your Kindle email address

You should add one of these to your email address book so you can find it easily next time.

3. Email the file as an attachment to your Kindle account. 

Just a blank email will be fine with the file attached to it.
Wait a few minutes for Amazon to process the file and add it to your library.

4. Turn on your Kindle device and look for the file.

Important: The file will be listed under documents rather than books so you need to look in the documents section.
You may need to re-synchronize or let the file download over wifi.
If it has not downloaded it may be listed under "Cloud" and you will have to click on it to download it to your device.

Additional information

Here is the current list of supported file formats from Amazon.

The Kindle Personal Document Service can convert and deliver the following types of documents:
Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx)
Rich Text Format (.rtf)
HTML (.htm, .html)
Text (.txt) documents
Archived documents (zip , x-zip) and compressed archived documents
Mobi book

Moving ebooks from the document to book sections on the Kindle

Why does your book end up in the Documents section? This is because the Kindle Personal Document Service adds a "PDOC" tag to the file when it converts it. I believe that its possible to transfer the files using a cable and some additional software to avoid this. but unless you are doing a lot of it its not worth the complexity.