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So, my brand new N85 has a wobbly slide mechanism

Image of Nokia N95 next to N85 - gersbo.dk
Nokia N95 left - N85 right

I was going to gather some initial impressions of the Nokia N85 I received yesterday, but the first impression – besides noticing how sleek and good looking the N85 is – kind of stopped me cold: The N85 unit I have purchased has a wobbly slider.

The wobbliness appears to be very similar to that which plagued initial shipments of the original N95 (as I recall it). I will provide some more details further down, but first I would like to ask anyone reading this, what should I do about it?

Because I really do not know – I am stunned. Until I received the N85 I was convinced Nokia would make absolutely-100%-beyond-any-doubt sure not to release another handset with a wobbly slider. Given the history of the original N95’s wobbly slider - and the general criticism of Nseries sliders – there is just no way awareness of the problem has not made it to the right people inside Nokia. That the problem persists can only be chalked up to either extreme arrogance or negligence on Nokia’s part. I can see it no other way – I mean, the problem was fixed in later shipments of the original N95 so there must be information about how to deal with it inside Nokia’s organization.

But I do not know. My gut reaction is to return the N85 and get my money back. Wait for Nokia to address the problem as they did with the original N95, and then get another, more mature unit – or simply get some other phone now, like the Samsung i8510 Innov8.

So, that is option #1: Return the N85 and claim a refund.

On the other hand, Nokia did address the problem with the original N95. I had mine repaired (slider was replaced) under the warranty – I still have it and it is a much trusted, cherished and all-time favorite of mine.

So option #2: Keep the N85 and hope to have it repaired as soon as Nokia comes up with better slide mechanisms.

What do you think? What would you do? Do you own a N85 and does its slider wobble?

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Nokia N79 and N85 now available in stores

Nokia N85 now in stock at komplett.no - Share on Ovi
Source: komplett.no

Just a quick update to my previous post about Nokia N79 and N85 availability - Nokia N85 is available from Norwegian online retailer komplett.no at 687 $ (DKK 4055), SIM free and including VAT.

Nokia N79 is available from both Danish and Norwegian retailers – a few examples:

mpx.no: 473 $ (DKK 2789), , SIM free including VAT

goblue.dk: 522 $ (DKK 3080), SIM free including VAT

monatel.dk: 524 $ (DKK 3089), SIM free including VAT

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Asus WL-500g Premium Firmware Update

Asus has released new firmware for the WL-500gP wireless router. The new firmware revision is 1.9.7.2, old revision is 1.9.7.0. I have tried updating my WL-500gP with the new firmware, but no matter what I do, the router goes into recovery mode (power led flashes once per second) when it restarts.

The new firmware revision can be downloaded from Asus and one of the fixes in the new firmware is the ability to update firmware through the web interface. I tried upgrading to 1.9.7.2 through the web interface and it does indeed seem to be not working.

Instead, I had to upload the new firmware using Asus' firmware restoration tool (included among the Asus router utilities). Use a wired connection to the router for the following:

  1. Reset the router to factory defaults by pressing the reset button for 10 seconds while the router is running
  2. Unplug the power cord and press the reset button. Keep pressing the reset button while plugging back in power cord. Keep pressing reset button until power led starts flashing once per second.
  3. Assign the pc you are working from a static IP-address of 192.168.1.10 (subnet mask: 255.255.255.0, preferred DNS server: 192.168.1.1) and start the firmware restoration tool.
  4. Select the firmware file (*.trx) and click upload
  5. Wait for the firmware to load and the router to restart
  6. Reset the router to factory defaults when it comes back up
  7. Configure the router (uploading a previously saved settings file may not work if there are many changes between firmware revisions)

Ok, I did all of the above, but the 1.9.7.2 firmware still failed to work properly. As mentioned initially, the router would go into recovery mode when restarting.

Has anybody else had similar experiences with the 1.9.7.2 firmware?

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Google Scholar Is Your Friend

In addition to research databases and journal archives, I use Google Scholar quite a bit. One of the things I really like about Google Scholar is the ability of the service to dig up publications that are "floating around". Sometimes, when an article or manuscript is really hard to come by - maybe because it has not been officially digitized, or maybe because the local university library just does not subscribe to the publication that published the article - then Google Scholar is able to find is some version of the article. A big time saver, because I would otherwise have to request a hard copy of the work at the university library and wait for it to arrive.

I recently discovered a feature, which further improves the usefulness of Google Scholar, namely the ability to import citations directly from Google Scholar into my citation management software.
Google Scholar Preferences
This feature surely beats entering citations manually, but it's also faster than logging on to a research database, finding the publication, publication volume and issue, and finally the publication itself, which usually the place from where a citation can be exported.

The citation import feature needs to be enabled in the Google Scholar preferences. The preferences are accessed from the link provided just next to the search field. Enable citation importsOn the preferences page, locate the 'Bibliography Manager' section, enable links to citation imports and choose a suitable import format.

After saving preferences, Google Scholar search results now include an option to import citation:

scholar_result.PNG

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WLAN Parabolic Antenna Reflectors

Now that I have the Asus WL-500g Premium hooked up and working, I have decided to do a little fine tuning of the wireless coverage. Because the wireless router is located in the basement, wireless coverage has always been a bit flaky in our upstairs office where we keep a desktop. I know it's a bad idea to place the router in the basement and that you're supposed to place your router high and in the center of the house. Unfortunately, with the telephone wiring in our old house, that's just not possible.

So, what to do to improve coverage on the first floor?

  • I have decided not to mess with the radio output power on the WL-500gP. I don't want to boil the skin off another household member and besides, the default power setting on my WL-500gP appears to be at maximum (issuing the command 'wl txpwr1′ in the WL-500gP's hidden admin page reports 'TxPower is 127 qdbm, 31.75 dbm, 1496 mW Override is Off').
  • I am going to check the different channels and see, if signal strength and noise varies between channels.
  • I am looking into parabolic reflectors to use with router antennas. I have built a couple of DIY 6 inch reflectors, but I might also try the commercial Flatenna and a corner reflector.

The 6 inch DIY reflectors seem to work quite well. I have only tried them out in the basement between the main WL-500gP and my WRT54G wireless bridge, but I experience an improvement close to the "advertised" 9 dB gain. Before attaching the reflectors, the wireless bridge reported an RSSI between -66 and -72 dB and after attaching the reflectors RSSI went to between -55 and -64 dB. I have constructed the reflectors really fast and simple (printed reflector template on thick paper, to which I glued kitchen tin foil), but I might try to see if being more careful and using the foiled cardboard from a cut open Pringle's can yield further improvement.

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WL-500gP Enable full 32 Mb of RAM

Although the Asus WL-500g Premium is equipped with 32 Mb of RAM, only 16 Mb are enabled by default.

Output from cat /proc/meminfo:

total: used: free: shared: buffers: cached:
Mem: 14635008 12939264 1695744 0 2437120 5214208
Swap: 0 0 0
MemTotal: 14292 kB
MemFree: 1656 kB
MemShared: 0 kB
Buffers: 2380 kB
Cached: 5092 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 3704 kB
Inactive: 5460 kB
HighTotal: 0 kB
HighFree: 0 kB
LowTotal: 14292 kB
LowFree: 1656 kB
SwapTotal: 0 kB
SwapFree: 0 kB

This thread (see post #6) in the wl500g.info forum explains how to enable the full 32 Mb RAM.

I have seen many warnings with regards to these commands - apparently they may potentially harm the router. I have yet to come across a report from someone who actually damaged their router, however, and it worked for me and some other guys.

Enter these lines one by one in the WL-500gP's hidden admin page (press 'Refresh' button after each line'):

WARNING - Do not copy paste the following code directly into your router admin interface. Why? See comments below.

nvram set sdram_init=0×0009
nvram set sdram_ncdl=0
nvram commit
reboot

Output from cat /proc/meminfo after change:

total: used: free: shared: buffers: cached:
Mem: 31232000 12918784 18313216 0 2514944 5419008
Swap: 0 0 0
MemTotal: 30500 kB
MemFree: 17884 kB
MemShared: 0 kB
Buffers: 2456 kB
Cached: 5292 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 3512 kB
Inactive: 5884 kB
HighTotal: 0 kB
HighFree: 0 kB
LowTotal: 30500 kB
LowFree: 17884 kB
SwapTotal: 0 kB
SwapFree: 0 kB

Jagshemash! Is nice!

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WL-500gP Hidden Admin Page

The official Asus firmware for the Asus WL-500g Premium wireless router does not support telnet'ing into the router. Other firmware versions, like Oleg's, DD-WRT and OpenWRT does. Without telnet (or SSH) support, it is impossible to mess with tweaks and fine tunings, since these are not available through the web interface, but can only be executed from a command line. This is probably the reason why Asus has equipped the WL-500gP (and other router models) with a hidden admin page that works like a router command line.

This hidden admin page is just a web page with a textfield for issuing commands, a text area for displaying command output and a button for executing commands. You'll find the hidden admin page at: http://$ROUTER_IP/Main_AdmStatus_Content.asp (replace $ROUTER_IP with the actual IP address of your router - if you have not changed the default setting, the IP is 192.168.1.1). As far as I know, the hidden admin page is not mentioned in any of the official WL-500gP documentation.

Since this admin page is basically undocumented, you have to piece together how to use if from forum posts etc. By browsing the wl500g.info forum, I discovered that executing the command 'wl cmds' will output a list of available commands: Type in 'wl cmds' in the textfield and click the "Refresh" to display the list. It's a rather long list and there are no descriptions of the commands, so it is difficult to know how to use them.

Executing the command 'wl -h' will output some help. - No, it won't!

Besides the 'wl' commands, it is also possible to execute basic Linux commands. For instance, memory (RAM) usage can be checked by typing in cat /proc/meminfo and press "Refresh":

total: used: free: shared: buffers: cached:
Mem: 14635008 12939264 1695744 0 2437120 5214208
Swap: 0 0 0
MemTotal: 14292 kB
MemFree: 1656 kB
MemShared: 0 kB
Buffers: 2380 kB
Cached: 5092 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 3704 kB
Inactive: 5460 kB
HighTotal: 0 kB
HighFree: 0 kB
LowTotal: 14292 kB
LowFree: 1656 kB
SwapTotal: 0 kB
SwapFree: 0 kB

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