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The most common problem of ADSL connections, especially on long lines, is a low SNR margin value. The SNR margin (or Noise margin) is the relative strength of the DSL Signal to Noise ratio.

In case that you have upgraded your ADSL connection to a higher bandwidth (for example from 2 Mbps to 8 Mbps), you might be experiencing frequent line drops (disconnects). Especially during the night-hours there is a higher probability of having a lower SNR margin.

Depending on your ADSL router’s brand/model, you might be able to tweak the advanced connection settings.

Here I am going to describe how this can be achieved on a Netgear DG834PN router.  It could be working with similar Netgear models (Google is your friend!).

Please make sure that you follow the instructions carefully, and only change the settings that suit you.

The first step is to enable telnet connections to the router. Thus, start up your browser and paste the following URL:

http://192.168.0.1/setup.cgi?todo=debug

The IP address should match your router’s address, so please change it accordingly.
The web interface is going to ask you for the administrator username/password.
Upon entering the correct details, you will see the message “Debug Enable!”.

Now that the telnet option is enabled, you need to connect to the router.
For example on a Windows command prompt just type “telnet 192.168.0.1”. On Mac/Linux just use the Terminal.

If the telnet connection is successfully established, type the following command to increase your SNR margin:

adslctl configure –snr 150

The 150 value is the percentage of the original SNR value.
For example if your original SNR value was 6 dB, than the 150 percentage would mean that you prefer an SNR value of 9 dB.

Increasing your SNR value, is decreasing your connection’s download bandwidth as well. However it’s better to have a lower bandwidth, than having a connection which constantly drops.

If you would like to restore the setting, than simply type:

adslctl configure –snr 100

… or just reboot your router. It has to be mentioned that the debug options are vanished after a router restart.

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I needed some extra storage space, so I decided to purchase an external hard drive.
However I wanted to avoid all extra power cables, and a bulky device which is hard to carry around.
Regular external hard drives are mostly built to be placed on a desk next to your laptop.

Therefore I preferred the portable hard drive solution. Portable hard drives are powered via the USB cable/connection, and they are designed to be easily carried around (small size, low weight).

The product that I finally went for was a Verbatim 500GB, the Executive Arctic White edition.

Here is a quick list of the specifications:

Dimensions: 135mm x 85mm x 25mm
Weight: 163g
Interface: USB 2.0
Operating System: Win/Mac

It is advertised to have a 25% improved data transfer rate.
I guess I will have to test that under large file copy operations.

It also comes with a two-year guarantee, hope I won’t need it.

Here are some unboxing photos:




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My old DVD-R started dying last month, although it was able to burn DVDs, it couldn’t read any of them! Needless to say that the DVDs were playing fine on other devices.

Therefore this week I ordered online a new DVD-R, Sony DRU-190S.
This is my first optical device which has a SATA interface. It’s quite cool to get rid of the old IDE cables.

The max write speed for DVD+R, DVD-R disks is 20x. I didn’t go for a 22x drive, as I never burn on the maximum speed.

You can find the complete specs here.

I have installed it and it is working perfectly fine, burnt about 5-10 DVDs so far without any problems.

Here is some unboxing photos:




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Yesterday I have been browsing the Web, and all of a sudden my old PSU was burned out.
It was an Antec 450W unit, and it was working silently for 3-4 years (almost always-on). I have never had any problems with it.

I immediately went online, from the laptop, to some Greek e-shops to get a glimpse of what’s hot in the PSU market.
And what I liked best was the CoolerMaster Real Power M series.

The letter M stands for “Modular”, as M series are offering a modularized cable design to eliminate clutter and improve airflow inside the chassis. Thus, depending on the number of your devices, you can attach accordingly the required cables on the PSU.

The unit has a 120mm silent fan, over current/voltage/temperature/load protections, and comes with a 5-year warranty! Unit’s design is pretty slick, black-colored, without any LEDs.

A good friend of mine recently purchased the M620 model, and he was more than satisfied with it, so without any hesitation, I got the M520 model today from a local store for 68€.

I have chosen the 520W model, as my desktop doesn’t have that many devices, plus I want to save some power since it is always-on.

Installation was pretty easy, and thank God no other devices were harmed by the old PSU (cheers Antec!).

Here you can see some unboxing photos:




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