Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Ainol Novo 8 Advanced 2.3.4 Rooted UK Rom V2.0


(UPDATE 11/04/12) Condensed post as new release available on the front page, download links remain active for now but comments have been closed.

Ainol Novo 8 Advanced 2.3.4 Rooted UK Rom V2.0

 The first release of my firmware has been a huge success, with downloads in the hundreds, users from across the globe and plenty of feedback I say thanks to you all.

Now that's out the way on to the important part of this post ;) VERSION 2.0 IS HERE! After a lot of positive feedback and because there were things that needed fixing I have been working on a second release quite heavily since the first was posted. It's not perfect, some bugs are still there but it's a definite step forward from the first release. Check the readme below for the full lowdown.

Forum Links:
XDA Developers Thread, MP4 Nation Thread, China Digital Thread,
Tablet Republic Thread,

Screenshots:










Download links (once again if you mirror please let me know)
Ainol Novo 8 Adv 2.3.4 Version 2.0 (Rapidshare) 
Ainol Novo 8 Adv 2.3.4 V2.0 (Mirror, Thanks Rikeys @ China Digital)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Over a 1000 views :)

Thanks to all the people who have been viewing and leaving comments for the Novo 8 firmware, the traffic for the site has been pretty good seeing as it went online two weeks ago for a firmware for a niche Android tablet. As far as I can tell there have been around 200+ downloads from my rapidshare account and there are a couple of mirrors as well that have had a few so it looks like there are a fair few of you giving it a go.

I am currently working on a second release which hopefully will add some requested features and try and smooth over some bugs that have been reported.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Deaf in one ear and need Stereo To Mono?

Until a while back I thought being deaf in one ear was a fairly unique thing, lately I have met quite a few people who have lost hearing in one ear for a multitude of reasons.

Like me they all like to listen to music on some form of personal player be it their iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android Phone/Tablet, Mp3 Player, CD Walkman etc . . . the problem is that when listening to music with only one ear you're a bit stuck, older rock and pop music by bands such as Queen, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Who and others heavily used the two channels to create all these cool sounds with sweeping vocals and effects moving across the channels or having instruments on one channel while vocals were on another.

As an example I am deaf in my left ear and when listening to Bohemian Rhapsody I only get half the vocals, Money by Pink Floyd the opening cash register section fades to nothing and back again. Radar Love by Golden Earring becomes almost an acoustic/vocal track (but not in a bad way) because I can only hear the right channel, and guess where they put that cool bass guitar riff and drums?

A lot of more modern music styles tend not to use this much as it became a bit 'old' so while there are still issues they can be less noticeable.

Years ago when I still had a Cassette Walkman (kids ask your parents) I used to use Winamp to play my MP3 tracklists in mono to record onto tape and this got round the issue, however in the digital world you're stuck unless you have a player that gives you a mono down-mix setting.

Recently I stumbled upon an American company called Scan Sound who make a line of products called the 1Bud's. The rather clever people behind this range have made a unique earpiece the actually does proper stereo to mono conversion, unlike the cheap adapters that just join the Left and Right signal wires together (all of which fail) These earpieces have a small unit built into the lead that performs a proper mixing of the left and right channel into a mono track that give us mono ears the full and terrific sound of music.

I personally ordered the one pictured below which has a twin design with the little bud giving you the main sound and the larger flat section a incredible amount of bass (they make stereo ones as well which I'm sure would rock your brain loose) The pro version comes in both Left and Right handed designs with dedicated iPhone/iPod versions.

Right handed Pro version

They also offer a range of other designs with a basic single bud and over ear ones which you can find here 1-BUD Single-Ear Stereo Earphones

Delivery to the UK was quick and at a decent price, after telling a friend about this who was about to lose his hearing he bought the same design as me and loved it, he also ordered the more basic version for his other half to use at work so she could have some music and still hear what people were asking.
(My friends hearing has since returned after his treatment was finished so while no longer a mono ear he still loves the earpiece)

This post might comes over as a bit like a bad TV advert for these guys and maybe it is, but for us mono ears out there this is the stuff of dreams and it was not an easy thing to find, I've been looking over 10 years for a solution and found this company more by luck than anything so hopefully it will help others in the same situation as myself.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

ASUS WL-520G Heatsink upgrade and DD-WRT

A couple of years back I finally had enough of my rubbish ASUS WL-520G wifi router which spent half it's time overheating (even in the winter) or the unstable firmware would just lock up for no sensible reason despite just sitting there doing nothing much a lot of the time.

It became a case of fix it or bin it so I thought 'what the hell' and set to work, I decided to tackle the heat issue first and removing the lid left me confronted by this. What you see here is a tiny heat sink held on with double sided tape that was stupidly hot and the pair of chips to the right were baking away nicely as well. Cost cutting at it's finest.

The dented fins were from a failed attempt to remove it.

Removing the heat sink was tricky as the tape is remarkable strong so I broke out the plumbers wrench, firmly gripped the heat sink and gave it a good twist.

Who said IT work needs delicate tools?
After removing the tape and finding a suitable sized heat sink from an old motherboard I needed to find a way to secure it on, not having any mount points I resorted to an old trick that rescued 486 and Pentiums 1's fitted with cheap heat sinks that were meant to grip the chip firmly but just fell off, enter stage left . . . Superglue!

Superglue and Thermal Compound sandwich anyone?

While it might sound odd, Superglue actually has quite a high melting point so a decent dab in the corners and a good helping of Thermal Compound in the middle and your sorted. I wouldn't recommend this for your old vintage Socket A chip though they got far too warm, watch this video to see what I mean.
(Fun Fact:  The BBC 'borrowed' this idea for their recent Shock and Awe series, they wanted to demonstrate the amount of heat a 'modern' CPU generates, so they dug out some crusty old Socket A system and promptly set the chip smoking by running it sans heat sink)

The end result was what you see below, I added a couple of old graphics card ram brick sinks to the smaller chips that were overheating and ended up with this.


Afterwards it did run better than before but still would lock up randomly including when it was idle. I took the next step and installed DD-WRT and all was good. If you have a router that is loaded with second rate, feature restricted and normally unstable firmware I highly recommend DD-WRT, the risk is small but the reward far outweighs the risk.

It's still going strong now with a larger antenna fitted to support the few legacy devices we have at home that lack Wifi N capability. It's not the most impressive hack you'll ever see but it did the trick and saved me having to fork out for a replacement.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Ainol Novo 8 Advanced Custom Rom

(UPDATE 15/04/12) POST SHORTENED AND COMMENTS LOCKED AS THIS IS NOW A VERY OLD RELEASE, PLEASE GOTO THE FRONT PAGE TO FIND THE LATEST VERSION. :)

Well as a first proper post goes this is not a bad way to start.


I bought one of these great tablets off ebay a few months back from a UK company called Gadgetfreakz, actually it's my second the first was a semi dead unit I bought 2nd hand from someone else and it refuses to be fully fixed . . . for now.

Aside from some minor issues such as screen viewing angles and a bit of back light bleed these things are a cracking buy for the money with a high res 1280x768 Screen, pretty good GPU that can play some Tegra games, HDMI out and USB input among other things.

However the firmware on them left a lot to be desired and is in Chinese by default, thankfully the latter was easy to deal with to an extent, the former not so easy. Recently a 2.3.4 beta Rom appeared on the Chinese speaking boards and was a major improvement over the 2.2 releases however as always they were in Chinese as a first language and contained stuff that was no use to us English speaking types. So I decided it was time to apply a bit of magic and make my own Rom. Download link at the bottom of the post.

This has also been posted up on MP4Nation and XDA Developers

(screenshot app not included)


Links to the firmware (if you want to mirror please let me know so i can add links here)
Novo 8 2.3.4a Firmware UK Edition (Rapidshare)
Gadgetfreakz Mirror (Thanks to GFZ @ XDA for the mirror)
TabletRepublic Mirror (Thanks to Andropos)

Obligatory first post :)

Hello world,

I finally went and made myself a site. This is where I shall be posting my various fixes, tweaks and hacks for the large amount of things I do when bored or in need of a 'If it's not broke, make it better' © moment.  I have little things dotted here there and everywhere and it would be nice to have them all under one site. I shall get round to giving the blog a proper theme and style later . . . but for now let gets some posts up.