Thursday, September 27, 2012

Update Dell BIOS from linux

NOTE: messing with your BIOS is obviously dangerous.  Proceed at your OWN RISK!
First, install libsmbios-bin
sudo apt-get install libsmbios-bin
Now, you need to get the proper .hdr file.  It is bundled inside those little executables Dell has on their website.  So, start by downloading the latest .exe file from Dell. These can be extracted either with unzip or wine, as shown from this log file.
After trying unzip, I tried this command, and it worked:
wine O780-A13.exe -writehdrfile -nopause
Creating the file: O780-A13.hdr Now, follow these directions (as su or root):
modprobe dell_rbu
dellBiosUpdate -u -f ./O780-A13.hdr
Now just reboot, and wuala, an updated BIOS.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to run a ruby script

Windows users:

1. Install ruby

goto , then to the Ruby on Windows section and download and install the One-Click Installer.

2. Some scripts can be run simply by clicking on them (this is rare, though).

3. Running scripts from the command prompt

Often scripts want some kind of input or can give useful output. In this case you want to run them from the command line.  See this page on the command prompt in 15 minutes for an overview.
When you have navigated to the directory with the ruby script in it (use the commands cd and dir to get there), you are ready to run your script.  Just type:

ruby myscript.rb

Depending on how windows and ruby has been configured, you may also be able to just type


Many scripts expect an argument (like a filename) after the script name.  If it does, give it the appropriate argument like this:

myscript.rb filename

Ubuntu/Debian users:

To get it, open a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install ruby irb ri

Make sure the script is executable:

chmod +x myscript.rb

To run the script:


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to boot off USB stick ASUS 1201n

This can be a little tricky. Basically, you need to change 2 settings in the BIOS before it will boot off USB. You need to change the boot order and the hard drive order.  [I need to verify the actual names, but I am certain you need to change 2 settings before it will work]

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why I'm back to Ubuntu from Linux Mint

Many Ubuntu users were not happy with the decision to use Unity over gnome.  Unity is slick in some ways, but it is (at least originally) very slow and very un-customizable.  A lot of Ubuntu users I know switched to Linux Mint, and I did too.  Now I'm back to Ubuntu 12.03 LTS.

Why did I switch back to Ubuntu?

  • Slower updates and broken repos - Ubuntu updates are slow, but Linux Mint's are even worse.
  • No upgrade option - Linux Mint users aren't really given a simple path to upgrade when new releases come out.  I at least like to try to upgrade one or two editions before doing a fresh install.
  • Better support for Ubuntu - It's easier to search for and get online help for Ubuntu.  There are just enough interfaces (nice, albeit) in Mint that it makes some fixes take longer than they could.
  • The best desktop manager is neither unity or gnome-3 - I use the i3 window manager most of the time.  That means I don't really care what the default windows manager is because I will run my own anyway.  One can still get cinnamon, gnome-3 or mate (these are arguably the best normal wm's for linux) from within Ubuntu.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Indexing Tips for the 1940 Census

These tips were developed by Cindy Snow as a help to increase speed for people who have a membership login on the LDS Family Search website (link) and want to help indexing the 1940 census (you do not have to be a member of the LDS church or have a login to use the FamilySearch site). It is currently posted as a pdf but eventually I hope to put it up as html.

Monday, February 6, 2012

R and Rserve on Windows

This is easy if your system is 32-bit.  If it is 64 bit you need to make sure you are using 32-bit R because the R serve binary is 32 bit!
  1. Install the windows R binary package (accepting the defaults)
  2. Put the R bin directory on your path (right click computer  Advanced Properties  Environment Variables).  
    • For a 32-bit Windows install you should use a path like this:  C:\Program Files\R\R-2.14.1\bin
    • For a 64-bit Windows install you need to link to the i386 folder: C:\Program Files\R\R-2.14.1\bin\i386
  3. Fire up R from the cmd line (make sure that it is the 32 bit R, even if you are on a 64-bit computer) and execute the command: install.packages("Rserve") -- note to where it installs Rserve.
  4. Copy the binaries Rserve.exe and Rserve_d.exe to your R bin directory referenced aboved.
  5. Fire up a new cmd line and run the command: "R CMD Rserve' and configure the firewall popup to allow rserve to work.
  6. You know if everything is working if you can execute this code inside of irb (depends on rserve/simpler [gem install rserve-simpler]):
    • require 'rserve/simpler/R'
  7. Remember to start rserve from a separate commandline window before running any other code.  Also remember that you only get one connection in windows... so make it count.