Steffen's blog

Dell Studio 15 BIOS Update with Linux

This is a how-to for updating the BIOS of Dell Studio 15 Laptops without having Windows installed. It works with a Core i7 Studio 1557 but it will probably also work with other models - but be warned: It may brick your machine and if something goes wrong I will not take any responsiblity ... You're on your own.

My machine is Linux-only. BIOS updates for recent Dell Laptops unfortunately just come with a Windows Flash Tool (WinPhlash) which requires a native Windows installation in order to work.

My solution is a bootable FreeDOS USB Flash Drive containing all required BIOS files and tools to flash the BIOS without Windows.

The Impossible: ShadedBorder Updated

Well, actually I thought ShadedBorder is kind of discontinued (in favor of LiquidCanvas)... But I proofed myself wrong and here it is: The first update for ShadedBorder since 1.5 years!

It fixes the IE8 1px overlap bug reported by Tony and comes with a performance optimization for every browser supported: The ShadedBorder nodes will only be cloned on demand.

Grab version 0.6.2 now at the ShadedBorder project page.

Liquid Canvas Positioned

I really love user comments like this one from Kaz van Wel:

I'd like to say I really like your Liquid Canvas script, you really made an invention by putting some scripts together and a wrapper around it to make a cross browser solution to round borders and a lot more possibilities :D. I really think this can change the web like Ajax did around 2006, once people know it exists.

Well Kaz, I think so, too: Let's spread the word! :-)

Kaz also brought my attention to a bug in Liquid Canvas: It was basically impossible to put a "liquid-canvased" element into a container with absolute or relative positioning.

IE8 Support for Liquid Canvas

A new version of excanvas has been released yesterday: It now supports IE8. Well, haven't we - ahhm... Liquid Canvas - been waiting for this ;-)

So this is what I did an hour ago: I copied the new version into my Liquid Canvas project and ... surprise it didn't work. After a short debugging session I spotted the problem. It seems that excanvas no longer likes dynamically generated DOM elements with the tag name "canvas" - replacing it with "div" did the trick.

Pimp my Ubuntu - Top 10 PPAs

I've used loads of Linux distributions in the past. Each of them had its advantages and disadvantages - there's simply no "perfect" OS...

Gentoo and Debian basically don't have any "releases" - updates come in frequently. When you wake up, turn on your computer, it tells you that there are updates, you install them and want to start working - and bang, one of theses updates breaks your apache/ssh/ruby/you-name-it. Pretty bad for your productivity.

Fedora, Ubuntu, and SUSE do have time-based releases. Updates come in once or twice a year and you know that in between only security fixes will be deployed to your machine. That's nice since the probability of an update breaking your installation is minimal.

I'm on Ubuntu right now and it gives me a stable system. But sometimes it feels "out-of-date" and I'd like to have a more recent version of an application, escpecially if it's non-critical for work.

Ubuntu has a very neat feature for this: Specialized repositories for different programs hosted on launchpad.net called PPAs (Personal Package Archives). You enable a PPA by appending the sources.list contents shown on the PPA page to the file /etc/apt/sources.list.

So, here's the list of my top 10 PPAs:

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