BIOS upgrade Lenovo Flex-14IWL

Earlier this year, I picked up a quad core i5 Lenovo Flex-14IWL with 16G of RAM and loaded it with Pop!_OS.  Everything works great on it except for the fingerprint reader.  I was checking the Lenovo website and discovered that there was a BIOS update available for my laptop.  Unfortunately, the only way to apply the update is to run an application in Windows.  Here's how I got the update done.

Some background

To install Pop!_OS I had to reconfigure the BIOS to disable the Intel RST setting and switch from UEFI boot to Legacy.  Windows 10 and the BIOS updater only run under the UEFI system.

The Windows 10 Install

Having rebuilt quite a few Windows 10 machines I have experience with installing Windows 10 from a USB flash drive.  However, what I was after this time is to install and run Windows from an external drive.  The planned target device was a 500G 7200rpm 2.5" HDD that was put into a USB 3.0 enclosure.  To do this work, I used a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga S1 running Windows 10.  I was able to follow an article to image Windows 10 using Rufus.   Here is an article that explained how to target an external USB 3.0 HDD with Rufus.  So, key settings were to specify the HDD, use the Windows 10 ISO,  Windows to go installation,  Windows Home selected, and GPT/UEFI format.

Once Rufus finished its work, I copied over the BIOS update file to the external drive.

Windows 10 Install and BIOS update

Get a paper clip.  Bend it open.  With the laptop powered off.  Take the end and insert it in the hole on the right side of the laptop near the power button.  This will give you a menu you can use to get into BIOS settings.  You'll need to switch things back to using UEFI and allow USB boot.  Once that is done, reboot the machine with the external USB HDD plugged in.  It should boot up to Windows 10.  Have fun going through the Windows 10 install.  When drivers finish installing and the machine isn't churning any more, you can go ahead and run the BIOS update you downloaded.  It will first extract the application and then you can run it.  Make sure the laptop is plugged in when you do this.  When it seems like the process is done and you have a black screen, WAIT.  The computer will eventually reboot.  Once, everything has completed you can shut down Windows.  Hold onto the external HDD for possible future updates.

Flipping back

Now, get your paper clip again, disable Intel RST and set to Legacy boot.  Enjoy Linux again.

A day without the smartwatch -- tech experiment

I have a couple of watches that I wore regularly before getting my current smartwatch. The battery in one of them has gone dead and the other uses solar power. So, I keep it out where it can get some light.  Feeling a bit nostalgic, I decided to wear it yesterday.  That meant giving up my "fitness" tracking for the day.... and all of the reminders that go with it.

I found that I was able to do more deep thinking / concentrating work.  The vibrating watch alerts weren't there.  Besides, the fitness tracking, I did miss the awareness of having received a text message.  Overall, I felt like it was a good change up.

Today, when I went back to the smartwatch, I went into my app settings and dialed back notifications on the apps that I felt were the most egregious interruptors.  Overall, this made for a better day today.

What tech experiments can you do in your life?

Presentation Creation Process

Today I was asked how I go about creating a technical presentation.  This is my process.

First, take notes (either in an Engineering Journal or with OneNote) when learning a technology or skill.  Pay attention to your internal questions and to the stumbling points you run across.  After you have learned or acquired the skill reflect and consider what were the important concepts, what mis-conceptions did you have along the way and what could be common problems?

Next, mind map out the topics that you intend to cover in your presentation and consider relationships between the topics.  Sometimes, you may opt to include that mind map with the published materials.  Scapple is a nice straight forward and affordable tool for creating mind maps.

Example Mind Map from d3.js presentation
Then consider the relationships between the content in the mind map.  Think about the presentation order.  Consider if there is a way to frame the material in a story or a give it some context.  Then work on the presentation deck.  Strive to create a deck that has just enough material on the slide to help move the presentation forward.

Then practice.  Practice delivery and timing on your own.  Then try to present the material internally at work, then at a local group(s) and finally at conference(s).  Every time you do a presentation solicit feedback and adapt the presentation.  Sometimes, the presentation has to be adapted real time because of the environment.  A relaxed room of 20 people is very different then a conference hall with several hundred people in it.  By the time you are presenting at a conference you will have invested a lot of time in learning and internalizing the material as well as the presentation.