Happy Tuesday - Firefox breaks Java!

Today was going to be a really productive day! I didn't have any meetings, my phone was pretty quiet, and I knew exactly what I wanted to get done. Guess what?  That lasted about 10 minutes. It started when Brian came into my office and told me about a problem with Java and Firefox....POOF! my day was now totally shot.

Some/Most/All of you fired up Firefox today and saw this message:

Java Message
I'll get right to the point about what this message is telling you. Firefox uses Add-on software to display websites. The Adobe Flash Player and Java Add-ons are used by millions of websites. Just like all software, Add-ons need to be updated. Last night (4/2/2012) FireFox maker Mozilla decided that because there are some security issues with previous versions of Java, they would disable all versions except for the most recent version. Every Firefox user in the WORLD will get the message above if the version of Java they have is out of date.

So that brings me back to my day today. We've been looking at and testing the new version of Java, working on a way to package it, and creating documentation about what you need to know. I can tell you that there will be a step or two that you will need to do.  We plan on sending out an email on Wednesday with much more information...stay tuned!!

I hope your day goes better than mine!

Help Desk Tidbits

Dynix Workstation Numbers?

Do you still have your Dynix workstation number posted somewhere by your PC?  If you do would you please remove it as we are no longer using that to identify a PC.  If asked for a PC name please give the name that starts with your library's three-letter agency code.  This identifier is found on the PC itself on a white sticker with black letters.

Post-Firefox Update Printing Issues?

Now that all staff PCs have Firefox 10 on them we would like you to verify that all Firefox desktop icons work when you print.  We had some problems that were identified so we want to make sure that all staff PCs that print to any kind of printer print correctly.  So test out all of your staff PCs, even the one that never gets used, to make sure they print okay.  Once you've tested them all and made a list of all those that don't work then give me a call at the Help Desk and I will fix them for you.

Where did those icons go?

Got your seatbelt on? Firefox 10 is being rolled out Monday and Tuesday nights to staff PCs on the SCLS network.

Upgrades = changes. Here are just a few changes you'll see between versions 3.6 and 10.0.2:


(click on the image to see it full-size)

Version 10 was released by Mozilla January 31st, and it took us some research, development, and documentation to get it rolled out. Now that the groundwork has been laid, Firefox versions after this one should be rolled out to SCLS patron and staff PCs a little more quickly after they're released by Mozilla.

The Firefox upgrade includes a "cleanup script."  If you haven't already read about it (and/or watched the video), you can do so here: http://www.scls.info/technology/updates/ffoxstaff.html

----- late addition -----

Back button historyWhat happened to the "little down arrow that took you mutliple steps at once backwards thru a search and were necessary for some kinds of backwards movements"?

The arrow is gone, but the functionality is still there. Just right-click the "Back" button or click it and pull down to get the list.

(thanks to Liz for pointing this out!)


Notice Printing and Firefox Profiles

I'm sure you all saw the January 31st News item on the ILS Support Home Page about libraries printing their own notices beginning on Monday, February 27th, 2012.  You may have also read Joanna's LINK 2.0 Koha Blog posting about this same topic and read that she had created instructions that outlined how to print your own notices.  In those instructions in step 7b under section 2 says: "Call the Tech Help Desk at 608-242-4710 if you'd like help setting up another profile."  I'd like to use this blog post to explain to you what this really entails and suggest a different solution.

Background for our use of Firefox profiles
When Koha became our ILS we needed an easy way for all of you to print receipts and spine labels.  So the ILS and Tech staff came up with the use of Firefox profiles to make these printing tasks much easier for you.  In order to make this work you first all needed to use the same spine label printer and the same few receipt printers.  Then we developed and installed the Firefox profiles and after that you no longer had to choose where you wanted a receipt printed or a where you wanted a spine label printed.  Firefox just knew and printed it.  This saves you precious seconds and allows you to work more efficiently.  But again this only works because you all are using the same few printers.

Notice printing and Firefox profiles
Profiles work well when there are a limited number of printers involved, but when you try to do the same with a multitude of different printers it becomes a lot more difficult and time-consuming.  Not all libraries have the same laser or ink jet printers, so essentially we would have to design a different Firefox profile for each library for each printer that they want to print notices on.  Woe to the library whose notice printer breaks down because now you can't print notices.  Not good!  So the best solution, albeit a manual one, is to turn off and on the headers and footers each time you print notices.  The online instructions for printing notices has already been updated to reflect this change.

To assist you in this manual process of turning off and on the headers and footers each time, please take a look at the pictures below.

After turning off the headers and footers it will look like this:After_Settings

After turning the headers and footers back on it will look like this:

I hope I have explained this step of the notice printing so that you have a good understanding of it.  Happy notice printing!

Koha Log In Problem Solution

Have you ever had the problem that when you try to log into Koha you get the big Error Trace message?  I know a few of you have, so I thought it might be worth sharing the secret to getting rid of this problem.

If you have previously logged out of Koha successfully the address bar should be displaying the address that ends in ...library.com/cgi-bin/koha/mainpage.pl?logout.x=1 when you are at the Koha login screen.  If you just closed Firefox and did not log out of Koha then Firefox tries to be nice and take you back to exactly where you were when you closed Firefox.  This helpfulness is what causes you to see the big Error Trace message when you try to log in.  Follow these steps to get logged into Koha:

  1. Put your cursor in the address bar at the end of the address
  2. Delete everything up to but not including the .com
  3. Hit enter
  4. You see the message: "Error: Session timed out, please log in again"
  5. Session_Time_Out

  6. Enter your login information
  7. You should then be able to successfully log into Koha
  8. If this doesn't help you log into Koha then give me a call

To prevent this problem from happening again you should always first log out of Koha and then close Firefox.

Firefox Tips and Tricks

FirefoxI stumbled across a Firefox Tips and Tricks page that I found useful. It has tips for users who are beginning to use Firefox as well as tips for advanced users who might be designing web pages. My favorite tip is about adding a bookmark with a single click. It’s in the Beginners section, “Add Bookmarks with a Single Click”.  For as long as I have been using Firefox I didn’t realize it was that simple to add a bookmark. Click the star in the address bar to add the page you are on as a bookmark, click it again after it turns yellow and you can move it to a new location.

Viewing web pages in alternate browsers

There have been previous TechBits articles that mentioned the IE View extension to Firefox. IE View is handy if you need to compare the view of a page in FF to the same view in IE, and it's essential if you use some site that (even well into the 21st century) still requires its users to have Internet Explorer. If you rely on such a site, you can configure IE View to always launch IE for links to that funky application.

But if you're a web site developer or tester, IE View may not be all that you want. You may also want to compare the view of a web page in Chrome, Opera, and Safari (or even Amaya, Epiphany, Konqueror, Maxthon, Lobo and...). In short, you may want the Open With extension for Firefox.

After you have installed Open With, your View menu should get populated with an "Open With <browser name>" item for each other browser that is detected on your PC. A similar menu item can optionally appear in several other contexts as well. To set up Open With for various contexts, pull down the FF Tools menu and choose Add-ons, then select Extensions and click the Options button for the Open With extension. A new tab will open showing the Open With settings that you can tune for the View menu, context menu, tabs and the tool bar.

What about different versions of the same browser? You want to test FF 3.6 and FF 7, and IE 8 and IE 9, right? Sadly, this is often not possible without multiple PCs. Even in cases where it is possible to have two versions of the same browser on one machine, it tends to get a bit funky to manage those installations. Depending on your OS license and hardware capacity, you may benefit from running "another PC" inside a VirtualBox or another virtualization platform, but that level of complexity is far beyond what I can cover in a short blog posting.

All about CAPTCHAs

More stupid captchasphoto © 2010 Chris Foley | more info (via: Wylio)

Have you ever wondered about those crazy sets of letters and numbers that some websites prompt you to enter when you fill out a form?

That's a CAPTCHA, and MakeUseOf.com has written a lovely article covering everything you might want to know about CAPTCHAs but were afraid to ask. I learned some fascinating things that I didn't even know I wanted to know!


I am reminded...

Day 266 - Embarrassedphoto © 2009 Ken Wilcox | more info (via: Wylio)

Yesterday's post included a link to an article reviewing some of the most popular URL shorteners.  Unfortunately, the site hosting the article was dishing out some nasties this morning as identified today by the antivirus software used on SCLS PCs and also by Google  (neither of these flagged the site yesterday when I was composing my post, and the site appears to be cleaned up again and Google is no longer reporting it as malicious).  

Other than being very embarrassed about linking to a site that was clearly having some issues this morning, I am also reminded of some things by this:

  2. Sometimes even links where you know where you're going may be harmful
  3. Always be cautious when navigating the internet
  4. Consider other actions/products that may help to identify harmful websites:

All about browser tabs

Browsertabs Ben @ SKC notes, "My staff loves the fact that you can open new tabs in Koha to check item statuses, look into patron records, etc." and pointed out this great "How to Browse the Web Using Tabs" tutorial from Lifehacker for users who are new to working with tabs.  If you're unfamiliar with browser tabs or are interested in a little bit of basic background, take a look!

Once you're comfortable with tabs, you may be interested in these other TechBits posts:

Special Note for Koha users
Just be careful if you open multiple tabs with patron info in Koha...
From the Koha ILS FAQ: "Search to Hold" results in hold for wrong patron

Patron X requested a search-to-hold from his checkout screen. However, when the search was executed, the "Hold for [Patron name]" button displayed another patron's data. The other patron, Patron Y, was active in the second tab on the browser, and his data was pulled to populate the hold information.

If library staff wish to have more than one tab open in Circulation, it is highly recommended that the screen be cleared between transactions, particularly if the staff person is toggling back and forth between tabs with patron records active in both tabs.