Firefox Changes Default Search Provider

Last month in the evening of December 16 SCLS sent out version 34.0.5 of Firefox to all SCLS-supported staff PCs and afterwards you may have noticed a change.  Mozilla announced that with this version they were ending a 10-year partnership with Google as Firefox's default search provider. They instead switched to use Yahoo, which from what I read was based on "money because the bulk of Mozilla's revenue comes from the search deals it negotiates -- while others said that ideology also played a part."

Some more information I read about it said that "only users who had left Firefox's default search engine untouched were to be switched to Yahoo. Those who had already ditched Google for another provider, Bing or DuckDuckGo, for instance, would continue to see that engine as the default."  Unfortunately for me and possibly for you too, I did not change the default search provider as I liked Google.  So now you're asking: "Is there anything I can do to change it back?"  Well, I'm glad you asked as there is something that you can do.  But, instead of me telling you how to do it I am going to refer you to the Wisconsin State Law Library's January 2015 newsletter where Heidi Yelk wrote an awesome "Tech Tip in Brief" about how to do that.

Build With Chrome

How often at your library do you see a pile of LEGO blocks poured out onto a play surface and think about what a chore it will be if you have to do clean up, or if you are the one who has to replace lost parts. Those days could be a thing of the past!


While doing some LEGO “research” I came across a site called Build with Chrome. This is a site where LEGO and Google Chrome teamed up to bring you an online environment where you can build with virtual LEGO blocks.


You don’t have to sign up for an account, but if you do you can pick out a chunk of land on Google Maps and build your own piece of paradise and have it published for the whole world to see.

 

Duplicating Browser Tabs

Have you ever needed to duplicate a tab while browsing in your favorite browser?  I know I have and in the past what I would do is copy the web address, open a new tab and then paste the web address into the new tab.  This always seemed SO cumbersome and I thought: "There must be an easy, quicker, better way to do this!" So I went searching and found that there IS an easy way to duplicate a browser tab and it works the same in IE, Firefox and Chrome.  Here are the steps:

  1. Press Alt+D to move the focus to the location bar.
  2. While still holding down the Alt key press the Enter key.
  3. The current tab has now been duplicated.

That's it.  Easy as could be.

Address bar command

I figured out something really cool all by myself (accidently) a few weeks ago.  If you hit Ctrl + Enter on the keyboard after typing the name of a website in the address bar of your browser it will automatically enter www and .com for you.

Office 365 Bookmarks Toolbar Shortcuts

The Office 365 rollout to the libraries has been going great so far and we are looking forward to other libraries coming aboard in the next couple months.  One topic that I’d like to address is the correct way to create an Office 365 login screen shortcut for your browser’s Bookmarks Toolbar.  We have had a few calls come in about this issue.

For most sites, the easiest way to make the shortcut is to open your browser, go to the website, then drag the icon (or lock) to left of the URL in the address bar to your bookmarks toolbar.   Unfortunately, if you do this with the mail.scls.info URL, your shortcut will end up only working temporarily.  After you go to mail.scls.info, your browser actually redirects you to a session-specific URL that only works for a short amount of time. Bookmark

Here is the correct way to make Bookmarks Toolbar shortcuts for each browser:

Firefox

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Right-click an empty area of your Bookmarks Toolbar
  3. Click New Bookmark…
  4. Name it something like Office 365 Login
  5. For the location, simply enter mail.scls.info
  6. Click Add

Chrome

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Right-click an empty area of your Bookmarks Toolbar
  3. Click Add Page…
  4. For the Name, delete what is already there and enter something like Office 365 Login
  5. For the URL, clear out what is there and enter mail.scls.info
  6. Click Save

Internet Explorer

  1. Open Internet Explorer
  2. Go to mail.scls.info
  3. Drag the icon to the left of the URL to your Bookmarks Toolbar
    Icon
  4. Right-click the new shortcut
  5. Select Properties
  6. Delete the URL that is listed and simply enter mail.scls.info
  7. Click OK

Issues with version 30.0 of Firefox

We have had a couple of reports of issues with this latest update of Firefox to version 30.0.

The first issue is that the Print button "action", starting in Firefox version 29, differs from previous versions in that it now opens Print Preview rather than going directly to the "native print dialog" box.  Mozilla has this problem listed as a known bug, so they are aware of it.  This does not affect when you print from either the File menu or if you do a Ctrl+P.  It only happens if you have added the Print button to your toolbar.  So if you are using the Print button in the toolbar then you will have an extra step in order to print out the web page.

The second issue is with the PDF viewer that is built into Firefox.  It now opens PDFs with the built-in PDF viewer instead of the Adobe Reader plugin, and the built-in PDF viewer does not handle relative links properly. ("Relative links" meaning: the link URLs start with "somefolder/somefile.pdf" instead of "http://www..." which is common in an HTML page, but less so in a PDF.) This issue is considered a bug, but has not been fixed yet.

If you run across any other issues please call the Help Desk and report them.

Homepage weigh-in

ScaleA homepage's weight is just a number measuring size at one moment in time. It's just one piece of the mosaic of a website's total health, happiness, and success... but it does come up from time to time when member libraries redesign their websites. "Is my homepage normal? How does it compare to other libraries' homepages?" 

To find out, I did a weigh-in with 55* SCLS member library website homepages on June 11-12, 2014. I used the YSlow and Firebug add-ons in Firefox to measure how many kilobytes it takes to display each homepage. In other words, I measured the total (uncached) file size of all the HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and images that make up each one. Here's the weight chart:

SCLS Member Library Homepages' Total Weight in KB
High (100th percentile) 8187.00
80th percentile 1246.48
Median 638.20
20th percentile 268.56
Low (0 percentile) 74.10

Some context: 1000KB = 1MB. The body-weight cliches continue to apply:

  • "Too big" or "too small" for one person may be "just right" for someone else.
  • Weight doesn't take into account the value/function of each component (like muscle, fat, and bones). Proportions matter.
  • I won't post individual weights online, but will share them with library staff who want to know.

A finding that interested me: the 17 weightiest pages are all CMS-generated. Different CMS's are represented throughout the weight levels (Drupal, WordPress, CivicPlus, GovOffice.com, etc.). My assessment:

  • CMS workflow efficiencies can make it easy to add weight to a page without much effort or intention.
  • Making wise choices about a site's infrastructure (themes/templates, modules/plugins, etc.) and content (especially images) equates roughly to the diet and exercise choices that help maintain a healthy body weight.

* All 53 SCLS members, plus two additional project sites managed by member libraries.

Firefox Redesign

You may have already noticed on the patron PCs that Firefox has had a redesign starting with Firefox 29.  The staff computers are updated less agressively as extensive testing with Koha needs to happen first.  Expect to see staff computers updated around the end of June or beginning of July.

In this video, Johnathan Nightingale, VP of Firefox, shows what's new in Firefox starting with version 29.

 

Trusted Reviews has more information about the changes.

Firefox and PDFs printing out blank

Has your library recently experienced patrons complaining that when they print out PDF files they come out blank?  Well, we know that the problem is being caused by a recent release of Firefox, specifically version 29.0 that was released on Tuesday, April 29, 2014.  By chance Tuesday night is the same night that we automatically update patron PCs with any new applications, so all patron PCs got this version of Firefox the day it was released.  After we received numerous reports about this we started investigating and saw that lots of Firefox users were experiencing the same problem.  People were saying that when you did a print preview of the PDF file it looked just fine, but then when it was printed out all you got was a blank page.

Thankfully, Mozilla got right to work on this problem and released Firefox 29.0.1 on Friday, May 9, 2014.  So the next Tuesday evening all patron PCs got this update, which fixes the PDF printing problem.  If you are still getting reports of PDFs printing out blank then find out which patron PC it was printed from and verify the Firefox version on that PC.  This is done with the following steps:

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Click on the Help menu item
  3. Click About Firefox in the dropdown menu
  4. The version will be listed in the window that opens

If you see 29.0.1 then you are ok, but if you don't then please call the Help Desk to get the update installed.  Please note: this is only for patron PCs as staff PCs have their Firefox updated by us because we use it for Koha.

Easy way to clear a browser's cache

Do you want a quick and easy way to clear a browser's cache?  Well here it is:

  1. With the browser open, press Ctrl+Shift+Del
  2. Select what you want to delete (i.e. cookies, cache, etc.)
  3. Click the appropriate button at the bottom of the window to confirm the delete

Now isn't that easy.  The best part is that these steps work for IE, Firefox and Chrome.