Windows 10 Feature Updates

SCLS schedules Windows updates so that they run in the middle of the night when the computers are not in use.  For that reason, you probably don't even notice updates are being installed.  Microsoft has introduced a new classification of updates, called "Feature Updates" for Windows 10.  These feature updates are different than simple security patches.  The feature updates have the potential of making changes you will notice.  The latest feature update is called the 1703 Creator Update and we are in the process of deploying it to Windows 10 computers.  SCLS supports approximately 1,400 PCs and a little more than 100 of those have Windows 10 installed.  That number will increase as older PCs are replaced.

This Creator Update does result in a few changes.  We use centralized Group Policy and deploy scripts that make most of these changes invisible to users.  The one change you may see is that the Creator Update pins a Mail app shortcut to the taskbar.  The shortcut can stay there, but just keep in mind that SCLS is not recommending or supporting its use.  Office 365 web access is still our supported email solution.  If you would like to remove the Mail app shortcut, just right-click it and select "Unpin from taskbar."

Mail

Default Programs with Windows 8.1

If your SCLS-supported PC has Windows 8.1, you may have noticed that the default programs you selected reset every time the PC is restarted.  We preconfigured the default programs P1090827 (1)so that new users wouldn't have to decide how each type of file should open.  If you prefer to set your own defaults and keep them, you will need to delete a file.  Navigate to C:\Installers\Setup and delete the defaults.xml file.  Now you can reboot your PC without your defaults resetting.

Planning Year End Ordering

What to do with all that leftover money just sitting around your libraryAs the end of the year approaches it’s time to start thinking about how to spend any money you might have left over in your budgets. The deadline for ordering PCs and Peripherals through SCLS this year is November 13th; this date guarantees an invoice in your hands in 2015. If you don’t require an invoice in 2015 you can order through the end of the year and you should receive it in January or February, depending on when you order.

Browser plug-ins, a thing of the past

 

Cat_PluginsA browser plug-in (or plugin) is extra software installed on a PC that allows a browser to display additional content it was not originally designed to display.  Some examples of popular plug-ins are Flash Player, Java and Silverlight.  Plug-ins were created because, at the time, browsers were fairly immature and browser development was not happening fast enough, if at all.  So this created big opportunities for plug-in developers to create software that would expand the capabilities of browsers.

Now, let's talk about what the problems are with plug-ins.  The biggest problem that I see is  the fact that they are not very secure.  There have been numerous attacks through either Flash or Java and since everyone has the same plug-in an attack works across every browser and operating system.  Other problems include not working on different operating systems as they are designed to only work on certain ones or they can be be very unstable which can cause your browser to crash or just behave badly.  These are the reasons why Mozilla announced in 2013 that they would changing the way Firefox loads third party plug-ins such as Flash, Java and Silverlight. Google has also announced their three-step approach to plug-in elimination:

  1. In January 2015 they began blocking plug-ins by default.
  2. In April 2015 they will begin to disable Chrome's ability to run plug-ins at all, unless a user specifically enables it by setting a flag in Chrome's technical preferences.
  3. In September 2015, they will begin to completely remove all ability to run plug-ins from Chrome.

So now you're probably wondering, "If they're going away, what's going to be replacing them?".  The answer is that we are in a much healthier environment of rapid browser development (Firefox and Chrome both release a new browser version every 6-weeks) and web standards.  Many of the features plug-ins implemented are now being introduced in the form of built-in browser features.  Don't feel bad that plug-ins are going away -- they had their time and now like everything else on the Internet it's time for a change.

Updated PC order form

The SCLS PC order form has been updated to include two current Dell PC models and two laptops models at a reduced price.

We are offering and recommending the Optiplex 7020 for staff PCs with a starting price of $633.00. This is about $85.00 less than the previous model. We are also offering and recommending the Optiplex 3020 for patron PCs with a starting price of $569.00. The biggest difference between the two models is that the Optiplex 7020 has 10 USB ports and the Optiplex 3020 has 8 USB ports. The Optiplex 7020 also has some legacy ports that the Optiplex 3020 doesn’t have.

We are also offering a 14 inch and 15 inch laptop. Both models cost $791.00. The 15 inch laptop offers the number pad on the keyboard whereas the 14 inch doesn’t.

If you are planning on ordering a laptop for staff use you may want to consider asking me about purchasing a wireless mouse, carrying case or a docking station if you want one. I intentionally left them off the order form because there are so many options available.

Late Night After Hours Event Tip

If your public stations are supported by SCLS and you want to make them available late at night for an event, there are a few things you need to do.  MP900385582

The public computers that we support have disk protection software on them.  This type of software keeps the PC clean of malware, personal information and any other changes made by the patron.  After each session, a simple reboot will set the PC back to its original state giving each subsequent user a consistent experience.

At 9:15PM every night, the PCs reboot and the disk protection is disabled.  This allows us to send important software updates and antivirus updates to the PC.  During this maintenance period, the keyboard and mouse on the PC are disabled.  At 7:30 the next morning, the PCs reboot and the disk protection is enabled and ready for public use.

This means if you are planning on having a late night event and want to make the public stations available, you need to contact the Help Desk ahead of time.  We can disable the maintenance period for the nights of your event.

The second point to consider is LibraryOnline.  If you are using LibraryOnline reservation system at your library, you may need to make some changes to make the PCs available for use.  There is documentation posted on how to accomplish this.

Add/Remove Windows System Shortcuts from your Desktop

You know those Icons that you can faithfully rely on to allways appear on the desktop: Recycle Bin, My Computer, etc? Did you know that you can pick and choose which of those icons show up on your desktop? I'm going to show you how. (Directions are for Windows 7 users. They may or may not work on other Windows versions.)

First, right-click an empty space of the desktop, then click Personalize.

Desktop context

The Personalization Menu will then appear.  Next, click "Change desktop icons" in the left margin.

  Change desktop icons button

This will bring up the Desktop Icon Settings window.

  Desktop icons setting menu

From here, you can choose whether to display Computer, your profile folder (contains Documents and Downloads), Network, and the Recycle Bin. Additionally, you can change the picture for each of the shortcuts, but, personally, I wouldn't go there. Don't want to make it MORE confusing now.

So there you have it; how to add and remove Windows system shortcuts from your desktop.

Wisconsin e-file Help

The Wisconsin e-file became available on Monday, January 13 on the Dept. of Revenue website.  The PDF that they give you may have some issues depending upon the browser that is used.  Here's what we've seen with each browser:

Internet Explorer - The PDF form opens with no problems.

Firefox - When you try to open the PDF form you get a message that starts with  "Please wait...", so to access the PDF form you will need to:

  1. Check the upper right-hand corner of the screen
  2. Click the button entitled "Open With Different Viewer"Firefox Open in Different Viewer
  3. On the popup that opens select "Open with Adobe Reader"Open with Adobe Reader

  4. On the Security Warning popup click the Allow buttonSecurity_Warning
  5. PDF form will then open just fine

Note - If you want to save the form instead of opening it, then in step 3 you will need to choose "Save File"

Save in Firefox

Chrome - When you try to open the PDF form you get a message that starts with  "Please wait...", so to access the PDF form you will need to:

  1. Check the upper right-hand corner of the screen
  2. Click the PDF icon that is found next to the starOpen in Chrome
  3. A popup will open that says: "Parts of this PDF document could not be displayed."
  4. Click the "Open in Adobe Reader" link
  5. PDF form will then open just fine

Note - If you want to save the form instead of opening it, please do the following steps:

  1. Place the mouse in the lower right-hand corner of the browser window
  2. A menu bar will popup, then choose the option that looks like a floppy disk     
      Save in Chrome

Please pass this information on to all staff who assist patrons as it will probably come up as a question now that tax season is fast approaching.

Thanks to Liz A. at MAD for bringing this issue to our attention.

 

Installing Chrome?

Chrome-logo-large_270x216There were two emails that went out to Link-Announce this year right after a Firefox upgrade.  They talked about different options for printing Koha reports and Chrome was suggested as one alternative.  In the past, when staff PCs had Windows XP on them, for some reason staff were able to install Chrome without any help from the Help Desk.  Now I've discovered, that with Windows 7 that ability is gone.  I've gotten calls from numerous libraries saying that they couldn't install Chrome without Administrator rights.  I don't know what changed in Windows 7 to prevent staff from installing it themselves, but I would be glad to install it for you if you need it.  Just call the Help Desk!

Viral Infection!

We've had a few very nasty PC infections lately and I thought it would be good to go over some important information about how to prevent an infection on your PC. 

SCLS' Antivirus software vs fake AV programs

The first thing to discuss is the antivirus software that SCLS uses on your staff and patron PCs.  It is called Sophos and on staff PCs this software is updated multiple times a day.  On patron PCs this software is updated during the nightly updates.  If you ever see anything on the screen that says that your PC is infected and it is not coming from Sophos then you have a rogue security software program.  It tries to make you think that your computer is infected by a virus and usually prompts you to download or buy a product that removes the virus. The names of these products frequently contain words like Antivirus, Shield, Security, Protection, or Fixer. This makes them sound legitimate. They frequently run right after you download them, or the next time that your computer starts. Rogue security software can prevent applications, such as Sophos or Task Manager, from opening or even running. Rogue security software might also display legitimate and important Windows files as infections. Typical error messages or pop-up messages might contain phrases like "Warning! Your computer is infected!" or "This computer is infected by spyware and adware."  We previously wrote about this kind of popup in the article entitled "Poisonous Popups Redux" .  The very best thing to do when you see this "Fake Antivirus Popup" is to not touch the PC and immediately call the Help Desk.

How do you get these viral nasties?

Now on to how you get these viral nasties.  One way is by surfing the Internet and accidentally going to a site that has been hacked and has viruses hidden in the advertisements on the webpage.  It is also possible to hide malware in pictures that people download.  I've had quite a few people call me and say I was just looking for some pictures when I got a message that my PC was infected.  So please exercise caution when going to sites and downloading anything. Ensure that the source is a legitimate and reputable one.  Another way to get a viral nasty is via an email that says please "click this link to get" and then something that sounds really important or "please see attachment."  One of the most common emails that gets everybody is the one that is called the Package Delivery Virus.  This is where some delivery service, e.g. UPS, FedEx or DHL, say that a package could not be delivered so open an attachment or click a link to get a receipt. 

How to prevent virus infections

•If the English in an email doesn't have complete sentences or is broken English then do not open any attached files or click on any links found in the email.

•Do not open any attached files or click on any links found in an email from an unknown, suspicious or untrustworthy source.

•If an email appears to come from a friend, someone you know or a business that you use, confirm that your contact really sent the email.  Some viruses can replicate themselves and spread through email.

•Do not open any files attached to an email if the subject line is questionable or unexpected.

•When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and do not open, download, or execute any files or email attachments. Not executing is the most important.

In summary: It is always better to be safe than to spread a virus to everyone that you know, bring down the network for the entirety of SCLS, or permanently lose your data.