Firefox Reader View


Like Jean, it's no secret that I love reading. Sometimes I dislike reading online though. Too much clutter on the screen can really get in the way of a good read. Anything that flashes, blinks or moves around while I'm reading is getting the evil eye from me.

Firefox Reader View to the rescue! Available in version 38.0.5, one click can take a cluttered, too-busy page and reduce it to just the main article that one wants to view. It can also render a page that is "unprintable" into one that prints cleanly.

FF-enter-reader-viewYou'll find this clever tool at the tail end of the Firefox address bar (just left of the Search box). Its icon looks like a little open book. The icon isn't always there; it will only be visible if the content of the page can be reorganized by Firefox.

Once you've clicked it, you can use the icons on the left side of the screen to fine tune the font, font size and screen background color, similar to features found on most e-readers. You can also drop the article from there into your Firefox Pocket for later reading, but that's a feature for another day...

Book Podcasts

Podcasts2 It's no secret that I love reading and always have three* books going at one time. I also love listening to podcasts and my current subscription count is up to 16 different ones (I didn't know I had that many until I counted!)

Among those 16 podcasts are three book-related podcasts that I want to share with you. First is the NPR Books podcast. What I love about this podcast is that it compiles much of the book related content in NPR shows and puts it in one place. Sometimes it's a book review from a Morning Edition or it could be an entire episode of Fresh Air. If it's book related, it shows up in this podcast.

Second is the Pop Culture Happy Hour. I only recently started listening to this podcast and I've come to look forward to the new episode each week. I freely admit that I don't keep up very well with pop culture and this podcast helps with that. My favorite part, however, is the ending of each podcast where the panelists talk about what is making them happy this week and often that's a book. 

Third is a brand new podcast from Book Riot's Rebecca Schinsky and Liberty Hardy called All The Books. I listened to the first episode of this podcast recently and have several new books to add to my "To Be Read" list. This is a weekly podcast that comes out on Tuesdays as that's when new books are released. Visit the podcast site for each episode to get a list of books talked about on the show as well as others released that week.

As I was listening to Megan and Merri from the CCBC this morning* as they presented CCBC Shorts, I realized that not only do I love hearing people talk about books they love, I love listening to two (or more) people have a conversation about books they love. I can hear and appreciate the rapport, respect, and relationship that is evident between the contributors of Pop Culture Happy Hour, All the Books, and CCBC Shorts - and that makes me happy. I hope these podcasts make you happy, too. Happy listening and reading!

*I wrote this post on May 20, 2015 and the books I'm reading right now are Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo (print), Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (audio), and How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz (ebook).


Microsoft says bye, bye to IE

Rumor has it that Windows 10 may be released as early as this summer. As is true with any new version of an operating system, there will be many changes. One of the more radical changes is that Micosoft will be deprecating Internet Explorer (some stub of which will remain for software compatibility) and instituting "Project Spartan".

"Project Spartan" is the code name for the new (unnamed) browser. Here's a small list of features slated to be included in "Spartan":

  • PDF support integrated within the browser
  • Webpage 'snapshots' can be taken and marked up ~ Skitch
  • Cortana integration: think Siri on steroids. (She'll 'help' you navigate the web as well as your PC/mobile device.)

Here's a brief video tour. The 12 min. video covers many things about Windows 10. The video clip here will start when the Spartan tour begins (~ the 3 min mark). The Spartan tour ends ~ 7.5 min mark.



Helping patrons with email

Do your patrons need help with email? and are 2 great resources for helping patrons learn about technology.
For more than a decade, the program has helped millions around the world learn the essential skills they need to live and work in the 21st century. From Microsoft Office and email to reading, math, and more, offers 125 tutorials, including more than 1,100 lessons, videos, and interactives, completely free. 

The Public Library Association's new site,, is an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant-funded project to create an online hub for digital literacy support and training. Included in is a collection of self-directed tutorials for end-users to increase their digital literacy, and a community of practice for digital literacy trainers to share resources, tools and best practices.

Gmail Help
If your patrons are Gmail users, Gmail Help also has an extensive collection of help pages.

Previous TechBits posts about and

Develop your SLP (Super Librarian Powers)

We've heard lots about the "Summer Slide" and how the Summer Library Program helps to prevent this.  

This summer, Jean will be introducing a 12 week program for librarians on the Know More blog to enhance and improve their SLP (Super Librarian Powers). Starting June 1, she'll highlight a variety of online resources (aka databases), searching tips & tricks, and more. Each week's post will also include a short activity to help you to become more familiar with the resource, and links to additional training and help.

Sounds like fun, right? You can follow the Know More blog via RSS or email (sign up is on the right side of the blog under "Subscribe"). If you're not already familiar with all the great online resources or you just want to brush up on them, here's an easy way to do it!

New Digital content web page available

You have a volunteer willing to digitize your library's historical photos. A patron donates a treasure trove of historical materials to the library and you would like to preserve these materials and make them available through digitization. But where do you put the digitized files? How do you make them available to the public? 

To help libraries answer these questions, SCLS has created a Digital Content resources web page that includes brief overviews of affordable hosting options such as OverDrive Local Content and Recollection Wisconsin. We'll continue to update the page as new resources become available.

The Nest "smart" Thermostat

I'm not the kind of person who has a "smart home" but when I ran across the Nest Thermostat I had to give it a try!

The Nest thermostat installs in a snap, connects to your WiFi, and saves you money.  It learns all about your heating and cooling preferences and programs itself based on those preferences.  You also get a cool energy report emailed to you each month.  It shows your usage and some tips to be more efficient.  There is an App for your phone or tablet that has a lot of cool features.  Things like controlling the temp remotely and a whole lot more.  Here is a quick summary video:


F12 for website developer tools & device modes

Modern versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer each come with powerful tools for website development. In your browser of choice, hit F12 on your keyboard to toggle them on and off.

Screen shot of a website with Chrome DevTools & Device Emulation

Each browser offers variations on these tools, but these common utilities are my favorites:

A code inspector for viewing the page's HTML and CSS code and making on-the-fly edits to what you see onscreen. Edits made from the code inspector aren't saved anywhere—they only last until you refresh the page. Use it for: debugging tricky formatting, experimenting with new text or styling before actually making live edits.

A network tab reporting how quickly every component of the page loads, including total load speed and weight. Use it for: figuring out exactly which files may be slowing down the page.

Device modes for seeing how a web page looks on screens of varying sizes (with resolution presets for common devices). Use it for: checking how pages behave on small screens when you don't have access to the latest phones and tablets.

If you hit F11 by mistake, something scary happens—all your toolbars disappear! Your browser has gone full-screen. Take a deep breath, and hit F11 again to toggle full-screen mode off.

More about developer tools:

Friday Fun: Parody songs by librarians

Like the librarian parodies and other library-related videos we've posted in the past? This post on BookRiot (and comment section at the bottom) has a whole lot more. Fun stuff!

One that hadn't made the list when I looked if over: "Check It Out." The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library made this parody of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" in homage to Taylor Swift and her outspoken support of public libraries and literacy and in celebration of National Library Week. See the answer key to reveal all the Taylor Swift references in the video:

Have I hit 500 yet?

Perhaps you have students who come to the library to write papers, and perhaps their papers have to be a certain number of words long.

How can you find the word count for something that's written in Microsoft Word?

Word count

In MS Word 2007, 2010 or 2013: TB - word count results

  1. Click on the Review tab
  2. Click on the Word Count button
  3. View the results!