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Fix broken links with Firefox LinkChecker add-on

Screen shot of right-click menuBroken links on a library's website are like weeds in a garden or broken windows in a home—they tell visitors, "No one takes care of this place. Fend for yourself!" But the Firefox LinkChecker add-on makes finding these broken links easy.

After installing LinkChecker, visit a web page that needs checking, right-click, and select Check Page Links (or go to Tools > Check Page Links). LinkChecker tests the links one by one and adds color highlighting to show you the state of each:

  • Valid (green)
  • Forwarded/forbidden (yellow—as in, LinkChecker couldn't do this one; you be the judge)
  • Broken (red)

What can't LinkChecker do? Find appropriate replacements for the broken links and actually fix the links. Or decide whether the linked resources are still useful and appropriate. That needs a librarian's touch!

Screen shot of color highlighting on links

Uh oh, looks like I've got some work to do on my Delicious links...

Can I get a piece of that Raspberry Pi?

I'm a big fan of Pi(e): I like making it, eating it and I think Pi(e) day (March 14) should be a National Holiday.  So I HAD to attend Joshua Cowles' WLA session "Have some Pi: why your library needs cheap, tiny computers."  The session blurb mentioned using the Raspberry Pi for an OPAC kiosk and I thought "Great, inexpensive OPACs that libraries can put all over the building. How cool is that?"

Well, I learned quite a bit during that session, including the fact that some testers were unable to optimize the Raspberry Pi for an OPAC kiosk and ended up having to power their prototype with a larger board that that would render web pages faster. 

I contacted Joshua to confirm my notes and he stated that "The Raspberry Pi does suffer from some slowness and the lack of a ready-made set of scripts or instructions to set up an OPAC kiosk like libraries would want to have.  However, after the session I learned that the tech folks at Winnefox are further along with their version of RPi kiosks than I thought, and they actually have them successfully deployed. I haven't been able to speak with them yet about the choices they made or how it's been working out."

But the Raspberry Pi project is more than just OPAC kiosks!  One major component of the project is to teach people, especially kids, about computers from the components up.  Kind of like making a (pastry) pie from scratch. 

From the Raspberry Pi website: "The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming." 

Check out these links for more information and fun projects:

Raspberry Pi

10 coolest uses for the Raspberry Pi

Ten more awesome projects for your Raspberry Pi

25 fun things to do with a Raspberry Pi


--Heidi Oliversen


Can PDFSplit save your kids from learning foul language?


Just about every household item from my washer to my air compressor has a PDF manual on line.  Most of these have the instructions in multiple languages, a ton of "read this before" sections and even some advertising.  I use PDFSplit! to get rid of all that stuff so when I'm in the middle of a crisis I have only what I need.  Now when I'm frustrated that the washer isn't working I at least have what I need to fix it at my fingertips.  This really cuts down on my wife having to say to the kids:  "What your father meant to say was..."

(To keep track of all the manuals that I split I use Evernote.)

I also use PDFSplit! at work.  One really exciting part of my job is to read a lot of manuals for the products I work with.  Most of these manuals are in the PDF format and have hundreds of pages.  I've found that out of the hundreds of pages there are only a handful that I really need.  In the past I would save the entire PDF and then two years later have to go through it to find the small section I need.  It turns out that this is not the greatest way to operate!  Now I just save the parts of the manual I need.

Smithsonian Institution Offering Virtual (and Printable) 3D Models of Artifacts

Starting Nov. 13, the Smithsonian Institution began scanning and modelling some of their vast collection of artifacts to make them more accessible to patrons.  They are offering them as both a virtual model, able to be viewed through a web browser, and also as a downloadble file that a 3D printer could print from.  The collection is still somewhat limited, but more will follow.

Check it out at 3d.si.edu

(Thank you Dennis, fixed the link!)

Password, password, who all has your password?

Last month Adobe emailed millions of users, including myself, to tell us that their network had been breached, hackers had stolen our login information and that our passwords had been reset.  To get an idea of how big the problem was, according to the news reports, over 150 million usernames, passwords and password hints were stolen though Adobe says only 38 million records belong to active users.

With all the passwords reset you would think that should be the end of it, right?  Well other online companies, including Facebook, are using the leaked list of logins (say that three times fast) to determine if they have users the same login credentials.  And, in a real-world example of why using the same password on multiple sites isn’t a good idea, they’re finding matches.  

If you received an email saying your Adobe password had to be reset and you use that password in other locations, it’s extremely important that you reset that password everywhere you were using it.  If you received an email saying your Adobe password had been hacked and login here to change it, check the links, it’s probably a scam.  In either case, if you’re using the same password in multiple locations, please change them to something different.  Otherwise one security breach can give people access to everything.  

For more information about passwords and some tools to help you keep track of all those passwords, take a look at some of the previous TechBits articles:

Renewing OverDrive Titles & Library Reads

I recently trained staff from the Belleville and Albany libraries on Wisconsin's Digital Library (OverDrive). I've been training on OverDrive for a long time and I learn something new every time. This time I found out about a new feature available in our Digital Library. Check this out - and renew it, too!

We've been waiting a long time for this feature and I'm sure your patrons will love it!

Library_reads_logo_websiteAnd, finally, a quick plug for LibraryReads: the top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love. As library staff, you can participate. Check out the "For Library Staff" tab and start nominating books!  P.S. December's list  was released today and I think you should check out the review for The Supreme Macaroni Company: a Novel by Adriana Trigiani!




A Couple Windows Tips

One way to open a command prompt is to Click Start > Click Run... > Type cmd > Hit Enter.  Then you might want to change the directory using the cd command. Capture

If you already have the folder or directory open, a quicker way to accomplish this is to hold the Shift key
then right-click inside the folder and select Open command window here...

A command prompt will open and the current directory will be the same as the path to the folder you have open.  This works in Windows Vista and newer.

Another trick for Windows Vista and greater is the Copy as path function.  This is useful when you need to upload an email attachment or file to a cloud service.  It also works great when you want to send the path to a shared file to another user.

To use the Copy as path function, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the file in the folder system
  2. Hold down shift Key
  3. Right-click the file
  4. Select Copy as path
  5. You can now paste that path where needed

Recognition-based search

Identify song

These are just a few examples of times when recognition-based search might save the day!

As you may have gathered from past TechBits posts ("Using Google to find a book by its color", "Drag and drop for Google Image Search", and "Search tips for more successful Googling"), we're pretty big fans of Daniel M. Russell's SearchReSearch blog and all the helpful search tips it contains.

Daniel recently published a "What recognition-based search apps are there?" post which compiles a helpful list of various apps (or tools) that can be used to recognize objects or signals in the world. The list includes the more common services (Google Goggles, Google Search-By-Image, and Shazam) to some offerings for very specific types of identification (LeafSnap and WhatTheFont). 

It's a fascinating collection of resources --- I had no idea most of these existed! If you have a few minutes, give them a quick peek!

How to Check Your Version of Windows

Windows-logoHere are three easy ways to check what version of Windows is installed on your PC.

1 Shortcut Keys method: hold the Windows key down on the left-hand side of the spacebar and strike the Pause key on the upper right hand side of the keyboard.

2 Click the Start button, click Control Panel, click System.

3 Click the Start button. Type System in the search box and click system under Control Panel.

All three of these methods will bring you to your System window.  Near the top of the window you will see what version of Microsoft Windows is installed on your PC.