Help Desk Tidbits

Early morning work on staff and patron PCs

When SCLS tech staff arrive in the morning they check on different things with both staff and patron PCs. Things like the status of the anti-virus and disk locking software. If we see a problem and we know the library isn't open yet, we will remote in to fix the problem. So if you are working and you see a PC move by itself that is just us working on it. Please don't shut off the PC thinking it has been hacked because we may be in the middle of fixing a problem. If the PC is rebooted it may cause more harm or we may have to start over and run the risk of still be working on the PC when you open. If you want to verify it is us you can always feel free to call the Help Desk and find out for sure.


Help Desk Portal gives "Connection not secure" error message

We've been getting a few calls lately reporting that when going to the Help Desk Portal people are getting an error message saying "Your connection is not secure." This is only with Firefox and is being caused by the fact that we secured the portal with a self-signed security certificate. We have a fix posted on our TechBits page and you read all about it by visiting this page.


Slow Staff PCs

We've been getting a lot of calls lately about slow staff PCs. Before you reboot those PCs, please call the Help Desk so we can remote in and hopefully see what is making the PC slow. Once we remote in what we'll probably do is run a virus/malware scan on the PC and this takes at least 20 minutes to complete. So hopefully you can be without the PC for a while as we look at it.

How to refresh your web browser without clearing your browsing history

Isn't it aggravating when you KNOW a webpage should be showing an update, but clicking the browser's "refresh" button (or hitting Ctrl + R) isn't showing the change? You might run across this when updating a website or even checking email.

Sure, you could log out, close all your tabs, and delete your browsing history to start completely fresh, but who wants to do that? Try these tips instead:

Hard Reload (two ways)
Ctrl + F5
or
Ctrl + Shift + R

Hold down the Control key and press F5. Or, hold down Control and Shift, and then press the R key. This will force the browser to reload and will work in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Empty Cache and Hard Reload (Chrome browser)

Reload-empty-cache

The "cache" is the group of images and files your browser saves to help load previously-visited web pages more quickly. Clearing cached files and then reloading forces the browser to get the most current versions of all those images and files.

  1. In Chrome, press the F12 key. The DevTools menu will open.
  2. Right click on the reload button and select Empty Cache and Hard Reload.
  3. Breathe a sigh of relief that the page has refreshed, but all your tabs are still open and you are still logged into everything.
  4. Hit F12 again to close DevTools.

Favorites Toolbar

Bookmark toolbarLast fall I was working with a very smiley colleague on a large order when she noticed that I use folders on my web browsers favorites’ toolbar to group similar links. After I showed her how I created the folders we talked about how this might be something worth sharing with our readers.

For those that didn’t know Favorites Toolbars existed, I have to tell you, it’s incredibly convenient to have a few of my go-to favorites at the top of my browser where I can quickly go without having to click on dropdown menus. I found it frustrating when I had so many bookmarks in my toolbar that it became cluttered, which is where using folders to combine similar links can come in to help organize your toolbar.  For instance, I drive a lot, so I have a folder with my favorite travel advisory links so that I can quickly see if I should expect any travel delays. I also have a folder with a lot of Google doc links.

I mostly use Google Chrome and Firefox browsers, but you can also do this with Edge.

In Google Chrome, click the Customize and Control button (3 vertical dots) in the upper right hand corner. Hover your cursor over Bookmarks and select Show bookmarks bar. This will add the bookmarks bar if you don’t already have it. If you right-click in the bookmarks bar you will have an option to add a folder. Once you add and name a folder you can drag links into it.

In Firefox, click the menu button (Cheeseburger or 3 vertical lines) in the upper right-hand corner and choose Customize, click the Toolbars button at the bottom of the screen and select Bookmarks Toolbar. Just like with Chrome you can right-click in the bookmarks bar you will have an option to add a folder. Once you add and name a folder you can drag links into it.

I’ve also found that by having a visual of my favorite websites on my bookmarks toolbar I use them way more than I used my bookmarks menu at the top of my browser.

Convert web pages to PDF for printing/saving in Chrome and Firefox

Some time ago I came across a handy extension available for Chrome and Firefox called Print Friendly & PDF. You can use this extension to generate PDF files from web pages that can be used to either print or save the web page as a PDF file. However, I have noticed that the extension doesn't work exactly the same in both browsers. 

Pdf-chromeFor example, when converting the scls.info home page in Chrome, the extension only picked up the one visible slide at the time that I did the conversion.

Pdf-firefoxI then switched to Firefox, and found that in Firefox, the extension captured all of the slides in the slideshow in one PDF file. 

You can find these extensions in Chrome by going to the upper-right hand corner menu and going to More Tools>Extensions, and then searching the Chrome Web Store. In Firefox, go to the upper right-hand corner menu and choose Add-ons.

Given that the extension works differently in different browsers, I think it's a good rule of thumb to keep your options open when using browsers. If something doesn't look right or work well in one browser, try another browser.

More on HTTPS

Chrome-SecureDo you remember this TechBits post about http and https? If you have time, read it over again and be sure to watch the 3-minute CommonCraft video because you're going to be hearing a lot more about https in upcoming months.

What are the advantages of https?

  • Confidentiality - information is passed securely between websites and browsers
  • Authenticity - when you see that little lock, you know you're really talking to the website that belongs to that name
  • Integrity - that lock indicates that the content of the site hasn't been changed by a 3rd party on its way to your browser

Chrome and Firefox are the browsers at the forefront of the push to move all sites to https. They already warn you that a page is "not secure" if it is http and prompting you to put in a username and password.  Very soon (July 2018 for Chrome), they will be alerting users that ALL http pages are "not secure."

The winds of change are blowing
As websites move to https, a couple of things will happen:

  • Everyone with a website will be scrambling to configure their sites to be https
  • Very old browsers may not be able to use https sites

SCLS has a team of folks looking at what needs to happen to move SCLS websites and SCLS-hosted library websites to https, and we and will be sharing more information on the SCLS Technology News blog and in Top 5 emails as we have more details. If your library has a website that isn't hosted with SCLS, you may need to look into what steps to take to enable https for your website.

In the meantime, if you're looking for some more in-depth information, try these posts:

Firefox Screenshots

Recent versions of Firefox have included a new screenshot utility.  You might find it useful when you want to capture content within a web page.  With Firefox 57 or newer, click the Page Actions button at the right side of the Address Bar then click Take a screenshot.

Page-Actions

At this point, you have four options for your screenshot. 

  • Select a predefined section of the page
  • Click-and-drag your mouse to capture a section of the page
  • Capture the entire visible part of the web page
  • Capture the entire page without scrolling

Now you can save the screenshot to your PC or you can have Mozilla save your screenshot in the cloud for a user-specified duration.  The screenshot will be given a unique URL that can be shared with others.

Mozilla has provided more information that you may find helpful.

Hey, can you stop what you're doing and proofread this for me?

GrammarlyAbout two months ago or so an ad popped up while I was watching a YouTube video about Grammarly. The ad indicated it can check your spelling and grammar for free! I feel like I’m always asking someone (way smarter than me)to check my work for mistakes, and when I saw this ad I thought I would give it a try to see how well it worked. This article is going to be all me and Grammarly, so be kind in the comments if you find any mistakes, please.


You can download Grammarly from there website for free. They have a version for Microsoft Office and for web browsers. I downloaded both options just to try out. If you happen to write a lot more than I do and would like a more robust version, they do offer a subscription version.


I wrote this in Word with Grammarly turned off until this point. I intentionally misspelled a couple words, which I fixed that both Microsoft Office Spell Checker and Grammarly caught. I also left out a comma (not intentional) between mistakes and please at the end of the first paragraph that Grammarly said should be there.


I’m also getting an alert from Grammarly that it see’s five more mistakes that the Premium version will fix. Not today it won’t! Those are for you to find!

Printing in Landscape Mode

    It's not often that I need to print a webpage in landscape mode. I found the other day that I needed to however because the site had a lot of information that became squished and hard to read in standard portrait mode.  I wasn't sure if users knew this was possible within web pages and not just reserved for Microsoft Office Documents.  Each browser is capable of this and the steps slightly vary between them.

Google Chrome:   Printing in Chrome

    At the print preview screen:  

        Select the drop down box next to Layout and select Landscape.

FireFox:   

    At the print preview screen:

        Select Landscape within the top menu bar.

Internet Explorer:   

    At the print preview screen:

        Select the icon with the sideways paper for Landscape.

Microsoft Edge:   

    At the print preview screen:

        Select the drop down box next to Orientation and select Landscape.

Gone in a Flash

Adobe_Flash_Player_v10_icon

This week, Adobe announced it plans to stop updating and distributing Flash at the end of 2020. While this will come as a bit of a relief to some due to the seemingly never ending circle of vulnerabilities, warnings that your Flash player was out of date and updates, it does mean that any site that relies on Flash will need to transition to a different format such as HTML5, WebGL or WebAssembly.  (Flash updates are one of the reason we love Ninite.)


A number of browsers have already switched to asking to run Flash by default and, as it gets closer to the deadline, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge and Firefox will start disabling Flash by default. It will still be possible to enable it for a website until Adobe ceases support in 2020. Facebook has also said that they will shut off Flash games by the end of 2020.


So if your website still relies on Flash, you’ll need to start looking at the alternatives.  (And if there's a game you haven't finished yet that may not get updated, you might want to finish it too.)

Non-secure HTTP

In recent months, you may have noticed browser icons and messages like these...

Notsecure--mypc

What's going on?

Earlier this year, certain browsers began to warn users when they visit a login page that doesn't use https. Https is a secure version of the http protocol used to pass information between websites and browsers and is commonly used by websites passing usernames/passwords, credit card information, and other sensitive information.

There is a big push to implement https on all websites to help keep users' browsing and personal data secure. Not all websites currently use https, and it will take time to convert them. You may have already noticed some websites managed by SCLS have not yet made the jump, but some like LINKcat and the ecommerce payment website DO provide secure connections. In upcoming months, we will be working on converting more of the SCLS-managed sites.

In the meantime, remember: never (NEVER!) enter your credit card, social security number, bank information, or other super-sensitive information on a website that is NOT https.  ALL banking, tax, financial, and retail sites should provide https for security.

Want to know a little more about https and secure websites? Take a look at this short but informative 3-minute CommonCraft video!

Additional reading
A short tutorial on your browser's security features: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/internetsafety/your-browsers-security-features/1/
Mozilla's and Google's blog posts about https: