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.

HTML5, CSS3 and You!

'<embed>' photo (c) 2007, Luis - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

So, how is your personal relationship to HTML5 and CSS3 going? Did you even know that you had one? You do now or soon will, if your library continues to rely on Windows XP for staff or patron workstations.

Perhaps we should start with the basics. What are HTML5 and CSS3? Technically, these are website content format standards that are maturing but are still under development. They represent a large number of feature enhancements over HTML4 and CSS2; too many to get into here, and probably you don't need (or want) to care about all the details.

What's important for you to understand is that some of these new features are highly, highly desirable to website developers. This is why Google Apps (among other sites) ended their support for Internet Explorer 6 in 2010, and then ended their support for IE7 (and Firefox 3.x and other browsers) in 2011. Can you guess the fate of IE8? Hot tip: don't bet on its longevity...

Officially, Microsoft is continuing to support Windows XP SP3 and IE8 until April 8, 2014. However, there will be no new versions of IE for the XP platform; IE8 is all you get. The good news is that IE8 does support some HTML5 features. The bad news is that some sites have already dropped support for IE8 because its implementation of HTML5/CSS3 is just too primitive or incomplete.

The world is not ending, of course, at least not on account of IE8. If your budget says that XP stations will be operating in your library for some time to come, then there is always Firefox. SCLS will continue to update Firefox on XP stations for as long as we are able to, and Firefox on XP is fully capable of handling websites that demand a lot from HTML5 and CSS3. You just need to be aware that as time goes on, IE8 will become less and less useful (and in some cases impossible to use) on evolving websites.

Want to know more about what's missing from IE8 (and for that matter, from IE9 on Windows 7)? Check out the fun interactive chart at http://html5readiness.com/. Hover your mouse pointer over any spoke on the chart wheel to see the name of the new feature that it represents, and note how many spokes are missing labels indicating IE8 and IE9 support. Want to replay the "browser wars" of recent years? Dial back the chart to yesteryear by clicking on the tags above it.

Zoom, zoom, zoooooooooom

Zoom in MS Office
Did you know you can quickly zoom in or out of a document (Word), presentation (PowerPoint), or worksheet (Excel)? 


  • On the status bar in the lower right, click the Zoom slider
  • Slide to the percentage zoom setting that you want

Zoom in IE 


Want to quickly zoom in IE?
<--- There's a zoom menu on the status bar...

And if you prefer keyboard commands, don't forget

  • Ctrl +  (zoom in)
  • Ctrl -  (zoom out)
  • They work in most browsers!

    Viewing web pages in alternate browsers

    There have been previous TechBits articles that mentioned the IE View extension to Firefox. IE View is handy if you need to compare the view of a page in FF to the same view in IE, and it's essential if you use some site that (even well into the 21st century) still requires its users to have Internet Explorer. If you rely on such a site, you can configure IE View to always launch IE for links to that funky application.

    But if you're a web site developer or tester, IE View may not be all that you want. You may also want to compare the view of a web page in Chrome, Opera, and Safari (or even Amaya, Epiphany, Konqueror, Maxthon, Lobo and...). In short, you may want the Open With extension for Firefox.

    After you have installed Open With, your View menu should get populated with an "Open With <browser name>" item for each other browser that is detected on your PC. A similar menu item can optionally appear in several other contexts as well. To set up Open With for various contexts, pull down the FF Tools menu and choose Add-ons, then select Extensions and click the Options button for the Open With extension. A new tab will open showing the Open With settings that you can tune for the View menu, context menu, tabs and the tool bar.

    What about different versions of the same browser? You want to test FF 3.6 and FF 7, and IE 8 and IE 9, right? Sadly, this is often not possible without multiple PCs. Even in cases where it is possible to have two versions of the same browser on one machine, it tends to get a bit funky to manage those installations. Depending on your OS license and hardware capacity, you may benefit from running "another PC" inside a VirtualBox or another virtualization platform, but that level of complexity is far beyond what I can cover in a short blog posting.

    All about CAPTCHAs

    More stupid captchasphoto © 2010 Chris Foley | more info (via: Wylio)

    Have you ever wondered about those crazy sets of letters and numbers that some websites prompt you to enter when you fill out a form?

    That's a CAPTCHA, and MakeUseOf.com has written a lovely article covering everything you might want to know about CAPTCHAs but were afraid to ask. I learned some fascinating things that I didn't even know I wanted to know!


    I am reminded...

    Day 266 - Embarrassedphoto © 2009 Ken Wilcox | more info (via: Wylio)

    Yesterday's post included a link to an article reviewing some of the most popular URL shorteners.  Unfortunately, the site hosting the article was dishing out some nasties this morning as identified today by the antivirus software used on SCLS PCs and also by Google  (neither of these flagged the site yesterday when I was composing my post, and the site appears to be cleaned up again and Google is no longer reporting it as malicious).  

    Other than being very embarrassed about linking to a site that was clearly having some issues this morning, I am also reminded of some things by this:

    2. Sometimes even links where you know where you're going may be harmful
    3. Always be cautious when navigating the internet
    4. Consider other actions/products that may help to identify harmful websites:

    All about browser tabs

    Browsertabs Ben @ SKC notes, "My staff loves the fact that you can open new tabs in Koha to check item statuses, look into patron records, etc." and pointed out this great "How to Browse the Web Using Tabs" tutorial from Lifehacker for users who are new to working with tabs.  If you're unfamiliar with browser tabs or are interested in a little bit of basic background, take a look!

    Once you're comfortable with tabs, you may be interested in these other TechBits posts:

    Special Note for Koha users
    Just be careful if you open multiple tabs with patron info in Koha...
    From the Koha ILS FAQ: "Search to Hold" results in hold for wrong patron

    Patron X requested a search-to-hold from his checkout screen. However, when the search was executed, the "Hold for [Patron name]" button displayed another patron's data. The other patron, Patron Y, was active in the second tab on the browser, and his data was pulled to populate the hold information.

    If library staff wish to have more than one tab open in Circulation, it is highly recommended that the screen be cleared between transactions, particularly if the staff person is toggling back and forth between tabs with patron records active in both tabs.

    Know where you're going

    Nami at 10 weeksKittens are cute bundles of almost boundless energy and curiosity.  But let’s face it, at that age their sense of self preservation isn’t usually well developed and they often leap into things without looking.  If something looks interesting, they’ll just go for it, without realizing that paper bag their about to jump on to reach the toy doesn’t actually have a top.  That’s what a lot of scammers are counting on as well.  That their link, attachment, email or web page look interesting and safe enough for you to use. 

    Even if the web page or email looks “official”, it’s not an indication that it is legitimate.  Many scams that are trying to trick you into clicking on a link or entering your information go through the effort of trying to look official to encourage you to use them.  In just the past week, I’ve gotten scam emails supposedly from Twitter, Facebook and even the FDIC that copied the look and/or logos to try to trick me into thinking they were real.  Banks, credit cards and Facebook have been the target of more than one phony login page scam as well. 

    Before you click on a link, it’s not a bad idea to check just where the link is going.  If you put your mouse cursor over a link—don’t click, just place the cursor over the link—you’ll see the real address.  In Thunderbird, Firefox and Internet Explorer it’s in the lower left hand corner of the window.  So if you’ve got any doubts about a link, take a few seconds to check where it says it's going.

    Example of the fake Twitter email:

    Fake Twitter email
    If you look in the lower left hand corner, you'll see the URL isn't even close to a URL you'd expect to see from Twitter. 

    Double-click smaller, double-click full screen

    Here's a quickie "how did I not know this?!" tip:

    Instead of using the little button in the corner to "Restore Down" (to less than full screen) or "Maximize" (to full screen), you can just double-click on the blue title bar!

    Title bar

    (this works in all the programs I've tested so far)

    Fixing Web Browser Printouts That Are Too Small To Read

    Have you ever printed a webpage from Internet Explorer or Firefox and it came out too small to read?  Well, I have the solution for your problem. 

    This solution works for both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

    1. Launch browser
    2. Select the webpage you wish to print
    3. Click on File
    4. Click on Print Preview
    5. For Internet Explorer
      •  Find the Change Print Size (Alt+S) dropdown box
    6. For Firefox
      • Find the Scale (Alt+S) dropdown box
    7. Click on the down arrow
    8. Choose a larger percentage or "Shrink To Fit"
    9. Print webpage
    10. View printed page without needing a microscope

    One other item to note with both Internet Explorer and Firefox.  You can use CTRL + on a webpage to make it larger, but this does nothing for changing the size when it prints.

    Special thanks go out to Rob Klecker of MOO for having this problem; thus creating the idea for this post.