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.

Replacing Obsolete Printers

The current Dell OptiPlex 7010 PC configuration that we are going with does not include a parallel port.   If you are replacing a PC that has a parallel cable-connected printer, you will no longer be able to use that printer.  Another problem with these older paralell printers is that they often do not have Windows 20130315_1548217 compatible print drivers.  The Epson TM-u200 receipt printers are one example. 

If you are replacing a PC that uses a parallel connected printer, you have a few options.  You can order a new printer that connects to the PC by USB cable.  You can also print to a network-attached printer or a shared printer if you have one.

I Found a Multi-tool in my Laptop

So I was just messing around with an office laptop when I discovered something interesting about the spacer Dell installed to fill in the expansion slot...


The spacer is, in fact, a multi-function tool!


It includes a mini ruler (English and Metric), holes to estimate diameter,


a temperature conversion table on the underside,


and a letter opener.

Good job, Dell, to bring functionality to what otherwise would be just a mundane piece of plastic!

(Caution: results my vary)

Widescreens are in.

Dell 19 inch widescreen monitorFor the last two months Dell has been slowly been getting ready to discontinue the standard 19 inch monitor that we’ve been purchasing for several years. They're replacing them with widescreens and making it attractive by lowering the price on them. The standard monitor can no longer be purchased with a system. We are being given a choice of 19, 22, and 24 inch widescreen monitors when purchasing a system. I will update the SCLS website once the Dell website stabilizes and they settle on standard models. The options seem to change every time I log onto their site.

The 19-inch widescreen is about a half inch shorter than your standard 19-inch monitor and two inches wider. It also costs a few dollars less than the standard monitors did. I’ve ordered a few already and so far I haven’t had any complaints from a dissatisfied user.

Thunderbird Font Size

A few libraries have asked how to change the global font size of Thunderbird instead of the font size used in messages.  If you want to change the font size of the mailboxes, the messages pane and Thunderbird menus, the Theme Font & Size Changer add-on is worth a look.

  1. Download the Theme Font & Size Changer add-on
  2. Open Thunderbird  MP900442939
  3. Click Tools
  4. Click Add-ons
  5. Click Extensions
  6. Click the little "gear" at the upper right and select Install Add-on From File...
  7. Go to the folder where the add-on is saved and double-click it
  8. Click Install Now
  9. Click Restart Now towards the upper right
  10. After Thunderbird restarts, click Tools
  11. Click Theme Font & Size Changer
  12. Now you can test the settings until you find one you like

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.

Software and Hardware Compatiblity with Windows 7

As we transition staff computers from Windows XP Professional to the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional, it would be a good idea to make sure your library is using modern software and hardware.  SCLS will make sure standard software such as Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Thunderbird and browser plugins are compatible with Windows 7.  We also know that the Metrologic barcode scanners, DYMO LabelWriters and Star receipt printers are compatible.  Each library will be responsible for making sure their software, printers and document scanners are compatible.MP900382798

A few examples of software that you should be concerned about include Dreamweaver, Contribute, Print Shop, Acrobat and Photoshop.  These are just a few of the software titles that we know libraries are using. 

A good place to start your compatibility check is at the Windows 7 Compatibility Center.  Here, you will be able to search for many different software titles and devices.  If you do not find any information about your product, the next best place to check is the manufacturer's website.

If you have any questions or concerns about compatibility, please call the Help Desk.

USB 3.0 Option Now Available.

Okay, so this isn't the best picture I've ever taken, but you get the pointYou can now order PCs through SCLS that have a USB 3.0 card installed in the PC.

What is USB 3.0?
It’s the latest evolution in the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard of computer connectivity.  It’s referred to as Super Speed or SS which means it has to transfer data at 5 GB per second.

What is it good for?
If you use an external hard drive or transfer a lot of pictures or videos to your PC you will see a big improvement in the time it takes to transfer these files. I know for me personally when I’m transferring a video from my camera to my PC it takes 5 minutes (forever) to transfer most videos. Now if I had a USB 3.0 camera and port on my PC that would only take about 30 seconds to transfer.

How do I get USB 3.0 on my new PC?
On the PC order form select the radio button for USB 3 Controller Card to add it to your order. It will add two USB 3.0 ports to your PC, which already has 10 USB 2.0 ports.

Is USB 3.0 backward-compatible with USB 2.0?
Yes, your USB 3.0 devices will work in USB 2.0 ports (they just won’t be as fast as if you had USB 3.0 ports, too!).

How will you know what ports are USB 3.0?
So far all of the USB 3.0 devices and ports I’ve see are color-coded with blue, like in the picture above. I have been using that as an easy give away. You will also notice fine print that indicates it’s USB 3.0. See what I mean, the connector is blue