It’s the little things, at least for me. With some luck and guesses sometimes I can fix technologies I do not understand the workings of.

This is purely a followup for maybe one of my favorite web browser tools that I guess I might be the sole user of, the Library of Congress Free to Use Browser Extension. Each time I open a new tab in my browser, rather than a blank or some generic screen, it presents me a background with a random public domain image from the Library of Congress.

It’s a momentary diversion of curiosity that often tempts me to learn more before I trudge off to my intended task. Almost a year ago, I spotted an error reported, which was a lucky fix simply be editing a text file in the extension to bump a number “2” to “3” for something called a manifest version (no clue what it means).

I stitched a fix

I open a lot of tabs and so I see this likely every day I am looking at a screen through a web browser.

A few clicks ago, in my extensions draw, I noted a new error/warning:

An error screen warining reading -- browser_action requires manifest version of 2 or lower and several lines of highlighted code

The thing still works, so I ignored it.

But my curiosity… I cannot let it alone.

So once again, I poke under the hood in the manifest.json file that comes with the downloaded extension, and said, “what could happen?” and deleted the entire contents for the indicated problem portion. Or this is now what my manifest.json file looks like (I took the liberty of bumping the version).

Basically in Chrome, I delete the extension, make sure developer mode is turned on, click Load Unpacked Extension, and select the entire folder where I have this thing saved. It loads in… and look! It not only works, but it also has the new version number I added (1.2).

Extension window in browser reading Library of Congress Free to Use Extension 1.2. Extension sets the background of blank tabs to a photo from the Library of Congress collections that is free to use and reuse.

And sweet, every thing is working. I open a new tab and page random public domain photos through until I find an image I can use for this post — perfect, two German opera singers named Weil and Braun playing cards, like there is some trick involved. My own trick is highlighting the title, and use my own little bookmarklet tool to find this in the Flickr Commons (easier to share from there, and as usual, the comments include interesting additions). I use my other tool to snag a cut and paste embed with attribution

Weil & Braun (LOC)
Weil & Braun (LOC) flickr photo by The Library of Congress shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

I will let the LOC folks know, I do notice on their download page for the Free to Use Extension that they updated the extension to reflect my last tiny fix. You can find instructions there for installing. Before adding, if you edit the maniest.json file to match the code snippet above, you will have succeeded in the Weil & Braun (& CogDog) Tech Fix Hack.

At least I enjoy this card trick.


Featured Image: Screen shot of Library of Congress public domain image Weil & Braun 1915 as displayed by the Free to Use Browser Extension, modified by overlay of error screen from the browser extension. This is still shared into the public domain, because that’s how I roll, under CC0!

Vintage photo of two men in suits playing some kind of card game, overlain on top is some modern computer code junk
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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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