This article explains how to put privacy controls in your patrons hands simply using Personal Web Browser v2.

If you’re unaware of PWB, check out their web site at:
http://www.teamsoftwaresolutions.com

PWB provides an “overlay” browser for Internet Explorer v5.5 and v6. It allows you to strip un-needed buttons, control where files are saved (if at all), eliminate “Favorites”, and other tools that might be useful in a personal usage situation, but annoying in a public use situation.

Step One: Obtain and Install PWB v2
Download from Teamsoftware Solutions, and obtain a license. PWB v2 is *NOT* free. PWB v1 IS free, but will not necessarily work properly with the following instructions.

Tweak PWB as you need. There are so many ways to tweak PWB, that I’m not going to list them all here.

Step Two: Obtain “ClearIECache” from Teamsoftware Solutions.
ClearIECache IS free. You can download this at:

http://teamsoftwaresolutions.com/files/ClearIECache.zip

Use your favorite Zip Utility (WinZip, Pkunzip, etc) to unzip the Clear IE Cache file. Then install the file simply by loading it. The install has NO discernable steps. You’ll find a file called “ClearIECache.exe” after you unzip the “ClearIECache.zip”. This file is all you need. Run this file, and it will clear the cache.

Note: With Windows 2000 or XP, it will clear the USER level cache, NOT the system cache. However, this is adequate for everyday use. If you login as “user1″, then the cache for user1 is cleared by the ClearIECache program.

Step Three: Write batch script to clear cookies
There are a lot of programs designed to delete cookies, but none of them seem to be simple enough for inclusion in a public environment. Therefore, I’ve found it easier to simple write a batch program like this:

Exit to DOS (win98, click on DOS Prompt, Win 2k or XP, click Start, Run, and type CMD, or find cmd under Accessories).

go to whatever directory you’d like to store this program in. Say,

c:\cookiekill

If a suitable directory doesn’t exist, make it by typing:

mkdir cookiekill

Now type the following to enter the DOS editor:

edit deletecookies.bat

Once in the editor, enter the following lines:

cd c:\Documents and Settings\user1\Cookies
del user*.*
exit

now click on File, then Save, and then Exit. (or alternately, press ALT then F then S then X)

Test run the file. The cookies deletion should take only a matter or seconds. It should pop up a Window, which should close almost immediately. The only exception to this would be if there were files marked as “read only”. However, as we’re executing a wildcard delete based on the user name (thus user*.*), we’re only deleting the ACTUAL COOKIES.

Now you have a batch file called deletecookies.bat which will delete cookie files from the user level account. Remember, “user1″ is an example in the above demonstration. Substitute the appropriate account on *ALL* workstations for *ALL* user accounts used.

Step Four: Place files in PWB Shell directory and activate Shell Buttons in PWB.

In one (or 2) windows, open the appropriate directory containing the ClearIECache.exe and deletecookies.bat files.

In another window, go to the PWB v2 ShellBar directory. This would normally be:

c:\Program Files\Teamsoftware Solutions\Public Web Browser v2\ShellBar

Drag the ClearIECache.exe button into the Shellbar directory. (alternately, simply copy them via DOS, or whatever means you’re most comfortable copying files with)

Drag the deletecookies.bat into the PWB directory itself and make a shortcut (right click on file, then choose Create Shortcut). This is done so you can choose a new icon for the deletecookies.bat file. By default, DOS bat files have an ugly icon. Right click on the shortcut (NOT the actual file) and you can select from a group of Windows Icons. I personally use a red “NO” circle for this purpose. Works perfectly. Then copy the shortcut to the ShellBar directory.

Now, you have to edit the PWB.ini file to activate the shellbar icons.

Open the PWB.ini file in Notepad, or whatever text editor you choose.

Find the following line:

ShowShellBar=False

change this line to:

ShowShellBar=True

and save the PWB.ini file.

Step Five: Test the Setup

Load PWB. You should now see TWO icons in the shell bar for ClearIECache and DeleteCookies. Test both programs, and ensure they run properly.

Presto. The ability to delete cookies and clear the browser cache now lies in the hands of your patrons.

This is a crude method, but has proven to be reliable, and allows patrons control over their own privacy. While most library patrons (or most people) are clueless as to issues about their privacy when using public access workstation, the inclusion of the ability to control privacy should bring peace of mind to those who desire it.

(assuming they trust your methodology…)

Future: Other Browsers

I’m sure this method would work with other browsers with some mild tweaking (like K-Meleon, perhaps), but I haven’t tested on any other browsers at this date.

Questions? Let me know.

Links to resources:
Teamsoftware Solutions
Download ClearIECache

This page was created by Michael McEvoy.
All Copyrights reserved, 2004.

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