The Scout Report -- Volume 10, Number 12

March 26, 2004

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

NSDL Scout Reports

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

NSDL Scout Reports

NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology

The seventh issue of the thrid volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about Game Technology and Children.

Research and Education

Institute of Transportation Studies at UC-Davis [pdf]

Organized in 1991, the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at the University of California-Davis has become an internationally recognized center for both applied research and overall scholarship in the field of transportation, serving as a home for 50 affiliated faculty members and a number of graduate students. Here visitors can learn about the Institute, read about educational opportunities, and find out about the institute's extensive research facilities. Their e-news archive is worth a look as it contains information about the scholarly activities of researchers at the institute. As might be expected, the publications section is a good place for visitors to become acclimated to the types of work going on at the Institute. The publications archive extends back over a decade, and most of the publications from recent years are available in the pdf format. Those persons looking to learn about the near future of transportation alternatives will definitely want to look at their initiatives page, as it contains links to websites dedicated to carsharing systems, fuel cell vehicles, and other innovative technologies. [KMG]

U.S. Department of Justice: Antitrust Division [pdf]

Providing an important set of services for over six decades, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is committed to promoting and protecting the competitive process through the enforcement of the antitrust laws of the United States. While the site's design is not entirely user-friendly, it is frequently updated with important information about current and ongoing antitrust suits filed against various businesses and corporations. Visitors unfamiliar with the operations of the division will want to review the Overview section, as it contains a brief exposition (complete with hyperlinks) of the day-to-day activities and overall objectives. For more specific information on antitrust case filings, visitors will want to take a look at the case filings section which contains electronic versions of selected filings initiated by the Division since 1994. The public documents section of the site is a bit more encompassing in its scope, as it includes recent press releases, information on public hearings, appellate briefs, and full-text versions of speeches by various Division officials. [KMG]

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences [pdf, RealOnePlayer]

Headed by Dr. Kenneth Olden, the National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEHS) is one of 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health, and is located in Research Park Triangle, North Carolina. The prime directive of the NIEHS is "to reduce the burden of human illness and dysfunction from environmental causes by understanding each of these elements and how they interrelate." While the site presents an almost overwhelming amount of material, new visitors may want to begin by reading the introductory piece on NIEHS, as it contains a number of helpful hyperlinks that may quickly direct individuals to their topic of interest. Failing that, visitors may also use the search engine that is provided on the site's homepage. The site has plenty to offer researchers and the general public, including direct links to the archived audio and video lectures presented by the NIEHS, the Environmental Genome Project, and the National Toxicology Program. Finally, the site contains a Kids' Page area where young people can play various games, activities, and brain teasers that are both engaging and informative. [KMG]

National NAGPRA [pdf]

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is a Federal law passed in 1990 that provides a process by which museums and Federal agencies (such as the U.S Corps of Engineers) to return certain Native American cultural items, including human remains and sacred objects, to lineal descendants, culturally affiliated Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations. Given that this is an immensely complicated process, the National NAGPRA program has created this website in order to assist a number of stakeholders (such as museums, Native American groups, and Federal agencies) in this process. Visitors unfamiliar with the process will want to peruse the rather thorough FAQ section, take a look through the law and regulations area (which includes a full-text version of the act and its various amendments), and their online databases. These databases include contact information for various Indian tribes, a database that contains items still to be repatriated, and a database of successfully repatriated items. The site is rounded out by a special topics area, which includes ample material on the much-publicized Kennewick Man, a set of human skeletal remains found in eastern Washington in 1996. [KMG]


For many decades, the University of Wisconsin has been known for its work in the fields of demography and sociology, so the appearance of the WisStat website is quite welcome, though not a surprise. Developed by the Applied Population Laboratory at the university, and drawing on a number of reliable data sources (including the 2000 Census), the WisStat server allows visitors to view various demographic data about a vast array of units (including by census tract, city, village, country) throughout the state of Wisconsin. First, visitors will need to select a unit of geography to examine (such as county, village, etc.), then select an appropriate search filter. This is probably the most powerful aspect of the site, as visitors can search by subject, keyword, data source, and year range. Upon completing these first two steps, visitors may then view the data in a table format, and they may also download this data for future use. [KMG]

Pew Research Center: Internet and American Life [pdf]

Who uses the internet, where, when, why and how? The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a non-profit project of the Pew Research Center for People and the Press that conducts and funds "original, academic-quality research that explores the impact of the Internet on children, families, communities, the work place, schools, health care and civic/political life." Research methods include "phone and online surveys; data-gathering efforts that will often involve classic shoe-leather reporting from government agencies, academics, and other experts; fly-on-the-wall observations of what people do when they are online; and other efforts that try to examine individual and group behavior." Reports, summaries, and charts on research addressing these questions about internet usage among other topics are available free online. Another section of the website keeps track of news stories reporting on the project's research findings. Interested researchers can also obtain "raw data" files in SPSS or Word in order to conduct further analysis. This site is also reviewed in the March 26, 2004 NSDL MET Report. [VF]

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Most visitors to the Smithsonian Institution's museums in Washington, DC may not be aware of the activities of their Tropical Research Institute, which may have something to do with the fact that is located in Panama. The Institute's history stretches back to the early years of the 20th century, when one of its prime directives was to survey the flora and fauna of the area for the purpose of controlling diseases such as yellow fever and malaria. In 1946, the Institute came into the fold of the Smithsonian Institution, and since then it has conducted research in the areas of archaeology, behavioral ecology, environmental monitoring, and other topics. On the site, visitors can learn about the intitute's diverse research projects, international activities (such as the Center for Tropical Forest Science), and fellowship opportunities. Finally, visitors can also look at the two webcams operated by the Institute, including one that looks over the island (Barro Colorado) where they are located off the coast of Panama. [KMG]

Developed by Dr. David Whitcomb (the current president of the American Pancreatic Association) in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, this site offers a host of material on the pancreas for those persons dealing with diseases associated with this organ, as well as for doctors and scientists. Much of this material can be easily accessed from the site's homepage, which also features a helpful three-dimensional visual rendering of the pancreas and related structures for quick reference. The sections for patients contains background information on some of the more common conditions associated with the pancreas, such as acute pancreatitis, hereditary pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer, which is the fourth leading cause of death due to cancer in almost every industrialized country. The sections for physicians and scientists is also well-developed, as both of them contain information on genetic testing, clinical trials, and research groups with a keen interest in the pancreas. [KMG]

General Interest

Downing Street Says

It's hard to sort out the world of political spin in the United States, and certainly the situation in Britain is rather similar in this regard. Fortunately, a collection of civic-minded individuals have created this website, which serves to bring the daily briefings offered by the British Prime Minister's Official Spokesmen direct to internet browsers. Essentially, twice a day (when Parliament is in session) a select coterie of political journalists is briefed by the PM's Official Spokesmen, and then they are allowed to ask brief questions. This site brings together these official statements and the queries (and responses) brought up by the political journalists who attend these briefings at 10 Downing Street. The site was started in February 2004, and visitors can view an archive of all the briefings since then and post their own comments as well. Additionally, there is a section that explains these meetings and the impetus for creating such a site. [KMG]

Colonial House - PBS

Preview the newest installment in public television's hands-on history series, following Frontier House, Manor House, and 1900 House. Set in 1628, Colonial House will be broadcast in May. At the website, there are audio and video diaries in which the twenty-eight colonists from the UK and US give accounts of their experiences learning to live in 1628. Also provided is a map of the village and essays by the experts consulted for the show to insure historical authenticity. One such piece is A Historian Awakens 1628, by Emerson "Tad" Baker, a specialist on the early history of Maine, which is where Colonial House was filmed. There's also a Meet the Colonists gallery with photos and 21st and 17th century biographies of the settlers, lesson plans and activities for teachers, and a Resources section, with related Web sites and books. [DS]

Worklore: Brooklyn Workers Speak [RealOnePlayer]

Sometimes referred to as the city of homes and churches, Brooklyn embodies much that is true to the American experience in the late 19th century, especially considering the wide range of immigrant groups that came to the area seeking a better life and, in many cases, a better paying job. This lovely site developed by the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Brooklyn Public Library casts its gaze on the work lives of Brooklynites (historic and present) as they worked throughout the borough. The site is divided into four primary sections, including those dealing with the issue of racial bias, women in the workplace, and work experience of immigrants. Each one of these sections contains short articles on its respective topics, peppered with archival and contemporary photographs and, as an added bonus, audio files of people speaking about their various vocations. After reading these narratives, visitors may want to try their hand at the interactive feature Choose a Job, where they can pick one of four vocations, and see if they can stretch their salary out to adequately include housing, transportation, and entertainment. The site is rounded out by a fine list of suggested readings, organized by general titles, juvenile titles, young adult titles, and first person narratives. [KMG]

The Spectator Text Project at the Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities

Published by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele from 1711 to 1714, the Spectator was one of the most innovative periodicals of the 18th century, and its format and style (itself influenced by The Tatler, published from 1709 to 1711) were imitated throughout Europe and the Americas. This thoroughly engaging electronic archive of both of these famous periodicals was developed by the Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities at Rutgers University, and advised by a panel of experts from a number of germane disciplines. What is perhaps most remarkable about the project is that it affords users the ability to compare imitated and imitating formats and passages of text through the addition of hyperlinks. As the background material on the project's website notes, "...this feature makes our project an interpretive editorial apparatus, and one which is based on the special capabilities of the digital environment." As could be expected, the complete print runs of The Tatler and The Spectator are available here and include a special split-screen comparison page for detailed analysis. Visitors wishing to view the pages will need to download the DJVU plug-in which is made available at no cost on the website. [KMG]

Boston Public Library: Sports Temples

From the Bruins to the Red Sox, the good people of Boston love their sports, whether it be collegiate, semi-professional, or in the big leagues. Along with this love of the game, many of these temples of sport hold a certain reverential place in the hearts of many Beantown denizens. One only need think about the many protests over the demolition of Boston Garden in the 1990s to grasp how important some of these edifices are in the hearts and minds of sports aficionados. This online archive, developed by the Boston Public Library, pays tribute to a number of important structures which have played host to various sports within Boston from 1872 to 1972. Here visitors can browse through hundreds of images for a number of famous buildings, including the Boston Arena, Boston Garden, Harvard Stadium, and, of course, Fenway Park. Each site is accompanied by a brief historical sketch of the its history and information about its current use. [KMG]

Wired for Books [RealOne Player]

Developed by the Ohio University Telecommunications Center, with the kind assistance of the Ohio Humanities Council, this site brings together a number of rather fine audio recordings of authors reading their own works, video recordings of a number of plays, and an extensive archive of author interviews conducted by Don Swaim from his national syndicated program, Book Beat, which was produced in the 1970s and 1980s. The site contains a number of great renditions of various works especially for children, including some fine readings of the stories of Beatrix Potter and a great performance of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as directed and narrated by Karen Chan. Visitors will also want to look at the various poetry and short story audio recordings archived here, including readings by Andrew Dworkin, Robert Pinsky, Dave Smith, and Bonnie Proudfoot. The author interviews by Don Swaim are definitely worth listening to, and range from 10 minutes to some which are close to an hour in duration. The writers interviewed in this area include Isaac Asimov, William Burroughs, Anthony Burgess, and Gunter Grass. The interview with Raymond Carver is particularly revealing as he talks very candidly about his work and his troubling experience battling alcoholism. [KMG]

The Tower of London [Macromedia Flash Reader]

As one of the most famous complexes of historic structures in the world, it stands to reason that the Tower of London would have a plethora of websites dedicated to exploring its development and rather crucial role in English history. Begun by William the Conquerer, the castle has been improved and added upon numerous times over the past 900 years, and now includes dozens of smaller structures within its walls. Developed by staff members at Knight International, this site is a real treat for those seeking to learn more about this historic site, or those who might be planning a visit in the future. The site contains approximately a dozen different areas of interest, ranging from a fine virtual tour of the grounds, a section devoted to the omnipresent ravens and, of course, a copious amount of materials on the Crown Jewels. [KMG]

Network Tools

Orbitron 3.0 [Windows Operating System]

With all this talk about long-distance space explorations to Mars and points beyond, it would seem that people have forgotten that there are thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth at any given minute. Fortunately for the curious public, Sebastian Stoff has created this fun little application that allows budding astrologers and others keep track of those many satellites that are circling around the Earth. Orbitron is free, but it is Cardware, which means that if you found the program useful, Sebastian politely requests that you send him a postcard. Orbitron 3.0 is compatible with all systems running Windows 95 and higher. [KMG]

SpamStoppers 1.5.0 [Macintosh Operating System]

For those users with websites, this small application will be of great assistance. SpamStoppers 1.5.0 is designed to keep email addresses from being harvested by spambots which may take them directly off a user's website. Essentially, the application encodes the text of an email address so that it no longer resembles a valid address, and as a result, it will no longer be harvested by spambots. This application is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X 10.1 and higher. [KMG]

In The News

Gas Prices: The Sky's the Limit

St. Petersburg Times: Cost of Filling Up Keeps Flying Up
NPR: Drivers Face Higher Prices at the Pump
Energy Information Administration: This Week in Petroleum
National Resources Defense Fund: How to Break Free -- Technology and Innovation
Union of Concerned Scientists: Clean Vehicles

The birds are singing, school is winding down for the year, and summer is within sight. Tis the season for summer road trips. And this year, as with most recent summers, gasoline prices are on the rise -- even eclipsing two dollars per gallon at some California gas stations. The several sites assembled here look into the issue of summer's pending gas price hike but examines some of the reasons for fluctuating gas prices. Also of note are some ideas on how to thwart dependence on oil and work towards better energy efficiency.

The first site, from this week's Saint Petersburg Times gives an overview of the rising cost of gas. In addition to this is a good summary story from NPR featuring an interview with an Energy Information Administration analyst. On that note, the third link leads to the EIA site itself which, while a bit technical at times, offers an interesting weekly update on gasoline issues, titled This Week in Petroleum. Next, the acronym is tossed around all of the time, but it almost seems like an intangible entity. This fourth link gives OPEC a face and provides quite a bit of information about how gasoline is priced, who to blame during price hikes, and also an interesting statement by OPEC regarding global warming. In tune with fluctuating prices, the fifth link leads to, a site which seeks to "monitor gas prices across the country so you can get the best deal in your area." While you may not take advantage of the cheapest gas station in your neighborhood, the searchable database reveals the disparity in gas prices across the country. The last two sites seek to offer a more holistic look at the issue of gasoline use. The second to last site, from the National Resources Defense Fund, offers a look at how improved technology can lead to improved efficiency. This brief site provides information on hybrid cars and has testimonials from hybrid drivers. Similarly, the last site, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, also examines the potential for clean cars. Along with the introductory article, the site offers additional information on how fuel cell and hybrid cars work, as well as a guide to buy one. [JPM]

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From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2003. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

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