The Scout Report -- Volume 10, Number 16

April 23, 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 ninth issue of the third volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about Hybrid Cars.

Research and Education

Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP)

Started in 1983 by Dr. Heather B. Weiss, the Harvard Family Research Project "strives to increase the effectiveness of public and private organizations and communities as they promote child development, student achievement, healthy family functioning, and community development." From the site, visitors can browse around and learn about their primary research activities, browse through the publication list (many of which are made available online), and learn about FINE, or the Family Involvement Network of Educators. The publications may be browsed by subject, title, or author, and visitors may also sign up to receive a free publications brochure on the site. Guests to the site will also want to review HFRP's newsletter, The Evaluation Exchange, as it provides a range of evaluation information and research, along with providing a forum for dialogue among policymakers, educators, and other stakeholders. [KMG]

Frontline: The Invasion of Iraq [RealOne Player]

While it's hard to have a thorough and well-developed perspective at times on events in the recent past, this thought-provoking online site on the recent war in Iraq is a place that brings together important analysis from a host of war correspondents, policymakers, and military leaders. The site includes transcriptions of interviews with various persons involved in the recent military conflict, a chronology of events during (and leading up to) the war, and a very good section of analysis, divided into thematic topics that include civilian casualties and one titled Is this Victory?. Of course, visitors will not want to leave the site without looking at the many fine extra features, such as a transcript of a talk with Eamonn Matthews (the program's producer), a very thorough set of materials for teachers, reaction from the press on the program, and a video excerpt. [KMG]

Robots and Us [Macromedia Flash Reader, QuickTime]

Created by the good people at the Science Museum of Minnesota (with generous support from the National Science Foundation) the Robots and Us website is an interactive and multi-sensory educational teaching tool that helps young people learn about the ways in which robots (and humans) move, think, and exist throughout the process of experiencing the world. Visitors will start out their journey in the virtual Low Life Labs, where they can proceed to the main activities directly or get help. Upon entering the main activities area, visitors may move to one of the four main labs: Moving, Sensing, Thinking, or Being. Each area contains a series of activities for visitors, along with a brief description of the concept and idea that each activity is actively exploring. The Sensing section is quite good, as it contains a number of interesting and intelligent activities, such as CAPTCHA, which allows individuals to try out examples of programs that can generate and grade tests that most humans can pass, but current programs can't. [KMG]

Florilegium Urbanum

The term florilegium refers to a compilation of excerpts from other writings, and is used on this website to refer to this ongoing online project, developed by Stephen Alsford, which provides "a considered selection of primary source texts illustrative of various aspects of medieval urban life, and to present those texts in modern English." The introduction to the site provides detailed information on the impetus for creating such an archive, and also offers some commentary on the editing conventions used during the process of translating various primary documents into modern English and so on. The site is divided into four primary sections, including ones dealing specifically with the community and government aspects of medieval urbanism. While several of the subsections of each main area are currently under development, various subsections have very fine essays authored by Alsford himself. As visitors begin to peruse these primary documents offered in translation they will begin to see perhaps more similarities with contemporary urbanism than they previously may have thought existed. New visitors to the site may want to start out by looking at a couple of documents in particular, such as the will of a wealthy merchant from Norfolk from 1339 (located in the Death subsection under the Lifecycle area) or the charter granted to London by Henry I, located in the Government section. [KMG]

Count Us In [Macromedia Flash Reader]

Developed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Online division, this interactive site contains age-appropriate and visually-appealing games designed to help young people understand basic number concepts. There are fifteen games in total, all of which may be downloaded for use in the classroom or at home, at no charge. Some of the games include activities that allow students to design patterns using objects contained with a bookshelf or the ever-popular sheep counting game, where participants must move sheep from left to right until there are the same number of sheep in each paddock. Additionally, there is a section that explains the purpose of each game, and a help feature within each game that helps users become acclimated to the goal of each activity. The site is rounded out by a selection of teacher resources designed to complement each game on the site. [KMG]

Digital Earth: GeoWeb

GeoWeb is part of SRI International's DARPA-sponsored Digital Earth Project. Drawing from search engines like Yahoo Maps, MapQuest, or TerraServer, the GeoWeb is "a vision for making all geographically referenced, or georeferenced, data available over the Web." The infrastructure allows for open, global, and scalable Internet searches associated with a specific latitude/longitude location. Clients can query the GeoWeb to "discover relevant metadata and use Web-based or peer-to-peer communications to retrieve the actual data." The data can be used, for example, with Internet-connected cell phones and car navigation systems. The website describes the project goals and work on building the standards, tools, browsers, and infrastructure necessary to develop GeoWeb. [VF] This site is also reviewed in the April 23, 2004 NSDL MET Report.

The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau [pdf]

Henry David Thoreau is widely considered one of the most important persons in the history of American letters in addition to an international reputation as a naturalist, philosopher, and author. This particular website serves as both a source of information about the authorized Thoreau Edition of his complete works (which was founded in 1966) and the Thoreau Project, which is located at Northern Illinois University, and which is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. On the site, visitors can learn about the life and times of Thoreau, read a series of reflections on his book, Walden, and learn about future volumes in the Thoreau Edition. The section dedicated to Thoreau's various writings is quite delightful, as visitors can view original samples of his handwriting, peruse selections from his celebrated journal (which he kept from 1837 to 1861), and view a complete list of his letters, which he composed from 1835 to 1862. [KMG] [Windows Media Player]

There are numerous scientific endeavors funded by national governments and other interested organizations around the world, many of which have hundreds of persons in their employ. Of course there are some equally worthwhile projects out there bringing science to a broad audience, and the AuroraWebCam project has a staff of two bringing live broadcasts of the auroras from Alaska. The project is the brainchild of Troy Birdsall, a young man from Fairbanks, who is ably assisted by Stachu Stryzewski from Poland. From the homepage, visitors can view a live webcam broadcast from Ft. Aurora in Alaska from the hours of 4:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Alaska time). If visitors can't tune in that time, they may also elect to view archived videos of auroras which are also located on the site, or browse through one of the many photo galleries. Finally, the site also has a nice forum section where visitors can post questions or offer feedback to the team working on this compelling site. [KMG]

General Interest

The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA)

Some museums of fine art pride themselves on their diverse collections of Old Masters, or their attempts to locate the latest visual artists working on the very cutting-edge of contemporary aesthetic or political expression. Thankfully, there is a playful and compelling alternative presented within the virtual context of the Museum of Bad Art. Simultaneously skewering the sometimes overwhelming world of the art intelligentsia and its own mission, the Museum of Bad Art website presents some of the more notable pieces in all their glory, divided into sections titled Portraiture, Landscape and Unseen Forces. Equally entertaining (and insightful) are the artworks' respective captions, such as the one for Dog (in the Landscape section) which begins, "A remarkable fusion of ski resort and wolf puppy..." Visitors can also read about preservation efforts, browse selected issues of their newsletter, and learn about the process by which new acquisitions are located (which is often focused around trips to the local Salvation Army or a neighbor's dumpster). [KMG]

Photographers of Genius at the Getty

To celebrate 20 years of collecting photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, this exhibition presents works by 38 photographers, 20 of whom are featured on the website: Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Eugne Atget, Hippolyte Bayard, Walker Evans, Roger Fenton, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, David Octavius Hill & Robert Adamson, Lewis Hine, Andr Kertsz, Gustave Le Gray, Dorothea Lange, Lzl Moholy-Nagy, Eadweard J. Muybridge, Timothy H. O'Sullivan, Man Ray, August Sander, Alfred Stieglitz, Weegee, Carleton Watkins, Edward Weston. Each photographer's entry includes one signature picture; links to digital images in the Getty's online collection; biographical and technical information; and sometimes audio and/or video. For example, in addition to viewing Man Ray's photograph, Le Violon d'Ingres, 1924, and reading about how it was made, visitors can listen to Man Ray interviewed on his philosophy of photography, Getty curators discussing the pun in the picture, and also browse over 100 additional pictures by Man Ray at the Getty. [DS]

Colosseum : A Gladiator's Story

Serving as the inspiration for countless other arenas of sport and battle over subsequent millennia, the Colosseum in Rome (finished in AD 80), continues to hold a great deal of interest for both scholars and the general public. Recently, the Discovery Channel teamed up with the BBC to create a special television program dedicated to this most august structure, along with a nice website that contains some useful features. Visitors will want to start by heading to the section that allows them to explore a virtual reconstruction of the Colosseum, which includes the opportunity to learn about the importance of different architectural elements and, of course, the Gate of Death. The video gallery offers some nice clips from the television program, such as the opportunity to witness a computer-generated recreation of one of the famous sea battles that took place within the expanse of the Colosseum's main arena floor. The site is rounded out by a brief slide show and a 10 question quiz on the Roman Empire. [KMG]

Recently a new study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Disease Control indicated that deaths due to poor diet and physical inactivity rose by 33 percent over the past ten years, and may soon overtake tobacco use as the leading preventable cause of death. In an attempt to combat what can only be described as a potential public health nightmare, the Department of Health and Human Service has created this site designed to provide information on the subject of diet and exercise that will help people make improvements through incremental change in various habits. The site is divided into four primary sections, each containing a brief tip (such as "eat better," complete with a brief essay and numerous hyperlinks and additional resources. Visitors can also read success stories -- such as the inspiring story of government employee Marcia Potts -- sign up to receive a helpful e-newsletter, and read news updates. [KMG]

Elisabeth C. Miller Horticultural Library

Tucked away within the numerous specialized subject libraries at the University of Washington is a gem known as the Elisabeth C. Miller Horticultural Library. The library has several main directives, including service to the Center of Urban Horticulture (which is located on campus as well) and as a clearinghouse of gardening material for the general public. While much of the material available online is geared primarily towards working with gardens in the Pacific Northwest, there are a number of helpful general materials here as well. The web resources section is quite nice, as it contains a number of weblinks (selected by staff at the Library) organized around a host of themes, including botany, ecology, and arboreta. The Booklists By Topic area culls together various lists of important books by topic (over 40 to date), covering areas from alpine and rock gardening to water gardening. Visitors with young children (or teachers) should find a thorough 20-page bibliography, titled Children and Nature, to be an invaluable resource. [KMG]

The Center for Land Use Interpretation

Founded in 1994, the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) is a research organization "interested in understanding the nature and extent of human interaction with the earth's surface." To this end, CLUI has adopted a multidisciplinary approach to engaging themselves with its mission and actively produces a number of exhibits on land use themes. The site contains information about visiting the center's headquarters in Los Angeles, and a complete archive of the in-house newsletter, Lay of the Land. Visitors will want to take a look at the ongoing programs and projects, which include tours, information on the residency program for landscape interpreters, and the rather creative extrapolative projects. The definitive highlight of the site is the online CLUI Land Use Database which allows users to search an interactive map of the United States or perform a keyword search to look for sites that are unusual and exemplary throughout the country. Each listing generally contains a brief description, some type of visual documentation, and external website links where available. [KMG]

Humanities Magazine

Online since 1996, the Humanities Magazine is the magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Designed to complement the detailed information on the operations and grant opportunities presented on the main NEH website, visitors to this website can browse and read articles from the magazine dating back to the November / December 1996 issue. Not surprising, the magazine is designed to explore the projects and various endeavors sponsored by the NEH, and visitors will find a wide range of material here, including pieces on archaeology in Guatemala and a recent documentary on the Reconstruction. Another nice feature is the profile section offered once each year on the recipients of the National Humanities Medal. The profiles from 2003 are quite compelling, as they provide information on each of the ten recipients, including Robert Ballard (who is best known for discovering the wreck of the Titanic) and Hal Holbrook, the actor who is immediately recognizable for his animated and multifaceted portrayals of Mark Twain over the past fifty years. [KMG]

Network Tools

Moodle 1.2 [Windows Operating System, Macintosh Operating System]

Developed as an Open Source project, Moodle is a course management system that will be most welcome by educators seeking to create quality online courses, or who may be interested in adding an online dimension to a traditional classroom course. This latest addition includes new support for groups (within courses), a new lesson module, and numerous improvements for site administration. Moodle 1.2 is also available in 36 different languages, and now includes the ability to utilize automatic embedded audio streaming as well. Moodle 1.2 is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X or Windows 95 and above. [KMG]

Thingamablog 0.9.4 [Windows Operating System]

For those persons with multiple weblogs, this handy little application will be a most welcome addition. Thingamablog is a cross-platform stand-alone blogging application that allows users to maintain multiple weblogs, organize entries by date or category, and preview entries formatted in plain text or HTML. The homepage for the application also contains complete documentation, a good FAQ area, and links to blog sites set up by users of the application. Thingamablog 0.9.4 is compatible with all systems running Windows 95 and above. [KMG]

In The News

Problems Continue to Plague Unification of Cyprus

Communists Reject Cyprus Template
Russian Balks at Cyprus Reunification
Turkey Wishes to Make Cyprus An Island of Peace and Freedom
EUROPA: Candidate Country: Cyprus [pdf]
Greek News Online
Cyprus: Divided Island

There were more developments in the very thorny question of whether a united Cyprus will enter the European Union on May 1st, as the largest Greek Cypriot political party indicated that it would not support the United Nations' plan to reunite the island. Earlier this week, Russia vetoed a United Nations resolution that was designed to encourage a yes vote on the plan. Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots will vote on the plan this weekend, and early opinion polls indicate that close to 65% of Greek Cypriots will not support the current plan, which was drawn up by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. These indicators have disappointed diplomats and politicians, many of whom have waited over thirty years to see a reconciliation of the two sides. If either side rejects this specific plan, membership in the EU will apply only for the Greek Cypriots, which would effectively leave Turkish Cypriots out of the various benefits that would become available if they were effectively part of the EU.

The first link will take visitors to an online BBC news piece about the recent developments on Cyprus regarding the upcoming referendum on the UN plan for unification. The second link (free anonymous registration required) leads to a news piece from the Washington Post about Russia's veto on the proposed security arrangements detailed within the reunification plan. The third link, provided by the Turkish Press, offers some comments on the future of Cyprus from the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The fourth link is provided by the European Union, and provides detailed information about the current state of Cyprus, along with background material on its government, demographics, and history. The fifth link leads to Greek News, a Greek-American online weekly, which contains links to coverage of the ongoing debates about the reunification of Cyprus and related issues. The sixth and final link leads to a rather nice feature provided again by the BBC on the issues surrounding the continuing conflicts on the island of Cyprus. [KMG]

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