The Scout Report -- Volume 10, Number 38

September 24, 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 twentieth issue of the third volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers websites and comments about E-voting.

Research and Education

From the Home Front and the Front Lines

Close to 1700 veterans of the United States Armed Forces pass away each day, and often many of their stories and experiences are lost before there is time to document them for posterity and future generations. Fortunately, there is the Veterans History Project, which was commissioned by an act of Congress, and which is dedicated to collecting and preserving the experiences of these veterans and those who supported them. This fine online exhibition brings together materials held by the Library of Congress (with an emphasis on those who served in military conflicts during the 20th century), and includes pages from scrapbooks, flags, military papers, and diaries, all in digitized form. The site is well thought out in its organization, and users will want to take a close look at the digitized diaries which contains heartfelt and honest recollections of the wartime experiences of such individuals as Corporate Vincent Cornelius Reed and Lieutenant Colonel Richard Earl Pierson, who served as a combat pilot in Vietnam. The site also contains a nice list of suggested readings, divided up by military conflict. [KMG]

United Nations: Economic Commission for Africa [pdf]

Working on creating meaningful and equitable social and economic development in parts of the developing world can be difficult, and often tests the mettle of the most experienced professional in the field. One organization that works in this area is the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), established in 1958 under the administrative direction of the United Nations. As the regional commission of the United Nations in Africa, the ECA "is mandated to support the economic and social development of its 53 member states, foster regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa's development". Thematically, the ECA's activities are organized around divisions that include Gender and Development, Trade and Regional Integration, and several other areas. The website provides ample material on these programs, along with important updates about the commission's various initiatives, such as the Science and Technology Network and the African Development Forum. The publications section is also worth a glance, as it features a number of thorough reports on various aspects of development throughout the continent, including a 281-page report released in July 2004 titled "Assessing Regional Integration in Africa". [KMG]

International Society for Technology in Education [pdf]

Increased interest in the use of technology in education has developed extensively across the United States during the past few years, and a number of professional organizations have sprung up in order to provide resources to those policy-makers and educators interested in adapting and utilizing various technologies in their classrooms. Visitors to the site will want to peruse the online educator resources, which include materials thematically organized into sections such as assessment, curriculum, policy, and professional development. A number of the organization's print publications are also available online, including its in-house magazine, "Learning & Leading with Technology". Visitors will also want to read about the Society's work on the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Project, which is designed to help establish standards for the effective use of information technology in education. [KMG]

Playful Performers

The National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., has created this online exhibit to bring to young people an enhanced understanding of the many roles that masks play in various African societies and cultures. More specifically, the exhibit addresses the ways in which children in Africa play "dress up and pretend", hence the "playful performers" title of the exhibit. Visitors can start by browsing through the section titled "Exploring the world of play", where they can view photographs of children at play in a variety of settings. The "Masquerade and Imagination" area offers a nice introduction to the different ways in which children (and adults) perform in various masquerades, using a variety of forms of dress and their imaginations. The site is rounded out by a number of blank forms which visitors can download and create their own unique masks, or just take a look at some of the creations submitted by other visitors to the site. [KMG]

Earthscope [pdf]

Supported by the National Science Foundation, EarthScope is an ambitious undertaking designed "to apply modern observational, analytical and telecommunications technologies to investigate the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the physical processes controlling earthquakes and volcanic eruptions." This is certainly no small task, and as such it is no surprise that some of their various undertakings include drilling into the San Andreas Fault and installing different pieces of scientific equipment at key sites, such as volcanoes, around the continent. A good way to get some sense of the project activities is to take a look at the image base, which features projects "in action" across the continent. While the project's scientific database is not online yet, visitors would do well to take a look at the publications area. Here they will have access to press coverage of project activities, along with some basic fact sheets that outline various project endeavors. [KMG]

Sustainable Building Sourcebook: Straw Bale

The Sustainable Building Sourcebook is an online publication in partnership with the City of Austin, Texas, Green Building Program. This section of the Sourcebook provides information and resources on straw bale construction. The article begins with a definition of straw bale construction as a construction that uses "baled straw from wheat, oats, barley, rye, rice and others in walls covered by stucco...." and proceeds to address building considerations, commercial status, and implementation issues. The authors discuss some of the benefits of this "low cost alternative for building highly insulating walls" and consider some of the common concerns such as financing and public acceptance. A variety of resources for anyone interested in building with straw bales are provided and anyone who already has built one is invited to join the international Straw Bale Registry. [VF] This site is also reviewed in the September 24, 2004 NSDL MET Report.

Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems [Macromedia Flash Reader, pdf]

Located at New York University, the Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems is dedicated to linking infrastructure professionals with each other, along with providing information to the general public about new insights and interdisciplinary approaches within the complex world of civil infrastructure systems. The site is divided into five sections including those focused on education, information exchange, and research. The education section is a good place to start for first-time visitors as it contains some of the Institute's case studies which have arisen out of various combined meetings with representatives from higher education. The research section contains a number of interdisciplinary reports, including one on environmental health and policy in the South Bronx and another one that addresses the lessons learned from the 9/11 disaster in New York City. [KMG]

The Video Game Revolution [Macromedia Flash Reader]

Video games may now have officially reached a new level of cultural and social importance, especially since PBS (and station affiliate KCTS) have seen fit to create this very interactive and informative site to complement their recent television special, "The Video Game Revolution". The television program tells the history of video games, starting all the way back in 1952, and proceeding all the way to the current home systems. Of course, this website offers a great deal of material to delight aficionados of this cultural phenomenon, including an interactive timeline of video game history and Flash-enabled specials on the impact of gaming, and of course the somewhat forgotten (but not totally gone) phenomenon of that old shopping mall standby, the arcade. The arcade that's featured on the site offers users the ability to play an old classic game (Galaga) and a "Name that Game" feature, where visitors must guess the game based on a brief sound clip. Of course, the Scout Report would be remiss if it didn't also mention that there's a Celebrity Game Quiz, which features such questions as "Which member of the Rat Pack appeared in a 1970s commercial for Magnavox?" If you can't wait to get to the site, it was Mr. Ring a Ding Ding himself, Frances Albert Sinatra. [KMG}

General Interest

H.H. Bennett-Photographer Extraordinaire

The landscapes of the Midwest have been documented by many photographers during the past 150 years, but some may have not heard of the lovely work of one H.H. Bennett. Born in Farnham, Canada in 1843, Henry Hamilton Bennett moved to the town of Kilbourn City, Wisconsin (later renamed Wisconsin Dells), at the age of 14. After receiving a severe gunshot wound at the siege of Vicksburg during the Civil War, Bennett returned home to Wisconsin to begin a long and fruitful career in photography. His career began to develop right as the Wisconsin Dells were becoming a major tourist destination, and Bennett began to use the technique of stereoscopic photography to document the various rock and cave formations around the region. The Wisconsin State Historical Society has created this online archive of 650 of his photographs for the web-browsing public, and visitors will be delighted to browse through the collection. The collection itself is divided into topics such as Devils Lake, bridges, Milwaukee, steamboats, and of course, Wisconsin Dells rock formations. [KMG]

van Gogh's Letters, Unabridged and Annotated

Brought to us by WebExhibits, a public/private collaboration that creates educational websites on the arts and sciences, van Gogh's Letters presents digitized versions of letters written by and to the artist Vincent van Gogh between 1872 and 1890. The resource includes "Over 16,000 searchable words, 62 index topics, 1284 topic citations, and 1223 artwork citations." Most of the letters were published in print in "The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh", 1991, edited by Robert Harrison. Browseable topics are Art, Attitude, Business, Fear, Feelings, Food-and-drink, Health, Lifestyle, Psychology and Theo, all with sub-topics beneath. Psychology, for example, includes hallucinations, nightmares, insomnia. Keyword searches work nicely: a search on "starry" returned 22 letters. Individual letters display with thumbnails of associated paintings, that can be enlarged, and annotations with dates, writer and recipient, translator, and number from "The Complete Letters ..." For example, in a letter Vincent wrote to his brother Theo dated September 3, 1888, #531, the painter says the poet gave him two sittings that day, so he has completed a first sketch for his Portrait of Eugene Boch, displayed alongside the letter.

American Association of Community Colleges

While the programs at various community colleges vary in character from those designed to prepare x-ray technicians to those designed to inculcate a love of the Great Books, one thing is for certain: They are a valuable, yet at times underappreciated, part of the vast lattice of higher education across the United States. Interestingly enough, the first public two-year college in the United States was Joliet Junior College, which opened its doors in 1901. Currently, community colleges enroll more than half the nations' undergraduates, and the American Association of Community Colleges is the primary advocacy organization for the approximately 1100 associate degree-granting institutions and their students. The website contains important information about the organization's ongoing activities, its relationship with government (and lobbying activities), and some basic statistics about the landscape of community colleges. [KMG]

Robert J. Lang Origami

In the modern world, if one could ask only one person about the art and science of origami, that one person might be Dr. Robert J. Lang. Through his corpus of work, Dr. Lang has brought together origami with mathematics, frequently drawing on his own background and education as a physicist and engineer. He has authored a number of books on the subject of origami, and has also been an invited guest at international conventions across the globe. Now visitors to the web can peruse some of his writings on the mathematics behind origami, including the importance of finding proportions and tree theory. Of course, visitors will not want to miss some lovely photographs of his latest creations, which include a blue heron, an allosaurus skeleton and a poised mountain goat. [KMG]

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology [pdf]

The history of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at University College London involves several notable figures of 19th century Britain, and is worth recounting briefly. The Museum was created through the largesse of one Amelia Edwards, a nineteenth century Englishwoman who have developed a great respect and reverence for Egyptian antiquity, and who herself made several extended visits to Egypt. After Ms. Edwards' sizeable gift in 1892, Professor William Flinders Petrie (who was appointed through the bequest made by Ms. Edwards) continued his ambitious program of excavations, thereby growing the collection to one of international stature. Visitors to the site will want to start by viewing personal favorites from the collection offered by the various curators at the museum and by searching the online catalog of its holdings. If visitors are so inclined, they may browse through the categories (such as tools and weapons and buildings and furniture). Within each category, visitors may continue to find out detailed information about each object, and they may also view each object from a number of angles and rotations. Finally, visitors may participate in a brief online poll and learn more about visiting the museum in London, if they so desire. [KMG]

The Cholesterol Low Down

Working in partnership with Pfizer Inc. since 1998, the American Heart Association has brought the public awareness program "The Cholesterol Low Down" to the public with a number of outreach programs, including public-service announcements and helpful resources, including cookbooks and fact sheets. On the site, visitors can learn about their potential risk factor by filling out a Global Risk calculator, which only takes several minutes. As some people may be unfamiliar with what exactly cholesterol is, they would do well to take a look at the "What is Cholesterol?" section, which offers information on what affects cholesterol levels and what individuals can do to reduce high cholesterol levels. For visitors who want to pass along the message about the site, there is also a section where they can elect to send along an e-message to a friend or family member. Visitors who wish to receive more information may also elect to sign up to the program (free of charge), and they will begin to receive various cholesterol-management tools (via email or regular mail), such as The Cholesterol Low Down Guide brochure and the project's biannual newsletter. [KMG]

Religions for Peace [pdf]

The idea of creating a worldwide organization of religions committed to the pursuit of peace dates back to the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, when a group of religious leaders convened a World's Parliament of Religions. This vision became a reality in 1970 when the first World Conference of Religions for Peace met in Kyoto in October of that year. The Conference is dedicated to "creating multi-religious partnerships that mobilize the moral and social resources of religious people to address their shared problems." Some of their recent accomplishments include building a new climate of reconciliation in Bosnia and Kosovo and mediating dialogue among warring factions in Sierra Leone. From the organization's homepage, users of the site can learn about its ongoing initiatives and projects, which are organized thematically into such categories as development, human rights, and peace education. Visitors will also want to pay special attention to one of the organization's latest initiatives, the Women's Mobilization Program. Here visitors may peruse the program's latest annual report and read about the global network of religious women's organizations. [KMG]

Network Tools

Handy Password 1.2.0

With all of the online activity most people are engaged in these days, it may be difficult to keep track of all the different passwords that they use to access various secure sites. This edition of Handy Password should be quite helpful, as the program allows for the storage of encrypted passwords locally on the users' home computer. The program is built into Internet Explorer as a toolbar, and is relatively easy to install. Handy Password 1.2 is compatible with all systems running Windows 98 and above. [KMG]

Magellan Metasearch beta-2

This beta version of Magellan Metasearch may definitely be worth taking a look at, as it would seem to offer several advantages over some of its commercial counterparts. With Magellan Metasearch visitors can monitor as many search engines as they want, along with garnering the ability to use a complex query language with full Boolean syntax and proximity operators. This edition of Magellan is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

Celebrations Mark Opening of the National Museum of the American Indian

Drums and Bells Open Indian Museum

NPR: Native Americans Gather for Opening of Museum [RealOnePlayer]

Ottawa architect won't attend Washington opening

National Museum of the American Indian [Macromedia Flash Reader, Windows Media]

Fast Facts: National Museum of the American Indian

National Congress of American Indians [pdf]

Until recently, there was not a single monument dedicated to Native Americans in and around the numerous commemorative buildings, museums, statues, and other pieces of the built environment that dot the landscape in and around Washington, D.C. That all changed this week, as a host of festivities marked the dedication of the National Museum of the American Indian, located at the southeast corner of the Mall just east of the National Air and Space Museum. This historic event, which began on September 21st, marked the end of a 17-year effort by government officials and tribal leaders to bring such an institution to the nation's capital. Despite the misgivings of some (including those Native Americans who oppose the use of gambling funds to help construct the Museum), spirits ran high at the opening day of the celebration. The day began with a three-hour procession from the Smithsonian Castle to the front of the new museum, and included 25,000 representatives from the hundreds of tribes throughout the Americas. Perhaps one of the most honest and emotional sentiments of the day was expressed by Pamela Best Minick of the Cherokee and Pottawattamie tribes of Illinois, who remarked "It's more than all the colors, it's about coming home the way it should have been a long time ago."

The first link will take visitors to a news article from Tuesday's New York Times that reports on the activities of the opening day of the new museum. The second link leads to a National Public Radio audio report on the museum, along with a photo gallery and an interview with the museum's director, W. Richard West. The third link leads to a new story from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Ottawa office that discusses the controversy over the absence of the museum's original architect (Ottawa architect Douglas Cardinal) at the opening celebrations. The fourth link leads to the homepage of the National Museum of the American Indian, which contains detailed information about the museum. Additionally, visitors can view a webcast of the opening ceremonies. For those persons looking for some brief highlights about the museum, the fifth link (offered by National Geographic) is a good place to start. Here visitors can learn about the building's architecture, its site location, its exhibits, and its hours of operation. The final link leads to the homepage of the National Congress of American Indians, which is the "oldest and largest tribal government organization in the United States". [KMG]

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The Scout Report (ISSN 1092-3861) is published weekly by Internet Scout

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