The Scout Report -- Volume 11, Number 13

April 1, 2005

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 Reports for the Life Sciences and Physical Sciences

The seventh issues of the fourth volumes of the Life Sciences Report and Physical Sciences Report are available. The Topic in Depth section of the Life Sciences Report annotates sites on Community Gardens. The Physical Sciences Report's Topic in Depth section offers websites and comments about Galaxies.

Research and Education

Max Planck Institute for the Studies of Societies [pdf]

The Max Planck Institutes are some of the most well-respected academic research institutes in the world, and their Institute for the Study of Societies "builds a bridge between theory and policy by conducting basic research on the self-organization and governance of modern societies". Coordinating their research efforts with several other well-known institutes (such as the Center for European Studies at Harvard University), theprimary objective of the Institutes is to develop an empirically based theory of the governance of advanced industrial societies as they are immersed in the processes of economic globalization and internationalization. Full details of their work are available on the site, but academics and other interested parties will want to take a look at both their discussion papers and working papers, which are made available here as well. [KMG]

Canadian International Development Agency

As concerns grow about assisting countries in the developing world in a way that is both meaningful and sustainable, it should not surprise Scout Report readers that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is Canada's federal agency that is charged with coordinating Canada's efforts to reduce poverty and "to contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world." First-time visitors would do well to take a look at the FAQ section and read the description under the heading under "What is international development?" for some brief background material. After that, the "Features" area on the homepage provides a host of topical information on the subject, along with a rather nice interactive map titled "Developing World". Visitors can also learn about the CIDA's primary objectives in their Sustainable Development Strategy 2004-2006 document. [KMG]

A Profile of the American High School Sophomore in 2002 [pdf]

The National Center for Education Statistics generates important research documents and papers on a regular basis, and this latest report will be of great interest to educators, policy-makers, and the general public. In this 292-page report, released in March 2005, findings are presented from the base year of the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, which is a new longitudinal study of high school students. Throughout its pages, the report "provides descriptive information about the experiences and characteristics of a nationally representative sample of tenth-graders who were studied in the spring term of the 2001-2002 school year." As might be expected from such a thorough document, the report contains dozens of statistical summary tables which elucidate both the research findings and the general methodology of the investigation. [KMG]

If you had X-ray vision what would you see? [gif]

The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) created this online brochure to educate users about the history and science of X-rays. The website covers topics in radiography, novel materials, crystallography, CHESS and CESR, microscience, high pressure, and the future in X-ray techniques. Users can read through the materials step by step through the use of arrow links or can skip to a particular topic through the Contents link. With the help of illustrations, students can learn a great deal about X-ray technology including how the technology is used to examine atoms, the growth of semiconductor materials, and unusual phases of matter. This site is also reviewed in the April 1, 2005_NSDL Physical Sciences Report_. [RME]

National Institutes of Health: History of Medicine [pdf]

The collections held by the National Institutes of Health on the History of Medicine trace their roots back to the year 1818, when one Dr. Joseph Lovell (the first Surgeon General of the Army) took it upon himself to create a small collection of books, journals, and pamphlets to serve as an onsite reference collection for the Army surgeons under his direction. Currently under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Fee, the National Library of Medicine: History of Medicine website contains information about utilizing its vast array of documents, and more than a few online features of note. Visitors will find a number of finding aids here for their use, along with links to digital collections, such as "Islamic Manuscripts" and "Medicine in the Americas". Scholars and students alike will appreciate the inclusion of an online syllabus archive, where they may peruse various college-level syllabi by professor, title, institution, or specific subject, such as historiography, environment, and public health. [KMG]

Cervantes Project [pdf]

International scholarly collaborations frequently happen online these days, but this is a rather noteworthy collaboration that will be of great interest to persons with a penchant for the work of Miguel de Cervantes. The partners involved in this ambitious project include the department of Hispanic Studies at Texas A&M University, the Center for the study of Digital Libraries at Texas A&M, and the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha. The project has several primary components, including the Cervantes International Bibliography Online, the Cervantes Digital Library, and the Cervantes Digital Archive of Images. Access to all of these fine resources is available here, along with a scrolling news banner that gives visitors current information about Cervantes-related events. As might be expected, much of the information on the site is available in Spanish as well as English. [KMG]

Cities and Buildings Database

The University of Washington Libraries Digital Collection online projects and archives are well-regarded, and this database proves to be no exception to that highly positive trend. Started in 1995, the Cities and Buildings Database contains over 10,000 digitized images of buildings and cities culled from all historical periods and from all over the world. Visitors may wish to start with a simple keyword search or if they are interested in merely browsing by country, they may do so as well from the homepage. Of course, one should not be surprised to also learn that visitors may also perform detailed searches for buildings by city, style, title, architect, and date of construction. Just to give prospective visitors some sense of the depth and breadth of the collection, the database contains everything from conceptual sketches of Frank Gehry's Experience Music Project to photographs of the monastery of St. Keghard in Armenia. [KMG]

Vanderbilt University: Bioimages

This extensive website of southeastern U.S. plant images was developed by Dr. Steve Baskauf of the Department of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University. The site is part of a larger Bioimages website designed to "provide educational information to the public on biologically related topics, as well as a source of biological images for personal and non-commercial use." Site visitors can browse for excellent images of many trees and woody plants by common name, scientific name, or family. Notably, these species pages include close-ups of different tree and plant parts (e.g. flower, bark, leaf, fruit). The site also offers helpful comparison sections for oaks, hickories, maples, and hickory nuts. Other site offerings include a list of Common and Endemic Herbaceous Plants of Cedar Glades by Family, a list of non-seed plants (hyperlinked to images), and a section on Identifying Invasive Plants. This site is also reviewed in the April 1, 2005_NSDL Life Sciences Report_. [NL]

General Interest

The Jewish Virtual Library

The Jewish Virtual Library website is a project designed and maintained by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), which was established as a nonprofit organization in 1993. From the homepage, visitors are presented with a series of topical areas such as "History", "The Holocaust", "Politics", and "Travel", along eight other additional areas. The "Reference" area is quite helpful, as it contains a number of helpful fact sheets and a timeline for the history of Judaism. The "Israel & The States" section will also interest many visitors, as it contains detailed information about the nature of the relationship between each US state and the nation of Israel. The site is rounded out by a glossary of relevant terms, a selection of maps of the region, and a list of suggested readings. [KMG]

Dictionary of Wisconsin History

Ever wonder where the word Winnebago came from, before it meant a large, lumbering motor home? What about a curlew, a gorget, or a round forty? All these terms and more can be found in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History, being built at the Wisconsin Historical Society, a spin-off from the Society's Turning Points digital project (, a special collection aimed at making documentation on the most important events in Wisconsin History easily accessible to teachers, students, and lifelong learners. As Society staff worked on materials for Turning Points, they found many words and proper names that were not defined in standard dictionaries, that might confuse readers. These terms were saved in a database, with short explanations, eventually becoming the Dictionary of Wisconsin History, with over 1,000 terms, including over 120 Indian tribes, and more than 300 short entries for prominent people. The Dictionary is still growing, and users are invited to submit terms. And, by the way, Winnebago is an obsolete name for the Ho-Chunk Indians, a curlew is a shore bird, a gorget is a breast plate, and a round forty is a forty-acre lumber allotment, "whose boundaries were not strictly observed by logging companies (who took so many trees outside of it that the parcel resembled a circle rather than a square)." [DS]

The American Colony in Jerusalem

The American Colony in Jerusalem was founded in 1881 by two Midwesterners, Anna and Horatio Spafford, with the intent of beginning a Christian utopian society. Over the group's 60-year history, they were able to engage in a variety of philanthropic outreach efforts (such as running soup kitchens, hospitals, and orphanages) without proselytizing. Drawing on a number of pieces of historical ephemera donated by Mrs. Valentine Vester, the Library of Congress has created this online collection that documents the Colony's history and its work. Visitors can move through the different sections of the exhibit offered here, stopping to read brief descriptions of each featured item along the way. Overall, a very nice exhibit dedicated to one of the 20th centuries less well-known utopian communities. [KMG] [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf, Windows Media Player, QuickTime]

Since 1940, six American presidents have secretly recorded close to 5,000 hours of conversations, many of which have been of great interest to presidential historians, the press, and the general public. This remarkable site provides access to a wide range of those conversations, and is hosted and maintained by the Presidential Recordings Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs. From the site's homepage, visitors can browse a list of highlighted audio clips (complete with full transcripts) and also access educational resource materials for use in the classroom. The site also has some additional virtual exhibits on a number of topics, including Vietnam and the civil rights movement. Finally, the site also contains a search engine so that visitors can quickly locate the audio clip or conversation they are looking for. [KMG]

Charting the Nation: Maps of Scotland, 1550-1740

Humans are generally fascinated with maps, both as historical and cultural documents, and in a very pragmatic sense in terms of wayfinding and navigating unfamiliar places. For those users interested in a wide array of maps of Scotland during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, this website will be a welcome find. The project was developed within the University of Edinburgh's Department of Geography, and is currently managed by Edinburgh University Library. The site provides access to 3,500 maps taken from a host of atlases and other bound books, and is complemented by a narrative piece titled "Mapping Scotland: An Essay" by Charles W. J. Withers. Along with looking over some of these many maps, visitors will also want to take a look at the "Useful Links" section, which provides direct access to other relevant sites, including The Gazetteer for Scotland. At the time of this report, the link to the Web browser client required to view the map collection was not working; however, users could download a full-featured Java-based viewer compatible with either Windows Internet Explorer or the Mac OS. [KMG]

Lost treasures from Iraq

As home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, the nation of Iraq has some of the most important archaeological museums and institutes, many of which have suffered irreparable damage during the war in that country. In order to help with the recovery efforts, the University of Chicago's esteemed Oriental Institute has created this website which contains a number of very useful resources, including various bibliographies documenting the contents of museums and libraries in Iraq and a helpful database of objects contained within the Iraq Museum. Within that database, visitors can view objects by material, their provenance number, or by source. Additionally, the site contains a number of archaeological site photos provided by Professor McGuire Gibson and SPC William Peterson. [KMG]

Boston at the Movies: First Films of the City, 1901-1905 [Windows Media Player]

The Boston Public Library's online collections and exhibits have caught the attention of the Scout Report several times in the past few years, and this recent addition should be interesting to those persons with a love of urban history and early examples of short films. Four films are made available here, including a panoramic view of the Boston subway from an electric car from 1901 and the short subject feature "Seeing Boston", which takes viewers on a trolley car past such landmarks as the Boston Public Library and Copley Square. It is also worth noting that as these video files are quite large, visitors are advised to view them from a computer with a very speedy Internet connection. The site is rounded out by a nice two-page history of these films written by Stephen Kharfen. [KMG]

Network Tools

CCleaner 1.18.099

With all the web browsing and downloading that goes on during the average day in the life of a computer, this application may prove to be quite useful. CCleaner effectively works to remove unused and temporary files from the user's computer. By doing so, this allows Windows to run more efficiently and faster. CCleaner 1.18.099 is compatible with Windows 95 or newer. [KMG]

WheatBlog .05b

Given the increasing interest in developing personal weblogs and online journals, many users may find the WheatBlog device quite enticing. The application is designed to maintain any number of blog and news pages on personal sites, and will certainly assist users in keeping track of various developments on any variety of such related endeavors. WheatBlog .05b is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

Biannual retreat gives Bill Gates time to think

Microsoft's "Thoreau" takes to woods to ponder future
What's on Bill Gates' Mind
Bill Gates' Web Site [Windows Media Player]
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
TechWeb: The Business Technology Network

It has been common practice for many persons of importance in the world of business, politics, and other fields to take some time off for introspection and to plan new strategies for the future. Of course, when the world's wealthiest individual takes time off for such a session, there is enhanced interest among the general public and a great deal of speculation. Such an event occurred recently when Bill Gates spent a week at an undisclosed location in the Pacific Northwest for his biannual "Think Week". These events have been going on for over a decade, and have inspired such important ideas as Gates' 1995 paper titled "The Internet Tidal Wave", which led to the creation of Microsoft's very popular Web browser. Most recently Gates allowed a reporter from The Wall Street Journal to visit him at his retreat, and this journey revealed that Gates spends 18 hours a day (or more) reading papers on computing trends, language software, and advances in computer security measures. Gates's surroundings during these week-long sessions are somewhat Spartan, as he has a rather modest apartment with a view of the water, a refrigerator containing Diet Orange Cursh and Diet Coke, and several personal computers.

The first link will take visitors to a Seattle Times news story from this Wednesday that gives additional insight into the brainstorming sessions of Bill Gates. The second link will take visitors to another appraisal of what else Bill Gates is pondering, as provided by the InformationWeek weblog. The third link leads to Gates' official website where interested parties can read his latest speeches, view some of his short essays, and read a brief biographical essay. The fourth link takes visitors to the homepage of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which provides information on their charitable work, grant programs, and priority areas of support, such as education and health initiatives. The fifth link leads to the CNET Technology site which contains the latest technology news and links to other relevant news coverage. The final link leads to the like-minded TechWeb site, which also includes a white paper library of materials related to technology development and innovation. [KMG]

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