The Scout Report -- Volume 12, Number 27

July 7, 2006

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sponsored by University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries.

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

Research and Education

When Do Rural Roads Benefit The Poor and How? [pdf]

How can one measure the importance of a road? Certainly in the American context, roads have been tremendously important to the growth of this nation, stretching back to the first dirt paths created by Native Americans. Roads are conduits for the flow of goods, people, and ideas, and in the developing world, they have the potential to be intensely important. Despite the much-touted leveling of the global landscape, which has promised to make once remote areas accessible via technology and the like, the need for and the benefits of new roads in rural areas continue to live on the wish list. This recent publication, authored by Hemamala Hettige, takes on this various issue by looking at a number of case studies throughout Asia. The 101-page report was sponsored by the Asian Development Bank, and looks at examples of the effects of rural roads in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It is a very worthwhile work, and one that may be of great interest to persons working in the fields of international public policy and economic development.

National Teacher Recruitment Clearinghouse [pdf]

Founded in 1986, the Recruiting New Teachers organization is driven by their mission, which is to raise esteem for teaching, expand the pool of qualified teachers, and improve the nations teacher recruitment, development, and diversity policies and practices. It is certainly a tall order, and one that maintaining the National Teacher Recruitment Clearinghouse site helps fulfill. With a site that is both visually legible and user-friendly, visitors can learn about current issues facing teachers from the homepage, and also search for a teaching job using a simple search engine. Those who might be not currently in the profession should look over the Interested in Teaching? section. Here they can learn about taking the first step towards becoming a teacher, whether they are a college student or someone just looking for a career change. Additionally, the site contains a section titled Successful Teaching, which contains important classroom tips and information on how to manage the transition from a teacher preparation program to the classroom. [KMG]

MathDL: Digital Classroom Resources [Macromedia Flash Player]

With an increased focus on the importance of teaching mathematics throughout the education system in the United States, the discovery of this fine online collection of resources is most welcome. Developed by the Mathematical Association of America (with substantial support from the National Science Foundation), the site contains hundreds of classroom materials that have been extensively tested and reviewed by peers in the field. On the sites homepage visitors can look through some of their Featured Items, which range from interactive linear algebra exercises to open source components that can be added to course websites. Visitors who know what they are looking for should use the search engine to move through the materials by subject or category. Additionally, users can also submit their own mathematical teaching tools to the sites editor for consideration. [KMG]

Virtual Presentation Assistant

In these tumultuous times, it seems like more and more people want to win friends and influence people. Of course, there are enterprising souls who would attempt to sell you their insights into the art of oratory and such, but this website gives away such prized material at no cost to you, gentle browser. Virtual Presentation Assistant is an online tutorial dedicated to the art and skill of public speaking, and the site is maintained by the dedicated staff of the communication studies department at the University of Kansas. Simple in its design, the site covers such topics as selecting an appropriate theme for a speech, how to research said speech, and supporting your primary points. If all of this material doesnt whet ones appetite, the site also contains a selection of links to other sites that deal with the subject at hand. [KMG]

Peters Online Typing Course

In the early days of the personal computer, one Mavis Beacon lead the way in preparing young and old alike in the ways of typing quickly and without needless error. It turns out there was no Mavis Beacon, much to the dismay of many devoted fans. Fortunately, for those persons who are looking to the web for a helpful typing course, there is Peter Hudsons helpful site. As Hudson describes the site, its a place for beginning typists and frustrated hunt-and-peckers who want to move from four-finger typing to full-blown touch typing. The site begins with a number of preliminary overviews, including sections on typing ergonomics and general principles of typing. After considering these sections, visitors can move straight into the lessons, which deal with the concept of home row, the numbers row, and of course, the top row, which contains that magical combination of QWERT. Overall, a very useful site, and one that many beginning typists will want to visit several times. [KMG]

Guide to a Healthy Heart [Macromedia Flash Player]

Many parts of the human body remain fascinating to scientists and doctors alike, and the human heart certainly qualifies as a captivating organ. In this dynamic and visually arresting website, visitors can learn about the functioning of a healthy heart and read about the way in which it works. Moving through the site, visitors can click on red dots that lead to interactive features that address topics such as fetal circulation, the adult heart, and high blood pressure. Within each feature, visitors can zoom in and out on a series of realistic renderings, and also click on a nearby tab to look at video clips and other complementary multimedia features. The site is suitable for all ages, and may be also considered quite useful for a wide range of educational settings. [KMG]

Educate [pdf]

Many budding academics are seeking to get a first publication over the proverbial transom, and a number of journals actively recruit their work and findings. One such journal is Educate, which is published twice a year by the Institute of Education at the University of London. The journal was first published in 2001, and has recently been made available online here. Interested parties can browse by issue, author, or title. The range of material published within the journals pages includes pieces on the creation of educational policy creation in the United Kingdom to funding higher education in Rwanda. Finally, visitors can also read about how to submit their own work to the journal for consideration. [KMG]

Neogene Mammal Database

There are plenty of mammal databases that deal with existing taxonomies and such, but where can one go to find information about land mammal taxa from the Eurasian Miocene to Pleistocene periods? They need look no further than this fine website, which provides access to such material, courtesy of an international advisory board, headed by Mikael Fortelius of the University of Helsinki. First-time visitors may want to look over the data conventions section first. Here they can learn about the proper use of taxonomic fields, and also view such taxonomic examples from the database. Users may also want to look over the browsing section, as it serves as a good orientation to effectively using the database. For those engaged in scholarly endeavors related to the field, there is also a publications section that offers access to recent works that draw on this rather voluminous database. [KMG]

General Interest

Historic New England [Real Player, pdf]

Whether walking, biking, or driving around New England, one is never more than a lobster rolls throw away from some site of historic significance. One organization that has a strong commitment to the regions historic sites is Historic New England. Over the years they have continued to promote comprehensive plans designed to preserve the areas various heritage sites. And for those who happen to come across this site, they will be able to both learn about their work and delve into their online resources. These resources include online photo exhibits, listings of their historic properties (and how to visit them), and of course, access to their in-house publication, Historic New England Magazine. The online exhibitions are delightful, and include retrospectives on the work of New England photographer Verner Reed (complete with audio commentary) and an examination of furniture making in the town of Newbury. The site is rounded out by a Resources for Educators section, which includes electronic resources and curriculum materials that use these historic locales as a means to learn more about the social and cultural milieu that they were a part of. [KMG]

The Dividing Line [Macromedia Flash Player]

A number of daily newspapers across the United States have expanded their online offerings to include multimedia exhibits on local restaurants, divisive urban politics, and other topics of note. Recently Fort Worth produced this well-done online exhibit that takes on the subject of the border between Mexico and the United States. The paper is well-placed to take on this complex topic, and they offer a number of insights that complement more traditional narrative and analytical newspaper coverage. The site starts out with a dramatic vista photograph of one section of the border, and from there, visitors can continue on to an interactive map that lets them click on cities from Tijuana to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, they join Telegram staffers Jay Root and Tom Pennington as they ride along with border patrol officers, learn about human smugglers, and even view a photo essay on the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The site is a great find, and one that could be used in journalism or media studies courses. [KMG]

Harrisburgs Old 8th Ward [pdf, Macromedia Flash Player]

A great deal of ink has been spilled telling the stories of the urban renewal process in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. Of course, large-scale demolition and redevelopment projects were not without precedent, as proven by the experience of Harrisburgs 8th Ward in the second decade of the twentieth century. The area was definitely a bit of hardscrabble by the early 1910s, and it seemed to offend the more genteel sentiments of some of Harrisburgs important civic leaders and their kind. Much of the area was completely razed over the next few years, and by the early 1920s, the old neighborhood was largely gone. This story is told most effectively in this website, which was a creation of Professor Michael Barton at Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg along with some of his students, who worked together to locate primary research materials (such as photographs) that could be used to create a documentary history of the area. Visitors to the site can take a virtual walking tour of the old 8th Ward, peruse a resident directory from the period, and also view historic maps and a view of the area. For those who are interested in learning about how the site was created, there is also a document available here that discusses how it all came to fruition. [KMG]

Dow Jones Interactive Learning Center [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is considered to be an effective gauge of the U.S. economy, and overall investor sentiment. For those who keep close track of the Dow, it is something to be watched ever so closely. This website serves as a place to learn about the Dow in all its glory, ranging from pieces of trivia to a nice historical timeline. Its probably best to start with the historical timeline. Here users will learn about what happened to the twelve original companies listed on the Dow when it first debuted on May 26, 1896. After that, they are free to move through the rest of the timeline, learning about the technological innovations that the Dow embraced over time, and also about some of the darkest days it has encountered. The trivia section is a true treat, as visitors can learn how much they would have today if their parents had invested $1,000 on the date of their birth, and then also find out about some of the Dows top performers over the past century or so. [KMG]

Arago: People, Postage & The Post [Macromedia Flash Player]|eid=6|slide=1

While many loyal Scout Report readers may be familiar with that lovely word farrago, what exactly is an Arago? Simply put, Arago was Francois Arago, the noted French physicist and astronomer who lived from 1786 to 1853. His surname happens to also serve as the name for the online database of the National Postal Museum, which has recently created this exhibit that features the stamp collections of one Benjamin Miller, a lawyer in Milwaukee during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Visitors should start their journey through the exhibition by reading the short biographical essay on Miller offered here. From there, visitors are taken on a whirlwind tour of some of Millers more notable items, including the famed 1851 Franklin carrier stamps as well as the even more famed inverted Jenny stamps. [KMG]

Aerial Photographs of Colorado

Imagine flying high above the Rocky Mountains in late 1939, looking downwards towards the peaks below. Now picture yourself staring down at the city of Denver around the same time, peering onto the tops of residential buildings, factories, and feedlots. Until time travel is feasible, this probably isnt possible for most of us. Of course, for those with a penchant for the past, aerial photographs of Colorado for the period from 1938 to 1947 are available at this website, created and maintained by the University of Colorado Libraries Map Library. Originally created by the U.S. Forest Service, these maps cover eight counties in the state, including Boulder, Clear Creek, Eagle, and Larimer. Visitors can search or browse these photographs by using a geographic keyword search, and also read the metadata associated with each item. [KMG]

Oral History Research Center at UNLV [Real Player, pdf]

Oral history projects associated with certain places or locales tend to document their own areas quite well, and the Oral History Research Center at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas is definitely no exception. Established in September 2003, the Center is committed to conducting and collecting audiotaped interviews (with the occasional video segment) with persons who can give first-hand reflections and commentary on historical topics that relate the history of Southern Nevada and its environs. To that end, visitors should not be at all surprised to learn that some of their current work includes taping interviews with Las Vegas showgirls and documenting the experiences of tappers working in that same city. The recollections of tap dancers are a real treat, as visitors can learn about the work of Carolyn Freeman, Toby Uriosts, and Marjorie Pierce. As one might hope, this particular area of the site also includes a few video clips of the dancers in action. [KMG]

Network Tools

ZD Soft Screen Recorder 1.5

Its important to be able to record any number of computer activities, whether it be the use of a word processor, websites visited, and so on. With ZD Soft Screen Recorder, users can record screen activities to a video file that can be replayed at their convenience. Visitors might consider using this application to create teaching videos, animated tutorials, or screen demonstrations. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and XP. [KMG]

iTunes Remote Control

As of late, there are dozens of programs that allow users to customize the iTunes program in a number of compelling ways. Some of them are fairly straight-forward, such as this version of iTunes Remote Control. As its name implies, the application gives users the ability to control iTunes on a remote machine, along with basic playlist support. This version is compatible with computers running Max OS X 10.4 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

The ubiquitous smiley face design draws increased attention and lawyers

Smiley Face Is Serious to Company

Wal-Mart fights to keep the smiley face

The Straight Dope: Who invented the Smiley Face?

Worcester Historical Museum: Smiley Face

United States Patent and Trademark Office Home Page [pdf]

Sitting down at his desk at the State Mutual Life Assurance Company of America in 1963, Harvey Ball created a button that was designed to ease the feelings of employees who were part of a merger with a company based in Ohio. As he worked, he created what came to be known as the smiley face, which depicted a smile (and two small dots for eyes) that was rather large and perpetually, well, smiling. Over the years, many people have grown to love (and hate) this symbol, but as of late, its been nothing but trouble for two companies who are both claiming commercial rights to this design. The legal fracas pits the London-based company SmileyWorld versus a certain large retail outfit based in Bentonville, Arkansas that is known for its persistence in such matters. The legal issue was first raised in 1997 when Smiley World filed for a U.S. trademark for the exclusive right to commercial use and licensing of the term smiley in conjunction with the well-known face logo. This week, a spokesman for Wal-Mart remarked that SmileyWorld appeared to be attempting to trademark everything they possibly can. Countering SmileyWorlds claim, Wal-Mart is arguing that it has utilized this friendly symbol since at least 1996 in their stores and some of their print advertisements. In a rather pointed rebuttal to Wal-Marts efforts to maintain their hold on the US copyright to the smiley face, the head of SmileyWorld (Nicolas Loufrani), stated that if his company won their suit, they would not license use of the face to Wal-Mart. His final comment was We want to aim our brand more upmarket. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a piece on the lawsuit from Wednesdays New York Times. The second link leads to a similar piece that appeared in the online version of on the same day. The third link will whisk interested parties to the sage wisdom of Cecil Adams, author of the most-celebrated The Straight Dope column. In this gem of a column, he provides a thorough answer to the question: Who invented the smiley face? The fourth link leads to a page created by the Worcester Historical Museum that provides a biographical profile of Harvey Ball and his creation. The fifth link will take users to Here they can look at classic print advertisements from the 1940s to the present day, including those for early refrigerators and fountain pens of some repute. The sixth and final link leads to the very official homepage of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, where users can learn about applying for a trademark, or a patent. Also, users can learn more about the world of trademark and patent law. [KMG]

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