The Scout Report -- Volume 12, Number 31

August 4, 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

Gilmer Civil Wars Maps Collection

During a long career in the United States and Confederate States of American Armies, Jeremy Francis Gilmer served as an engineer. Responsible for constructing fortifications and conducting land surveys, he created dozens of maps and other such documents. Eventually, these materials found their way to the University of North Carolina Library, and most recently a number of these materials were digitized. All told, this collection currently contains 161 maps, plans, and land surveys, spanning the region from Alabama to Virginia. There are some real gems in this collection, including a map of the battlegrounds of Shiloh in 1862 and a map detailing the military defenses along a portion of the coast of Texas. [KMG]

The Physical Sciences Resources Center [pdf] (Last reviewed in the November 30, 1999 edition of the Scout Report)

Created as part of a collaborative effort by such organizations as the National Science Foundation and the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Physical Sciences Resource Center (PSRC) serves as a clearinghouse of information and resources for physical sciences education for grades K-20. Visitors to the site can browse the collection by topic, object type, or grade level, and may even organize the materials they need into a personalized electronic "filing cabinet". To utilize such features, visitors will need to complete a free registration, but they will also gain the ability to submit materials, personalize searches, and add comments. To get some basic sense of the materials here, visitors will want to look at the "Featured Items" on the site's homepage, which in recent times has featured the Open Source Physics collection and a workshop manual titled "Teaching About Energy". Finally, visitors can also engage in lively discussions about the world of physical science education here, courtesy of their online forums. [KMG]

Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa [pdf]

The Observatory of Cultural Practices in Africa (OCPA) is an independent pan-African organization designed "to enhance the development of national policies in the region and their integration in human development strategies." With substantial support from other organizations such as UNESCO and the Ford Foundation, the OCPA continues to develop this website as a place where both cultural policy experts and cultural organizations can come to find helpful resources. A good place to start is the "Activities" section of the site, as it brings together information about the OCPA's meetings, databases, and publications. While the databases are still in development, users can take a look at their archived electronic newsletters here, which are published fortnightly and extend back to 2002. The site's "Resources" section is probably one of the most helpful, as it includes cultural policy documents (including reports on the cultural policy of Botswana) along with a list of external links to the homepages of such African cultural institutions as the African Books Collective and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe. [KMG]

Global Policy Forum [pdf]

The United Nations has a number of policy initiatives occurring in all parts of the globe, and some might ask the question: Who evaluates the effectiveness of such programs? The United Nations does some of this work themselves, but the Global Policy Forum is also intimately concerned with monitoring their programs, along with "promoting accountability of global decisions." Visitors who know what types of material they are looking for will want to search through the headings which include such themes as globalization, international justice, and UN reform. Each one of these sections contains a brief essay on their work, along with a smattering of reports, tables, and charts that highlight their analyses, past and present. [KMG]

General Chemistry Online (Last reviewed in the Scout Report on February 18, 1998)

Chemistry, like many of the hard sciences, can be an uphill battle for students who are making their first foray into the world of ions, gases, redox reactions, and polymers. Fortunately, there is the General Chemistry Online site, created by Professor Fred Senese of Frostburg State University's chemistry department. The site contains companion notes and guides that will help students as they navigate the world of first semester chemistry, as well as a toolbox of interactive graphing devices and a glossary of over 1000 chemical terms, complete with audio pronunciations. For those who cannot find answers to their queries here, the site has the "Ask Antoine" section, where they can ask about anything chemistry they so desire. Visitors can also peruse a list of 400 questions that have already been answered since the site's inception. And last, but not least, the site also has an exam survival guide that will be of great comfort to students who find themselves anxious about such affairs. [KMG]

League for Innovation in the Community College [pdf]

In the Middle Ages, groups of craftsmen and artisans formed guilds for economic solidarity and protection. Other groups of concerned parties have followed in their footsteps over the past five hundred years, and community colleges are no exception to this trend. Founded in 1968, the League for Innovation in the Community College is an international consortium of community colleges with over 800 member institutions. While some of the material on their website requires a membership, there is a great deal of information that is provided at no charge that will be useful for persons working in community college settings. The "League Publications" area is a great place to start one's exploration of this site, as it contains white papers, "League Connections" (the group's online newsletter), and the Innovation Showcase. The Showcase takes a close look at how various institutions provide service and leadership throughout the communities they serve, and in the process, may also serve to inspire those at other institutions. The site is rounded out by their "Projects" area, which provides material on their diverse set of initiatives, which address such topics as the digital divide, tolerance, and homeland security. [KMG]

Virtual Anaesthesia Textbook

Ten years ago, Chris Thompson conceived of an idea for a high-quality, collaborative, online textbook dedicated to the field of anesthesia. Soon afterwards, the project was started, and with the assistance of numerous practitioners and researchers, this virtual textbook was created. While the site's use of frames can be a bit distracting, the organization of the material here is easy enough to understand and navigate. Along the left-hand side of the homepage, there are several primary sections, including "Professional Issues", "Basic Sciences", and "Patient Care". Within each section, users will find a mix of content created specifically for this site, along with links that will redirect them to other external sites. The "Patient Care" area is quite good, as it gets down to the nuts and bolts of such practical matters as positioning the patient, dealing with post-operative pain management, and intubations. [KMG]

Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.

In 1975, a group of concerned reporters and investigative journalists met to share personal stories about reporting and writing. After one of their number suggested that what most characterizes the investigative reporter is "a sense of outrage", they agreed to form the group that is now known as Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). On their homepage, visitors can read more about their mission, and job-seekers will definitely want to visit the "Networking/Jobs" section, as it contains recent job postings from around the country, complete with an RSS feed. Journalists and other such types will want to get their feet wet in the "Resource Center", with support from a number of charitable organizations, the Resource Center contains a database of over 20,000 stories and links to helpful news sources. [KMG]

General Interest

Stanford University School of Medicine: Center for Narcolepsy [Real Player, Windows Media Player, pdf]

Scientific studies of sleep patterns and behaviors have been around for decades, and the Stanford University Sleep Clinic was the first medical clinic established to examine sleep disorders. Since its founding, it has given rise to the Stanford Center for Narcolepsy. For visitors looking for information about their research and this illness, their website provides ample material. First-time visitors might do well to begin by reading the review essay, "A Hundred Years of Research", which provides some background on the ways in which researchers have explored the causes and etiology of this condition. Moving on, visitors can also learn about which medications are used to treat the condition, and also read about their innovative brain donation program. [KMG]

Ancient Writings Revealed!

Sometime in the 3rd century BCE, the noted scholar and scientist Archimedes composed a series of diagrams and passages of text on a manuscript that was subsequently written over in the Middle Ages by a monk. Long thought to be lost forever, the document was given new life in 1906 when a Danish professor identified this item. Eventually the document found its way to The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, and it now appears that scientists and researchers will be able to uncover Archimedes original writings. This delightful saga will unfold courtesy of this website, created by the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco. Working in tandem with researchers at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, they will use an intense X-Ray to reveal the original letters and diagrams. Visitors will be able to watch all of this happen in real time on a webcast (or take a look on the archived webcast after the event is over), and learn about the original document, and how researchers read such ancient texts. [KMG]

Ansel Adams's Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar

One might expect that the area around the Sierra Nevada Mountains might be an elegant and obvious choice for the noted photographer Ansel Adams to feature in his work, particularly given his fondness for documenting various aspects of the natural world. But, in the fall of 1943, Adams came to this area, not to document the surrounding landscape, but rather the lives of the Japanese-Americans who had been moved to the nearby Manzanar War Relocation Center. Presented by the American Memory Project, this site presents Adams' 242 original negatives from this endeavor, along with his 209 photographic prints. The collection includes a number of portraits, along with scenes of daily life, sports, and other leisure activities. Additionally, visitors can view a timeline of Adams' life, and the original book, "Born Free and Equal". Published in 1944, the work presents a selection of photographs from Adams' work, and introduces the reader " perhaps twenty individuals...loyal American citizens who are anxious to get back into the stream of life and contribute to our victory." [KMG] A Complete Guide to Digital Cameras and Photography

The short course concept was pioneered at Americas great public universities as a way to bring persons in the vocations (such as agriculture and such) back to campus to learn about new techniques in such fields as butter production and ice-cream manufacturing. These days, the short course concept has been extended to all types of pastimes and professions, including photography. This very thorough website, created by Dennis Curtin, offers a number of tutorials and informational essays on all aspects of digital photography, camera operation, and editing digital photos. In the site's seventeen sections, visitors can learn about how to choose a digital camera, how to display and share digital photos, and how to best use one's digital camera for a variety of purposes. Additionally, visitors can sign up to receive an occasional newsletter on digital photography. Certainly this site will be of interest to those with both a casual interest in digital photography, and perhaps those students who may need to utilize such equipment as part of their vocational training. [KMG]

National Institute of Standards and Technology Virtual Museum

While the idea of a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Virtual Museum may make some cast a drowsy eye, they would be quite pleased to learn that the Museum's website contains a host of engaging online exhibits that examine such topics as the standardization of women's clothing, the saccharimeter, and the letter sorting machine. The standardization of women's clothing exhibit is well-worth a look, as it uses text and historic images to look at how the NIST and the Mail Order Association of America began a study to create a sizing standard for women's ready-to-wear clothing. Another equally fascinating exhibit offered on the site looks at the role the NSIT played in creating a reliable system of frequency signals to aid the radio broadcasting industry. [KMG]

Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition [Macromedia Flash Player]

To celebrate its grand re-opening after a six-year closure for extensive remodeling, the National Portrait Gallery presents the first-ever Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. A jury selected 51 portraits from more than 4,000 entries submitted by artists from all over the United States to be included in the exhibition, all of which can be viewed at the Web site. The jury has already selected a grand prize winner - Sam and the Perfect World, a portrait of his son, by artist David Lenz from Shorewood, Wisconsin - but visitors can still vote for people's choice awards through August 31, 2006. Also at the site is "Portrait of an Artist", which includes biographical information, photographs, and journals from 10 artists who were finalists in the competition. This section is provided to allow visitors to "experience a variety of approaches to portraiture and artistic practice." For teachers there is a section with downloadable resources for classroom activities based on the portraits. In addition, the site has "FACE IT!" an online tool for kids of all ages, which allows visitors to create their own portrait. [DS]

Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-2007 Edition

The mere mention of the US Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook may remind some individuals of those infamous high school vocational surveys. Some may even remember that such surveys indicated that they would go on to careers in forestry, animal husbandry, or even as a particle physicist. Recently, the Department of Labor issued this tremendously useful Handbook in its online format, and for those looking for a new career, or those who are just starting out, it provides a wealth of helpful facts. Basic information for hundreds of jobs is made available in the Handbook, including such details as the training and education required for each position, along with expected earnings, future job prospects, and information on working conditions. Additionally, users can look at sections that provide suggestions on how to evaluate a job offer, and a section on the methodology used to prepare the Handbook. [KMG]

Digital Scores: Loeb Music Library

In 1956, the Loeb Music Library at Harvard University was established as the formal music library of the Harvard University Music Department. While the Library has embarked on a number of ambitious public outreach programs, this particular one will be a delight for musicologists as well as for those who just enjoy perusing unique musical scores. The layout of the site is pretty straightforward: as users scroll down the homepage, they can look over manuscripts from C.P.E. Bach, Mozart, and the vocal scores of such operatic triumphs as Verdi's Simon Boccanegra and La forza del destino. Using their page delivery service, visitors can zoom in and out among the pages of each musical manuscript to their heart's desire. Of course, the site also includes the Harvard Song Book of 1922,which features such chestnuts as "Fair Harvard" and "Ten Thousand Men of Harvard". [KMG]

Network Tools


As obvious as it might sound, it is important to be ever vigilant when browsing the web for any purpose. Keeping that in mind, visitors will appreciate the capabilities of CallingID 1.5.070. With its well-designed toolbar, this application automatically shows whether sites visited are real and safe, along with displaying the site owner's name and physical address. This application is compatible with all computers running Windows 98 and newer, and either Firefox or Internet Explorer. [KMG]

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition 3.2.1028

There are many malicious programs designed to infiltrate users' operating systems with the intent to do harm, and keeping them at bay can be a difficult task. Within the galaxy of programs that would keep such invaders away there are many options, and this application is certainly one of the more effective ones. In this version, users can engage in real-time blocking of various threats and also repair broken Internet connections along the way. As the program's website claims to be able to detect over 100,000 potential intruders, users will definitely want to take a look at this application. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Municipal wi-fi networks continue to grow across the United States

Boston Plans Nonprofit-Run Citywide Wi-Fi Network

Caltrain: WiFi Test works between Millbrae and Palo Alto

Rural WiFi Boost from Ofcom?

Howstuffworks: How WiFI Works

Wi-Fi Networking News

Municipal broadband and wireless projects map

As much of the developed world enters the so-called "knowledge economy", cities have become concerned with how their residents will be able to learn and thrive in this new economy. In an order to reduce the negative effects of what economists sometimes call "imperfect knowledge" (and what librarians might call the "digital divide"), a number of municipalities have embarked on ambitious projects to create wi-fi networks that provide inexpensive (or free) access to the Internet. In recent years, projects have been proposed in places such as Madison, Wisconsin, Philadelphia, New York, and Seattle. This week, the entire process acquired a new and interesting wrinkle, as the city of Boston announced they would be recommending that a nonprofit organization would be put in charge of building and running the system. This is a markedly different approach to that of other projects, as they have largely relied on a single private contractor. At a press conference this Monday, Boston mayor Thomas Menino commented "We believe the nonprofit route may be the best way to bring low-cost service to every neighborhood while providing a platform for innovation unlike in any in the nation." [KMG]

The first link leads to a story from the MIT Technology Review that reports on the recent announcement that Boston would be utilizing the services of a nonprofit organization to create their municipal wi-fi network. The second link will take users to a piece from Tuesday's San Jose Mercury News which notes that the wi-fi network on board the Caltrain line between Millbrae and Palo Alto seems to be functioning quite well. It also appears that that Caltrain is the first rail system to reliably provide broadband access. Moving on to the third link, visitors can learn about the efforts of the Ofcom company as they attempt to begin creating wi-fi networks in underserved regions of the United Kingdom. The fourth link will take users to the always-helpful site. Here users can learn exactly how wi-fi works, and what type of equipment is needed to create an effective system. The fifth link leads to the Wi-Fi Networking News site, which provides some fine reporting on the recent developments within the world of wi-fi networks (including the perils, pitfalls, and successes), courtesy of Glenn Fleishman. The final link this week leads to a map that provides information about government-sponsored wi-fi networks that are under development, or proposed, in various parts of the US. [KMG]

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

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