The Scout Report -- Volume 13, Number 17

May 4, 2007

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

MIT Center for International Studies [pdf]

Over fifty years ago, MIT founded the Center for International Studies to conduct research to help the United States in its cold war struggle against the Soviet Union. It goes without saying that they have expanded their mission far in subsequent years, and they are now also interested in researching and teaching development studies, comparative politics, and other related areas. Visitors can learn about their work in the About area, which includes information on funding opportunities, their internal working groups, and a staff directory. Moving along, the Programs area contains links to their thematic areas of interest, which include international migration, human rights, and security studies. The Publications area is a real delight, and visitors should immediately click over to the Audits of the Conventional Wisdom area. Here, they will find a wide ranging series of essays that address particularly well-accepted ideas, and in doing so, hold them up to close scrutiny. No topic is spared from cutting and insightful criticisms, and some of the titles include Who Needs the U.N?, Sudan at the Crossroads, and The Bush Administration is Weak on Terror. [KMG]

The Third California: The Golden States New Frontier [pdf]

You may know about the Bay area, the sprawling greater Los Angeles area, but did know that theres a Third California? This timely and intriguing paper offered by the Brookings Institutions Metropolitan Policy group discusses this region, which encompasses almost all of the states fast-growing regions, including the suburbs around Sacramento to the urban aggregation that is Riverside-San Bernardino. In this 20-page report released in March 2007, authors Joel Kotkin and William H. Frey look at this growing region and the nature of its challenges over the coming years. Kotkin and Frey suggest that this Third California may wish to appeal to new groups of skilled labor and related industries, along with addressing the needs of its existing base of uneducated laborers. Its an intriguing report, and for persons with an interest in economic development, planning, or just the state of California, its well worth a read. [KMG] [pdf]

The acronym FDI stands for foreign direct investment, and it is certainly something that the sponsor of this website, namely the World Bank, knows a great deal about. This site was created to serve as a clearinghouse about different FDI initiatives and projects taking place across the globe, along with offering electronic newsletters and materials for potential investors. The site also offers a number of Spotlight profiles of topics that include privatization of public assets and infrastructure investments. One of the other highlights of the site is the access that it offers to the FDI Magazine, which contains articles on various aspects of foreign direct investment. Additionally, the site contains a link to the Doing Business Map, which offers interactive insights into how easy (or difficult) it is to do business in 175 countries. [KMG]

Frontline: Hot Politics

While scientists have been talking about global warming for several decades, attempting to get politicians of different political stripes to act on these pressing matters has been frustrating for many people. This provocative and thoughtful documentary from Frontline takes a look at the political decisions that have prevented the United States government from confronting one of the most serious problems facing humanity today. As with other Frontline sites, visitors can view the program in its entirety here, and then take advantage of the numerous extras offered on the site. A section of the site that should not be missed is that offered by the Center for Investigative Reporting, which features scientific reports that were suppressed by different government agencies and profiles of five prominent global warming skeptics, among other excellent items. Also, visitors can read special interview with various policy-makers and politicians, such as Senator Chuck Nagel, Newt Gingrich, and Christine Todd Whitman. [KMG]

Enrico Fermi and the Nuclear Chain Reaction [pdf]

On December 2nd 1942, physicist Enrico Fermi and his colleagues at the University of Chicago successfully obtained the first controlled self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in a former squash court beneath the athletic fields. Visitors to this fine digital collection created by The University of Chicago Library can learn about this event and Fermi through a selection of materials, including hand-written notes, papers, images, and so on. Visitors may wish to read the biographical essay of Fermi located in the About Enrico Fermi area, and then proceed to the Enrico Fermi Collection area, which includes digitized copies of his notebooks that address such topics as elementary topics, the famed Chicago cyclotron, and notes for a course on nuclear physics. The site also has a nice selection of images that include photographs of the converted squash court where the chain reaction took place and a sketch of the experiment itself. Finally, the site is rounded out by a copious list of additional online resources related to Fermi and his work. [KMG]

World Water Council [pdf, Macromedia Flash Player]

In 1997, the World Water Council had its first official forum in Marrakech, and since then they have continued their work on critical water issues at all levels. Some of these issues include efficient water conservation, water use management, and other relevant matters. With its compelling visual images and design, the homepage contains sections that provide information on upcoming World Water Forums and some very helpful overviews of their work. One such general overview may be found in the Water at a Glance area, which provides information on the nature of freshwater resources around the globe. Persons involved in water policy and international affairs may wish to look over their online library, which includes their annual reports, synopses of materials covered in the Water Forum meetings, and papers such as The Right to Water: From Concept To Implementation. It is also worth noting that many of the materials on the site are available in French and Spanish. [KMG]

Math Teaching and Learning Center

Located in Menomonie, Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Stout is part of the states vast university system. Under the direction of Dr. Jeanne Foley, the Math Teaching and Learning Center has created a number of helpful instructional activities for students and educators. First-time visitors to the site will want to start by looking over their recent report on combining technology with traditional approaches to improve student outcomes in algebra courses for some helpful insights. Next, they might want to look over some of their resources on their course web sites. The site is rounded out by a selection of articles and links that talk about the Centers recent successes. Visitors should not leave the site without listening to a rap created by student Marvin Ealy as the rap offers a lyrical tribute to the good work they do there at the Center. [KMG]

Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center

There is a great deal of interest in the world of educational development in the growing fields of the semiconductor business, and the Maricopa Advanced Technology Center (MATEC) has been involved in this area of research since 1994. The Center is a division of the Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona, and they are primarily interested in assisting students and faculty who wish to keep abreast of the evolving skills needed in this area, along with developments in the electronics and automated manufacturing industries. Most visitors will want to take a look at the Curriculum Development area, which features samples of their work, including illustrative animations, annual reports, and information about the skill standards that inform the basis of each educational activity created at the Center. Additionally, the Education & Career Opportunities section contains a virtual presentation titled Working in the Semiconductor Manufacturing Industry, which will be of use to those considering a career in this area. [KMG]

General Interest

Aboriginal Canada Portal [Macromedia Flash Player]

Learning about native peoples in Canada has never been so easy as with this compelling website created by the government of Canada, who worked in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations and other stakeholders to create this site. Visitors can search the entire sites contents through a handy search feature on the homepage, or they can click around within such thematic areas as education, claims and treaties, justice and policing, and employment. The site also offers information organized by other themes, such as Elders, Women, Youth, and Kids. Also, there is a very impressive and frequently updated searchable calendar of aboriginal events and news updates. The site is rounded out by a nice Virtual Tour of Aboriginal Canada, which allows visitors to learn about daily life within these different communities. [KMG]

Johns Hopkins University Digital Media Center [QuickTime, pdf]

Campuses across the country have been developing digital media centers from over a decade now, and the Digital Media Center at Johns Hopkins University has created this website to showcase some of their own work and to serve as an example for other institutions who might be interested in improving their own facilities in this area. Visitors can click on over to the Learning section to take a look at some helpful how-to guides that cover a number of popular media applications. The real highlight of the site is the Galleries area, which includes work created by students at the Center. Here, visitors can view Quick Time videos of animation projects, take a listen to some podcasts, and sample some films from their 24 Hour Video Shootout. [KMG]

Birth of TV [Windows Media Player]

Depending on ones viewpoint, the birth of TV could be the best thing in human history, or merely the beginning of the cultural apocalypse. Regardless, this fascinating website takes on this momentous series of events as its starting point, and it does so through numerous clips of early television programs, insightful commentaries, and even early television guides. The BIRTH Television Archive was created from materials offered by five major European television archives, including the BBC and Osterreichischer Rundfunk. The Library contains links to the previously mentioned articles, which deal with the early era of television plays, the production of early television, and taboos in early television. Of course, visitors can also view several hundred clips of early television programs, read about the projects creation, and look over a multilingual thesaurus. Given the wide variety of partners working on the archive, one will not be surprised to learn that many of the materials here are available in Dutch, German, and French. [KMG]

Mel Bays Creative Keyboard

If you started to play the guitar anytime after the late 1940s, you probably encountered the guitar instruction books of the late Mel Bay. Bay started his life in the tiny town of Bunker, Missouri and over the next eight decades he created a vast music instruction empire that included hundreds of publications. This particular website happens to lead to Mel Bays Creative Keyboard, which is a monthly online magazine that explores various aspects of piano music. Of course, the site is used to promote various Mel Bay products, but theres a great deal of free content here, including articles titled How to Compose a New Song and African Roots of Jazz. The articles are all authored by accomplished musicians, and visitors can also browse through the Creative Keyboard archive, which goes back to September 1999. [KMG]

Science and Engineering Encyclopedia

There are many online encyclopedias floating around the web, but relatively few that cover the world of engineering. This particular online encyclopedia will be of great use to students of engineering and science, and educators working in these broad areas may wish to pass it along to their students. Visitors can click around at their leisure through the alphabet of terms and concepts explained here, or they may also wish to start off in one of the topical areas, which include mechanical engineering, computing, chemistry, and physics. With several thousand entries, visitors can learn about acoustic mirrors, aerodynamic noise, auralization, and benzene rings. Overall, its a nice find, and users will want to bookmark the site for future reference if they find themselves puzzled by Eulers equation and other weighty matters. [KMG]

Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance [pdf]

Security is on the minds of many in higher education, and the Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance (CSSIA) is very interested in playing a major role in this area of training and scholarship. With funds from the National Science Foundation, CSSIA has been working on developing an associates degree program in information technology security, and on providing professional development opportunities and curricular materials. Visitors to the site can learn about their many partner institutions, check in on their calendar of upcoming conferences, and also learn about job opportunities in this field. Finally, visitors can also read evaluation reports created by CSSIAs in-house team of experts. [KMG]

Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form 1940s to 1970s

Beyond Geometry, an online exhibition from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), showcases work created between 1945 and 1979 by 21 artists and 2 artists' collectives. The time period during which these works of art were created saw profound societal changes, as well as changes in the art world. The exhibition seeks to examine these changes as portrayed in the art. Visitors can approach the website in a variety of ways, including viewing works grouped in thematic sections, such as The Object Redefined, or The Problem of Painting; or browsing by artists' names or works. There are also brief biographies of all the artists, as well as video for some of the works - such as Gibi, 1972, a unique artist's book by Raymundo Colares - the video lets you see the pages turn. [DS]

Network Tools

Shiira 2.0

While many browsers offer a seamless experience, Shiira has a touch of elegance in its overall visual appearance that merits a closer look. Designed specifically for use on Macs, the browser features tabs as small preview images, and another feature called Shelf, which gives users the ability to access bookmarks immediately. Shiira also has complete RSS support and a webpage holder feature. This version is compatible with all computers running Mac OS X 10.4 [KMG]

podLoadr 1.0

With all the content on the web, visitors may be interested in taking some of this material with them on their iPod as they go from place to place in their travels. podLoadr 1.0 is a great way to make this happen, as visitors can place documents on their devices, along with RSS feeds, radio shows, and so on. Visitors should note that while this version will work on all computers, they will need to have iTunes 7.0.1 or later installed. [KMG]

In The News

Upset by the actions of television networks, Japanese magicians fight back

Magicians sue Japan TV networks

Magicians sue TV stations for divulging coin-trick secrets

Magic Times

Coin Manipulation [Real Player]

Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, Including Trick Photography,M1

The American Experience: Houdini [Real Player, Quick Time]

On the whole, magicians are an understanding and thoughtful bunch, but if you reveal the secrets behind their very livelihood, if you might incur their collective wrath. It would appear that this is just what happened this past week when a group of 49 Japanese magicians sued two television networks in Japan for revealing the magic behind their popular coin tricks. The magicians are seeking the princely sum of approximately $16,000, and noted magician Shintaro Fujiyama remarked that the networks had deprived professional magicians of their assets. The networks in question have largely remained silent in this matter, and for the most part they have issued few formal press releases on this pending litigation. Fujiyama closed his remarks on this troubling affair by stating, They must understand how all the time we have spent is wasted by exposure of the trick. Other members of the magic community, including prominent illusionists, have not seen fit yet to comment on this ongoing situation. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a news piece from the BBC, which offers some additional explanation behind this recent furor between Japanese magicians and the television networks in question. Moving on, the second link leads to another piece of reporting on the matter from this Wednesdays Kyodo News. The third link will whisk users away to what can accurately be described as the most thorough clearinghouse of online information about the world of magic, namely the Magic Times website. Here visitors can read updates about recent developments, and theres even a special section dedicated to that bad boy of magic, David Blaine. The fourth link leads to the Coin Manipulation website, where users can learn about such classic tricks as the coin spin, the one finger spin, and even more complex tricks such as the index-ring toss and sequential tiddlywinks. The fifth link will take visitors to a 1901 tome on magic, authored by Albert A. Hopkins. Here visitors can page through such legendary stage illusions as the appearing lady and the magic palanquin. For the truly adventurous, theres a separate chapter on chronophotography. The last link leads to the American Experience site dedicated to Harry Houdini. Visitors will enjoy watching a clip of Houdini in action, and they can also look over a timeline of his life and many feats. [KMG]

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