The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 34

September 7, 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

University of Missouri Digital Library

The diligent staff members at the University of Missouri Digital Library have been working since 2001 to create this repository for various thematic digital collections, and they have amassed over twenty text collections and twenty-three image collections thus far. The site is a real delight, as it contains everything from a 250-piece collection of World War I sheet music to the complete digitized version of the University's student yearbook, titled "The Savitar". Visitors can browse through the other collections as they wish, looking over a collection of speeches by Daniel Webster, photographs of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and sports posters from the school. Additionally, there is also a link to another fine digital collection of historic newspapers from the state as well. [KMG]

Statistics Online Computational Resource [pdf]

Teaching statistics can be a stochastic nightmare, but all of those dark clouds will part as users make their way through the fine resources offered on this site. The Statistics Online Computational Resource (SOCR) is based at UCLA, and their site includes online aids for probability and statistics education, including such handy tools as interactive applets, computational and graphing tools, and classroom activities. Teachers and those with a bent towards the world of statistics can look through the "Interactive SOCR Tools" area for items to use in their classes. The "Games" area includes an interactive scatterplot, along with a few other extras. Visitors will also appreciate their in-house wiki, which includes their latest educational offerings, such as free online datasets and even a curriculum for an AP statistics course. [KMG]

MDRC [pdf]

Founded in 1974, the MDRC was started by the Ford Foundation and a set of federal agencies. As their website indicates, "MDRC was created to learn what works in social policy." While some may remember their well-known work on evaluating state welfare-to-work programs, MDRC now studies public school reforms, employment programs for ex-prisoners, people with disabilities, and other weighty matters. From their homepage, visitors can look in on their latest publications and featured publications, such as "Building a Culture of Evidence for Community College Student Access". Other research and policy materials are organized thematically on the site in sections such as "Higher Ed", "K-12 Ed", "Workers & Communities", and "Families & Children". Visitors who wish to stay on top of their latest releases can sign up for email updates and RSS feeds. [KMG]

National Capital Language Resource Center [pdf, Quick Time, Real Player, iTunes]

The U.S. Department of Education funds fifteen Language Resource Centers across the country, and the National Capital Language Resource Center (NCLRC) is one of these well-regarded centers. The Center is a joint project of Georgetown University, The George Washington University, and the Center for Applied Linguistics. Simply put, their site is an excellent resource for language teachers at all levels, and it is one that will merit several return visits. First-time visitors may wish to start by looking at some of their specialized sites, such as "The Essentials of Language Teaching", which is a "how-to" guide for university-level languages teachers. After that, they may want to look at "The Culture Club" area, which serves as a place where teachers and students can share multicultural and multilanguage resources. The site is rounded out by the "Teaching Materials" area, which includes links to foreign language materials and assessment tools. [KMG]


Independent reporting on the world of television and radio is important, and NewsLab works in this area extensively. Along with offering a variety of workshops for journalists and others, their mission includes providing many, many resources for working journalists, those who study journalism, and those who are concerned with the state of today's media. Visitors can look at the latest in related media stories within the "In the News" section, and then move on to the "Strategies" area. This section is particularly nice, and it includes tips on crafting stories offered by Ira Glass and leadership lessons for broadcast news managers. Moving on, visitors can also look over the "Articles" area, which contains pieces on ethics, producing, reporting, and writing. The site is rounded out by a search engine and a place where users can sign up to receive updates by email. [KMG]

Online Ethics Center at the National Academy of Engineering [pdf]

Engineering is a key part of the modern world, and many engineering students (and teachers) crave high-quality materials on engineering ethics. Fortunately for such individuals, the Online Ethics Center (OEC) is a great place to find such materials. The OEC became an activity of the National Academy of Engineering in March 2007, and since then their online offerings have grown significantly. The teaching and educational materials on the site are organized into sections that include "Safety and the Environment", "Employment and Legal Issues", "Professional Practice", and "Responsible Research". Visitors can also click on a glossary of terms, and even suggest a resource that might be helpful to other users. [KMG]

NASA: Rocket Activities [pdf]

There are many things in this world that are described as not being as difficult as rocket science. Then, of course, there is the actual science behind rockets. Understandably, this can be difficult for budding space scientists to grasp. Fortunately, NASA has created these fun and interactive activities which relate both to the science and math of rocketry. These particular activities are taken from the "Rocket Educators Guide", and they include activities related to altitude tracking, the world of pinwheels, balloon staging, and of course the construction of an actual paper rocket. Each activity comes complete with instructions, diagrams, and information on the necessary materials. Taken as a whole, these activities could be equally fun whether outside on a brisk fall day as in a classroom setting. [KMG]

Physics & The Detection of Medical X-Rays

If Wilhelm Conrad Rntgen, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist were alive today, he would most likely heartily approve of this very informative and well-designed site dealing with the detection of medical x-rays. This site was created by the Physics Education Research Group at Kansas State University and it serves as a good introduction to the science behind the discovery and subsequent use of x-rays in a variety of medical settings. The site starts with a brief discussion of Rntgen's initial discovery of x-rays, and then goes on to offer a brief history of radiology. After that, visitors can learn about different detection methods, including the use of fluorescence film. One feature of the site that is most useful is the inclusion of links to other relevant sites that cover such topics as the concept of an x-ray dose and reduction measures. Overall, the site will be very welcome for beginning students of radiology and medical technology. [KMG]

General Interest

Chinese Paper Gods

Anne C. Goodrich went to China as a missionary in 1931, and she soon found herself fascinated by the world of the paper gods she encountered in and around Beijing. Goodrich wanted to learn more about the world of these local folk religions and she began purchasing a great deal of these materials as they became available. Many years later she would publish a three-volume study on the subject. After she passed away in 2005, staff members at the Columbia University Libraries Digital Program began digitizing a variety of prints from her collection. The images on the site are divided into those items which were purchased to be burned immediately and serve as emissaries to heaven and those which were purchased to be displayed for a year while offering protection to the family in a variety of ways. There are several hundred of these images offered within the collection, and they are further subdivided into categories like "pantheons", "heaven", and "Earth". Visitors seeking additional background information on these artifacts should consult the online essays here as they address the iconography of these items as well as their conservation. [KMG] Nonfiction

The web makes finding reference works rather simple, and has been kind enough over the past few years to put more than a healthy offering of their publications online at no cost to voracious readers and the generally curious. On this corner of their site they have brought together over one hundred popular nonfiction works. Visitors can meander through "The World's Famous Orations", edited by someone who knew a bit about the topic, one William Jennings Bryan. Other volumes include the collected works of Francis Bacon, John Stuart Mill's "Autobiography", and Thomas Kempis' devotional work, "The Imitation of Christ". It's quite a nice collection of works, and one that could be recommended to others looking for basic editions of some rather important and valuable pieces of writing. [KMG]

Sacred [Real Player, iTunes, pdf]

The homepage of this very recent online collection of sacred texts from the British Library doesn't mince any words, declaring this clutch of materials to be "The world's greatest collection of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy books." The subtitle to this remarkable collection is "Discover what we share", and that is certainly an apt phrase to describe this moving online collection, which is intended to complement the in situ exhibit. First off, there are the texts themselves, which can be viewed in their entirety, and examined at leisure. There is a complete chronological list, a list organized by faith, and several editors' lists, such as "Kings and Queens" and "Pictures and Portraits". In keeping with the strong online traditions of like-minded exhibits at the British Library, visitors can take in some video highlights, including the Sufi dancer Zia Azazi and they may also watch a scribe demonstrating how old sacred texts were crafted. Additionally, there are several dozen podcasts that deal with the illumination of sacred texts and discussions on the relationship between medicine and various traditions of faith. Overall, the site is powerfully moving, inclusive, and worthy of repeat visits. [KMG]

Stories from the Heart of the Land [iTunes]

The Nature Conservancy has a broad mission that includes preserving the diversity of life on Earth through a range of thematic initiatives. One of these initiatives is public outreach through presentations and conferences, and a recent addition to their efforts is quite compelling and engaging. This addition is the "Stories from the Heart of the Land" series where visitors can listen to five programs. Each program is an hour, and they include profiles of David Attenborough, a trip through nature that is both local and global, and a visit to the home of noted author and naturalist Barry Lopez. Additionally, visitors can also sign up to receive RSS feeds from the site and learn more about the people behind the series. [KMG]

UC Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center [pdf]

The Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at the University of California at Berkeley works in a number of topical areas, and one of these areas happens to be research on sustainable transportation strategies and development. Visitors to the site's homepage can browse through some of the topics along the left-hand side of the site such as "Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles Project", "Low Carbon Fuel Standards Project", and the "Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels Project". The "Publications" area is quite useful, as it includes thoughtful policy analyses such as "A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for California" and a supplementary technical report. Visitors looking for additional works dealing with transportation sustainability can search the entire archive as well. [KMG]

Medline Plus: Herbal Medicine

From the world of Aloe Vera to yohimbe, this site leaves no herbal medicines unexplored. As part of the Medline Plus omnibus site which was created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, this particular section covers many aspects of the world of herbal medicine. First-time visitors will want to start by looking over the background essays on the use of botanical dietary supplements offered from the Office of Dietary Supplements. After that, they should browse through sections that include "Basics", "Learn More", "Research", and "Reference Shelf". They can also just scroll down through the homepage, which includes overviews on the use of different herbs and supplements. Those persons looking for the latest information about research findings on herbs and topical treatments can look within the "Latest News" listings, which are updated frequently. Researchers will appreciate the inclusion of a "Clinical Trials" area which provides the latest information about ongoing clinical trials that draw on various aspects of herbal medicine. [KMG]

2007 CEO Compensation Study

Charity Navigator provides high-quality information about charities in order "to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace." One of the more recently published studies is the 2007 CEO Compensation Study. Visitors can read this annotated report here in its entirety, and it contains a wealth of information about the subject. In the year 2007, their research shows that the top leaders of the 5242 largest charities in America earn an average salary of $145,270. While this amount may strike some as rather large, the report also notes that CEO compensation accounts for just 3.37% of the average organization's spending. The report contains a number of helpful charts, such as those that list average CEO salary by geographic region and by size of charity. [KMG]

Smithsonian American Art Museum: Interact [Macromedia Flash Player, iTunes]

At Interact, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) invites visitors to explore its collections through "rich media" where they "post slide shows, podcasts, and other resources that present our collection in new and engaging ways." A double row of thumbnails follows this invitation. While it is difficult to determine which type of rich media a picture might link to, it is easy to simply click through to find out. Destinations include: "Speaking of pictures", an interactive view of Thomas Le Clear's oil painting, Interior with Portraits, ca. 1865, with 5 rollovers analyzing this portrait within a portrait of a photographer's studio; a slideshow on the restoration of the SAAM building; and Campfire Stories, a flash-based Web site on George Catlin's interactions with American Indians, and the art these produced. A long list of recent interactives created at SAAM is also posted the web site. Probably the best way to enjoy of all this content is to sign up to receive the RSS feed of new additions. [DS]

Network Tools

FoxyTunes 2.9.6

Whilst surfing around the web with Firefox, it can be a bit annoying to switch back and forth between a music player and the website at hand. FoxyTunes 2.9.6 can help with that problem as it sits within the status bar, and is quite compact. Visitors can customize the interface mechanism as they choose, and it works with Winamp,, iTunes, and a number of other popular media players. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 or XP and Mozilla Firefox 1.5. [KMG]

Advanced RSS Mixer Personal 3.1.58

For those users who are finding their current RSS feed software a bit unruly, they may wish to check out this latest version of the Advanced RSS Mixer. The application can be used to combine different RSS feeds into one aggregate feed, and it also contains a built-in RSS keyword filter. The basic interface is quite easy to use, and for keeping track of RSS feeds, this application is most handy. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Faced with too many names, Venezuela makes a modest proposal

A Culture of Naming That Even a Law May Not Name

Inspirations: No more little sun kings

Baby names-are they 4real?

Popular baby names

Behind the Name

History and hidden meanings of Britain's brilliant place names from Ordnance Survey

Names are a common feature of the human experience and have been with us for millennia. People have been named after products, geographic features, and just about everything else imaginable. The practice of naming children has been the subject of thousands of books, hundreds of weblogs, and informal conversations between soon-to-be mothers and fathers. This week, electoral officials in Venezuela introduced a bill that would effectively allow parents to select their baby's name from a list of a mere 100 approved by the central government. The stated purpose of the bill is "to preserve the equilibrium and integral development of the child." Interestingly enough, another intent of the bill is to prevent names that "generate doubts" about the gender of the child. Certain groups would receive exemptions, including Indians and foreigners, but there are still many who find this proposed measure quite offensive. One new mother in Venezuela remarked, "It's a question of taste", after she told a reporter that her daughter's name was Mariangela, which effectively combined Maria and Angela. [KMG]

The first link leads to a fine news article by Simon Romero on this proposal which appeared in this Wednesday's New York Times. The second link will take visitors to another piece on the subject offered by The Sydney Morning Herald. Moving on, the third link leads to an important piece from the Irish Independent which explores the influence of pop culture on baby names. The fourth link leads to the Social Security Administration's very fun and engaging site on popular baby names, past and present. The fifth link will take users to the "Behind the Name" site, which takes visitors through the etymology of thousands of names. The last link explores the world of British place names, courtesy of the Ordnance Survey. Important facts are revealed through this exploration of toponymy, including the history of Welsh place names such as Caerdydd, Tresaith, and Maesbanadlog. [KMG]

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