The Scout Report -- Volume 13, Number 45

November 23, 2007

A Publication of Internet Scout
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

College Algebra Online Tutorials

The introduction to this site remarks, "If you need help in college algebra, you have come to the right place." Their statement is accurate, as the staff members at the West Texas A&M University's Virtual Math Lab have done a fine job creating a series of online algebra tutorials for students and anyone else who might be returning to the world of algebra. First-time visitors should look at their online guide to the tutorials to learn how their tutorials are organized. After that, they should feel free to browse through any of the 59 tutorials offered here. Each tutorial contains information about learning objectives, full explanations, and numerous examples of how to correctly solve problems. [KMG]

eScholarship Editions

The California Digital Library has been working on bringing a wide array of primary and secondary materials online over the past few years, and this particular digital endeavor is one that will delight both academics and those who are just plain curious about everything from the influence of Elvis Presley on Mexican popular music to the ceremonial costumes of the Pueblo Indians. All told, the general public can access almost 2000 books from a variety of academic presses. Visitors to the site can perform a quick title search if they wish, or they can also look up available titles by author or subject. Additionally, there is a help feature for users who might encounter any difficulties during their time on the site. [KMG]

Interactives: The Periodic Table

It can be tricky to remember the position of lanthanides within the periodic table of elements, but this interactive feature from Annenberg Media's "Interactive" series will keep students in the know about those so-called "rare earth" elements. This particular feature begins with "Atomic Basics", which provides an overview of the atom and its various functions. After completing this section, visitors can test their knowledge with the "Name That Atom" game. The game is full of protons, neutrons, and electrons, but it should be no problem for students who've been paying attention to this lively exploration of the atom. Moving on through the site, visitors will learn about the periodic table's organization, isotopes, and the groups within the table, all the way from the alkali metals to the boron family. [KMG]

The Harris School of Public Policy: Working Papers Series [pdf]

A number of public policy schools across the world have a working papers series, and quite a few of them offer these documents online at no charge. The Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago has offered their working papers on this site for several years now, and visitors with a penchant for national and international policy issues will probably want to make several return visits to this site. Visitors can conduct a full document keyword search or also browse the series by author, date, or subject. Some recent papers of note include "Consumption and Income Poverty for those 65 and Over" and "Food Stamps, Unemployment Insurance, and the Safety Net". [KMG]

Engaging Privacy and Information Technology in a Digital Age

What does privacy mean in a digital age? Is there any effective and proven way for governments, businesses, and individuals to safeguard their stores of information? These are important and timely questions, and they are but a few of those addressed in this recent release from The National Academies Press. This volume was edited by James Waldo, Herbert S. Lin, and Lynnette I. Millett, and it contains findings gleaned through the work of the Committee on Privacy in the Information Age, which was convened by the National Research Council. All told, the document is 452 pages long, and the chapter titles include "Health and Medical Privacy", "The Legal Landscape in the United States", and "Libraries and Privacy". Along with three substantial appendices, the report also includes an executive summary and a podcast. [KMG]

AllPsych Online: The Virtual Psychology Classroom

For instructors or students looking for material on many aspects of psychology, the AllPsych Online site may prove to be indispensable. The site was started in 1999, and it contains eight primary sections which cover everything from classic psychology studies to an extensive reference area. First-time visitors may wish to start by looking through the "Reference" area, which features an expanded timeline of psychology through the ages, a dictionary, and biographies of prominent persons in the field. People interested in entering the field of psychology will want to click on over to the "Careers and Education in Psychology" section for the materials on various academic programs in clinical, counseling, and school psychology. For a bit of a diversion, the site also has a "Fun and Games" area where visitors can take a look at some optical illusions and crossword puzzles. [KMG]

The Educational Multimedia Visualization Center [Quick Time]

Teachers looking for ways to incorporate dynamic visuals into their earth science courses need look no further than this fine site. Created by staff members at the department of earth science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the site contains dozens of interactive animations and visualization tools that can be used in the classroom to demonstrate various processes. These resources are contained within the "Downloads" section, and visitors can peruse the table of contents for specific features. The table of contents includes global tectonics, regional plate tectonics, Ice Age earth, and four other chapters. Some of these animations include the deglaciation of North America, the South Atlantic spreading, and the Himalayan collision. [KMG]

BioEd Online: Food and Fitness [pdf, Real Player]

BioEd Online continues in their fine tradition on online teaching resources with the release of the Food and Fitness professional development workshop for teachers and other interested parties. Created with funding from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, the workshop provides "an opportunity to explore research that uncovers ways to reduce space-related health problems through diet, exercises or rehabilitation." The materials include seven classroom activities which are designed to help students examine techniques to make life-long healthy meal and activity choices. Additionally, users of the site can learn about the workshop's educational objectives, their peer review board, and also examine their disclaimers and disclosures. [KMG]

General Interest

BBC: Archaeology

It's a fairly difficult endeavor to reconstruct an Iron Age roundhouse, what with all of the archaeology training required and such. Persons with such interests who lack the necessary training need worry no longer, as the BBC has created a rather fine site that lets users take in many facets of archaeology, including the aforementioned roundhouse. From their homepage, visitors can delve into the latest archaeology news or go straight away to the "Excavations and Techniques" section. Within this section, visitors will find more detailed subsections, including "Techniques", "Recording Finds", "Types of Archaeology" and "Reconstructions". The "Types" section includes overviews of various fields of archaeology, complete with first-hand commentaries and photographs. The "Techniques" area includes a feature titled "The Story of Carbon Dating" and a piece on the relationship between archaeology and metal detecting. The site is rounded out by the "Reconstructions" area, where visitors can view that roundhouse and also look into the reconstruction of an Iron Age chariot. [KMG]

Small Business Administration: Free Online Courses [Macromedia Flash Player]

The failure rate of small businesses continues to remain quite high, so those individuals wishing to start such an enterprise may wish to consult some of these free online courses. Offered as a service by the Small Business Administration (SBA), these courses come from a variety of organizations, including Kutztown University and the South-West Texas Small Business Development Corporation. Most of the courses take approximately 30 minutes to complete, and they include such offerings as "Starting Your Small Business", "Developing a Successful Business Plan", and "Building Your Brand". Other courses cover such timely matters as government contracting, risk management, and e-commerce. The site also features links to relevant resources offered by the SBA and courses available in Spanish. [KMG]

Science NOW: The Latest News Headlines from the Scientific World [Last reviewed in the Scout Report on October 29, 1997]

Keeping tabs on important developments in the world of science can be rather exhausting, especially considering the number of websites dedicated to various fields of scientific endeavor. One very helpful way to do this is through the ScienceNOW site, which features daily news items from both ScienceNow and weekly news from Science magazine. First-time visitors should spend a few minutes just looking at some of the recent postings, which could include items on the use of genetically modified crops to land reclamation schemes in South Africa. Visitors can access all news items from the previous four weeks at no charge, and they may also wish to sign up to receive email alerts and RSS feeds. [KMG]

Henry M. Jackson

Henry M. Jackson served for over three decades in the U.S. Senate. First elected in 1941, Jackson was a strong supporter of the defense industries located in Washington and also found time to run for President in 1972 and 1976. Recently, the University of Washington Digital Collections program created the Henry M. Jackson digital collection for the use of scholars and anyone with an interest in political and state history. First-time visitors should read the essay about Jackson titled "A Legacy of Public Service" and then begin looking over the nice archive of photos. The photos are contained within fifteen different sections, such as "Atomic Energy and Hanford", "In Washington State", and "With the Kennedys". [KMG]

The Oscar Wilde Collection

Added after its initial publication, the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray allowed Oscar Wilde to directly address some of the initial criticism of his rather controversial novel. Perhaps one of the most well-known epigrams offered in that statement is "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all." Visitors to this site can read this preface (and the complete novel), along with many other works by Wilde. These works include "The Happy Prince and Other Stories", "A House of Pomegranates", and plays like "An Ideal Husband" and "The Importance of Being Earnest". Of course, visitors should not overlook his masterful poem, "The Ballad of Reading Gaol". [KMG]

The March King: John Philip Sousa [Real Player]

Arguably the most well-known marching band leader of all time, John Philip Sousa's music can be found in a number of likely places, such as 4th of July parades, and a number of less likely places, including the humorous introduction to Monty Python's flying circus. During his long life, Sousa composed hundreds of marches, fifteen operettas, and seventy other separate vocal works. This prodigious amount of work fits with Sousa's work ethic, which he summed up by saying, "When you hear of Sousa retiring, you will hear of Sousa dead." His work and legacy can be explored in this rather lovely online digital collection created from materials held by the Library of Congress. Visitors can browse over 100 photos, vocal scores, instrumental parts, librettos, and other printed materials on the site. The site also features 57 audio recordings, and visitors should listen in to such lesser-known works like the "Ye Boston Tea Party" march, performed by Sousa's own band. Finally, the site also includes a Sousa timeline, a discography of the Sousa Band, and several articles on Sousa's work and contributions to American culture. [KMG]

The Battle of the Somme

When the Battle of the Somme ended in November 1916, over one million people were dead as a result of the intense fighting that had dominated the long battle front along the River Somme. Through the use of diaries, letters, maps, and photographs, this compelling online exhibit from the Imperial War Museum examines that long and difficult World War I land battle. These items are all contained within three sections: "The Battle", "Personal Stories", and "The Somme Revisited". In "The Battle", visitors can learn about the various aspects of this military endeavor and read essays on the German and Commonwealth armies. Moving on, "Personal Stories" features the recollections of 21 different persons involved in this conflict, including the first-hand memories of Robert Graves, who would go on to author the moving memoir, "Goodbye to All That". Finally, "The Somme Revisited" offers up some insights into the modern interpretations of this epic battle and a few short film clips of cameramen who were present along the Western Front. [KMG]

Georges Seurat: The Drawings [Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader]

This Web exhibition from MoMA accompanies Georges Seurat: The Drawings, currently on view at the Museum, a major show including 4 sketchbooks, around a dozen oil sketches and paintings, and over 120 single sheet drawings. While only a few examples of all these artworks are included at the Web site, the value of the online format is proven with the sketchbooks - it is possible to page through the sketchbooks and look at 9 or 10 selections from each - far more than can be shown at the Museum, where the sketch books are displayed open to only one particular page, at least on any given day. It's also easier to display background information in context on the Web, as evidenced by the lengthy section on conservation, which explains how the handmade paper that Seurat used to draw on was made as well as how the paper affected the look of his drawings. [DS]

Network Tools

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 7.5.503

While some things come and go in the world of computers, viruses are pretty much guaranteed to be around forever. Anti-virus programs are a "must have" in today's online world, and this helpful free edition of the AVG Anti-Virus program is worth a look. The features of this latest release include real-time protection as files are opened and programs are run, along with free virus updates. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP, and Vista. [KMG]

TAMS Analyzer 3.50b14

Anyone who has tried to perform qualitative analyses of various texts, interviews, and other documents knows how difficult it can be. Researchers who do this type of work will be glad to learn about the Text Analysis Markup System (TAMS) Analyzer 3.50b14. With this program, users can assign ethnographic codes to text passages by selecting the relevant text and double clicking the name of the code of a list. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.4 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Call for prison reform draws attention from policy makers and members of the law enforcement community

U.S. Prison system a costly and harmful failure

California a leader in number of youths in prison for life,1,231437.story?coll=la-news-politics-supreme_court

Crack cocaine sentence cut is stalled by retroactivity

NPR: Should Sentencing Reform Be Retroactive? [Real Player]

Unlocking America [pdf]

Bureau of Justice Statistics [pdf]

Within the vast world of pressing policy problems, system-wide prison reform in the United States has been a subject that has vexed even the most dedicated experts and committed activists. Over the past four decades, the prison population has risen eight-fold, and people have laid the blame on everything from mandatory sentencing laws to economic restructuring in America's manufacturing regions. This week, the JFA Institute released a report which contains a number of thoughtful policy recommendations which have generated comments from criminologists, politicians, and judges. Some of these findings may prove to be controversial, as they include recommendations for shorter sentences, and alternative punishments. The long-term effects of the current sentencing guidelines may have a deleterious effect on certain communities, as the report notes: "The massive incarceration of young male from mostly poor-and working-class neighborhoods, and the taking of women from their families and jobs, has crippled their potential for forming healthy families and achieving economic gains." [KMG]

The first link will take users to an article from this Monday's Macon Daily which discusses the release of the report from the JFA Institute. The second link leads to a nice piece of reporting from the Los Angeles Times on California juveniles sentenced to life in prison. In terms of thinking about sentencing reform, the third link offers some interesting commentary from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine. The fourth link provides an additional perspective on changing sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenders via an interview with Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. The fifth link will take visitors to the complete text of the recent report published by the JFA Institute. The final link will take visitors to the Bureau of Justice Statistics site. Here, visitors can browse through hundreds of crime datasets and read press releases. [KMG]

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