The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 1

January 11, 2008

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

Exploring the Early Americas [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress contains over 3000 rare maps, documents, paintings, and other artifacts that span hundreds of years. Recently, the Library of Congress created this very engaging online exhibition in order to provide the general public with access to a selection of these documents. As the site notes, the collection "provides insight into indigenous cultures, the drama of the encounters between Native Americans and European explorers and settlers, and the pivotal changes caused by the meeting of the American and European worlds." The online materials are divided into three sections: "Pre-Contact America", "Explorations and Encounters", and "Aftermath of the Encounter". Some of the objects included throughout these sections include a Mayan jaguar sculpture and a hand-colored engraving detailing the route of Sir France Drake from the late 16th century. Finally, the "Interactives" area includes a complete version of the classic work "The Buccaneers of America" and the famed 1507 and 1516 world maps by Martin Waldseemller. [KMG]

The John Adams Library at the Boston Public Library [Macromedia Flash Player]

By all accounts, John Adams was a man who was obsessed with reading and the collecting of books. He pored over books for hours at a time and he also made thousands of handwritten notes on many of them. Upon his death, at the age of 86, he deeded his personal library to the town of Quincy, Massachusetts. In 1894, the entire collection made its way to the Boston Public Library, where it has resided ever since. This exemplary online collection allows users to pore over his books at their leisure, and for anyone who has found themselves entranced by the written word, this site will surely become a favorite. Visitors can start by looking over an interactive timeline of Adams' library and book collecting practices and then move on to the "Collection Highlights" area. Here, visitors can look over his "Top 40", which contains his most heavily annotated books and some of the many rare volumes he purchased. The site is rounded out by the "Did You Know?" area, which offers up a few intriguing facts and figures related to the collection. [KMG]

Published by Congressional Quarterly, Governing magazine is billed as "the resource for states and localities." It is certainly a nice resource, and public officials, administrators, and anyone with even a passing interest in the world of governance will want to bookmark this site. For the most recent news from the world of public affairs, visitors will want to browse on over to the "Today's News" section on the homepage. The sections offered here include "In the States", "The Local Scene", and "Politics". Visitors can also sign up for email updates, if they are so inclined. Along with selected articles and musings from the print edition, the "Online Specials" area brings together resources created especially for the site. One indispensable resource is the "Governing Sourcebook", which contains topical data for counties, cities and states which covers economic development, management, public safety, and so on. Finally, the "Daily Digit" feature provides insights into statistics that deal with everything from the decline in the death rate from heart disease in Minnesota to the population increase in Newark in recent years. [KMG]

The 2007 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning? [pdf]

Published by the Brown Center on American Education at the Brookings Institution, this report asks the question: "How well are American students learning?" Released in December 2007, this most recent edition of the report examines the latest test score data on math and reaching achievement. The report also offers analyses of enrollment patterns in private and public schools as well as an international comparison of national math scores. Tom Loveless, the director of the Brown Center, authored the report and it covers a great deal of ground and provides in-depth analysis of these topics. Visitors should also note that the Brookings site also contains a press release, a presentation by Loveless and video clips from the launch event for the report. [KMG]

Social Geography [pdf]

The open-access journal "Social Geography" is primarily concerned with "the interrelation of society, practice and space and its implications for every day-life, social and environmental policy or economic practice." The journal was started in 2005, and visitors with an interest in human geography or sociology will appreciate their offerings. Users can start by reading through the "General Information" section, then looking over their submission guidelines. After that, visitors will want to click on over to the "Online Library SG" area, where they can read final papers and also search all of the submitted papers by title and author. Additionally, visitors can sign up to receive email alerts and RSS feeds. [KMG]

Global Distribution of Poverty [pdf]

For policymakers and academics alike, having access to information about the global distribution of poverty is crucial. Based at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, The Poverty Mapping Project at The Center for International Earth Science Information Network is a very fine resource for anyone interested in this subject. Understandably, the site provides access to dozens of maps which document the geographic and biophysical conditions of where the poor live. In the "Maps" section, visitors can look over 300 poverty maps offered at a number of spatial scales. Visitors will also want to peruse their nice publication, "Where the Poor Are: An Atlas of Poverty", which includes information about how some of this data has been used in poverty interventions. Persons looking for data for their own research will want to consider downloading the subnational and national poverty data sets that are made available here. Overall, it's a well-designed site and one which can be used in a variety of settings. [KMG]

Minority Health Archive [pdf]

Created in collaboration with the Center for Minority Health and the University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh, the Minority Health Archive is an online archive of print and electronic media related to the health of African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. The archive contains over six hundred documents, including editorials, newspaper articles, research papers, fact sheets, course syllabi, and government publications. Visitors can browse the archive by subject or year, and there's also a "Latest Additions" section as well. While visitors don't need to register to access documents on the site, they will need to register if they wish to post materials to the archive. [KMG]

European Judicial Network [pdf]

As a part of the European Commission, the European Judicial Network is primarily concerned with providing information about community law, European law, and various aspects of civil and commercial law. The homepage is well-organized, and visitors can start by clicking on the topic page sections, which cover everything from bringing a case to court to alternative dispute resolutions. On the right-side of the homepage, visitors can click on the flags of member states to learn more about each nation's legal system. The site will certainly be of interest to those with a legal background, but the main stated objective of the site is "to make life easier for people facing litigation of whatever kind where there is a transnational element." Not surprisingly, all of this information is available in the twenty official languages of the European Union. [KMG]

General Interest

Arden: World of William Shakespeare

The immortal Bard knew his fair share of discontented winters, and it would be interesting to know what he would have thought about this rather fascinating online interactive game created by the Synthetic Worlds Initiative at Indiana University. Arden allows users to explore the world of Shakespeare's many plays in a highly interactive and user-friendly fashion. With funding from a variety of sources (including the MacArthur Foundation) Edward Castronova and his colleagues have created this virtual world which allows users to move around in 17th century clothing and even join guilds. For anyone interested in virtual worlds, Shakespeare, and any number of related matters, this website and accompanying game will be a very welcome find. Users should note that the game will run on computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

Vive la difference: The English and French stereotype in satirical prints, 1720-1815

It is easy to argue that despite the geographical proximity between England and France they are worlds apart. This was even truer during the 18th century, when there were both certain similarities and a significant amount of enmity. The Fitzwilliam Museum has opted to explore this fascinating period through the world of satirical prints from 1720-1815 that look into stereotypes that began to be represented visually at the time. Visitors can read the introductory essay offered on the homepage, and then move along to selections of prints from both nations that are both intriguing and delightful. Everything from French fashions to the treatment of prisoners of war is explored in these prints. Additionally, visitors can learn about the print-making techniques deployed in these renderings and learn more about the publishers of these works. [KMG]

Colorado State University Extension: Agriculture Resources [pdf]

The extension programs at public universities throughout the United States do a great service for budding gardeners, farmers, and others. The Colorado State University Extension's Agriculture Resources site is offered in that noble tradition, and visitors will find resources culled from the expertise of their research staff and extension agents. First-time visitors can start by looking through the "Topics" area, which covers everything from crops and soils to sustainable agriculture. Visitors can take a look at dozens of fact sheets, which include such titles as "Aphids in Alfalfa" and "Clothes Moths: Identification and Control in the Home". Moving on, the right side of the homepage includes links to other relevant resources, such as a grape growers guide and information about foot and mouth disease. [KMG]

Episodes in the History of Geometry through Models in Dynamic Geometry

Utilizing dynamic models to explain different aspects of geometry can be a powerful pedagogical tool. This is exactly what inspired Eduardo Veloso and Rita Bastos to write this classroom exercise for the Mathematical Association of America's "Convergence" site. In this exercise, mathematics educators will receive an introduction to several key aspects of the history of geometry through four examples. These examples include Albrecht Drer's double projection and Piero della Francesca's perspective image. After reading the background essays on these projections, users can download the dynamic versions of these constructions for their own use and edification. It is worth noting that several of the constructions are available in French. [KMG]

Math in Daily Life [Macromedia Flash Player]

Math in the "real world" happens all the time, and it can involve everything from buying a car to following a simple (or complex) recipe. The "Math in Daily Life" site offers up a series of interesting ways to get students thinking about how math works in everyday life. Created by Annenberg Media, this set of interactive exercises looks at the manifestation of mathematical principles in areas of life such as home decorating, finances, and of course, cooking. In each section, users will find hands-on exercises that complement well-written essays that help introduce visitors to seven different topical areas. Finally, the site includes a list of relevant websites, including links to The Math Forum, the U.S. Census Bureau, and The Metric Conversion Card. [KMG]

The Case of a Tropical Disease and Its Treatment: Science, Society, and Economics

The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science has served as the repository of many a fine case study, and this recent addition to their site takes on the world of tropical disease. Created by Cathy Santanello and Jennifer Rehg of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, this study is set in Costa Rica and its narrative introduction will help draw students into the exploration of this "mysterious ailment". After the introduction, the case study offers up a few background websites that deal with diseases in this region of Central America, and then moves on to ask some important initial questions. The other three parts of the study are similarly organized, and they include "Quest for a New Treatment" and "The Diagnostic Dilemma". [KMG]

Center for the Teaching of Statistics [pdf]

The Center for the Teaching of Statistics at UCLA is concerned with both providing a resource for colleagues at their university but also for the statistics community in general. Along with forming collaborative partnerships with area institutions, they have also created this site for statistics educators across the country. Visitors interested in these materials should start by clicking on the "Lab Manuals and Datasets" section. Here, they will find information on how to teach Advanced Placement level statistics and also learn about their interactive aids designed to help the teaching format in college-level probability and statistics courses. Additionally, visitors should browse on over to the "Papers" section, which includes helpful documents written by staff members and associates at the Center. [KMG]

Lucian Freud: The Painter's Etchings [Adobe Flash Player]

Diving into this web exhibition created by MoMA on the work of artist Lucian Freud without considering the title ("The Painter's Etchings") or reading the introductory texts can be a bit disorientating. One might ask, "Why are there so many oil paintings in a show of etchings?" The first sentence of the introduction makes it clear: "Lucian Freud is a painter who also makes etchings." The purpose of the exhibition is to present Freud's etchings alongside his paintings and drawings, in order to see the relationships between the works. For example, Freud's daughter, Bella, has been a frequent sitter for her father since the 1980s. In the show, there are 5 etchings and a painting of Bella, dating from 1981 to 1995. Each of these images of Bella can be selected and compared to the others. There is also audio for several of Freud's sitters, such as a short recording of art critic Martin Gayford, who posed for both a painting and an etching in the exhibition, comparing these experiences. [DS]

Network Tools

Free Download Manager 2.5

As files get larger, downloading them can be unwieldy and time-consuming. Free Download Manager can help users out in this area, as it effectively accelerates downloads by splitting files into sections and then downloading them simultaneously. The application can also help users download video segments from popular video-sharing sites. It comes with support for several dozen languages and can be used on computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

Endo 1.0.46

In this new year, it might be worth taking a look at a compelling news aggregator. This latest version of Endo is just such an application, and can be used with any site that includes a syndication feature, such as RSS. Visitors can use Endo to manage their subscriptions, create customized text summaries, and even flag articles for permanent storage. This version is compatible with computers running Max OS X 10.4 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Drawing inspiration from different sources, teams work to build an environmentally sound car

1 Gallon Gas, 100 Miles-$10 Million: The Race to Build the Supergreen car

100 Years after the Ford Model T, what does the future hold for our cars?

Automotive X Prize

Howstuffworks: "How Electric Cars Work" [Macromedia Flash Player]

Aptera [Macromedia Flash Player]

Classic Car Commercials

Walkable Communities [pdf]

Americans love their automobiles, and the quickly expanding ranks of the middle-class in India and China feel the same way about this particular form of transportation. Unfortunately, the majority of cars produced around the world are still powered by variations on the internal combustion engine, which has had some rather deleterious effects on the environment. In recent months, journalists and engineers have been paying more attention to groups of innovators around the country who are competing to build a 100-mile-per-gallon car. Some of these groups hope to enter their car in the running for the Automotive X Prize, which will award $10 million to the team that both builds this car and then wins a race against other green vehicles. All of the successful entries must produce less than 200 grams of greenhouse gases per mile, get at least 100 miles per gallon, and also be economically viable, which might be the hardest part of this challenge. "If we do this right, we're going to draw a line in the sand and say all the cars we drove before this date are relegated to the history museums", notes Peter Diamandis, Founder and Chairman of the X Prize Foundation. Interest from large traditional auto manufacturers in the contest has been minimal, but teams from downstate Illinois to central California continue to look forward to 2009, when the remainder of the qualifying races will be held. [KMG]

The first link offered here will take users to a nice piece from the December 2007 edition of Wired Magazine. Along with learning about the Automotive X Prize, they can find out more about the teams working on this project. The second link leads to an article from this Sunday's Daily Mail by Michael Hanlon that delves into the past, present, and future of automotive technology. Moving on, the third link will whisk visitors away to the homepage of the Automotive X Prize. Here, visitors can learn about the competition, read their weblog, and read a bit more about their other activities. The fourth link will take users to a video-enhanced site that will teach interested parties how electric cars work. The fifth link leads to the homepage of Aptera, which is one of the companies working on making a fuel-efficient vehicle. For those who might be longing for a bit of old-school automotive history, the sixth link provides a selection of commercials for such legendary vehicles as the 1957 Plymouth Sport Suburban and the 1965 VW Bug. And finally, for those who are interested in creating and living in pedestrian friendly places, the last link provides access to resources for doing just that. [KMG]

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