The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 15

April 18, 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

Open Science Directory

Readers may have heard of the "digital divide", but what about the scientific "digital divide"? The Open Science Directory is attempting to bridge this gap by providing access to a wide range of journals to researchers in both developing and developed countries. Working with the support of EBSCO Information Services and Hasselt University Library, the Open Science Directory provides access to approximately 13000 scientific journals. The Directory includes collections of open access journals and also draws on a variety of other resources, including BioMed Central and PubMed Central. By clicking on the "Open Science Directory" tab, visitors will be redirected to the site's sophisticated search engine. Visitors can browse the list of titles alphabetically, topically, or also create their own detailed search across a number of fields. [KMG]

BioPortal [pdf]

Canada is fast becoming a biotechnology hub, and the Canadian government has created this site as a clearinghouse of information both about biotechnology in general and about the various governmental strategies they have adopted in order to encourage development in this area. The materials on the site are divided into five sections: "BioGateway", "BioBasics", "BioStrategy", "BioRegulations", and "BioGov". Laypeople may wish to start their exploration of the site at the "BioBasics" section. Here they can learn about the various types of biotechnology and their applications in the environment, food production, and as a form of sustainable development. The "BioGateway" area is geared towards those persons who might want to know more about how the Canadian government is attempting to coordinate and encourage biotechnology across the nation. It's worth noting that visitors can also sign up for email updates on the site. [KMG]

GeoSearch News

The explosion of geospatial computer applications and their ilk has been exciting in recent years. The MetaCarta company recently created the GeoSearchNews site, and it's one that visitors may find themselves spending a bit of time with while online. The site pulls news stories from a wide range of sources, geocodes them appropriately, and then allows users to view the locations on an interactive map. Users can type in a location and zoom in on a range of recent news articles and stories. Using the search engine, visitors can also specify their date range and their general region of interest. Currently, visitors can look all over the globe, and the site also includes a FAQ section for general consultation. [KMG]

World Press Freedom Committee [pdf]

As concern about the safety of journalists around the world continues to grow, a number of international organizations remain dedicated to this particular issue. The World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC) is interested in this issue, along with monitoring press freedom issues at the United Nations and other related activities. The information on their site is divided into sections that include "Fundamentals", "Programs", "Publications", and "News". First-time visitors should stop by the "Fundamentals" area to learn more about the basic international documents related to various press freedoms around the world. Moving on, the "Programs" area contains detailed information on their "Fund Against Censorship" initiative and their work in the area of Internet press freedom. Most scholars and working journalists will want to spend a bit of time in their "Publications" area. Here they will find recent work on press freedoms in the world of new media and the 2007 report "It's a Crime: How Insult Laws Stifle Press Freedom". The site is rounded out by an RSS feed and a news media center with recent press releases. [KMG]

The Biology Corner

This particular virtual biology "corner" is maintained and updated by science educator Shannan Muskopf. On the site, visitors will find labs, worksheets, and various classroom activities. The "webquests" feature on the site is particularly interesting; this type of exercise requires students to peruse several websites that address a certain theme or topic. Some of the themes covered include bioethics, evolution, and genetics. Moving on, the site also contains a "Lesson Plans" area. Here visitors can look over such offerings as "Biodiversity of Ponds", "Estimating Population Size", and "Comparing Ecosystems". Additionally, the site also contains a section of online quizzes and links to other science education resource websites of note. [KMG]

Taking Back Our Fiscal Future [pdf]

The long-term fiscal outlook of the United States is the subject of this probing and insightful paper released by The Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation in April 2008. Authored by a group of scholars and experts who span the ideological spectrum, they all share "a deep concern about the nation's long-term fiscal outlook." They seem to agree on a number of things, including that "unsustainable deficits in the federal budget threaten the health and vigor of the American economy." In this work, they offer a number of proposals for change, including offering up the suggestion that Congress and the president "enact explicit long-term budgets for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security that are sustainable." The report will be a valuable find for many, including students of public policy, economists, and those in government. [KMG]

Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology [pdf]

Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (TIEE) is a "peer-reviewed web-based collection of ecological educational materials." The collection is under the direction of Professor Charlene D'Avanzo of Hampshire College and Professor Bruce W. Grant of Widener University. TIEE relies on high-quality submissions from college educators across the United States and Canada, and the materials offered here will not disappoint visitors to the site. First-time visitors can jump right in by clicking on the "All Volumes" area, which contains direct links to all of the current and past publications which have appeared so far. The materials here are divided into several sections, including "Research", "Issues to Teach Ecology", and "Experiments to Teach Ecology". These sections feature full-length articles like "Insect Predation Game: Evolving Prey Defenses and Predator Responses" and "The Ecology of Disturbance". The site is rounded out by a superb "Teaching" area. Here visitors can read essays on guiding class discussion and other related topics. [KMG]

General Interest

Canada Year Book Historical Collection [Macromedia Flash Player]

Learning about Canada's past just became a bit easier with the Canada Year Book Historical Collection website. The site provides access to one hundred years worth of the annual "Canada Year Book". These books cover the years 1867 to 1967, and visitors will get the opportunity to learn about social and economic history from across the provinces. Visitors can browse by year or topic, and looking over the topics, which include "Occupations" and Economic Gains" is a good way to start. Additionally, visitors can also browse tables, charts, and maps as they see fit. Educators will want to look through the "Tools and Reference" area, as it contains lesson plans and a set of links to related sites. [KMG]

Garibaldi and the Risorgimento

Known as the "Hero of the Two Worlds" due to his military exploits in South America and Europe, Giuseppe Garibaldi played a key role in the Risorgimento in Italy. This movement effectively united the various political states that existed within the Italian peninsula during the nineteenth century. This excellent digital archive, created by the Brown University Library's Center for Digital Initiative, offers a broad range of materials related to Garibaldi and his various deeds. Perhaps the key element of this fine collection is a dynamic visualization of the library's Garibaldi panorama, which was a form of public art that was rather prominent throughout the nineteenth century. The panorama is essentially a vast linear canvas that portrayed and interpreted events and subjects from history. Here visitors can learn about the digitization process, view an animation of the panorama, and view a fifty-minute documentary about the panorama. Visitors can also view a selection of depictions of military figures from the Risorgimento. Overall, this is a fascinating exhibition, and one that will warrant several visits. [KMG]

Great Chicago Stories [Macromedia Flash Player]

The hot dog is a powerful symbol of Chicago's past culinary triumphs, and it makes sense that it is one of the first things that visitors to this delightful site will encounter. This interactive site was created by the Chicago History Museum, with funding provided in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The site includes historical fiction stories that help illuminate Chicago's past through documents and ephemera culled from the Museum's vast storehouse of archival materials. The subjects covered within the archive include public housing, the migration of African Americans to the Second City, and the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Visitors can even listen to audio versions of the story, and educators will enjoy the classroom resources provided here as well. [KMG]

West Side Story: Birth of a Classic

Based on "Romeo and Juliet", the musical "West Side Story" reinvigorated Broadway by speaking (and singing) frankly about violence, adolescent gangs, and racial prejudice. The show's collaborators included Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins, and since its initial performance in 1957, it has become an iconic musical. While the in situ exhibit at the Library of Congress is no longer available for viewing, visitors can take in some of the artifacts related to the show's production on this site. The exhibit is a real treasure trove for musical lovers, and even those who've only heard "I Feel Pretty" once may be won over. The documents are divided into sections that include "Birth of A Musical" and "The Legacy of West Side Story". Along with interpretative introductions, visitors can look at rehearsal photographs from the original productions, posters, opening night telegrams, and choreographic notes. [KMG]

The Visual Dictionary

Have you ever wondered what the various parts of a guitar are called? Perhaps you need a refresher on the various types of dresses? The Visual Dictionary website covers both topics in copious detail, along with offering up information on transportation, biology, and the human body. Essentially, the site offers annotated images that identify each part of a given item, such as an automobile or a musical instrument. Visitors can search the site by using the embedded search engine or they can look over a list of topics. The coverage is quite broad, as users will find everything from the detailed anatomy of a turtle to an exploration of a car's engine. One can imagine that these materials might work well in a classroom setting, as well as for those who are just generally curious about the world around them. [KMG]

Powerhouse Museum: Online Resources [Macromedia Flash Player]

As one might imagine, the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is partially housed within the shell of an old power station. The Museum itself has been around since 1880 in one form or another, and for those who can't make it to Australia, this selection of online resources draws on some of their delightful holdings. Visitors can get things started by finding out their ecological footprint with the 15-question "Bigfoot" quiz. Moving down the page, visitors can look through their electronic swatchbook, which contains a number of stunning fashionable fabric designs ranging from the 1830s to the 1920s. The site also contains the Hedda Morrison photographic collection, which features photographs taken by Morrison during her many travels through China, Sarawak, and Australia. Overall, it's a site that will merit several visits and it's worth coming back to just to see what they'll add next. [KMG]

Aggie Horticulture [pdf]

The good folks at Texas A&M University's Extension Horticulture program have been maintaining this site since October 1994. Currently, over fifty teachers, scientists, and extension specialists work to keep this site buzzing with activity and high-quality resources for Texans and anyone else who wanders on by. Visitors can navigate the materials offered here by combing over the links on the left-hand side of the page. Here they will find lists of tips for gardening in different regions of Texas, along with the "PLANTanswers" section. This special feature includes an archive of gardening information assembled by Dr. Jerry Parsons. Visitors will be delighted to learn that they can also watch videos of Dr. Parsons and his colleagues answering questions. This area also includes a sampling of recipes and quotes for general consumption and use. [KMG]

Charting America: Maps from the Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection and Others

In 1997, the New York Public Library received a very impressive map collection from the estate of the late Lawrence H. Slaughter. Four years later, the remainder of his collection was also given to the Library's Map Division. It is certainly a tremendous offering, and these maps are offered as part of the New York Public Library's Digital Gallery site. Visitors to the site can look over 1000 maps of North America that date from the 16th century all the way up to the waning years of the 19th century. Users are free to select from sections that include maps of North America, New York City, Virginia, and diverse others. A few of the gems offered here include an early map of the plan for Washington, D.C. and a chart of the West Indies from 1702. [KMG]

Network Tools

MozBackup 1.4.7

This tiny application allows users to back up, save, and restore bookmarks from Firefox, Thunderbird, and SeaMonkey. Visitors can also use choose which parts of the profile they want to save or restore, including various emails and address books. This version of MozBackup is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

Google Earth 4.3

If visitors haven't already taken a look through Google Earth, the new version of this mapping application may pique their interest. The visual interface for the application displays a rendering of the globe, and return visitors will notice that the control panel is now translucent and rests in a corner of the map. The application also integrates with Google's 3-D rendering program, so users can place their new building in a real-life setting to see how it looks in context. This version is compatible with Mac OS X 10.4. [KMG]

In The News

French adventurer records another urban ascension in Hong Kong

French Spiderman Scales Four Seasons

Climber scales 45-storey hotel

Secrets of a Spider's Foot

Spiders In and Around the House

American Experience: The Center of the World: Philippe Petit [Quick Time]

1974-Philippe Petit Walks a Tightrope Between the Twin Towers

Throughout human history, there have been those who sought adventure, excitement, and even a dab of danger through engaging in a variety of thrill-seeking activities. Alain Robert, a Gallic soul who is known as "The Spiderman" is one such individual. This week, Robert successfully scaled the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong. It was no small feat, especially considering that the building is 45-stories high. Robert made it to the top of the building, where he was promptly detained by police who were waiting for him. 45-stories isn't anything new for Robert, who has successfully climbed over 80 buildings across the world, including the Eiffel Tower and the Sears Tower, which he says was his "most exciting climb". He ascends these structures with nothing more than sturdy climbing boots and a bit of chalk powder. Robert was bitten by the climbing bug as a child, and his first ascent was climbing up the top of parents' eighth-floor apartment. It is worth noting that the first thing Robert does after a successful climb is to call his wife and three children to let them know that he is okay. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a bit of reporting from ABC News' own Ben Barnier on Alain Robert's latest climb. The second link leads to a like-minded piece from the BBC, which includes a video clip of Robert in action. Moving on, the third link leads to a feature from the "Why Files" at the University of Wisconsin which explores how jumping spiders can climb slick and waxy leaves "without a care in the world". The fourth link leads to a guide to common non-human spiders written by Professor Susan C. Jones for The Ohio State University Extension department. Those persons with a penchant for high-wire tightrope walking will appreciate the fifth link immensely. Here they can listen and watch Philippe Petit talk about his famous high-wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. Finally, the last link leads to a bit of on the spot reporting on Petit's walk from New York's own WCBS Newsradio 880. [KMG]

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