The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 43

October 31, 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

American Museum of Natural History: Science Bulletins [Macromedia Flash Player]

Going to the American Museum of Natural History is a pretty wonderful experience, but if you can't make it to the Upper West Side of New York on a regular basis, you can still keep in touch via their Science Bulletins. These online video features bring curious visitors the latest developments in the fields of astrophysics, human biology, biodiversity, and evolution. The Bulletins contain additional resource links, educator resources, and a guide designed specifically for science educators to help them incorporate the Bulletins into classroom work. All of the Bulletins are produced through the collaboration of in-house writers, producers, and designers. They are offered here in sections that include "Astro", "Earth", "Bio", and "Human", and visitors are welcome to browse through the full-features, visualizations, and snapshots. First-time visitors might want to start by viewing either the feature on invasive species or "The Last Wild Horse: The Return of Takhi to Mongolia". [KMG]

Ruth Charney on Modeling with Cubes [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) continues to build on their already solid online presence with the addition of this lecture by noted mathematician and scholar Professor Ruth Charney. This particular lecture was given at the MAA's Carriage House Conference Center in the fall of 2008 and it deals with how cubes can be used to represent a variety of systems. As Charney notes, "The geometry of these spaces is strange, complicated, and a lot of fun to study." Visitors to the site can watch several particularly lucid examples from Charney's talk, read her biography, and also read a detailed interview with her conducted by Michael Pearson. [KMG]

The Archaeology Channel Video Guide [Real Player, Windows Media Player]

Based in Oregon, The Archaeological Legacy Institute (ALI) was founded in 1999 in order to bring "the benefits of archaeology to a wider constituency." They have succeeded mightily in this quest, and their main website contains a wide range of educational resources, reports, and other relevant materials. One of their most fascinating resources is their collection of video programs. Visitors can use the "Video Guide", found on the homepage, to view over 50 ALI programs in their entirety. Most of the programs are under an hour in length, and they include profiles of ancient mound builders in Louisiana, the history of an abandoned farming community in North Carolina, and excavation work at the Foguang Temple in China. Overall, it's a remarkable site, and if visitors are inclined to do so, there's a place for them to make a donation on the site. [KMG]

Congressional Hearings: Law Library of Congress [pdf]

Recently, the Law Library of Congress and Google teamed up on a collaborative pilot project to digitize the Law Library's entire collection of 75,000 volumes of printed Congressional Hearings. For those who might not be familiar with these hearings, they typically contain testimony from members of Congress, interest groups, and policy experts. The intent of this initial digitization project is to produce text-readable versions of these hearings and to make them available as quickly as possible. Currently, the site contains three thematic collections that cover hearings on the U.S. Census, freedom of information, and immigration. Visitors can browse through them at their leisure and even offer their own comments on the quality of the image and any general comments as well. [KMG]

Canada Virtual Science Fair [pdf]

Real science fairs can be great fun, but there's nothing wrong with a virtual science fair, and in the case of the Canada Virtual Science Fair, there's so much that's right. Started in 1999, the Virtual Science Fair is an annual online science and technology contest open to all Canadian students in grades K-12. While non-Canadians aren't eligible to participate, everyone can benefit from the tremendous science education resources on the site. First off, visitors will want to learn about the past winning projects by clicking on the "All Projects" section on the site. Visitors to this section will learn about each project, their team, and so on. Along the right side of the homepage visitors can view the "Special Awards" area. Here they will find information about interesting projects that include "Harvesting Our Nature's Gas Station", "Ice: A Slippery Topic", and "River Pollutants Effect on River Bacteria". Additionally, visitors should be sure to check out their weblog and their online forum. [KMG]

Clara Barton National Historic Site [Macromedia Flash Player]

Clara Barton, noted humanitarian and educator, spent the last fifteen years of her life living in Glen Echo, Maryland. Her home was one of the first National Historic Sites dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman, and they have paid her further tribute by also creating this interactive guide to her former residence. Upon entering the site, visitors are greeted by a rendition of the song "America" from 1898 and an introductory screen that talks about the resources offered here. After this pleasant experience, visitors can click on through to the "Virtual Tour" or "Activities" section. The "Virtual Tour" is quite impressive and thorough, as visitors can make their way through all the rooms, staircases, and closets in her three-story domicile. Within each space, visitors can rotate their view and read about the objects and experiences associated with each location. Moving on, the "Activities" area contains nine different educational learning activities for different ages. While these activities are intended for younger students, they could potentially be used at a number of grade levels, and by those who are just plain curious about Ms. Barton's life and times. [KMG]

International IDEA: Voter Turnout [pdf]

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) has a well-organized and very interesting voter turnout website loaded with election data from around the world. The goal of this Stockholm-based organization is to "strengthen democratic institutions and processes." It works with other democracy builders, such as the UN, policy makers and donor governments. By compiling and analyzing voter turnout statistics since 1945, for national presidential and parliamentary elections, IDEA has discovered that "high voter turnout does not necessarily mean that a multi-party democracy is stable." Check out the link "Why a Voter Turnout Website?" on the homepage to read about the data they used to come to this conclusion. To view the election statistics of any country, click on the drop down box "Choose a Country" on the far right side of the page. Once you pick one, you'll get the country's voting data in a table, or you can click in the upper right hand corner above the table, where it says "Graph," to see it in graph form. On the right hand side of the page, in the same section where you can choose a country's statistics, you can also choose other categories of analysis for which IDEA has data, such as "Voter Turnout by Gender," "Voter Turnout by Age", "Vote Counting Methods", and "Voting by Mail." You can also find a link to their "Publications" in this same section, and you'll find that they have a multitude of publications in multiple languages and formats. Some of the books can be purchased and downloaded in their entirety, or shipped via the mail. Some of the pamphlets are even free of charge, and can be downloaded or shipped as well. [KMG]

Science in Focus [Macromedia Flash Player]

Sumanas Inc.'s website offers a wide range of material, such as animations of scientific processes, for a range of scientific disciplines, but here visitors will find their "Science in Focus" section of the website. Some of the topics that are brought to life with animating technology are antibiotic resistance, stem cell research, malaria, anthrax, gene therapy, and peptic ulcers. Click on "Go to Presentation" next to your topic of choice, and you'll be taken to a page that has the animation ready to play, but also has several links to outside sources of information. When you're ready to view the animation, click on the link "Click to view animation" and you'll be shown a simple player that will allow you to listen to the narration while viewing the animation, or read the text while viewing the animation. Visitors shouldn't miss the Malaria Parasite animation for an explanation of how humans, mosquitoes, and the Plasmodium parasite all have to be involved to successfully pass on malaria. [KMG]

General Interest

The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath

At present, the only way you can visit the Holburne Museum of Art in Bath is online, since they have closed for refurbishing till 2010. You can read about the plans for the improvements and check out floor plans and the development schedule from a link on the homepage. If you click on the "Collections" link on left hand side of the page, you will be able to check out the "History" of the museum's beginnings, the "Highlights" of the fine art and decorative art collections, or use the "Online Catalogue" called Muse, to search through the collection. The objects located in Muse are divided into two primary themes: "The History of the Holburne Collection" and "Art and Culture in Georgian Bath". The best way to learn about these themes is not to search using Muse, but while still in the "Online Catalogue" link, click on the left hand side of the page where it says Georgian Bath. You will see many categories and subcategories from which to learn about Georgian Bath culture, such as Art, Culture, Leisure, Work, and Building the City. The subcategories are clickable, such as "The Urban Environment", "The Poor", "Parades and Pleasure Gardens", and "Service and Labour" each will lead you to objects from the museum that are representative of the topic. Some include explanatory text with the objects, in order to give them a little more context. If you prefer to see glimpses of the museum exhibitions, past, present, and future, click on "Exhibitions" on the left hand side of the page, to be transported to your options of "Forthcoming", "Current", and "Past." The number of images from the exhibitions is limited in each of these, but a written description does accompany each exhibition. [KMG]

Uncommon Lives

The Uncommon Lives series on the National Archives of Australia website takes an approach to Australian history that not only encompasses the well-known history-makers, but also lesser known people's role in shaping Australian history. One of the stated goals of the Uncommon Lives series is to show how amateur historians and researchers alike can use the archives to find biographical resources. There are five stories the visitor can discover by simply clicking on the image of the person or people next to the brief description of their story including, "Muslim Journeys", "Charles and Ruth Lane Poole", "Jessie Street", "Wolf Klaphake", and "Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda". By clicking on any choice, visitors will find each story divided into subsections. At the top of the page there are also links to additional topics such as "Life", "Timeline", and "Records". Explanatory text accompanies the thumbnails of each image and these can be expanded into a high quality image by clicking on them. Each of these stories provides a unique and compelling look into Australian history. For instance in Wolf Klaphake's story you can listen to or read the transcript of segments of the ABC radio play "A Doubtful Character" which is about Klaphake's life and in Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda's story, you can view the actual court records of his case, which was the first for an Aboriginal Australian in the High Court. [KMG]

Crace Collection of Maps of London [Macromedia Flash Player]

In the eighteenth century, wise sage and journalist Samuel Johnson opined that when one was tired of London, they were in fact tired of life. Well, the same might be said for this exuberant and delightful website, and it is doubtful that visitors will be tired of its fine collection of London maps even after several visits. Organized as part of the British Library's Online Gallery collection, the Crace Collection of Maps of London was brought together in the early part of the nineteenth century by society designer Frederick Crace. All told, the collection consists of over 1200 printed and hand-drawn maps which chart the development of the city and its immediate vicinity from 1570 to 1860. Current map curator and head Peter Barber offers up some of his favorite items from the collection on the homepage, including the rather wordy "A guide for Cuntrey men in the famous Cittey of LONDON by the helpe of wich plot they shall be able to know how farr it is to any Street" from 1593. Visitors shouldn't stop there, as they should press on to search through the rest of the collection and Barber's introductory essays. [KMG]

goSmithsonian: Lincoln [Macromedia Flash Player]

Many groups and organizations are gearing up for the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth in 2009, and the Smithsonian Institution has created this nice site to keep interested parties abreast of all the events that they and their partner organizations are sponsoring. As the site notes, visitors can both relive scenes from Lincoln's second inaugural ball and also tour various city sites from the Lincoln era. On the homepage, visitors can look at the "Exhibits" and "Events" sections to get a jump start and on the right side of the homepage, visitors can also make their way through related Smithsonian magazine articles, a virtual jukebox of Lincoln-related ditties, and also view videos from the Smithsonian Channel and the National Portrait Gallery. Finally, visitors can also view museum floor plans here and sign up to create their own customized Lincoln-themed itinerary. [KMG]

Mediastorm [Macromedia Flash Player]

The principal aim of MediaStorm is "to usher in the next generation of multimedia storytelling by publishing social documentary projects incorporating photojournalism, interactivity, animation, audio and video for distribution across multiple media." Many people have taken notice of their fine work thus far, as they have garnered several Emmys and a couple of Webby Awards in recent years. On their site, visitors can view some of their recent work, either by clicking on any image or by clicking on "Menu" at the top of the page. From the menu, visitors should click on "Projects", which includes a drop-down menu of their work and provides a brief synopsis along with each image. The subject matter covered here is tremendous, as visitors can look in on portraits of modern Rwanda, the global trade in wildlife, and the aftermath of Chernobyl. Moving on, visitors can subscribe to their RSS feed, podcasts, and newsletter in the "Subscribe" section. Finally, visitors will also want to read up on their weblog about their latest and future projects, and maybe even wander on over to their online store. [KMG]

Dying Speeches & Bloody Murders: Crime Broadsides

"Dying speeches & Bloody Murders" might not sound like a site to visit right before bedtime, but this engaging and fascinating collection brings together an important set of crime broadsides that will engage the attention of historians, legal scholars, and anyone with an interest in the history of crime and punishment. This collection comes from the Harvard Law School Library, and the conservation and digitization of these broadsides was made possible by a generous grant from the Peck Stacpoole Foundation. These broadsides would have been sold in much the same way a program would be sold today at a major sporting event. Their price was usually quite low, and they usually featured a description of the crime in question and a variety of illustrations. Here visitors can view over 500 of these broadsides, and they can browse around at their leisure, or search by category or keyword. [KMG]

The Albert G. Spalding Collection of Early Baseball Photographs and Drawings

Sporting-good magnate Albert G. Spalding was quite the baseball aficionado, and during his life he managed to collect hundreds of photographs, prints, drawings, and printed illustrations related to baseball and other popular American pastimes. Of course, Spalding was quite the ball player, as he played for the National Association's Boston franchise and continued to make his mark with the Chicago White-Stockings. This collection was created by the New York Public Library's Digital Gallery initiative, and visitors can browse around via the "Collection Contents" link or they can also use the search engine to locate specific items of ephemera. Some of the highlights here include photographs of Spalding and his colleagues and rare images of "Town Ball" and "Old Cat" which were stick and ball games that existed as variations on the English game of "Rounders". [KMG]

S'abadeb-The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Art and Artists [Adobe Flash Player]

This exhibition from the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) explores the art and culture of the Salish First Peoples of Washington State and British Columbia. The word s'abadeb translates as "gifts" in English, and represents a wide range of beliefs and actions to the Coast Salish First People. The web exhibition is divided into sections on the gifts of the earth, ancestors, families, spirit world, and artists. The last is possibly the most interesting, presenting works of modern artists working within Coast Salish tradition, compared with historical works. For example, a 19th century wooden spindle whorl with a pattern of fish is paired with a glass whorl decorated with frogs, created in 1995. Other pairs include bracelets, canoe paddles, woven items, and photographs. [DS]

Network Tools

Path Finder 5.0

Finding certain files on a computer can be an onerous chore from time to time, and Path Finder 5.0 is a good solution for anyone who's been bedeviled by such a task. The application includes a dual pane browser, cut and paste support, and a website that includes an interactive tour through its other features. This version of Path Finder is compatible with systems running Mac OS X 10.5 and newer. Also, this is a 30-day free trial version, and a full paid license is required after that point. [KMG]


Have you ever had a video file that just wouldn't play? VideoInspector may be just the thing for such a situation. VideoInspector helps identify the coder-decoder required to play a specific file and it is available in over 12 languages. There's also online support for this application, and it is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Seventy years later, Orson Welles' "The War of the Worlds" remains electrifying

Scar "War" put Welles on map

Ball St. recreating 'War of the Worlds' broadcast,0,5630576.story

The Hyped Panic Over 'War of the Worlds'

Orson Welles' complicated feelings for Kenosha

A history of Grover's Mill

The Mercury Theatre on the Air [Real Player]

Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Orson Welles was quite the wunderkind by October 30th, 1938 when his broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" was heard by millions across the United States on the radio. He had spent the previous two years working on a number of radio and theatrical productions, including the labor-themed opera "The Cradle Will Rock" and an all African-American production of "Macbeth" which was very well received. A number of theatrical groups around the country are remembering the famous "War of the Worlds" broadcast this week by staging their own recreations of that fateful and stirring performance. Seventy years ago, phone lines were ringing as a number of terrified listeners called into their local police department to report the news of an alien invasion. The aliens had apparently touched down first in tiny Grover's Mill, New Jersey, and even though the beginning of the program had featured a bit of a disclaimer, some were convinced that the end was near. Of course, some were not convinced in the least, including Henry Brylawski, 95, who stated emphatically, "It didn't make an impression on me at all." Professor Scott O'Callaghan recently commented that the program "unleashed a wave of panic, but also seemed to crystallize the fears of the era, coming as it did with the United States poised to take up arms in World War II." Seven decades on, it remains an electrifying performance and you may wish to seek out a recreation near you this week, if you have the chance. [KMG]

The first link leads to a recent Seattle Times article which talks about the effect of the "War of the Worlds" broadcast on Welles' career. The second link leads to a piece from the Chicago Tribune which talks about one of the upcoming recreations of this famous broadcast at Ball State University. The third link will whisk users away to a thoughtful piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education by Professor Michael J. Socolow. In the article, Socolow talks about the initial panic the broadcast caused and he goes on to talk about the follow-up study that looked into the public response and reaction to the program. Moving on, the fourth link will lead visitors to a news article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which talks about Welles' feelings about his hometown of Kenosha. Suffice it to say, Welles was not terribly enamored of the city, but he did note that he was a "confirmed badger". The fifth link leads to a site that provides a bit of a background on the town of Grover's Mill, New Jersey. The last link will lead visitors to an online archive of fine Mercury Theatre productions, including (of course) the complete "War of the Worlds" broadcast. [KMG]

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