The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 13

April 3, 2009

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

Archives of Irish America [Real Player, pdf]

The New York University's Archives of Irish America provides research on the Irish migration experience, as well as on American Irish ethnicity. Some of the links that can be found on the Archive's homepage are "Ireland House Oral History Collection", "Mick Moloney Collection of Irish-American Music & Popular Culture", the current "Exhibits" of the Archives, and what type of "Collections" the Archives contains. Starting with the link to "Collections", visitors can get a taste of how the collections are categorized, such as "Personal Papers", "Organizational Records", and "Oral History". Visitors can also view brief descriptions of each collection in a category by clicking on "Description" across from the name of the collection. By linking to "Exhibits" from the homepage, visitors can watch vignettes about the New York Irish community, and view two quality online exhibits, "The Spin On Ireland: The Irish Music Record Cover Art Since 1950" and "1981 Hunger Strikes: America Reacts". Visitors shouldn't miss clicking the homepage link to the "Ireland House Oral History Collection" to listen to a few of the interviews, conducted by NYU students, with 21 Irish Americans from a range of backgrounds. There are also photos and ephemera that accompany a biography of each person interviewed. [KMG]

International Year of Astronomy [Real Player, iTunes, Flash Player]

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA) is a year long celebration of astronomical and scientific milestones. The U.S. website of the IYA offers a host of information about the learning opportunities, community events, and celebrations planned for the IYA in the U.S. Visitors interested in the IYA outside of the U.S. can click on the link "International Homepage" on the right side of the homepage. The cornerstone of the IYA is the 100 Hours of Astronomy project that is touted on the website as the largest science public outreach program. For numerous links to websites dedicated to the program, visitors should scroll down to the heading "100 Hours is Coming!" Visitors shouldn't miss checking out the "Get Involved" tab at the top of the page to find information about how to participate in the events of IYA. The ways to participate are divided up by who wants to get involved, such as an Astronomy Enthusiast, Amateur Astronomer, Teacher, Homeschooler, Parent or Grandparent, Professor, or Planetarium. Each category has a pdf of a printable flyer that has all the resources and tips on it to make the most of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. [KMG]

The Mapas Project
Mapas are pictorial manuscripts, and Mesoamerica is a region well-known for creating such important documents. Painter-Scribes painted the daily life of their community, such as "their migrations and original settlement in towns, the genealogies of their leading families, their conquests of neighboring groups, their religious observations, their economic accountings." For visitors interested in viewing a mapa, click on the "Select a Mapa" tab or the "Mapa Directory" tab at the top of the page. Once a mapa is chosen, high-quality scans/photos of the pages of the mapa can be navigated. Some of the mapas do have written language on them, and a translated view can be selected by clicking on "View All Text for this Mapa". Visitors shouldn't miss checking out the "Annotated Image of Folio (IMT)", where you can choose a category of feature to view on the mapa. Simply roll the mouse over a section of the mapa, and a square will appear over chosen feature. By clicking on the square a brief description of the image is provided along with a zoomed image of the item in question. To view another page of the mapa, visitors can roll the mouse over the line up of the pages at the top of the webpage to scroll through them as they see fit. [KMG]

Virtual Volcano [Flash Player]

The Discovery Channel's website has several interactive features on volcanoes to complement its programs on Pompeii. At the homepage, visitors can explore a virtual volcano, by clicking on "Enter". The virtual volcano has several components. The first is a quickly revolving globe with red triangles and gray lines on it that represent active volcanoes and plate boundaries. Clicking on "Stop Rotation", located next to the globe, will enable a better look. Visitors can also click one of the topics below the globe, to see illustrations of "Tectonic Plates", "Ring of Fire" (no, not the Johnny Cash song), and "Layers Within". Visitors can click on "Build your Own Volcano and Watch it Erupt" on the menu on the left side of the page, where they will be given a brief explanation of two factors that affect the shape and explosiveness of volcanoes: viscosity and gas. Then they must choose, and set, the conditions of their volcano by using the arrows under the viscosity and gas headings, and clicking on "Set Conditions", underneath the arrows. Once done, a description of the type of volcano created will be given, and it's time to "Start Eruption". While the lava flows, and the noise of an eruption sounds, terms describing various features of the volcano are superimposed on the virtual volcano, and can be clicked on for explanations. [KMG]

Lab Safety Training Guide [pdf]

Created by Princeton University's Environmental Health & Safety division, this extensive lab safety training guide provides basic information for working safely with laboratory chemicals and equipment. The "Introduction" to the site contains information specific to doing such work at Princeton, so visitors should direct their attention over to the left-hand side of the page. Here they will find sections that cover basic procedures regarding the use of flammable liquids, compressed gases, fume hoods, peroxides, and about a dozen other things that one might encounter in such a setting. Along with offering some lists of instructions, each area also has some helpful graphics that will help those just getting started in a lab identify key procedures and commonly-encountered pieces of equipment. [KMG]

Seashells: the Plainness and Beauty of Their Mathematical Descriptions [pdf]

How do plants and animals grow, one might ask? Jorge Picado of the Universidade de Coimbra recently looked into the question of how seashells grow, and has produced this lovely article which is offered as part of the Mathematical Association of America's (MAA) Digital Library collection. As Picado suggests in the abstract for this paper, "Many aspects of the growth of plants and animals may be described by remarkably simple mathematical laws." Utilizing the LiveGraphics3D Java applet, Picado elaborates on how seashells grow, along with offering some commentary on additional examples and a bibliography. The paper is also available here in Portuguese. [KMG]

Consortium on Chicago School Research [pdf]

Many big city school districts have been through difficult straits over the past several decades, and Chicago is no exception. After the passage of the Chicago School Reform Act, the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) was created in 1990 in order to study school reform efforts across the city. Part of their mission is "to expand communication among researchers, policy makers, and practitioners." Visitors to the site can click their way through sections that include "Press Room", "Research & Publications", and "Data". In the 'Press Room", visitors can learn more about their recent work and also see read up on the various media outlets which have profiled their work. The "Research & Publications" area contains information on their research in progress and links to their finished publications, which include, "The Work of Chicago Public Schools' Principals" and "Changing Schools: A Look at Student Mobility Trends in Chicago Public Schools Since 1995". Lastly, the "Data" area contains contact information for those researchers who might be seeking to utilize the large quantitative data sets collected by the CCSR. [KMG]

American President: Resources on the U.S. Presidents [iTunes, pdf]

The Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia is "a national meeting place to research, reflect and report on issues of national importance to the governance of the United States, with special attention to the central role and history of the presidency." With that in mind, staff members at the Center have created this excellent site containing in-depth information reviewed by prominent scholars on each president and their administration. For each president, visitors can read a brief overview ("At a Glance") and then look through essays that cover various aspects of their life and leadership strategy. Recently, they have also added a multimedia gallery that allows visitors to browse around various images culled from different sources, such as presidential libraries and different news organizations. Additionally, the right-hand of the site contains links to videocasts of various events held at the Center, such as the National Discussion and Debate Series. [KMG]

General Interest

Queen Anne's Revenge: Investigating, Interpreting & Preserving The Remains of Blackbeard's Flagship [pdf]

Back in 1996, Phil Masters and some of his archaeologically minded colleagues were conducting surveys for the remains of the pirate Blackbeard's famed ships, the Queen Anne's Revenge and Adventure. As it turns out, they found these ships, and after a period of intense secrecy, they announced their find to the world. Since that time, a team of researchers has been working to understand and interpret this underwater site, with the assistance of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. Information on their work can be found on the site in sections that include "Archaeology", "Artifacts", "Conservation", and "Education". Visitors should start off in the "Archaeology" section, and here they can read through field investigation reports dating back to the fall of 1997 and also view a map of the archaeological site. The "Artifacts" section is a real pip, as visitors can click on sections like "sustenance", "medicinal", and "personal possessions" to view recovered artifacts. Moving on, the "Conservation" area contains reports dating back to 2002 which chronicle their work in the conservation laboratory from each year. Finally, visitors shouldn't miss clicking on the "Friends of Queen Anne's Revenge" to learn about becoming a member of their "crew". [KMG]


Sifting and winnowing through the web for high quality news sources, particularly those in business matters, can be an exhausting endeavor. Fortunately, the Financial Times has come up with Newssift, which can help persons who are looking for such information. First-time visitors may wish to start by clicking on the "Watch how Newssift works!" tab to get an interactive preview of how the site can best be used. A good way to describe the site is as a "business knowledge navigator" that may be utilized to answer questions such as "Is a company likely to fail relative to its main competitors?" or "Is a particular product pulling a company down?" Also, Newssift provides access to thousands of global business news sources, including news wires, television and radio, and expert commentary. The site also allows users to save their specialized searches and click on an interactive list of "Topics in the news", organized thematically into subsections that cover organizations, persons, and business topics. [KMG]

Fabric Architecture [pdf]

Published by the Industrial Fabrics Association International, Fabric Architecture magazine is published bimonthly and is distributed to over 13000 architects working in the field. For those who've never thought about the possibilities and opportunities afforded by this area that straddles the lines between fabrics, design, and architecture, it's quite a find. On this page, users can look through materials that address topics like tents, lightweight structures, graphics, awnings, and truck covers. After perusing these areas, visitors should delve into the current issue. The archives here date back to 2006, and the topics covered within these pages include fabrics in the workplace, flexible design materials, and creating a "green" car park with various fabrics. For those who are interested, there's also information about how to subscribe to the print edition of the magazine. [KMG]

American Experience: The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer [Flash Player]

J. Robert Oppenheimer was a brilliant scientist, and while the United States was quick to acknowledge his work in creating the atomic bomb, it was also quick to cast him aside as the Cold War escalated in the 1950s. The American Experience series has done a great service by crafting this nuanced and thoughtful documentary on Oppenheimer, and visitors can use this site to watch the program in its entirety and also take a look at some resources for teachers and learn about the current proliferation of nuclear weapons. Noted Academy Award-nominated actor David Strathairn portrays Oppenheimer in the film, and his performance is complemented by interviews with Oppenheimer's former colleagues and scholars. [KMG]

National Maritime Museum: Van de Velde Drawings

The National Maritime Museum of London has the largest collection of 17th and 18th century drawings (over 1500 in total) by Willem van de Veldes, father and son artists. They worked for King Charles II, as marine painters, and the online collection of their works is a real treat. While very detailed, the drawings are not cold; rather they are very lovely and appear very delicately drawn. The maritime subjects they drew ranged from "Dutch and English ships and yachts, ship decoration, views of fleets, battles, landscapes, royal events and figure studies." For visitors interested in browsing the collection, click on "Browse the Entire Collection" in the Search This Collection section. Enlarge the drawings by clicking on the thumbnail, then clicking on the magnifying glass. The thumbnails don't do the drawings justice, as they appear very light because of the pencil and wash used. [KMG]

American RadioWorks: What Killed Sergeant Gray [iTunes]

The American RadioWorks website offers the opportunity to "Listen" online, "Download", or "Read" the transcript of a puzzling and heartrending story about a young American soldier, Sergeant Gray, who served in the Iraq war for a year, but died a strange death once he got back from Iraq. The story details his mother's search for the cause of death of her son, and learns that Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which he developed from abusing Iraqi prisoners, was the likely culprit that caused his death. On the right side of the homepage are photos and stories of other U.S. soldiers who were involved in the treatment of Iraqi detainees, and their stories can be read by clicking on their highlighted and underlined name. A five minute video shot by a U.S. soldier while in Iraq can be accessed by clicking on the arrow button on the thumbnail. For visitors interested in learning the reporter's process of telling the story of Sergeant Gray, click on "Reporter's Notebook", on the lower right side of the homepage. To learn more about how Post-traumatic Stress Disorder has affected soldiers, visitors should click on the link "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder", also on the lower right side of the homepage. [KMG]

Halifax Harbour [pdf]
This Natural Resources Canada website which focuses on Halifax Harbour, is a wonderfully extensive website that answers any inquiry someone could possibly have about this most unique area. Several of the queries the website tackles are "The Origin of the Halifax Harbour", "Shaping the Harbour through Modern Geological Processes", "Human Effects on the Harbour", and "Busting Harbour Myths". Simply click on "More" below each brief summary to learn more about the topic, or click on one of the above topic titles, located on the menu on the left side of the page. Visitors interested in shipwrecks will want to click on "Description of Shipwrecks", on the left menu, to read about and see pictures of the ten larger of the 45 total shipwrecks that have occurred in Halifax Harbour. The "Pictures and Maps" link has 94 images, including many photos, diagrams, multi-beam bathymetric images, and sidescan-sonar images. Finally, for those who can't get to Halifax Harbour, but really want to see what it's like, day and night, the link to the "Halifax Webcams" can provide visitors with some beautiful views, especially after the sun has gone down. [KMG]

MoMA: Paper: Pressed, Stained, Slashed, Folded [Macromedia Flash Player]

Visitors can view 31 works created by about two dozen artists, both on or built from paper and paper pulp, at this exhibition website from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The art in the show dates from the 1960s to the early 2000s, with many of the artists featured coming to prominence in the '60s. Much of the work challenges strict definitions of art, such as the selection from Ed Ruscha's portfolio of stains. These are sheets of paper stained with everyday substances, including nail polish, wine, and castor oil. Ruscha says he did not want the work to look like art, so he hired assistants to apply the substances to the paper with eyedroppers. Also employing unusual materials are Dieter Roth's pieces; sausage and cheese pressed into paper with a printing press. A piece by John Cage, titled "Wild edible Drawing #8" includes milkweed, cattail, saffron, and hijiki seaweed. [DS]

Network Tools

Privacy Mantra 2.06

Privacy is an important watchword when dealing with computers, and Privacy Mantra is a nice way to get a bit of piece of mind in this thorny area. This application will wipe away websurfing traces from Internet Explorer and Firefox, and it can also remove usage history from the Microsoft Office suite. The application also works to free disk space by deleting annoying junk files. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer. [KMG]

Postbox 1.0b10

Postbox goes above and beyond in terms of helping users catalog their email. After setting up the application, users can click on the "Images" tab to see a thumbnail gallery of every picture contained within their various messages. The "Compose" sidebar is another fine feature, and it gives users the availability to find attachments, images, and links directly within a new message window. This version of Postbox is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.4 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

France makes claims on waters surrounding the tiny territory of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon

France and Canada's Battle of the Sea,8599,1888462,00.html

France's last colony in North America chafes under Canadian resource law

A new brouhaha with France

Welcome to France: home of sun, sea, sand , polygamy and the Indian Ocean

BBC News: World Profiles: St. Pierre and Miquelon

Saint-Pierre and Miquelon

Located south of Newfoundland, the French territory of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon represents the last foothold that France maintains in North America. France has not had a significant set of land holdings on the continent since their defeat at the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763. During the twentieth century, life on these wind-swept islands was relatively quiet, with the notable exception of the period during American Prohibition, when the islands were used as a base for alcohol smuggling. Greater attention has been paid as of late to these tiny islands as the French government recently announced plans to petition the United Nations for extended natural resource rights to the waters off the coast of eastern Canada. The French government is interested in the large oil and gas deposits in the area, and the Canadian government is less than pleased with this recent decision. It would seem that the matter was closed in 1992 when the UN made a ruling in Canada's favor in terms of these offshore rights, but the discovery of huge oil and gas deposits has dramatically transformed the situation. Canada also has a number of other territorial disputes that have emerged in recent years, including those regarding the Arctic territories which are claimed in part by Denmark, Norway, the US, and Russia. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a very nice piece from the March 30th edition of Time magazine, which reports on this dispute surrounding the offshore rights around Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. The second link leads to a like-minded piece by Richard Foot, writing in this Monday's Calgary Herald. Moving on, the third link leads to a piece from the Toronto Star on Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon which provides a bit of historical background on the territory. In an interesting development, the island of Mayotte off the east coast of Africa is seeking to once again become a part of France, 34 years after it gained independence. Visitors can read about this intriguing story via the fourth link, which leads to an article written by the Guardian's Angelique Chrisafis. The fifth link takes visitors to a site maintained by the BBC which provides some basic information about this rather unique archipelago. Finally, the last link leads to a fine site containing tourist information about visiting this French territory, complete with ferry schedules, a calendar of events, and a listing of local landmarks. [KMG]

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