The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 14

April 10, 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

Smart History [iTunes]

Under the headline "Art. History. Conversation.", Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker started the Smarthistory site in 2005 as a weblog that featured free audio guides. Since that time, the site as grown into a multimedia web-book "designed as a dynamic enhancement (or even substitute) for the traditional and static art history textbook." Visitors to the site will find several hundred artworks (along with videos and podcasts) organized thematically and by time period. Additionally, visitors can also use the drop down menus on the homepage to look for certain styles, artists, and themes that include "Image and Power", "The Artist as Professional", and "Bronze Casting". The videos are a real treat, and they include offerings like "Magritte's treacherous pipe" and "Mies's corporate classicism". Finally, visitors can also learn about making a donation to their group. [KMG]

Education Today: The OECD Perspective [pdf],3343,en_2649_33723_42440761_1_1_1_1,00.html

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has always maintained a strong interest in the educational state of affairs among its member nations, and this report from March 2009 offers a bit of insight into their work on everything from student performance to educational spending and equity in education. The 99-page report is based on results from OECD work produced since 2002, and the work is divided into nine sections. These sections include those dealing with early childhood, schooling, higher education, adult education, and lifelong learning. The format of the report is quite modular, as each section contains a bit about their key findings and conclusions and policy directions, along with various tables and charts. [KMG]

R. Buckminster Fuller Digital Collection

It is hard to classify R. Buckminster Fuller, but at the very least, it is fair to say he was an architect, a planner, an engineer, an inventor, and a Renaissance man in the best sense of the phrase. With support from the Save America's Treasures Program, Stanford University has seen fit to digitally reformat a wide range of very valuable audio and video materials culled from their R. Buckminster Fuller Collection. First-time visitors will need to create a login password before accessing the materials, but never fear, as it only takes a moment. After that, they will have complete access to all the materials within the collection. It's not a bad idea to start by looking through the "Browse" area first, and here they will find interviews with Fuller, along with the "Being with Bucky" seminars. Those who are completely unfamiliar with Fuller's work may wish to start by clicking on the "Exploring Bucky" area. Here they can read over brief answers to "Who was Bucky Fuller?" and "What is a geodesic dome?" For architects, engineers, and many others, this collection will be quite a find. [KMG]

National Institutes of Health: Nanotechnology [pdf, Real Player]
Visitors who are wondering what nanotechnology is and what it can be used for, will find this website from the National Institutes of Health very helpful. If visitors have wondered what a nano looks like they can check out the video on the right side of the homepage for a 30-second animated view comparing the size of a nano to everyday objects. To learn more about the use of nanotechnology in the area of medical research, visitors should click on the link to the pdf "Innovative Medical Research at the Molecular Scale", which is located near the middle of the page. The twelve-page document briefly highlights some of the areas of research being conducted around the country, and page eight has a list of online Nanotechnology Resources that address the regulations and potential concerns of the use of nanotechnology. If, after a thorough examination, a deeper understanding of nanotechnology is desired, visitors are provided with links to further research by clicking on "Learn more about Nanotechnology at NIH". [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

British Library: Archival Sound Recordings: Music from India

The ethnomusicologist Rolf Killius has recorded traditional Indian music for the British Library for more than a dozen years, and the Archival Sound Recordings website for the Library has samples of some of the folk, devotional, and ritual music of India that he has recorded. The website allows the visitor to listen to the music by location and the locations to choose from are in the middle of the page. Visitors who click on a location will be shown all the songs available, and then clicking on the + sign next to the name of the song will reveal some of the details about the musicians, when the song is played and sung, and how it's played. To view the remaining details of the song and also listen to it, visitors should click on the song's description to be taken to a full text description and the player that allows visitors to listen to it. Visitors shouldn't miss the "Sora Healing Song" from the Orissa location, which is an almost 10 minute long recording of a repeated three note beat that accompanies a healing ritual that uses trance. The repeated beat is definitely conducive to falling into a trance-like state. [KMG]

Getting Current: Recent Demographic Trends in Metropolitan America [pdf]

Some of our long-time readers (and new arrivals) might be wondering: "What's going on in metropolitan America?" Well, the Brookings Institution has provided some compelling information on that timely subject in their March 2009 report on recent demographic trends across the United States. This 28-page report authored by William H. Frey, Alan Berube, Audrey Singer, and Jill H. Wilson looks into topics such as migration, immigration, aging, educational attainment, and poverty. Visitors with a limited amount of time may wish to turn directly to pages two and three within the report, as they offer a brief summary of their findings. These findings include the observation that migration across states and metro areas has slowed considerably in the past two years due to the housing crisis and that the next decade "promises massive growth of the senior population, especially in suburbs unaccustomed to housing older people." [KMG]

Pennsylvania Geology

Three decades after it was published, the Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania was described as "the most remarkable series of reports ever issued by any survey." Considering the diversity of other geological reports, this was no small compliment. Drawing on support from the Marion and Kenneth Pollock Libraries Program Fund, the Pennsylvania State University Libraries' Digital Preservation Unit was able to digitize not only this fabled Survey, but also the Third and Fourth Surveys as well. Visitors can use the search engine on the homepage to look for items of interest, or they can just browse through the collection at their leisure. The surveys include various maps and illustrations that track mineral deposits and the disposition and location of other natural resources. Additionally, users can look through a miscellaneous set of publications from the early 20th century related to survey work performed by the U.S. Geological Survey. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

General Interest

U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs [pdf]

In 1984, the U.S. Senate voted to make the Committee on Indian Affairs permanent, and the basic mission is "to study the unique problems of American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native peoples and to propose legislation to alleviate these difficulties." Visitors can learn a bit more about the Committee and its members in the "About" section. After reading through the brief introduction there, users can click on sections that cover "Hearings", "Investigations", "Issues", and "Legislation". The "Issues" section is perhaps the most informative, as it includes summaries that provide a basic outline of primary issues affecting different Native American groups, such as gaming, reservation roads, and tribal law. Visitors can also offer their own comments on these affairs and view a list of relevant links. [KMG]

Massachusetts Historical Society: Massachusetts Maps

The Massachusetts Historical Society continues to offer new digital resources on the Bay State with this fine collection of 104 unique and rare manuscript and printed maps. Support for this digitization project came from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and visitors will want to start by looking through Clough's 1798 Boston Atlases. Samuel Chester Clough spent a good deal of his life compiling information about property owners during the late 17th and 18th centuries, and he subsequently created 12 oversize maps of Boston, along with an oversize atlas depicting Boston property owners in 1798. These maps are an invaluable resource for historians and geographers, and visitors will want to also click on the "List of Maps" to look over all the maps in this collection. [KMG]

NOVA: Last Extinction [Flash Player]

What, some ask, was the "last extinction?" It's a fair query indeed, and it happens to be understood as the period approximately 13,000 years ago when large animals were killed off across the North American continent. The exact cause of this extinction remains unknown, but this engaging program offered as part of the long-running NOVA series on public television offers up one particularly interesting theory. On this site, visitors can watch a preview of the program, and then make their way through six interactive sections, including "The Extinction Debate" and "Stone Age Toolkit". In "The Extinction Debate" visitors will be introduced to the wide range of scientific theories that have been actively debated and discussed in regards to this extinction. Moving on, the "Stone Age Toolkit" allows users to play a lively matching game where they can learn about the role that ten different primitive artifacts played in the lives of humans thousands of years ago. The site is rounded out by a teacher's guide and a set of additional links and readings. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

C-SPAN Podcasts [iTunes]

C-SPAN has created this site to allow interested parties easy access to many of their programs in a podcast format. On the site, visitors can scroll down through podcast formatted programs from "After Words", "American Political Archive", "Newsmakers", and six other shows. One of the programs that visitors shouldn't overlook is "The Communicators". This particular program features a half-hour interview with "the people who shape our digital future." Recent guests have included Tom Rosenstiel from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and David Rehr from the National Association of Broadcasters. Another nice feature of the site is that there are embedded buttons for each program that makes it quite easy for visitors to subscribe to each podcast via iTunes or another podcast aggregator. [KMG]

Geoff Charles: Photographs of Wales and the English border during the Second World War

Geoff Charles was a Welsh newspaper photographer for 50 years, and donated his entire collection of 120,000 negatives to the National Library of Wales. The 6000 photos from World War II that have been digitized and are available on this National Library of Wales website highlight the war effort in Wales, as well as serve as a testament to a rural way of life that has since disappeared. The website is well-organized and the photographic images are of good quality. First, visitors can choose the language in which they wish to view the collection. Once their language has been selected, there are several ways to peruse the collection, which can be found at the top of the website. Visitors can use the drop down box on the far left to browse by Personal Names, Places or Subjects or they can use a simple keyword search. The drop down box on the far right side of the top of the page is entitled "I want to see pictures of...", and has 18 categories from which to choose. Some of the categories include "Agricultural Shows", "Evacuees" and "Sheep Shearing". The last way to peruse the collection is probably the most fun. In the middle of the page is a group of ten photos that represent themes, including "Digging For Victory", "Making Do", "Out of the Kitchen", and "The Children's War". Upon choosing a theme, visitors will also be able to read an informative introduction explaining the theme. [KMG]

Military Law Review [pdf]

The Library of Congress' Research Center of Military Legal Resources contains, among other publications, the Military Law Review. The Military Law Review has been published quarterly since 1958, and is meant to be used by military attorneys in their work and "'provides a forum for those interested in military law to share the products of their experience and research.'" Visitors should also note that most of the issues from 1958 to 2008 are available for general perusal. Each issue of the journal contains both articles and book reviews. An article in the Winter 2008 issue, entitled "Crossing the Line: Reconciling the Right to Picket Military Funerals With the First Amendment", is a very accessible article about the constitutionality of state and federal funeral picketing laws. Visitors interested in learning about the school that provides military legal education, and where the Military Law Review is published, should click on the link "The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center & School (JAGS), U.S. Army, Charlottesville, Virginia", in the first paragraph on the homepage. [KMG]

Thinkfinity Literacy Network [pdf, iTunes]

The Verizon Foundation's easily navigable website of literacy resources is an invaluable tool for teachers, volunteers, adult learners, tutors, parents and students. The site is divided into the tabs "Teach", "Learn", "Manage" and "Volunteer". To access the almost 50 free online courses for "the best literacy instruction and lifelong learning habits," visitors should click on the "Free Online Courses" tab near the top of the page. The courses can be browsed, or searched by whom the course is geared to, such as parents, program managers and staff, teachers/tutors and volunteers (primary audience). Each course's description can be accessed by the link "Course Description", next to the title of the course. Enrolling in one of the free courses can be accomplished by clicking on the "Enroll Now" link, next to the "Course Description" link. Searching the whole website for such helpful information as lesson plans, interactives, worksheets and assessments is easy with the gold, cell phone-like feature on the right side of the page. Visitors can enter a keyword, or use drop down boxes to search by subject, grade, resource type or content partner. The grade levels include the usual K-12, but vocational education, adult education, community college and higher education are also represented. [KMG]

Network Tools

iConcertCal 2.4

It can be hard out there for a diehard live music fan, especially with the myriad of upcoming summer concert tours. Using this plug-in for iTunes, users can draw on the information from their personal music collection to learn about concerts that will be making their way through their area. Visitors can also create their own concert "playlist", if they so desire. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.4 and newer and iTunes. [KMG]

Driver Magician Lite 3.5

While Driver Magician Lite is quite simple in its layout, it is still an effective tool for persons looking to back up their device drivers. The application identifies all the hardware in the system, extracts their associated drivers from the hard disk, and them backs them up to any designated location. Also, Driver Magician Lite will also detect unknown devices. This version is compatible with Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

As newspapers continue to face hard times, some look back to the days of the well-known columnists who chronicled their cities

Paper Cuts: Diligently plotting the decline of US newspapers

Tweaking the Cable Model, to Avoid Newspapers' Fate

Herb Caen and his city

Caen on capital punishment

Mike Royko

For the Love of Mike

Emmett Watson

The late 1990s and early 2000s were hard times for those who grew up reading daily newspapers in cities like Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco. During these years, the acerbic and insightful commentaries of Mike Royko at the Chicago Tribune, Herb Caen at the San Francisco Chronicle, and Emmett Watson at the Seattle Times disappeared from the paper as all three gentlemen passed away during this period. These men might have been a bit disturbed by a number of recent trends in the newspaper business, including the recent demise of the print version of the once venerable Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the bankruptcy problems faced by the Chicago Sun-Times media group. As Carl Nolte, a Chronicle staff writer, noted in a column this week, "Herb Caen was the voice, the conscience, the civic maestro of a San Francisco that was part reality, part a myth of his own creation." Technological innovations have certainly increased the number of viewpoints available to the average reader, but it remains to be seen whether any of them will have the staying power of these three creative individuals. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a very compelling entry on the Digital Content weblog created by The Guardian newspaper. This particular entry includes a link to the Paper Cuts website, which details the decline of the newspaper industry in the United States during the past year. The second link will whisk users away to a post on the New York Times "Bits" weblog, which talks about how the cable industry may address the migration of viewers to the Internet. Moving on, the third link leads to the recent piece on Caen written by Carl Nolte for the San Francisco Chronicle. The fourth link leads to a column that Caen wrote about capital punishment on May 1, 1960. The fifth link leads to a series of columns written by Mike Royko on such subjects as the Chicago Cubs and Mayor Richard J. Daley. The sixth link is in the same vein, as it offers a clutch of additional columns written by Royko. Finally, the last link leads to a piece by John Hahn of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer commemorating noted journalist and one-time minor league ballplayer, Emmett Watson. [KMG]

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