The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 16

April 24, 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

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

If you've ever dreamed of reading the January 2, 1900 edition of Paris, Kentucky's "Bourbon News", this site will offer a form of wish fulfillment. This newspaper (and many others) are part of the Chronicling America website, which was produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program. The program is the result of a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. In the "View" section of the site, visitors can view a range of newspapers from 1880 to 1910 from ten different states, including Utah, Virginia, Nebraska, and Minnesota. Visitors can use their search engine to perform detailed searches across the collection, and if they don't find what they are looking for, they can click on over to the "Find" area. Here, visitors can find general publication information about thousands of current and defunct publications organized by newspaper title. [KMG]

Germany Under Reconstruction

Offered as part of the University of Wisconsin Digital Collection's History collection, Germany Under Reconstruction provides the public with access to a variety of publications in English and German from the early days following World War II. The documents cover a wide range of topics, and they include works that look at the political, economic, and cultural milieu in the nation during the period. All told, there are 516 documents included here, and visitors can perform complex searches or just browse through them at their leisure. Some of the more notable English language items include the 1945 work "After Nazism-Democracy? A symposium by four Germans" and Elmer Beck's 1948 book "The trade union press in the U.S. occupied area". The site is rounded out by the complete run of the Weekly Information Bulletin, published by the United States European Theater's Military Army of Occupation from 1945 to 1948. [KMG]


With a focus on a wide range of students and learning abilities, MathVids provides access to hundreds of instructional videos that relate basic, intermediate, and advanced mathematical concepts. The site contains a number of sample videos, though visitors will need to complete a free registration form to view all of the materials on the site. On the left hand side of the site, visitors will find the videos organized into topics like statistics, linear algebra, discrete math, and differential equations. Further down the site, visitors can look over the most viewed and most popular videos based on ratings from other registered users. The site also has a "Just for Fun" area which contains some number games and a bit of math history. Finally, visitors shouldn't leave the site without checking out their informative weblog. [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

The Waterlines Project [Flash Player]

People who've visited Seattle can attest to its dramatic shorelines, and particularly the area that stretches north from the mouth of the Duwamish River all the way along Elliott Bay. Like many other cities, Seattle has manipulated and modified its shoreline, and this interactive website from The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington allows visitors to see how Seattle's various landscapes have changed over time. The site starts out with an interactive map of the Puget Sound region, and visitors can click on sections that will let them learn about the transformation of certain sites within the area via video, audio clips, and maps. For example, clicking on the "Duwamish River" tab will give visitors a detailed map of the Duwamish River as it approaches Elliott Bay. Here visitors can read an interactive map legend that shows them where and when filled land was added to this increasingly industrialized area. It's a very dynamic site, and one that will delight engineers, historians, geographers, and ecologists. [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

Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers

Civics can be a dreaded word for some students, but things just got a bit more interesting with this rather thoughtful and interesting video workshop created by the National Council for the Social Studies and the Center for Civic Education. Released as part of the Annenberg Media teacher resources, this eight part series helps teachers find ways to teach civics, complete with lesson plans and other materials. The workshop program videos include segments such as "Public Policy and the Federal Budget", "Electoral Politics", and "Freedom of Religion". Visitors can also take advantage of the series website which contains additional teaching tools and support materials designed to complement the activities from each program. [KMG]

Library of Congress Web Archives: Iraq War

The Library of Congress' web archives of the 2003 Iraq war offer an overview of the collection, a brief history of why the war began, plus search and browse capabilities. The types of materials in the archives include newspapers, websites, veteran organizations, maps, photos, official government documents, legal materials, scholarly papers, editorial cartoons and periodicals. Visitors who know exactly what they are looking for can use the search feature, with delimiters that include name, title, subject and year captured. Browsing visitors can select the browse tab and choose subject, name, or title. There are a vast number to choose from, including 71 subjects, 163 names, and 231 titles. Some of the subjects include "Children and War", the "Koran", "Social Justice", and "Prayers for Peace". [KMG]


The Association of American Medical Colleges has a website that is filled with free resources regarding medical and dental education. The goal of the website is to offer "peer-reviewed teaching resources such as tutorials, virtual patients, simulation cases, lab guides, videos, podcasts, assessment tools, etc." On the homepage, visitors will find Featured Collections, Partner Collections, and Featured Publications. At the bottom of each list is a link to "Browse all Collections" and "Browse all Publications". When browsing the publications, visitors can "Browse by Discipline" or by "Hot Topics". The collections are divided up by Collection and Content Area Organization. Both the collections and publications are very well cross-referenced, so despite the vast amount of information available on this site, finding what's needed is not as daunting as one might think. Visitors who are familiar with the rising importance of cultural competence education in the healthcare setting will be interested in the exercise, "The Cultural Self-Awareness Workshop", which is under the Featured Publications heading on the homepage. In the exercises' abstracts visitors can find the intended learner and faculty audience, lessons learned, and educational objectives. [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

Joseph Berry Keenan Digital Collection

The Tokyo War Crimes Trials are on par with the Nuremberg trials for their influence on international law. The importance of the "historical record of events leading up to, and including the trials" has resulted in vast collections of documents. This website from Harvard Law's library contains the papers, letters, and photographs of Joseph Berry Keenan, the chief prosecutor of the Tokyo trials, chosen by President Harry Truman. The website offers finding aid to the collection, which can be quickly accessed by clicking on "Joseph Berry Keenan finding aid in OASIS", in the box labeled "Find it Fast!" halfway down the right side of the page. The papers and visual materials available can also be accessed from the "Find it Fast!" box, but scrolling down to the bottom of the page will allow the visitor a brief introduction on the items available in the collections. The Keenan papers, especially the letters to him, provide a glimpse into all those who had their own particular interest in the trial, including senators, The New York Times, and other lawyers. Most are typed, as this was required from a chief prosecutor, so from a practical standpoint, they are very easy to read. [KMG]

General Interest

From Pi Beta Phi to Arrowmont

A fraternity for women, Pi Beta Phi, built a settlement school in Tennessee to honor the 50th anniversary of the fraternity. This website has digital collections of letters, diaries, and scrapbooks related to the founding of the school, as well as historical photos of the surrounding community and an interactive gallery of artwork that resides at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, the institution that the settlement school has become. Near the top of the page is a link to a "Timeline" that puts the fraternity's founding and the opening of the school in the context of major world events. Visitors can start there to read a brief synopsis of each event on the timeline. To get look into what the school was like from a teacher's' perspectives, visitors should check out the beautifully digitized scrapbooks they made by clicking on the "Scrapbooks" link near the top of the page. Visitors should not miss the 360-degree image gallery to see every angle of some beautiful artworks that include a turned ash bowl and a raku vase. Click on "View Interactive Image" to start the art object turning, and then to slow it down or stop it or reverse direction, just drag the hand cursor onto the object. A zoom feature can also be accessed with the "+" or "-" at the bottom of the viewer. [KMG]

On Point [iTunes]

Originating from public radio station WBUR in Boston, "On Point" is a two-hour talk show that covers everything from news to poetry to science. The website provides the opportunity to listen to each hour of the show separately, which covers different topics. In order to read a few paragraphs fleshing out the topic and read who the guests will be, click on the title for Hour 1 or Hour 2, at the top of the homepage. For visitors interested in moving along straight to the show, click on "Listen to This Show". Previous shows, back to 2001, are available by clicking on the "Past Shows" link on the menu on the left-hand side. The Producer's Picks and Recent Shows, in the middle of the page, touch on pressing issues, such as the "Economy" and "Angry America" and seasonal topics such as "Bernd Heinrich's 'Summer World'" and "College Decisions" (click on "More Shows" to listen to the latter). [KMG]

SXSW Art [Flash Player]

The South by Southwest (SXSW) festival brings together distinguished speakers, musicians, social activists, and others every year. It seems they've also been dabbling in art, as this tremendous online art exhibition attests. Billed as the "world's first online HD art exhibition", the online collection contains over 280 paintings, including works from Gauguin, Cezanne, and Van Gogh. Using a visually unobtrusive icon, visitors can navigate the site through thematic subsections like "selfportrait", "portrait", "landscape", and "inspiration". At the top of the page, users can take advantage of the all images button (set just between the arrow buttons and the "Menu" button), which allows a broader view of all the images on the site. The left and right arrows to the left of the menu buttons allow visitors to scroll through each artist's section and the aforementioned thematic areas. As one might imagine, the level of detail that can be obtained from each painting is exquisite, and artists in particular will appreciate this flexibility. Clicking on the "Menu" button will allow visitors to email a selection to a friend, embed a link, and view copyright information. [KMG]

United Nations Economic and Social Council [pdf] (Last reviewed in the Scout Report on April 23, 1999)

Established under the United Nations Charter, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) serves as the principal organ "to coordinate economic, social, and related work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, functional commissions, and five regional commissions." First-time visitors may wish to start by clicking over to the "President's Corner". Here they can learn about the key issues addressed by the ECOSOC, which include climate change, financing for development, global public health, and peacebuilding. In the "Documentation" area, visitors can read up on the ECOSOC's latest resolutions, decisions, reports, publications, and newsletters. In the "Events" area, visitors can learn about upcoming commission meetings and joint conferences. The site is rounded out by a set of "Quick Links", which lead to information about their subsidiary bodies and their rules of procedure. [KMG]

BBC: In Our Time [iTunes]

Many have asked the question: "How do we understand the world around us?" Truly, it is a question that has animated discussion from Beijing to Bogota over the millennia, and it's one that motivates Melvyn Bragg, host of the BBC program "In Our Time". Drawing on guests from around the world, Bragg takes on science, culture, religion, philosophy, and history. Visitors can click on the "Archives" area to travel through past programs, organized by theme. The "Science" section alone is a real triumph, and with programs like "Neuroscience: Does the brain rule the mind?" and "The Multiverse", a group of friends could start their own mini-salon of ideas around the computer. Moving on, visitors can also sign up to receive Bragg's online newsletter and subscribe to the program's podcast. Finally, visitors can also throw their own three cents into the ring by offering their own commentaries via the "Have Your Say" comment form. [KMG]

LabCAST: The MIT Media Lab Video Podcast [iTunes]

The Media Lab at MIT has worked on all kinds of projects involving industrial design, nanotechnology, sturdy low-cost laptops, and so on. Their LabCAST site takes things to a new level, as visitors can check in on their latest endeavors via a set of video podcasts. The site has already won a Webby Award, and after visitors take a quick glance around, they'll see why. Currently the site has over 35 podcasts that include such titles as "The Psychology of the Guitar", "Urban Pixels", and "RoboScooter". One podcast that shouldn't be missed is "Storied Navigation". This particular podcast profiles a rather intriguing approach to constructing a story based on a collection of digital video and audio. Visitors can also elect to subscribe via RSS feed to receive new LabCASTs as they are released. [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

Indo-European Languages Tutorials [iTunes]

As a student of French and other languages, Jennifer Wagner has created this most helpful site to assist people looking for some basic language tutorials in French, Italian, German, and a number of other languages. The site currently contains fifteen language tutorials, divided into sections that include "French Slang", "French Phonetics", and "Italian I". First-time visitors can click on the "Language Tutorials" to look over other languages like Swedish and German, and they will find thematic subsections that cover nouns, subject pronouns, and adjectives. Moving on, the "Linguistics" section provides short articles that provide an overview of the field and some of Jennifer's writings on the biology of language. Finally, visitors shouldn't miss looking at Jennifer's weblog, which features her musings on living in the French city of Annecy. [KMG]

Picturing the Thirties [Flash Player]

Learn about the 1930s in the United States by wandering through this virtual version of an icon of the period, an Art Deco movie palace. Curators from the Smithsonian Museum of American Art are your guides to a collection of artwork, photographs, newsreels, songs, posters, and artists memorabilia. There are actually eight exhibitions in the theater: The Depression, The New Deal, The Country, Industry, Labor, The City, Leisure, and American People. A guided tour is available for those new to the site. Visitors are also invited to select materials from the show, and use them to create their own documentary, which will become part of the exhibition - a movie-making tutorial can be found in the projection booth. [DS]

Network Tools

Freebie Notes 3.26

In a hectic world, the Freebie Notes application can help restore at least a small bit of balance and perhaps a bit of ordered chaos to one's computer desktop. With this application, users can create electronic notes to place on their desktop, create reminders and alarms associated with each one, and also customize their parameters to make them more or less visually prominent. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

AVG LinkScanner 8.5.289

Users hoping to look for safe websites as they browse will appreciate learning about AVG's LinkScanner plug-in. LinkScanner works with both Firefox and Internet Explorer via its "Search Shield" to return only search safe results from both Google and Yahoo tagged with green or red flags. When visitors move over a flag, they will learn the IP address of the site, along with other relevant information. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Sometimes maligned, sometimes celebrated, the Comic Sans typeface remains a sensitive topic in the design world

Typeface Inspired by Comic Books Has Become a Font of Ill Will

Man of Letters: Matthew Carter


Ban Comic Sans

Independent Lens: Helvetica

Killer Typography Tools and Free Font Downloads

While the names Helvetica, Palatino, and Perpetua might sound like the names of pricey luxury cars, they also happen to be rather well known fonts. Technically speaking, fonts are traditionally defined as a complete character list (including exclamation points and ampersands) of a single size and style of a particular typeface. Most laypeople don't think too much about fonts or typefaces, but one typeface in particular has raised the ire of a collection of artists, graphic designers, and other concerned parties. The typeface in question is Comic Sans, and it was created by Vincent Connare in 1994. Connare was working for Microsoft back then and he noticed that a certain children's computer program was using the common Times New Roman font. He was inspired to create something anew, and he found inspiration in two comic books in his office. Comic Sans was born, and since then it has been found on church flyers, restaurant banners, and countless other items. Since that time, the typeface has garnered a less than positive reputation in graphic design circles, and there is even a "Ban Comic Sans" website, which was started by Holly Sliger. Connare remains a bit more phlegmatic about the whole matter, commenting recently, "If you love it, you don't know much about typography. If you hate it, you really don't know much about typography either, and you should get another hobby." [KMG]

The first link will take users to a Wall Street Journal article from this past Monday on Connare and the world of the Comic Sans typeface. The second link leads to a very fine profile of the famed typographer Matthew Carter, who has worked for the queen of England, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. Moving on, the third link leads to the fun Typographic website. Here, visitors can learn about the anatomy of letterforms, read a recent history of typography, and check out a glossary of typographic terms. The fourth link leads to the official homepage of the Ban Comic Sans movement. Fans of the Helvetica typeface will appreciate the fifth link, which leads to a site dedicated to a recent documentary about just this typeface created as part of the Independent Lens series. Here they can learn more about the typeface's history and even take a "What Font Are You?" quiz. Finally, the last link leads to a helpful set of suggestions on typography tools from Gina Trapani, writing for the Lifehacker site. [KMG]

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