The Scout Report -- Volume 16, Number 4

January 29, 2010

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

HUD User [pdf]

If you're interested in the state of housing, real estate markets, and other related matters, the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) User website will warrant a very close examination. Their coherent and easy-to-use homepage features basic links to their quarterly periodicals, data sets, and a tool designed to help users find research materials on over a dozen topics, including affordable housing and green design. In the "What's New" area, visitors can look through the most recent edition of "ResearchWorks" (their in house publication) and check out the latest data sets on housing starts, economic development programs, and so on. Perhaps the timeliest item here is the "Guide to Avoiding Foreclosure", which will be useful who wish to avoid additional mortgage problems. [KMG]

Northwest Architectural Archives

Started in 1970, the Northwest Architectural Archives at the University of Minnesota brings together the records of architects, engineers, contractors, landscape architects, and interior designers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas. Many of these primary documents have been placed into digital collections, and visitors can use this page to navigate through these delightful and useful offerings. One good place to start is the American Terra Cotta Company Photographs collection. Here visitors can look through examples of the company's work everywhere from Atchison to Winona. Moving on, visitors can also make their way through finding aids for the work of Clarence "Cap" Wigington, who happened to be the first registered African-American architect in Minnesota. All told, there are four digital collections on the site, and well over a dozen finding aids. It's a site that will be very useful to architectural historians and others working in related fields. [KMG]

Reform in an Age of Networked Campaigns: How to Foster Citizen Participation Through Small Donors and Volunteers [pdf]

With all the talk about campaign finance reform that's been going on for decades, it might seem that there's no end in sight. That might be true, but several scholars at the Brookings Institution think they might have a set of solutions to this problem. This recent 66-page report was authored by Anthony J. Corrado, Michael J. Malbin, Thomas E. Mann, and Norman J. Ornstein and it was released in January 2010. The report is divided into two larger sections, the first surveys current conditions and the second contains recommendations for reform. Some of these recommendations include refining campaign contribution limits, redefining public funding, and creating funding maximums. The authors put it best in their introduction when they suggest, "Instead of focusing on attempts to further restrict the wealthy, it seeks to focus on activating the many." Additionally, visitors can also watch a video conversation here on the report and take a look at their executive summary. [KMG]

African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project

Headquartered at Amherst College, the African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project (AARDOC) was founded in 1987. The goal of the project is "to produce a comprehensive history of African-American religion." The history is scheduled to be published in a print edition by the University of Chicago Press later in 2010, and the authors of the project have created this site to bring a selection of these materials to the attention of educators and students. The "Advice for Beginners" section contains a brief description of external reference works of note, and then visitors can make their way through brief outlines of different phases in African-American religious history in areas like "Atlantic World" and "Global Phase". The "Sample Documents" area is a real treat, as it features primary documents that tell the story of Billy Sunday's interactions with African-Americans and the 1822-1823 journal of Betsey Stockton, who joined a company of missionaries as they set sail for the Sandwich (Hawaii) Islands. The site is rounded out by a selection of teaching resources, including syllabi for undergraduate and graduate courses. [KMG]

U.S. Department of Transportation: Federal Highway Administration: Geotechnical Engineering [pdf]

This important site contains a report which summarizes Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) geotechnical research and development activities over the past 25 years. The report's author is Al DiMillio, and it is divided into seven chapters, some concluding remarks, and four appendices. The chapters cover material related to road construction and detailed maintenance and strengthening projects. Each chapter provides a background essay on the subject, along with information about each project and technical material on the ways in which each project was successfully completed. Visitors can navigate the work by subsections as well, and they will also want to look over the appendices, which give detailed histories of previous works on this subject. [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

OpenNet Initiative

How can the open spirit and free exchange of ideas be kept alive on the Internet? Can any organization combat Internet filtering and surveillance practices? The OpenNet Initiative works to do just that. The Initiative consists of a partnership between four academic institutions, including the University of Toronto and Harvard University. Their work is focused on exposing and analyzing practices such as Internet filtering, with the ultimate goal of helping "inform better public policy and advocacy work in this area." To get a good idea of who's filtering what, scroll down their homepage to the "Global Internet Filtering" section. Here visitors can view reports on countries' Internet filtering practices. After this, visitors will want to move over to their "Featured Publication", which contains documents that include "China's Green Dam: The Implications of Government Control Encroaching on the Home PC". To get an overview of what exactly "filtering" means, users should definitely peruse the very well-written "About Filtering" piece. [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

Group for Education in Museums [pdf]

If you happen to have an interest in museums and their value to society, you will want to spend some time looking over this site. The Group for Education in Museums (GEM) is dedicated to promoting "education as a core function of museums." The organization is based in the United Kingdom, and they have members all over the globe. On their homepage, visitors can learn about their recent publications, networking opportunities for museum professionals, and even check out their discussion forum. Persons who might be just entering the field will want to head straight away to the "Resources" area. Here they will find a selection of additional external links, including those which lead to reports on the future of museums and the websites of organization like the Qualifications and Curriculum Agency. [KMG]

History World: History and Timelines

One million words of history can seem a bit daunting, but not when it is divided into 300 narratives and 10,000 events. That's the basic format of the History World site, which was created by Bamber Gascoigne. The narratives are all linked together, and visitors will find that the homepage rotates through different selections, including the history of painting and the history of Andean civilization, just to name a few. Visitors can click on the "Histories" link to view an alphabetical list of the subjects covered. Each narrative history contains a brief outline and a link to an interactive timeline, complete with additional links. Moving on, the site also offers a set of quizzes, which include a timer for a bit of extra drama. [KMG]

General Interest

The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail [iTunes]

The idea for Virginia's "Crooked Road" began to germinate in the minds of Virginians in January 2003. A number of public officials, musicians, and others were interested in an economic development strategy for the Appalachian region of southwestern Virginia, and they wanted to draw on the region's rich musical heritage. Over time, the project grew, and today it includes ten counties, three cities, ten towns, and four state agencies. This well-designed site allows visitors to learn about the trail, its music venues, the music itself, and the communities along the route. First-time visitors will want to start out in "The Trail" area. Here they can view an interactive map of the area, look over the calendar of events, and read about nearby attractions. The next stop should be "The Music". As one might imagine, there are clips of music from the Crooked Road, including favorites like "Old Time Fire on the Mountain". Finally, visitors shouldn't forget the "Communities" area, which contains profiles of the places where the songs come alive, such as Big Stone Gap and Damascus. [KMG]

NOVA: Riddles of the Sphinx

The Great Sphinx of Giza has inspired reverence and contemplation for millennia. It is the largest monolith statue in the world, and it is generally believed to have been built by the ancient Egyptians in the 3rd millennia BCE. For centuries, there has been a growing concern about its long-term preservation, and this NOVA documentary takes visitors into the ongoing preservation process. Visitors can watch the entire program here, and they may wish to start by reading the important background essay, "Saving the Sphinx". The essay includes an interview with Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. An interactive feature will allow user to take a 360 degree perspective across the Giza Plateau. Finally, visitors will want to click on "The Dream Stela of Thutmosis IV" to learn about the message written on the stone monument that was erected between the Sphinx's front paws. [KMG]

LSU Photograph Collection

For a look into the past of campus life at the Louisiana State University (LSU), you can't do much better than perusing through this photograph collection. Created by the LSU Library, the collection includes 475 photographs which range from 1886 to 1925. The photographs include scenes of student life, rousing activities, sports, noted faculty, buildings, and laboratories. Visitors can use the drop-down menus on the homepage to browse the photographs by topic, building name, or colleges and departments. "Cadet Life" is a good place to start, and this will provide visitors with a glimpse into the lives of cadets during the late 19th and early 20th century. Football fans will want to look at early images of LSU's Tiger Stadium during their stay on the site. [KMG]


VetPulse is a website designed for veterinary professionals to share original video content, and visitors will find everything from surgery videos to news articles. The site has content and subscribers from over 80 countries, and allows veterinarians and others to peer into the wider world of veterinary medicine. Visitors should click on "Video" in the green tab at the top of the page to see the menu of subchannels from which to choose. Some of the subchannels include "On Location", where speakers and exhibitors are given the opportunity to discuss how technological innovations are impacting their veterinary careers. "University Insight" provides video interviews of veterinary professionals at vet schools, and their research and areas of interest. One such interview is with Dorothy McKeegan describing the teaching of animal welfare. Another interview of note is with Stephen May, who discusses the evolution of teaching vet students. The "In Practice" tab, visible once the "Video" tab has been selected, features videos from particular practices or organizations. The videos include surgeries, informal lectures on various ailments, and videos of health checks on zoo animals. [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

Money Matters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has a website loaded with information, including specific sections titled "Country Info", "News", and "Data and Statistics". Visitors might be especially interested in the current exhibit on the site entitled "The Importance of Global Cooperation". The exhibit is composed of six sections, each more than several pages in length. Some of the sections in this historical look at money include "Destruction & Reconstruction", "The System in Crisis", and "Debt & Transition". Each section focuses on a time period, such as 1871-1944, which is titled "Conflict & Cooperation". At the bottom of each page of the section, are links to the other subsections of that section. For example, in the "Conflict & Cooperation" section, some of the subsections are "The Golden Era", "Cost of the World War", and "The End of the War is in Sight". There is no need to go through each page of the section, since the subsections can guide the visitor to exactly what they want to read. In each section, there are a few well-placed photographs and political cartoons from the time period that accompany and help further illuminate the well-written text. [KMG]

University of California; Science Today

Science Today is a one minute, five-times a week, radio program carried on CBS affiliates and produced by the University of California. The website for Science Today provides the program on demand, in audio and text, as well as the "archives" for the program. The topics covered are vast from "breakthroughs in medicine, agriculture and the environment to insights into the world around us." Visitors interested in reading longer articles about scientific breakthroughs should look at the "Features" section of the site. The "Features" go all the way back to 2007, and are offered weekly. The range of topics is fascinating, relevant and varied; visitors might just find they have whiled away an afternoon reading these well-written articles about assorted scientific breakthroughs. Visitors can read an article entitled "Pregnancy Hormone Predicts Postpartum Depression", or "Stand or Run?" about new research on the right course to take if one encounters a mountain lion. The article "Hybrid Cars are Harder to Hear" explains the increased risk to pedestrians' safety. [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 Guild of Book Workers

A book worker is one engaged in the hand book arts, which includes "bookbinding, conservation, printing, papermaking, calligraphy, marbling and artists books." The Guild of Book Workers is a century-plus-old American organization that sponsors workshops, lectures, and exhibitions. Their website is a great resource for book workers, or for those interested in viewing and learning about the hand book arts. Visitors unfamiliar with book art should definitely take a look at the "Galleries" link under the "News & Events" section of the site. Some of the themes of the exhibits in the gallery are "Marking Time" and "AbeCeDarium", which is the alphabet, and a classic theme for the book arts. Visitors will find it enjoyable to see how the same theme can be expressed or interpreted in so many beautiful, moving, or disturbing ways by book artists. The multitude of online galleries on this site is a real treat for those who enjoy the creativity of the book arts. [KMG]

MoMA: Gabriel Orozco [Flash Player]

This exhibition website from MoMA tackles the difficult task of presenting the work of Gabriel Orozco, an artist about whom the exhibition catalog states, "There is no way to identify a work by Orozco in terms of physical product". In a post from the MoMA blog "Inside/Out", Shannon Darrough, Senior Media Developer, stated that in order to achieve a playful interactive feeling for the online exhibition, the underlying metaphor of the Orozco site is a game of cards. When the site is loaded, the visitor sees an array of about 150 thumbnail images of different works. When any of these works is selected, the others skitter away to let the selected piece enlarge and come to the fore, with full captions, and sometimes audio of Orozco's comments. There is also a set of 6 videos available, documenting the installation of the show, and more commentary from Orozco.

Network Tools

SyncBack Freeware 3.2.20

So what do you do if you need to back up and synchronize your files? Many options come to mind, but you might want to first look over this latest free edition of SyncBack. SyncBack allows users to save their files anywhere, and it also offers a convenient restore tool. The application gives the users the option to define multiple scheduled backup jobs, and also control the way files are compared and selected for backup. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer. [KMG]

Omeka 1.1

Interested in creating your own digital archive? Look no further than Omeka 1.1. Created by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, Omeka gives individuals and institutions the freedom to create an online exhibition in a matter of minutes. Visitors can view the "What is Omeka" video for more information, check out their blog, and also look at projects that have used Omeka thus far. This version is compatible with web servers with a Linux operating system, Apache, MySQl version 5.0 or greater, PHP 5.2.4 or greater, and ImageMagick. [KMG]

In The News

Ban on playing Dungeons & Dragons in prisons upheld

Appeals Court Upholds Prison Ban on Dungeons and Dragons [Free registration may be required]

Court upholds ban on inmate playing Dungeons & Dragons

The Volokh Conspiracy: 7th Circuit Upholds Prison Rule Forbidding Inmates to Play Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons: Timeline

GameSpy: Gary Gygax Interview

What Kind of D&D Character Would You Be?

Depending on what type of prison an inmate is in, he or she may be allowed to lift weights, read various books, or watch television. One thing prisoners can no longer do in Wisconsin prisons is play Dungeons & Dragons. This Monday, a panel of judges of the United States Court of Appeals rejected the claims presented in a lawsuit that challenged a ban on the game established by the Waupun Correctional Institution. The suit was brought by Kevin T. Singer, who is serving a life sentence for stabbing his sister's boyfriend to death. Singer has been a "D&D enthusiast since childhood", and he claimed that his First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights were violated by the prison's existing ban on the game. The initial ban was instituted by the prison as officials felt that the game could "foster an inmate's obsession with escaping from the real-life correctional environment, fostering hostility, violence and escape behavior." In handing down their decision, the Court of Appeals in Chicago noted that there wasn't any direct evidence to suggest that individuals or groups were inspired to wreak havoc by playing such games, but they did note that the prison's decision seemed to be a valuable part of prison administration. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a news article from this Tuesday's New York Times about this recent decision. The second link leads to another article from the USA Today on the subject, and it also contains the complete text of the court's ruling. Moving on, the third link whisks visitors away to an engaging discussion of this ruling, courtesy of the well-regarded law blog, "The Volokh Conspiracy". The fourth link leads to a detailed timeline of Dungeons & Dragon history, along with its parent company, TSR Games. The fifth link features an interview with the late Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons. The last link leads to a 129-question survey which will help you accurately determine which Dungeons & Dragons character you would likely play.

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