The Scout Report -- Volume 16, Number 16

April 23, 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

Lincolniana at Brown

The Lincoln Collection at Brown University has a rather interesting story, and it all started back in the fall of 1855. John Milton Hay arrived in September of that year to start his education at Brown, and he would go on to a distinguished career in public service, including a stint as President Abraham Lincoln's private secretary. In the early 20th century, Andrew Carnegie offered to pay half of the cost of a new library building on campus, with the provision that Brown named the structure after Hay. The school agreed to the terms, and in 1920, the university also acquired the McLellan Collection, which was one of the most extensive Lincoln collections in the world. Some of the items from the collection have been digitized and placed online here, courtesy of the Center for Digital Initiatives. The materials are divided into five primary areas, including "Graphics", "Objects", and "Sheet Music". Visitors can browse each section at their leisure, and they will find many items of note. Even the most casual visitor will love the "Objects" area, as it contains 3D views of a Lincoln character jug, and a piece of scrimshaw with an engraving of Lincoln on it. [KMG]

The National Broadband Plan: Connecting America [pdf]

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been working on a National Broadband Plan for the United States since early 2010, and this website provides information about their ongoing work. The hope for this plan is that it will open up economic opportunities to a wide range of locales that are not currently served by broadband Internet access. On this site, visitors can look over sections that include "About Broadband", "Events", "Initiatives", and "The Plan". First-time visitors may want to click on the "About Broadband" to get some basic details about the importance of broadband access. Moving on, visitors can click on "The Plan" to watch an overview of the plan from the chairman of the FCC, and they may also view an executive summary and the entire plan. After that, visitors should look at the thematic areas of the site (such as "Health Care" and "Civic Engagement") to learn more about how increased broadband will transform these sectors of life in America. [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 National Academies Present: What You Need to Know About Energy

As debates over energy resources continue to dominate public discourse, it is crucial that the American public have access to objective and authoritative information on such matters. This well-designed and thoughtful website from The National Academies contains helpful interactive features, short quizzes, complete academic reports, and a glossary. First-time visitors can learn about the potential of different energy sources in the "Sources" area, which includes overviews of how the sun, electricity, fossil fuels, and nuclear power can be harnessed most efficiently. Moving on, the "Uses" area includes summaries of how Americans currently use energy in the home, workplace, and industry. The "Understanding Efficiency" area provides two useful activities that illustrate how energy can be delivered efficiently to the home and on the road. Finally, visitors can sign up for email updates and learn more about upcoming events sponsored by The National Academies. [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

Philadelphia: The State of the City: A 2010 Update [pdf]

The Pew Charitable Trusts has a long standing interest in the City of Brotherly Love, and this report released in March 2010 is a great way to learn about Philadelphia. The 16-page report is a follow-up to a 2009 report, and it provides "new data on a dozen key indicators about the state of the city and places that data in context." As the introduction to the report states "Three numbers tell the tale of the state of Philadelphia in 2010-one promising, one troubling and one confusing." The "promising" part happens to be the 10 percent decrease in the number of serious crimes. The "troubling" part is the fact that the city continues to shed jobs, and the current number of employed persons is the lowest in Philadelphia's modern history. The "confusing" number is the apparent population increase in the city, which seems to indicate that Philadelphia gained over 90000 residents between 2007 and 2008, despite information from other agencies that would seem to indicate a drop in population. [KMG]

The Virtual Museum of Iraq [Flash Player]

The Virtual Museum of Iraq starts with a great dramatic video of a map of Iraq and then the camera steadily zooms in to reveal an actual aerial view of Iraq's lands and cities, then again to reveal the museum building's front doors. It's a neat journey, accompanied by some nice music. The museum is divided up into eight halls, some of which are "Prehistoric", "Babylonian", "Parthian and Sasanian" and "Islamic". Music reminiscent of the time period accompanies each hall. Each hall looks like a photograph, and the objects in the halls can be scrolled over to see what it is, and where it is from. Visitors can then click on "description" to learn more about the object, and click on "explore" to turn the object around in a full circle to see it as if it was right in front of them, in the museum. Some objects even offer an explanatory video about the object, such as the two minute one available for the "Lusterware" plate found in the Islamic Hall. [KMG]

Teaching History With Technology

This website offers a host of resources to "help K-12 history and social studies teachers incorporate technology effectively into their courses." As there is so much to consider on this website, visitors should check out the "Getting Started" link at the top of the menu on the left hand side of the homepage. There visitors will find the reasons to teach with technology, tips on how to get started, and the connection between technology use and higher academic achievement. "Virtual Tours", near the bottom of the left hand menu, gives ideas for using virtual tours when actual field trips are too costly or would be impractical due to location. There are more than 20 links given to institutions that have virtual tours, with a description of what the tours explore. The tours include trips through art museums, history museums, a medieval village, and Ancient Rome. [KMG]

Science News

Science News is the magazine of the Society for Science and the Public, and they certainly do deliver via their well designed website. There is a lot to read on the homepage alone and the material is pitched towards a general audience, so visitors don't need to be students of science to understand the articles. The "SN Bookshelf" offers reviews of the latest science-oriented books. The "SN Multimedia" section, near the bottom of the homepage, offers videos and photo slideshows to explain scientific research, such as the videos "Pigeons usually let best navigator take the lead" and "Fruit flies turn on auto-pilot." There is even a "Science News for Kids" section, accessible at the top of any page. For those visitors who are impressed by this site and want to continue learning about science, there is an e-mail alert or RSS feed available and there are dozens of topics to choose to get news from, as well as columns and features. [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

Morris K. Udall: Oral History Project [pdf, Real Player]

Morris Udall served as a U.S. Representative for Arizona from 1961 to 1991, and he was known for his intelligence and wit. This intriguing collection created by The University of Arizona Library brings together dozens of spoken recollections "that illuminate the lives and careers of Congressman Udall and the Udall family." The topics covered within these interviews include Alaska wilderness preservation, Congressional history, early Arizona history, and "the role of poker-playing in congressional politics." The funding for this project came from the Morris K. Udall Foundation, and visitors can search the interviews, or just browse around. The persons interviewed here include Senator Alan K. Simpson, Cliff Robertson, Senator John McCain, and President Gerald Ford. Anyone with an interest in the history of government in the United States will find this oral history collection quite engaging. [KMG]

General Interest

Milwaukee Public Museum: 125 Objects, 125 Years

An early Mickey Mouse doll, Apache playing cards, and a rather extensive Christmas plate collection are but a few of the 125 items featured on this digital exhibit created by the staff at the Milwaukee Public Museum. The Museum created this online exhibit to highlight a few of their most unusual items, with a focus on those objects that are difficult to exhibit due to their fragile condition. Many of the items deal with Native American culture, natural history, and nineteenth century popular culture. After clicking on one of the items, visitors can read a short description, and also zoom in and out around the object as they see fit. A good place to start on the site would be with the Red Hawk ledge or the intricate Lakota girl's dress. [KMG]

The Kentucky Library and Museum Online: Built Environment

The Western Kentucky University Libraries has brought together two important collections of photography as part of The Kentucky Library & Museum online offerings. Along with works that celebrate the literary life of the Bluegrass State, these two collections include hundreds of photographs that document the vernacular architecture and landscape of the state. The first collection here is the Vernon White Collection, which includes photographs of tobacco barns, church buildings, and gravesites. Visitors can wander through the images, and they will want to also check out the "Folklore" area, which features photos of handmade fences, spinning wheels, and kitchen items. The Leon Garrett Collection features images of Bowling Green, Kentucky taken by Leon Garrett from 1948 to 1951. The images are divided into three sections, including "Downtown" and "Transportation". The "Downtown" area is quite revealing, as it features beautiful color photos of horse carts sharing space with shiny flivvers, brightly lit movie marquees, and city hall. [KMG]

The Diane Rehm Show [iTunes]

The Diane Rehm Show has its origins in a mid-day program at WAMU in Washington, D.C. Diane Rehm came on to host the program in 1979, and in 1984 it was renamed "The Diane Rehm Show". Over the past several decades, Rehm has played host to hundreds of guests, include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Julie Andrews, and President Bill Clinton. This website contains an archive of her past programs, and visitors can use the interactive calendar to look through past shows. Those visitors looking for specific topics can use the "Topics" list on the left-hand side of the page, or also take advantage of the search engine. The show has a number of social networking links, including a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. [KMG]

Windows on Maine [Quick Time, Windows Media]

Created with funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Windows on Maine contains interesting and informative programs and video clips from Maine Public Broadcasting and other partners. On their homepage, visitors can use their interactive map and timeline to locate video clips of interest, and they can also search the entire collection for specific items. Visitors can also use the subject category menu to look over 25 different headings, including "earth sciences", "land disputes", and "Penobscot tribe". The map feature is a real pip, and visitors can customize their search by location and date, and it's a great way to learn about different regions, including Aroostook County (also known as "the County") and Downeast. Also, many of the videos also have additional resources attached to them, such as railroad timetables, historic photographs, and so on. [KMG]

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [pdf]

As devastating natural disasters continue around the world, the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) continues to expand its scope. The "About us" section of the website clearly explains their role and goals for countries when an emergency or disaster strikes. Visitors will find that the "History of OCHA" paragraph explains the principles upon which it exists, per a 1991 mandate: "Responsibility for people affected by emergency lies...with their respective states." It goes on to note that "States...are expected to facilitate the work of responding organizations. Humanitarian assistance must be linked to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality." The "In Focus" section presents topics of import to those who require humanitarian assistance, and to those who engage in such assistance. Visitors have a wide range of formats to choose from which to get information--video, audio, photos, as well as field reports and policy analysis. Also, visitors are encouraged to sign up for updates via RSS feed or email alerts. [KMG]

Drawing With Light [Flash Player]

The Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) has created an informative and imaginative website about photography and writing with light. After entering the exhibit, visitors will find boxes with the small colored triangles in the corner near the top of the page, which are the different topics that are covered to "illustrate the principles of light and the technical evolution of photography." Visitors will find that there are the topics of "Early Observations", "Camera Obscura" "The Inventors", "The Pinhole Camera", "The Modern Camera", "The Art of Photography", and "Going Digital". There is also a link to "Gallery", which is divided up by the aforementioned topics. Visitors should not miss the exhibition that was curated by teenagers called "Illumination". It features responses by Canadian teens to images from the permanent collection of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Art. Many of the responses are in poetry form, and belie the youth of the writers. [KMG]

Soil Science Society of America [Real Player, pdf]

The Soil Science Society of America was founded in 1936 in Madison, Wisconsin and is a scientific society that aims to advance the field of soil science, with a focus on the areas of "crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use." Visitors will find that the website features links to their six publications, most of which offer free access to their archives and the current issue. Some of the publications include "Crop Science", "Journal of Environmental Quality", and "Vadose Zone Journal". The "Education" section is definitely worth a look. The "Ask a Soil Scientist" feature is a unique program where teachers, students, or the general public interested in soil can get a question answered about soil. Teachers can also request a classroom visit from a soil scientist. The "K-12 Educational Resources" has "Activities" and lessons on "soil texture" and "soil color". The "Resources" link offers a large number of lessons and the grade levels for which they are appropriate. [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

Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, March 14 - May 31 [Flash Player]

The live video web feed shows a woman with shoulder-length blond hair, wearing a white blouse and blue jeans tucked into brown boots, seated at a wooden table across from another woman with long dark hair in a braid that falls over her shoulder and down her front. The dark-haired woman is wearing a long red dress, and has a mystical air about her. They do not speak, but their chests rise and fall with their breathing. Finally the blond bows to the dark-haired woman and rises. The dark-haired woman stretches and shifts in her chair. Another woman sits down in the blonde's spot. This is an example of what visitors to the website for the exhibition "Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present" at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) might see in roughly 20 minutes of watching, during museum hours. Abramović sits in silence at a table MoMA's Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium and invites visitors to take the seat across from her for as long as they wish. The artist will not respond, but MoMA has interviewed museum goers who spent time sitting with Abramović, and posted their responses on its Inside/Out blog. The show is a retrospective of 40 years of Abramović's work, and a crew of almost three dozen was hired in order to present and recreate past performance pieces. [DS]

Network Tools

Weather Bar 2.1

It might be raining outside, but how will you know? Fortunately, there is the ever-handy Weather Bar, created by Dennis Delimarsky. This delightfully simple program sits in the taskbar, and visitors can set their location, and also elect to have weather updates sent out every minute. This program promises the highs and lows, the relative humidity levels, and a predictive icon. This version is compatible with computers running with all operating systems, including Linux. [KMG]

NetNewsWire 3.2

There's a great deal of information out on the Internet, but not nearly enough knowledge. Fortunately, NetNewsWire can help users keep abreast of such knowledge via its towering command of rounding up the most valuable news from thousands of websites and blogs. With NetNewsWire, users can take advantage of their features, including complete desktop integration, a three-paneled interface, and a sort feature that keeps priority items highlighted. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.5 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

A Much Sought After Coffee Emerges From An Unusual Source

From Dung to Coffee Brew With No Aftertaste [Free registration required]

The Horse Meat of the Coffee World

A cup is more than a cup sometimes

The Straight Dope: Does kopi luwak coffee come from pre-eaten beans?

From the Ground Up: Organic Coffee Certification, Production and Processing

National Geographic: Coffee

High-end gourmet food items are not uncommon, and some will think nothing of spending several hundred dollars on an ounce of caviar. It might strike some as odd to spend tremendous sums on coffee beans that have been deposited via the dung of the civet, but this is exactly the situation in Southeast Asia. Over the past several years, the buzz surrounding civet coffee has reached a type of fever pitch, as coffee connoisseurs in Europe, the United States, and Asia have grown increasingly fond of this curious bean and its resulting brew. Essentially, these tiny tree-borne animals (which resemble cats) consume coffee cherries, and after they are digested, they are deposited as part of the animal's droppings. Until relatively recently, the business has been dominated by small businesspeople, though there has been some large-scale exporters who have shown great interest as of late. Currently, 2.2-pound bags of this type of coffee are being sold for $500 in Japan and South Korea. Some operators have decided to only use beans processed by civets in the wild, while some have moved to operating civet "farms", with the tiny animals living in small metal cages. Some remain unsure as to the reasons for the coffee's fast growth in popularity, including Alberto Pat-og, who commented recently, "We are a bit surprised. A bit perplexed." [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to an article on the civet coffee phenomenon, courtesy of this Saturday's New York Times. The second link leads to a thoughtful piece on the whole business by noted food writer Corby Kummer, who has tried this coffee several times. The third link leads to a nice meditation on coffee, past and present, from Leesha Faulkner, the editor of the Selma Times-Journal. Moving along, the fourth link leads to a Straight Dope column from May 25, 2001, which answers several key questions about the civet and their products. The fifth link leads to a November 2009 article from the Organic Trade Association on the whole organic coffee certification process and such. Finally, the last link leads to a multimedia exploration of the world of coffee, provided by National Geographic.

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