The Scout Report -- Volume 17, Number 30

July 29, 2011

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

Teacher Institute: Exploratorium [iTunes]

The Teacher Institute at San Francisco's well-regarded Exploratorium was started in 1984, and since that time they have trained thousands of educators to excel at content-based discussions and to more effectively use web-based teaching resources. On the homepage, visitors interested in taking part in one of their workshops can learn more about their offerings, including their Summer Institutes. Other more geographically distant visitors (and those not so distant) should click right on over to the "Podcasts" area of the site. There are actually three sets of educational materials here, including the "Science Teaching Tips", "SmallTalk", and "Teacher Institute". In the "Science Teaching Tips" section, visitors can listen to almost 70 short episodes that include segments on how to teach about size and scale and the metric system. The "SmallTalk" podcasts are centered around nanotechnology and they feature short chats with scientists, artists, and writers. Finally, the "Teacher Institute" area features a few clips from past Institute gatherings for those who might be interested in attending one in the future. [KMG]

Society for Neuroscience: Neuroscience Education Resources Virtual Encycloportal [pdf, Flash Player]

Created by a dedicated team at the Society for Neuroscience, the Neuroscience Education Resources Virtual Encycloportal (NERVE) website was created to provide educators with information and tools for teaching about the nervous system and related health issues. First-time visitors should click on the "How to Search" tab to get started. From here, visitors can select one of nine themes. The themes here include "Anatomy of the Brain and Nervous System", "Brain Basics", and "Neuroscientists at Work". Visitors can also specify their audience and the format here, and it will help refine their search. The "Brain Basics" area is particularly well-developed and it contains over 100 resources that feature Flash movies detailing the electrical activity in the brain and articles from BioEd about the functioning of the brain. [KMG]

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

MIT OpenCourseWare: Applied Macro- and International Economics [pdf]

How do business firms operate? And how do the basic tools of macroeconomic management affect their operations? These are but a few of the questions addressed by the MIT course "Applied Macro- and International Economics". The course was recently placed online as part of the OpenCourseWare initiative, and the materials are from the version taught in the spring of 2011 by Professors Robert Rigobon and Alberto Cavallo. On the site, visitors will find select lecture notes from the course, along with the assignments, and a list of the readings. The notes here include explorations of topics such as "World through inflation", "Exchange-rate regimes", and "Central bank accounting". Visitors can also download all of the materials here in one fell swoop via the "Download Course Materials" link. [KMG]

STEM - Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

Although the STEM project at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities website is designed for the faculty and staff at those institutions, it offers abundant resources for instructors at any higher education institution who might have an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. Visitors interested in state and national reports on a broad range of issues should click on the "Resources" link on the left side of the menu, and choose "STEM Reports", to view eight reports from various education and science institutions. For ease of use, it is nice to learn that report is organized into audience, purpose and recommendations, so visitors can quickly assess whether the report is of interest to them. Some of the report topics include "Teaching By Choice: Cultivating Exemplary Community College STEM Faculty", "The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy" and "Encouraging Girls in Math and Science". The "Project Showcase" will be of interest to visitors who like to see examples of how STEM efforts are being played out in the education community. [KMG]

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

Teaching & Learning Themes

The University of Nottingham, in the United Kingdom, has an innovative online program called Teaching at Nottingham that "offers both a window onto the University's teaching culture and a space for the critical evaluation of teaching practice". The tab "Teaching & Learning Themes" is definitely worth a visitor's time. The link "Student Perspectives On...Teaching, Learning and Assessment" are particularly interesting, as in each category has synopses of studies that were done with the aim of quantifying the students' perspectives in classes at Nottingham. Visitors can read about one such study in the Learning category titled "The good, the bad and the ugly: [pharmacy] students' experiences of group projects", which found that most students believed that group projects were good learning experiences for working as a team in their future careers, but preferred solo or two-person projects. The "Focus On..." link offers, among other categories, "Visual Learning", "Peer Teaching" and "Academic Tutoring" which focus on research about teaching. [KMG]


Mercury is the mythological messenger of the gods, and MESSENGER is a scientific exploration project organized and executed by NASA dedicated to the planet Mercury. MESSENGER stands for "MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging" and it appropriately represents the project's wide range of scientific goals. Visitors interested in learning about the spacecraft that the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory designed and built to be the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury, should click on the "Mission" link on the left side menu, then click on "Spacecraft". The thermal design, weight and cost requirements of such a craft are given, along with some photos. The "Gallery" link is a multimedia smorgasbord of material about the mission, including "maps", "images", "movies", "animations", "artists' impressions", "flyby visualization tools", and "photos". Visitors will find the short movie, "Earth Departure", which is a sequence of photos taken from the MESSENGER as it flew by earth, to be an emotional experience. [KMG]

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

American Association of Physicists in Medicine Medical Physics Resource Page

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) has created this website for use by educators, students, and members of the general public. The site is divided into twenty different thematic areas containing links that profile all aspects of medical physics, including "Data & Standards", "Publications & Publishers", and "Students and Junior Physicists". The "Nuclear Medicine & PET Resources" area is a good place to start, and there are several links to internal resources that the AAPM has created, which provide an introduction to nuclear medicine. Moving on, the "Physics Data & Standards" area has several dozen links to material on x-rays, ionizing radiation standards, and reference data sheets. The site is rounded out by the "Publications" area, which offers direct links to some of the key journals in the field, such as "Medical Physics" and the "Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics". [KMG]

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

The Louisville Herald-Post Collection

In 1925, the Louisville Post and the Louisville Herald merged under the direction of James Buckner Brown. Under Brown's leadership this new publication became an influential force in local politics, and it made quite a run of it until folding for good in 1936. The paper's photo "morgue" was acquired by the University of Louisville Photographic Archives in 1994. Today, visitors can view over 3,800 digitized photographs from this collection, and they can get started by looking through the collection headings, which include "Military", "Cities & Towns", and "Ohio River". First-time users may want to start by looking through the "Historic Sites" area, as it includes some fine images of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville and several aerial views of Churchill Downs. Visitors can also use the search engine to look for specific materials, and overall, it's a great resource for persons with a passion for Kentucky history and United States history in general. [KMG]

General Interest

Old Boston Photograph Collection

In 2007, the Boston Public Library rediscovered a rather intriguing cache of photographs from the late 19th century in their archives. While there is still some debate about the provenance of these photos, they believe that the prints were taken by photographers affiliated with the Boston Camera Club, and that this organization was responsible for coordinating this specific project. Recently, the Library decided to digitize 113 of these images, and they are available here. Visitors can search the collection by keyword, and they will also find that the Flickr format will all allow them to send images to friends and also zoom in for a closer look. There are some great items here, including a print of Benjamin Franklin's house on Milk Street and a photograph of the Old State House from 1898. [KMG]

Colorado State University: Great Western Sugar Digital Collection

Formally incorporated in 1905, the Great Western Sugar Company quickly became an agricultural powerhouse in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska by producing beet sugar in tremendous quantities. The Colorado State University acquired many of their old corporate records and archives, and this particular digital collection brings together photographs and documents from 1893 to 1984. On the collection's homepage, visitors can look through the "Galleries" to get a sense of the company's history and activities. Here they will find themes that include "Products", "Equipment", and "Film". The "Film" area should not be missed, as it includes one film created in 1924 by the company for the purpose of recruiting Mexican nationals to work in the beet fields. The "History" area contains a nice timeline of Great Western's activities from the late 19th century to its eventual bankruptcy in 1985. Finally, the "Documents" area includes several in-house publications created by the company, such as "Through the Leaves" and "The Sugar Press". [KMG]

Nevada Division of State Parks

Based in Carson City, the Nevada Division of State Parks helps to preserve and promote notable parts of the Nevada natural and cultural environment. One of the goals of their website is to provide visitors with "an introduction to the other side of Nevada, the side that is wild scenic and full of western history." First-time visitors may wish to click on the "State parks map" area to learn more about the location of the state parks, and the interactive map also includes direct links to each site. Scholars and students of park management will want to click on over to the "Park General and Resource Management Plans" area. Here they can learn about the completed general management plans for parks such as the Mormon Station and the Valley of Fire, and learn about plans that are currently under review. Visitors looking for helpful information about upcoming events can look over the "Other Park News!" area on the right hand side of the homepage. Finally, there's also detailed information about park fees, several photo galleries, and news releases. [KMG]

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: Center for Pacific Basin Studies [pdf]

Based at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Center for Pacific Basin Studies is a program "to promote cooperation among central banks in the region and enhance public understanding of major Pacific Basin monetary and economic policy issues." On the site, visitors can find graphs that document the transformation of the Japanese auto industry, links to conference proceedings, and the Pacific Basin "Notes" series. The "Notes" series is well worth a look, as it includes commentaries on Asia's financial stability, Chinese capital investments, and interprovincial inequality in China. More of their work can be found in the "Publications" area of the site, and it includes their annual reports dating back to 2000 and their working papers. The site also has a link to their "Research Seminars", and visitors can find out about participating in future seminars or just learn about past seminars. [KMG]
Email: webform

Eugene B. Sledge Collection

Eugene Sledge was a son of Mobile, Alabama and during his life he saw service in World War II and later went on to become a professor of biology at the University of Montevallo. This digital collection was created for the Auburn University Digital Library and it offers photographs and other documents that tell the story of his life. The site begins with a scrolling slide show of images from the collection, and the materials are divided into four main areas which include "Growing Up" and "Professor and Writer". Visitors can make their way through these areas and also craft their own search across all of the materials. The site also contains links to videos featuring Sledge talking about his experiences in World War II and they should not be missed. [KMG]

The Animal Communication Project

This streamlined website is very accessible to the lay reader, while it also has enough references to scientific studies to appeal to teachers, researchers, and students of animal communication and biology in general. The site contains the full-text of the (now out-of-print) book, The Language of Animals, in addition to "Research News" and some multimedia features. The type of animal communication this website refers to is not that between animals and humans, but among animals. Visitors with pet dogs or cats might enjoy the section on "Cats and Dogs" that explains how lions communicate, and why the domesticated dog barks, but other members of the dog family, such as wolves and coyotes, do not. [KMG]

Natural History Museum - Other Invertebrates

The Natural History Museum in London has a great section on their website called "Nature Online" designed for those visitors who can't visit personally, or for those who happen to be the armchair museum-going type. The section on "Other Invertebrates" enlightens visitors about the world of the backbone-deficient, which comprise the majority of animals on earth. Visitors will find over a dozen topics to learn about, ranging from Chinese mitten crab control, to a directory of Echinoids (sea urchins), to the "secret life of barnacles" and how they are being used as biomonitors to discover the presence of heavy metals in waterways in Asia. Visitors who have never used the word beautiful and plankton in the same sentence, will find the glass model of radiolarian (plankton), created in the 19th century by artisans Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, to be amazing and beautiful. Visitors can click on the picture to make it stop rotating, and they can also click on "About the Blaschka Glass Models", which allows visitors to get a closer look at the stunning plankton. Finally, they can see other examples of their glass work here, and the area will warrant several return visits. [KMG]

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

Shelburne Museum

The strengths of the collections at the Shelburne Museum are showcased on its website in dedicated online galleries. By clicking on "Explore Collections" on the homepage, visitors can view these galleries, including a dozen American paintings by well-known artists including Andrew Wyeth and Grandma Moses; a pewter teapot, glass canes, and Wedgewood and Spode China in Decorative Arts; or eleven examples of 19th and 20th century quilts and hooked rugs. The Museum is also the home of the restored Steamboat Ticonderoga, and visitors can watch a short video about the boat. The Shelburne Museum was founded by Electra Havemeyer Webb, whose parents, the Henry O. Havemeyers, amassed one of the great collections of Impressionist paintings, many of which have come to the Shelburne, including a Mary Cassatt portrait, Louisine Havemeyer and her Daughter Electra, 1895. [DS]

Network Tools


Home security monitoring devices can be pricey, so it's nice to learn about a low-cost alternative. The Cammster program operates a type of motion detector, and users can set up their web camera to keep tabs on a certain area of their residence while they are away. Visitors just need to install the Cammster program and they will be sent "alert" emails at no cost if the program detects any motion. Also, the program has customized settings for those users who might have pets. This version of Cammster works with operating systems running Windows 2000 and newer or Mac OSX 10.3.1 and newer. [KMG]


Who visits your website? And perhaps more importantly, where are they from? ClustrMaps can provide answers to such questions, and users might even be entertained along the way. Visitors can use the link here to create a counter on their website that will list where visitors are located (using their IP address), along with showing an interactive world map of their respective locations. It's quite useful, and it is completely free for those users who receive fewer than 2500 visitors daily. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

States look to collect taxes from online retailers

Amazon tax battle: However we vote, Amazon loses,0,114958.column

Sales-tax issues make Indiana attractive to Amazon, but at what cost? makes a taxing argument

Wal-Mart vs. Amazon in California tax law battle: Booksellers in the crossfire

Book lovers mourn Borders closure Help: Sales Tax

In an era of declining tax revenues, states and local governments are trying to hold on to sales taxes anyway they can. With the continued growth of online sales in the past decade, this question has been coming up more and more. In the past few weeks, the battleground over this issue has continued to expand across the country in regards to purchases made via The issue is whether or not states can force out-of-state merchants to collect sales tax on purchases by in-state residents. States such as California would like to see increased monies in their coffers via these sales taxes, but many online retailers claim that it would hinder their operations. Twenty other states are also considering how to approach this issue, and they are also unsure how they can force these online retailers to collect sales taxes. There is an interesting legal precedent at play here, as a 1992 Supreme Court ruling determined that states cannot force retailers without an in-state presence to collect sales tax. The situation in California has taken on an additional curious wrinkle as Walmart is lobbying to make sure an upcoming ballot referendum in the state is decided in the favor of those stores with a direct bricks-and-mortar presence. Either way, it will be an interesting topic to keep tabs on, as Amazon has already commented that they may move some of their distribution centers to states with more business-friendly policies. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a piece from the Los Angeles Times by George Skelton which talks about the behind-the-scenes lobbying in the battle over the sales tax on online purchases. The second link leads to a piece from this Saturday's Indianapolis Star about the reasons why Amazon has located many of their warehouses in Indiana. Moving along, the third link will take visitors to an opinion piece on this matter from Jon Talton which appeared in the Seattle Times on Saturday. The fourth link leads to a piece by Violet Blue from her ZDNET column, "Pulp Tech". In this piece she talks about this recent imbroglio over taxes, along with a discussion of how this will affect consumers in the long and short term, with reference to the recent demise of Borders. On a related note, the fifth link leads to an article from this Monday's Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail about the closing of Borders. The last and final link will take users to the sales tax page, which describes how sales taxes are calculated on each order.

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