The Scout Report -- Volume 17, Number 41

October 14, 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

North Carolina Exploring Cultural Heritage Online [pdf]

The goal of the North Carolina Exploring Cultural Heritage Online (NECHO) website is to promote "the use of digital technologies to broaden and enhance access to North Carolina's cultural heritage and fosters collaboration among all the state's cultural resource institutions through grant funding, education and training opportunities and digitization activities." While information science specialists and librarians will enjoy learning about their workflow and project organization, the casual user will be delighted to learn about the great collections featured here. Visitors can start by looking through the "Institution Directory" to take a look at the collections organized by city, county, subject, and type. The directory contains over 1,000 collections, including those from the Historic Rosedale Plantation, the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, and the Wadsworth House. It's a remarkable site, and one that visitors will want to share with friends and colleagues. [KMG]

The Futures Channel

Created in 1999, the goal of The Futures Channel (TFC) is to use "new media technologies to create a channel between the scientists, engineers, explorers and visionaries who are shaping the future, and today's learners who will one day succeed them." The site provides visitors with access to new movies and educator favorites at no charge, and visitors can also purchase compilations of past programs online here as well. In the "Featured Movies" area, visitors can learn how baseball bats are tested, the intricacies involved with making dolls, and the daily life of a weather forecaster. On the right-hand side of the homepage, visitors can also sign up to receive the free weekly newsletter. Visitors looking for more specific short videos can click on one of the thirteen subject areas on the left-hand side of the homepage. The site is rounded out by some special features, like "Behind the Sound of TFC" which features an interview with Stephen Jay, the composer of the music for these innovative films. [KMG]

Kentucky Critter Files

The University of Kentucky Entomology Department has created a website called Kentucky Critter Files, and it is both delightful and edifying. The website is meant purely for hobbyists, enthusiasts and students, and it should not be used as a scientific identification key. Visitors who love to collect and photograph these little animals are given tips on what Kentucky habitats to find them in, and how best to photograph them. For example a tip for re-creating the morning dew on spider webs, to make them show up well in photos, is to mist them with a spray bottle. In addition to "Collecting and Photography" tips, visitors might enjoy a section entitled "Myths - Legends - Folklore". The entry for millipedes states that despite their name, they really don't have 1000 legs, just a few hundred. Another myth is that if a millipede has time to count your teeth, you will die soon after. Most people probably don't smile when they see a millipede, so there are probably not too many lives at stake. [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

Environmental Sciences & Sustainability: The NY Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences has so many areas that they investigate that choosing just one to highlight can be difficult. The Environmental Sciences and Sustainability topic is particularly interesting, and there's enough material here to warrant several return visits. For example, the article entitled "Flood-Resilient Waterfront Development in New York City: Bridging Flood Insurance, Building Codes, and Flood Zoning" from the annals, is about creating waterfront developments that are resilient to floods, and thus able to account for climate change trends. There are also multiple podcasts that visitors can listen and learn from, such as the 20-minute "The Secret Lives of Bees" podcast, which discusses the 200 species of bees that live in New York City and the Great Pollinator Project. The podcast "Between Earth and Sky" will be of interest to visitors who are fascinated by trees, as veteran forest ecologist Nalini Nadkarni explains the connection she has found between humans and trees. [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

Science Museum: Brought to Life

Have you ever wanted to learn exactly how an iron lung works to treat polio? If so, then the interactive online exhibit found on Science Museum Londons Brought to Life website on the iron lung will be exceptionally helpful. Here visitors will find a 360-degree view of an iron lung complete with sound as well as profiles of iron lung patients. Back on the homepage, visitors will find an excellent discussion about "What it means to be well", in a link of the same name. According to the article, "societys medical system, religious beliefs and cultural values" all determine what it means to be well, and the discussion moves on to contrast the written complaints of aches and pains of a naval administrator in the late 1600s to the way we would handle them now. Visitors also shouldn't miss the "Timeline" here, as it documents key events in medical history, such as when Ibn Al-Nafis discovered the pulmonary circulation system in 1242 CE. [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

Library of Online Technology Articles

This rather useful website was created via the TechCast forecasting system, which was developed by Professor William E. Halal and his associates at George Washington University and George Mason University. They were interested in forecasting which technologies were expanding, and they used their system to identify these technologies by reviewing the academic literature and other publications. Visitors to the site can find a list of all the articles arranged chronologically and they include links to the TechCast radio program. Some of the more recent pieces include "The Virtual Assistant Arrives", "The Mystery and Power of Light", and "Can a Green Economy Save the Earth?" Visitors can also create their own profile to save articles of note for future reference and they can also offer their own feedback on different aspects of the site. [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

Fear Of Physics [Flash Player]

Are you afraid of physics? Be fearful no longer, gentle reader. The Fear of Physics site has over twenty different interactive activities that teach the trepidatiously curious about physics via seesaws, basketball jump shots, a spinning wheel, and swinging pendulums. First-time visitors can click on "The Basic Interactions" area to see some of these basic processes in action. The site offers Flash animations of accelerating balls, circular motions, and a block running into a spring, among others. One of the best activities here is "Strange Writing", which uses what appears to be some random computational scribbles to describe how a physicist thinks about their work. Overall, the site is quite a find and visitors may find its general playfulness quite endearing. [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 College-Level Science and Engineering

Created by Professor Sanjoy Mahajan during his time at MIT, this very helpful resource is designed for those persons interested in how to become more effective as science instructors at the college level. The materials cover such subjects as teaching equations for understanding, designing meaningful exam and homework questions, creating interesting lectures, and how to plan a course. On the site, visitors will find homework for his original version of the course, along with readings, helpful handouts, and other materials. Finally, the site also includes a bit on grading philosophies and a list of other helpful books, such as "Thinking Physics" and "Voyages in Conceptual Chemistry". [KMG]

General Interest

Massachusetts Historical Society: Object of the Month

With thousands of items in their collections, the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) is able to call on several centuries of fascinating historical items, and each month they share a new item on their "Object of the Month" webpage. Here visitors will find a digital image of the item, along with an interpretive essay, and a list of suggested readings. Recently profiled items include a Civil War-era letter from a Massachusetts soldier to his mother and a letter from the Reverend Jeremy Belknap (the founder of the MHS) describing a "Plan for an Antiquarian Society". Visitors can also use the "Object Archive" to view items all the way back to August 2001. [KMG]

The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 1920-1925

Starting in the early 1920, writers and other literary types who stopped by Frank Shay's bookshop in Greenwich Village began autographing one of the doors in his store. Eventually 242 different artists and others signed the door, and it eventually found its way to the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. The door is a fascinating document "that defined this slice of Bohemia from 1920 to 1925." On this site, visitors can click on "The Door" to explore the door in detail, and they can zoom in and out to view both identified and unidentified signatures. Clicking on the list of signatures will reveal a brief biographical sketch of each identified artist, and in some cases, links to some of their writings. Moving on, clicking on "Learn about the door as an artifact" will let users learn about how the door moved from place to place before arriving at the Center. [KMG]

Earth As Art 3: A Landsat Perspective

Circling high above the Earth, Landsat satellites have collected digital image photographs of the planet's continents and coastal areas. The Library of Congress has collected a number of these remarkable images (with the assistance of the United States Geological Survey) and visitors to this site can use the interactive features to zoom in and out on each image. The images have interesting titles, like "Empty Quarter", "Algerian Abstract", and "Ghostly Grease Ice". Each image can be sent as a postcard, and a brief paragraph or two describes the scene far below on the Earth's surface. Finally, visitor can also click on the "Learn More" tab to learn about additional web-based and print materials. [KMG]

The Real Rosie the Riveter Project

The iconic image of Rosie Riveter is known to many Americans through the tremendously popular image that has been reproduced on posters, tablecloths, and numerous other items. But what about the real Rosie Riveters? There were hundreds of thousands of women who worked in American defense plants during WWII, and their real stories are fascinating. Working along with the Tamiment Library at New York University, the Spargel Productions company has endeavored to interview many of these women. This website features some of those women as they talk about their experiences in shipyards, electrical companies, and tank assembly lines. Visitors can click on "Browse All Videos" to look over 36 different interviews at their leisure. They will hear Eileen Tench talk about working at the Goodyear Plant Building and Arlene Crary's experiences working for Boeing. In the "Related Resources" section visitors will find links to additional information on these women and WWII. [KMG]

The Daily Princetonian Larry DuPraz Digital Archives

The Daily Princetonian started its life on the campus of Princeton University in 1876. This digital archive of the storied daily paper is dedicated to the newspaper's long-serving production manager Larry Dupraz. Mr. Dupraz came to work at the "Prince" in 1946 as a typesetter, and he later became the compositor, which made him responsible for getting the paper printed each night. He was an institution at the paper until his passing in 2006, some two decades after he had formally retired. The archive contains 19,527 issues, with a total of 131,549 pages and 662,833 articles. Visitors can search for articles with certain phrases or words, and it's more than a bit of fun to look around here. First-timers may want to start by searching phrases like "great Gatsby", "Harvard man" and "dinky". [KMG]


Human rights abuses documented by the written word are powerful, but videos of human rights abuses can be even more transforming. WITNESS was co-founded in 1992 with the commitment of singer and activist Peter Gabriel. Their website states that it "partners with human rights organizations to bring the power of video into their existing campaigns and advance human rights causes around the world." Visitors interested in how video is used to further human rights causes should definitely check out the "Case Studies" link under the "Campaigns" tab. The case studies include "Internally Displaced People in Burma" and "Educational Rights for Romani Children in Bulgaria" which give background on the problem covered in each film, along with the actual video. The "Training" tab is helpful for those visitors who want to engage in video advocacy for their own organization. Also, a "Video Advocacy Planning Toolkit" link is also provided under the Training tab. [KMG]

Philosophy Now: A Magazine of Ideas

Since 1991, Philosophy Now "aims to corrupt innocent citizens by convincing them that philosophy can be exciting, worthwhile and that it can also provide some light and enjoyable reading matter for...philosophy students and academics." This British publication has a sizable amount of free content for the web user of the magazine. Visitors can easily see what is offered for free by looking for the red "Free" sign next to the title of the document. Some recent articles of note from the September/October 2011 issue are "Call No Event Future Until it is Past", "What is Truth?", and "Nietzsche: Love, Guilt and Redemption", an article that explores Nietzsche's "stormy psyche". Those guests visiting the site who might be interested in listening to, rather than reading about, philosophy will appreciate the "Philosophy Now Radio Show". Visitors can listen to the podcast of each program, which are available on the website as well. [KMG]

Network Tools


Kibin is a rather interesting peer-editing review service, and it is worth a look. Essentially, users can submit papers for review and they receive assistance from someone in the Kibin community. Visitors can sign up to try the service for free and they can also purchase points that can be used to have someone edit their document. The site contains a FAQ area and more information about the service. This service is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]


Want to share your computer screen with someone? It can be done quite simply with QuickScreenShare. Visitors can just use the start up screen to begin, and there's no installation required. Users can remotely control the mouse and keyboard of the other computer, and there's even a demonstration video here. This application is compatible with all operating systems, including Linux. [KMG]

In The News

Big Bens tilt now visible to the naked eye

Leaning tower of London? Big Ben is tilting

Big Ben leaning over: Time's up for tilting clock tower of London

Big Ben: UK Parliament

Big Ben Webcam

Big Ben Strikes 12

Big Ben Dashboard Widget

Londons Historic Buildings Hit: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament Houses Struck

The Big Ben Clock Tower has been a fixture of the London skyline since 1859, and over the last 150 years it has endured quite a bit of tumult. In addition to mechanical failure and bombings, Big Ben has been slowly sinking into the ground, causing it to lean to the northwest. The tilt is now visible to the naked eye, and the level of the tilt is accelerating. Big Ben just celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009, and the newly visible tilt is causing concern among tourists and citizens alike. Years of underground developments such as a new underground parking garage and an extension of a line of the London subway system have all contributed to the tilt, which is starting to cause cracks in the walls and ceilings of parts of the House of Commons as well. While the tilt is disconcerting, engineers believe that the level of tilt is still safe, and that they have some years yet before they will have to do something to repair the tilt and save Big Ben. [CMH]

The first link will take you to an article from MSNBC on Big Bens tilt. The second link leads to another story from the UKs own Daily Mail about the fate of Big Ben. The third link will take users to the UK Parliaments Big Ben page which is replete with all things Big Ben including key dates, construction histories, an FAQ, and more. Moving along, the fourth link leads to a charming webcam of Big Ben and Parliament that should indulge users who want to keep a real-time eye on foggy London. The fifth link will take users to a short video that allows them to hear the famous chimes of Big Ben. Next, users will find a link to a widget for their Mac of the worlds most famous clock, which will let them put the chimes of Big Ben right on their dashboard. The final link whisks users to an article from the May 12, 1941 issue of the Milwaukee Sentinel, which discusses the WWII bombings of many of Londons famous buildings, including Big Ben.

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