The Scout Report
April 26, 2013 -- Volume 19, Number 17
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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The Documenting the American South collections from the University of North Carolina are a veritable cornucopia of material about the vast cultural and historical legacy of this complex region. The digitization project was made possible by a Library Services and Technology Act grant distributed through the State Library of North Carolina. Visitors can delve into the colonial and state records of North Carolina by looking over 26 volumes of material. These volumes were originally published between 1886 and 1907 and feature a four-volume master index. Visitors can search the entire archive via the search engine or click on the small icons to open documents like "A New Map of Carolina" from 1690 or the engraving titled "Governor Tyron and the Regulators". Also, users can click on the Browse CSR tab to look around by volume, date, or creator type. [KMG]
What would happen if a large meteorite or other object hit the Earth? It's something that has engaged the minds and talents of astrophysicists (and students of all ages) for decades. Now the generally curious can create their own simulated impact with Purdue University's "Impact Earth" website. Visitors can browse the Famous Craters area to get started. This part includes some "classics," such as the Ries Crater and the Tunguska Fireball. Of course, visitors really must use the handy interface to craft their own impact, projectile, and target parameters to get the full effect on how such an event plays out. Also, the site includes a complete Documentation file (a peer-reviewed article) and a detailed glossary. [KMG]
How does one teach ethics? It can be a difficult subject and different fields (medicine, law, and so on) all have different ethical considerations and issues. This fine collection of engineering case studies from the Pennsylvania State University College of Engineering brings together resources from a variety of universities that have worked to address this matter. The cases are divided into separate areas that include Developing and Using Case Studies, General Science Cases, and Research Integrity Cases. Visitors shouldn't miss the bulk of the material covered in the General Engineering Cases area, which includes high-quality and contemplative materials on engineering practice ethics from SUNY-Buffalo and the National Science Foundation. The site is rounded out by a number of helpful cases developed in-house by Penn State engineering students. [KMG]
Every year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) researches a broad swath of topics ranging from graduate education in geography to the viability of sustainable agriculture. Visitors can scan through these documents here, on a website which includes recent publications like "Collections in Support of Biological Research" and "Baccalaureate Origins of U.S.-trained S&E Doctorate Recipients." The archive contains over 3,200 documents, which visitors search by publication type or specific organization within NSF. Visitors can also elect to sign up to receive notices about newly added publications via RSS feed or email. [KMG]
The Cornell Cooperative Extension program brings Cornell University's land-grant programs to citizens across the Empire State. This website is part of the Extension's rather impressive public outreach efforts. Clicking on the Program Areas tab allows visitors to learn about various thematic work on subjects like Agriculture and Food Systems and Community and Economic Vitality. Each of these areas includes resources culled from various state agencies, such as databases and fact sheets. In the About area, visitors can learn about the organization's long-term strategic plan and also about local offices across the state. Finally, the News area brings together press releases, videos and blog posts that deal with new innovations in agriculture, community outreach work, and so on. [KMG]
The Urban Institute provides high-quality research on economic and social policy, addressing topics such as education, employment, crime, and governance. This clutch of documents looks at the transformation of the Chicago Housing Authority and the provision of public housing in the city. The five briefs "describe key successes and challenges faced by CHA and its residents." Titles address topics like "How Chicago's Public Housing Transformation Can Inform Federal Policy?" and "Chronic Violence: Beyond the Developments." Along with these insightful documents, visitors can also look over the Previous Briefs area. Here they will find "The Health Crisis for CHA Families," "CHA After Wells-Where are the Residents Now?" and a dozen other briefs. [KMG]
Scitable is a completely free science library and personal learning tool created by the Nature Publishing Group. The work is currently focused on genetics and cell biology and covers topics such as evolution, gene expression and "the rich complexity of cellular processes shared by living organisms." At the Inside Scitable area, visitors can browse ad search hundreds of science articles, use the discussion board, build an online classroom, and also contribute and share content. First-time visitors should head on over to the Spotlight area, where they can read quality pieces on World Teacher's Day, nanotechnology, and other topics. Also, visitors shouldn't miss the Labcoat Life area, which contains musings on topics like "Tackling Mental Illness in Africa" and "Is Global Warming Chiefly Manmade?" [KMG]
The Concord Consortium was founded in 1994 by Bob Tinker and Stephen Bannasch, who have since then worked to craft a multitude of technological innovations to help with the educational process. They share some of their findings right here on the Projects section of their website. The projects are divided into three areas: Active Projects, Archived Projects, and A-Z. Currently there are about 20 projects available in the Active Projects area, including Electron Technologies and Molecular Workbench. Each project comes complete with a project portal, featuring activities, teaching materials, and curriculum information. It's a remarkable collection, and visitors with an interest in pedagogy, science instruction, and related topics will find much to enjoy here.[KMG]
While looking up at the night the sky, humans throughout the millennia have asked that age-old question: "What's out there?" Stellarium provides entry into the world beyond Earth by offering this free open-source planetarium. The program includes over 600,000 stars, along with additional functionality that allows users to download data on over 210 million stars. Also, the program contains illustrations of the constellations and images of nebulae. The user interface is quite easy to use, as it gives users the ability to zoom in and out or use a fisheye projection as a way to experience a bit of that true planetarium feel. Also, the program offers users the ability to add new solar system objects from online resources and even create new effects, such as star twinkling and shooting stars. It is compatible with most operating systems. [KMG]
The mission of the Department of Arkansas Heritage is "to identify Arkansas's heritage and enhance the quality of life by the discovery, preservation, and presentation of the state's cultural, historic, and natural resources." This umbrella site brings together the activities of a number of state agencies, including the Old Statehouse Museum, the Historic Arkansas Museum, and Arkansas Arts Council. It's a great idea to get started by clicking on the Discover Arkansas History tab. Here visitors can explore narrative essays that include "Natural Environments," "Culture," and "Politics." All of these sections contain helpful lesson plans and activity sheets, which is a nice bonus. Visitors shouldn't miss the Calendar area for up-to-date information on talks, fairs, and other events sponsored by any of these agencies. [KMG]
Engineers Against Poverty (EAP) is a non-governmental organization that works in the field of engineering and international development. EAP works to harness members' combined skills to alleviate poverty throughout the world and work on the challenges involved with sustainable development along the way. The materials on the site are divided into five sections, including Major Initiatives, Key Issues, Publications, and EAP's Programme. A good place to start is the Major Initiatives area. Here users can learn about some of the key issues and challenges in the domain of engineering, poverty reduction, and more. The EAP's Programme area has information and working papers on the organization's work in transforming extractive industries and infrastructure projects. Finally, the Publications area contains works like "Employment Intensive Road Construction" and "Climate Compatible Development in the Infrastructure Sector Overview." [KMG]
The Digital Arts website was designed to offer "inspiration for digital creative." It does a fairly standup job of that, offering news updates, tutorials, reviews, features, portfolios, and information about upcoming competitions that will be of interest to those working in a range of industries. First-time visitors would do well to look at the Short Cuts area to learn about new design websites, watch artists work on compelling large format projects, and pick up scuttlebutt from experts in their fields. Moving on, the Tutorials area offers helpful guides such as "How to stop photo noise," "Add texture to retro styled artworks," and "Create X-ray vector art." Finally, the Guides area contains helpful overviews of key fields and programs like Adobe Creative Suite 6, animation, graphic design, and interactive design. [KMG]
In the 21st century, photographer Matthew Brady (ca. 1822 - 1896) is widely remembered as a chronicler of the Civil War, but by the time the War began in 1860, Brady and his studio were already well-established as portrait photographers. This show, from the National Portrait Gallery, presents 21 of Brady's portraits of Union Generals. The introduction on the website is illustrated with a view of Brady's studio in New York City, showing customers browsing large format portrait photographs hung on the walls. However, the hundreds of generals photographed by Brady and his team preferred the smaller, calling card-size photographs known as cartes de visite, and the web exhibition consists of digital reproductions of modern prints made from Brady's carte-de-visite negatives. Each general's image is accompanied by a short history, such as the story of General Joseph Hooker, who was defeated by Robert E. Lee's much smaller army at Chancellorsville, Virginia in 1863. The histories will be familiar to Civil War buffs, but even the uninitiated can get a crash course in military history by viewing the Generals' images and stories at the site. [DS]
The bucolic grounds of Mount Auburn Cemetery are fascinating, and have provided solace to thousands of departed souls since 1831. The grounds are also quite historic and the cemetery's website provides ample information for historians, sociologists, and others who might be interested in studying this unique place. New visitors should read the reminisces offered by persons of note in the "What Makes This Place Special?" There are paens offered up by William Ellery Channing, Emily Elizabeth Parsons, and Dorothea Dix. Moving along, the Visit section offers information on guided walks, birding tours around the grounds, and special events. Of course, there is also information on the more traditional activities and ceremonies associated with any cemetery available under the Cemetery link. [KMG]
The Dartmouth College Library has crafted digital collections celebrating some well-known alumni (such as Dr. Seuss) and other topics. This particular collection brings together a very fine set of films documenting activities and events that took place on the campus. The items here are divided into two sections: Historical Films (1930s-1960s) and Contemporary Films (2008-2012). The Historical Films include Green Flashback, which offers a compilation of color films of student life from 1946. Also quite intriguing is the 1956 film "Dartmouth Visited," which is a promotional film for potential applicants. The contemporary films include a nice tour of the Dartmouth College Library and an exploration of the library's wonderful bell tower. [KMG]
The University of Washington Libraries has created this ambitious and culturally compelling digital collection of "Women Who Rock." The collection brings together "scholars, musicians, media-makers, performers, artists, and activists to explore the role of women and popular music in the creation of cultural scenes and social justice movements in the Americas and beyond." The site includes oral histories, photographs, and films. It's a good idea to start with the Oral Histories area to learn about thirteen fantastic women who are artists, writers, and performers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond, like Medusa and Maylei Blackwell. The Photographs area contains over 370 photos documenting the lives and experiences of these women. It's a remarkable set of materials, and more documents will be added over the coming months. [KMG]
This image editor is one of the better ones available, and it is designed to be used by everyone from amateur shutterbugs to seasoned professionals. This editor supports eleven image formats, image alignment, color adjust, image dimension manipulation, and more. This particular version is compatible with computers running Windows XP and newer. [KMG]
For people who like to use SoundCloud to control their musical selections while working, this helpful plug-in will be a welcome find. SoundCloudNav will allow users to explore different tracks and manipulate them as they see fit. This version is compatible with all computers utilizing Google Chrome. [KMG]
We Had No Idea What Alexander Graham Bell Sounded Like. Until Now
Playing the Unplayable Records
Curators discover first recordings of Christmas Day
Listen as Albert Einstein Reads 'The Common Language of Science' (1941)
Extracting Audio from Pictures
The Library of Congress Recorded Sound Reference Center Online
Photography has been around for a long time, and portraiture even longer. Some written sources date back millennia. We gather a great deal of information through analysis of artifacts, skeletons, and very old trash. In these ways, we have a good idea of what our ancestors looked like, what they thought about, how they lived, and even what they ate. However, the sounds of their voices have long been lost. To remedy this gap in our knowledge somewhat, researchers have been working on a variety of ways to hear recordings previously thought unplayable. These early recordings, many of which survive on delicate wax discs or only in photographs, were often designed for unknown playback mechanisms, or are too fragile to stand up to the rigors of being played. Nevertheless, there have been recent breakthroughs, including those by physicist Carl Haber and colleagues, who scanned very old recordings and converted them into computer audio files. These have allowed us to hear a variety of voices from times past, including for the first time the renowned Alexander Graham Bell. [CM]
The first link leads visitors to a Smithsonian Magazine article on the rediscovery of Alexander Graham Bell's carefully enunciated voice. The second link explores the idea of "playing the unplayable" in a short video also from Smithsonian Magazine. After clicking on the third link, interested parties will be able to hear some of the first recordings of a family's Christmas Day – in 1904. The fourth link leads to a recording of Albert Einstein reading his full essay "The Common Language of Science," which is a delightful listen. The fifth link describes the process of recreating sound from an image of a record, which is sometimes all that remains when original recordings are lost to time or damage. Finally, the sixth link goes to the Library of Congress Recorded Sound Reference Center, which features 21 collections of old, rare, and curious recordings from the Library's archives.
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The Scout Report (ISSN 1092-3861) is published every Friday of the year except the last Friday of December by Internet Scout, located in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Computer Sciences. Funding sources have included the National Science Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Libraries.
Internet Scout Team Max Grinnell Editor Carmen Montopoli Managing Editor Edward Almasy Director Rachael Bower Director Andrea Coffin Information Services Manager Autumn Hall-Tun Internet Cataloger Sara Sacks Internet Cataloger Tim Baumgard Web Developer Corey Halpin Web Developer Zev Weiss Technical Specialist Evan Radkoff Technical Specialist Debra Shapiro Contributor Holly Wallace Administrative Assistant Michael Penn II Administrative Assistant
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