Spring - the season of taxes, baseball, and gardening

My Favorite Web Sites - Winchester Star - 4/11/02
 by Martin Zombeck

This is a bi-weekly column providing an annotated list of Web sites that may be of interest to the community. Each column will list sites that belong to a particular category: search engines, art, online newspapers and magazines, health and medicine, history, business and economics, etc. or sites relevant to a particular season, for example, skiing or gardening. Most sites will be non-commercial. To make it easier to access the sites, each bi-weekly column will be posted on the Town of Winchester's Web site so that the sites can be accessed and bookmarked without having to be typed. Previous columns will be archived at the Winchester site, also.

Shasta daisies Buttercups and daisies,
Oh, the pretty flowers;
Coming ere the Springtime,
To tell of sunny hours.- Mary Howitt, "Buttercups and Daisies"

A number of Web sites that I reviewed in my columns last spring are worth visiting again. They deal with gardening, tax preparation (for the procrastinators among us), and sports. I have provided links to the relevant columns below. Don't be surprised if some of the links to the sites described are now dead. It's very difficult to stay informed about vanishing sites or changes of address. As you have realized by now, many Web sites often disappear without a whimper.

Now for a change of pace - you may or not be aware that a law that requires public libraries to install pornography-blocking software on their computers is now under judicial review. The Children's Internet Protection Act (CHIPA or CIPA), signed by President Clinton in 2000, requires that public libraries receiving certain types of federal funding install filtering software to prevent access to online pornography. An article, "Protecting Children on the Internet" (gsulaw.gsu.edu/lawand/papers/fa01/davis) by Samantha Davis-Burke (apparently a student at the Georgia State University College of Law) presents a fairly well balanced account of the issues involved in protecting children from pornographic and violence promoting Web sites and "adult" chat rooms. No matter where you come down on the issue of laws restricting access to the internet in order to protect children, you probably agree that the first line of defense in protecting children is the responsibility of parents. I have listed a few Web sites below that provide helpful guidance to parents. The Reference Desk at the Winchester Library is also a useful resource.

The sites selected provide detailed information on plants and gardening techniques. Thousands of photographs and descriptions (including fact sheets) are provided; tips on garden designs are available; professional advice for problems with pests and diseases is given. Even if you are not a gardener, the sites are interesting to anyone who loves nature.

The Boston Red Sox season has started, the 106th Boston Athletic Association Marathon will take place on Monday, April 15, and the Packer Tennis Courts will be opening in about a month. Could it get any better? Why, yes! The World Wide Web is out there as a great source of sports information.

There is an embarrassment of riches of useful tax sites provided by State and Federal governments, tax consultants, accounting firms, tax preparers, and internet portals (Yahoo!, for example). Many tools, tips, and information resources are provided. Missing a tax form? You can print any tax form by visiting either the State or Federal IRS site.

Web Guides for Parents

From the site blurb: "GetNetWise is a public service brought to you by Internet industry corporations and public interest organizations to help ensure that families have safe, constructive, and educational or entertaining online experiences. The GetNetWise coalition wants Internet users to be just "one click away" from the resources they need to make informed decisions about their family's use of the Internet. GetNetWise is a project of the Internet Education Foundation." This site list safety tips, provides links to kid sites, and a search engine to find tools for blocking or filtering sites, and much more.

Librarian's Guide to Cyberspace for Parents & Kids
This site is maintained by the American Library Association (ALA). Provides many safety tips for parents and kids when surfing the Web.

Parents Guide to the Internet
This is an online guide to the internet prepared for parents by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Office of Educational Technology.

Previous columns with live links can be found at www.winchestermass.org/wstar

When he is not updating the Town of Winchester Web site (www.winchestermass.org), Martin Zombeck can be found at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where he is a physicist. E-mail: mvz@alum.mit.edu.