Mitch Fincher's Blog

Last Updated: February 14, 2004 03:14PM.

This is my new public section for my rants and raves about life, science, and computers. See for more Blogger info. My primary interests are alternate energy (wind, solar, wave), alternate operating systems (read: linux), self organizing systems, and general science.

Friday December 27, 2002

2003: the year of Asian Linux.

When the price of a decent PC drops below $350 is Microsoft at a disadvantage? Learn more at ZDNet UK

Interesting interview with Linux kernal guru Alan Cox.

Our friends at IBM in Austin have been cooking up a new chip called Cell.

Thursday December 19, 2002

Brightness boost for organic LEDs

Monday December 16, 2002

Good article about offshore windpower.

lower case letters only came into existence somewhere in the 800 ads. before that we did perfectly fine without them. i really think we need to abolish either the uppercase or the lowercase letters. life would really be much easier. i would vote to get rid of uppercase; since it seems like they are shouting at us. we could do all we need with just lower case just fine. it would make learning to read and write almost twice as simple. kids would no longer have to know how to write two different alphabets. many more kids would become literate and be saved from a life of crime (or perhaps grime). even the greek lower case letters i'm told only came into being in the 800s.

Thursday December 05, 2002

Advances in solar cell production by Evergreen Solar

Sound Waves Chill in New Freezer Design

Science news from

Earliest New World writing revealed

Tuesday December 03, 2002

Oldest Americans may be from Japan.

Monday December 02, 2002

Guitar maker plays a Linux tune

It took a while to find the link, but you can view the Gutenburg Bible online courtesy of the British Library.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources

Tuesday November 26, 2002

Further explaination on the solid-state Geiger from

Exciting possibilities foreshadowed with new version of drought resistant rice

Scientists have extracted heat resistant proteins from bacteria to form a lattice work for tiny electronic devices.

Friday November 22, 2002

Check if your computer has parasites at or

The Monitor reports on a dairy's use of a methane digestor.

Submersible Motherboards A Cool Solution at,3973,720066,

Thursday November 21, 2002

Interesting new design of aeroplane at It combines aspects of a heliocopter with a conventional aeroplane.


Tuesday November 19, 2002

New total spectrum material using indium, gallium, and nitrogen discovery by LBL. This is an exciting discovery. It should pave the way for more efficient solar cells, and since the material is used in LEDs, hopfully the cost will come down. Image with me for a moment a world where the solar power is cost competitive with $10/barrel oil. ... ok now lets get back to work.

Douglas McGregor has created a better neutron detector. This should aid in discovering nuclear material that has lost its way.

Tuesday November 12, 2002

I've been reading about all the new sniper attacks now blamed on Lee Malvo and John Muhammad. Perhaps the police need to ask if they were ever on a grassy knoll in Dallas.

The W ind Turbine Company has made a two blade downwind turbine it claims can create electricity at 3.5 cents/KiloWattHour

Science News reports in a piece titled "Wildfire Below: Smoldering peat disgorges huge volumes of carbon " that 13 to 40 percent of global carbon emissions recently may have been due to peat fires in Indonesia.

Monday November 04, 2002

Methane hydrates could become a source of vast amounts of energy.

Friday November 01, 2002 has a article on media bias.

Thursday October 31, 2002

The Atlantic has a good article on the long term future of Christianity concentrating on the growth of the faith in the Southern Hemisphere.

That TouristGuy gets around. Click "Next" at the bottom to see his other adventures.

Nanotubes drawn into threads (from trnmag this time)..

I like the concept at where just regular folks can publish their own book.

Tuesday October 29, 2002

From ecommercetimes:
Some organizations are taking the plunge nonetheless. Telecommunications company Verizon announced in August that it had made a massive switch, migrating all members of its development team to Linux on the desktop. That transition included substituting OpenOffice for Microsoft Office.
George Hughes, a Verizon executive in charge of the switch, told attendees at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo that as a result of the shift, the company's workstation costs dropped from $20,000 to $3,000 per developer.

Thursday October 24, 2002

An interesting article at says the Kyoto Protol tree planting efforts may in fact harm the earth.
The Kyoto Protocol to halt climate change is based on a scientific fallacy, according to the first results of CarboEurope, a Europe-wide programme that has pioneered research into the carbon budget.

The 1880 census is now available at

Icelandic team creates electricity using thermoelectric device that takes advantage of the temperature difference between two streams of water.

Thread spun from pure carbon nanotubes.

Tuesday October 22, 2002

From Slashdot:
Here's a followup to our earlier story about Microsoft's "inverse switch" campaign. The AP tracked down the switcher and spoke with her: she's an employee at a Microsoft public relations firm but says she actually did switch from Mac to Windows. Microsoft's page is still 404 (but Google's cache still works). The interesting part to me is that the AP "tracked Mallinson by examining personal data hidden within documents that Microsoft had published with its controversial ad." Hmmmmmm. (Kudos to obidonn, the first to demonstrate the use of a stock photo, which piqued interest in this story. As of noon EDT Oct. 15, other stock photos are still being used in anonymous Microsoft "testimonials.")

Yahoo also picked up the story.

"Yes, it's that time again - time to throw away everything you know and start all over. The era of Microsoft .NET has arrived..." Introduction to "Programming Microsoft .Net" by Jeff Prosise

Monday October 21, 2002

A good article on a tera-hertz camera.

Boeing has a new stealth craft flying.

Friday October 18, 2002

I've just got back from a trip to the UK and was greeted by a very good story at burningbird about programming languages.

Lucky Green has an interesting technique to prevent Palladium by filing a patent using the process. He doesn't plan to use the patent, just keep Microsoft from using it.

In Germany cellphone texting is buying used to buy train tickets.

Tiny Atomic Battery Could Run For Decades Unattended

Latest on quantum computing with photons.

Shocking story on Readheads.

Monday October 07, 2002

"Please Conserve Water for the Next Generation" appears on the back of our water bill. But since our water comes from a river, how does conserving water help the next generation? The water all goes down to the sea if I don't use it. I think wise conservation of our resources is needed, but all too often eco-conservation is just slogans without any real benefit. Let's all just think first.

Friday October 04, 2002

Lindows, the linux box for the masses, goes to market.

quote from another review, "We were impressed from the beginning. Lindows is the fastest OS install we've ever seen. It started it at 2:43 p.m. and was done and booting by 2:50 p.m. Yes, you read that right. Installation took seven minutes. We didn't have to do a thing to it except enter a root password. We didn't choose any hardware settings, we didn't configure anything. All we did was sit back, pop a cold one, and let it install."

Friday September 27, 2002

Interesting blog at

I'm not saying I'm old, but when I was young, this part of Texas was also known as 'Middle Earth', and by the time I was 10 or so most of the Elves had already left.

A large company is considering replacing 70,000 Microsoft Desktops with a Linux Desktop.

Another use of the promising new techonology of iris scanning at Canadian airports.

Thursday September 26, 2002

What would we do without science: Doctors Grow Pig Teeth in Rat Intestines

From Algae: Power Plant of the Future? "If half the money being spent on terrorism was spent on hydrogen production, we'd have a permanent solution to terrorism," Veziroglu said, referring to the link between some oil-producing countries and terrorist activities.

Tuesday September 24, 2002

A new version of Kazaa, the peer-to-peer file sharing program has been released. Since the RIAA has been flooding music swapping sites with bogus files to sour the experiance, Kazaa has a system where users rate a file for authenticity, so bogus files get a low score and 'good' files get high scores. Users can then set a filter to weed out files with low scores - the saga continues.

Good list of the 10 Most Beautiful Experiments

Friday September 20, 2002

A good article on compressed air cars in France. Similar in some ways to the e.volution being developed in South Africa

Thursday September 19, 2002

New Hieroglyphics from Guatemala change viewpoint on collapse of the Mayan civilization: A bitter war between rival Maya city-states may have set the stage for the collapse of that once-great civilization,...
And then the Maya world just broke up into regional powers, setting the stage for a period of intensive, petty warfare that finally led to the collapse of the Maya,
Interesting that last week the Mayan's declined because they did not have a sustainable agriculture. The cause of their decline has typically been the cause 'du jour' of activist. Perhaps now with harder evidence we are getting closer to the truth. Good news on the environmental front this week. The ozone hole is suppose to be 'healed' by 2050 and Africa's deserts are in "spectacular" retreat.

Wednesday September 18, 2002

Is "advergaming" the future of advertising?. McDonald's and Intel have product placements inside the new SIMs game.

Monday September 16, 2002

Many characters in Tolkien's work have their names in Norse mythology.

Diamond deposition makes some progress. The ability to lay a few atoms of diamond structure on an item could make a huge difference. Think of incredibly sharp razor blades that never go dull.

Friday September 06, 2002

From Reuters: Delegates to the Earth Summit, convened to reduce poverty while saving the environment, emitted 290,000 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide but paid for schemes to offset only one-seventh of that amount.

Thursday September 05, 2002

You know it never fails and this evening was no exception. I called our credit card company. "To better serve you, please enter your account number". After I type in my card number, I get transfered to a person and her first words are...(you guessed it) "May I have your account number?". How come this people on the phone never have any information that I entered?

Austin company Power Tube is planning on using geothermal energy to produce power. It sounds interesting except for the part about "Power Tube sensors that shut the unit down during an earthquake can provide real-time seismic information that could be sold worldwide," - but who buys seismic data?

They are officing at Austin's Clean Energy Incubator (CEI) which supports several companies.

Wednesday September 04, 2002 Environmentalists Say Summit a Huge Letdown. Uhmm, unlike the last really successful earth summit that fixed poverty and the environment back in ... (which summit was that?).

Thursday August 29, 2002

Interesting table of corruption indexes per country at

Monday August 26, 2002

Machinimais a new trend making your own movies using game software. Pretty cool idea; it should allow a lot of creative people to make their own movies and distribute over the web. This will give a move democratic flavor to making movies. At the very least it will let people use the technology to 'storyboard' their ideas to major studios. Hollywood writers watch out.

NanoMagnetics is creating higher density storage disks using proteins as building blocks to get uniform crystal sizes.

Friday August 23, 2002

It was interesting to hear the Russians were building the booster for our latest rockets - since they are the ones who originally (indirectly) boosted our space program.

Good article on Iris recognition. I can see a future where you just walk up to a gas pump, look into a camera, and the screen on the gas pump displays, "Hi Mitch, which account would you like to pay for the gas?" I then select "American Express" and enter my PIN number. No credit cards to steal, no credit cards to forget.

Parts of Central Europe are flooding now. I've heard lots of reasons why: Global Warming, poor land use, too much straightening of rivers. Oddly, I've yet to hear anyone say, "Hey, lets build a few flood control dams so this doesn't happen again.".

Monday August 19, 2002

Algae: Power Plant of the Future?

"If half the money being spent on terrorism was spent on hydrogen production, we'd have a permanent solution to terrorism," Veziroglu said, referring to the link between some oil-producing countries and terrorist activities.

Wednesday August 14, 2002

Scientists Develop Cheap and Easy Cloning Method. The hard part seems to be manipulating the egg. If we could just learn how the egg turns a regular cell into the first stem cell of a new creature, cloning would be easier. Is it a hormone secreted by the egg. If so we could just use the hormone to create stem cells. With a broken back, perhaps injecting the hormone into the severed nerves would turn some of them into stem cells and regrow the nerve bundle.

Monday August 12, 2002

Study: Science Lowers Murder Rate. Interesting article that murder rates have dropped because more victums are getting better emergency medical care.

Austin-based HelioVolt Corp. has landed a $100,000 government grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The startup has two employees working in makeshift offices, says the article. HelioVolt plans to make inexpensive photovoltaic, or PV, cells to be deposited on sheets of glass to create solar power.

Friday August 09, 2002

Tech Trends of the Future

Thursday August 08, 2002

Quantum computer called possible with today's tech

Friday August 02, 2002

Nakamichi Yamasaki has announced a process to create propane and butane from the CO2 gas. The process has not been independently verified. If true and if the process could be extended to slightly heavier hydrocarbons like gasoline at a reasonable price, we could produce our own gasoline from huge solar farms in the Southwest.

Tuesday July 30, 2002

GM to Sell Emergency Backup Fuel Cells. This shows they really are serious. Hopefully with economy of scale, the price will come down. Why not just run them all the time and use the grid as the backup?

Monday July 29, 2002

The market is way down. Perfect time to put a second mortgage on your home and buy some good stocks.

Friday July 26, 2002

Well, it looks like science's relentless pursuit of the truth (or at least the pursuit of federal grants), has produced a preliminary answer in the BubbleFusion controversy - it can't happen. "But we've shown that chemistry occurs within a collapsing bubble, and that it limits the energy available during cavitation."
BTW, what does it mean the "chemistry occurs"? Doesn't "chemistry" always occur?

'Does Microsoft really exist? We only ask because of a statement in the manual for the Microsoft Natural Pro keyboard. It says: "The names of companies, products, people, characters and/or data mentioned herein are fictitious and are in no way intended to represent any real individual, company, product or event, unless otherwise noted."
The only company mentioned in the manual is Microsoft Corporation.'

Advance May Lead to Practical Quantum Computing

Wednesday July 24, 2002

New Centipede Found in N.Y. Park . Amazing that life can grow and develop even in New York City.

Space station troubles. NASA budget is cut 5 billion dollars. The space station will now be lacking 5% of its budget. What are they doing up there worth that much money?

Since it could not be certified free of Genetically Modified (GM) corn, Zimbabwe refuses shipment of food to feed its starving population.

Monday July 22, 2002

Foes of 'green' power: Environmentalists at

Thursday July 18, 2002

The Economist has a good article on the site. It states in the June 22nd, 2002 edition, It ranks each country according to how seriously various factors are taken, including small government and low taxes, protection of private property from expropriation and monetary debasement, and the ability to trade freely with other countries.

Wednesday July 17, 2002

End game for Saudi Arabia, or just another hoax? Canadian firm says set to slash solar-power costs. See their homepage.

Monday July 15, 2002

What your doctor doesn't know could kill you. A interesting article about the medical use of databases and AI by Dr. Lawrence L. Weed, developer of the Problem Knowledge Coupler software, to diagnosis illness and the resistance to such technology.

Microsoft reportedly spurns its own security software and buys its anti-virus software from an independent.

Nanocrystals Could Form Basis of Artificial Leaves. Interesting article about synthetically turning CO2 into C + O2.

Thursday July 11, 2002

An amazing story about creating the Polio virus from scratch. Lots of implications here.

Web services could scale down to the desktop. Intriguing idea that functions like spellcheck could be a local web service that all applications on your box could call. If you want a different one, you just register a new program behind the service on your box and all your apps that use it (e.g., word processing, email, calendar...) would all get the new spellchecker.

Recently I have been the victim of two incidents of random kindness. I stopped by a Texaco station for gas and decided to get coffee and a donut, since Krispy Kreme donuts are now available at gas stations. After getting my coffee, and spying the boxes of Krispy Kremes, I ask for a donut. The embarrassed clerk said they weren't for sale and that she personally picked them up for the other employees. Then I realized that the Exxon Tiger Marts sell Krispy Kreme, not Texaco stations. But she said, "Oh, but take one of these for free." How could I refuse?

The second incident took place at lunch, where I forgot my wallet in the car. The person behind me said, "Oh don't worry, I'll buy lunch for you." How could I refuse?

"'Windiest' farm goes Live" from the BBC.

'Electron pairs behave like bosons' at physicsweb

Tuesday July 09, 2002

Quantum Computing Puts Encrypted Messages at Risk

Based on his research Scott Stanley says to women: 'If you want someone to marry, choose someone who won't live with you.'

Monday July 08, 2002

Altair's Fuel Cell Passes Demonstration Tests

Tuesday July 02, 2002

Breakthrough! UNC scientists' research promises improved X-ray machines using carbon nanotubes

Monday June 24, 2002

Using the art form of triolets, our friends at MIT have several compsci related poems. My favorite is by John Thele

Scientists spin thread from nanotubes

Thursday June 20, 2002

M & M announced the winner of the color contest today.

Discovery could lead to faster, smaller, cheaper computer chips

Magnets open the gate to nanoscale logic

Monday June 17, 2002

Why doesn't the headline read "Bush concerned about poor minorities?"

Courting Minorities, Bush Touts Homeownership Plan
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - Reaching out to African American and Hispanic voters before the November election, President Bush will outline plans on Monday to use billions of dollars in loans and tax credits to boost the number of minority homeowners by 5.5 million before 2010.

Good article at tech review on latest turbinedesign for wind power.

Thursday June 06, 2002

Firm plans to harness sea's for energywaves - Boston Globe

Wednesday June 05, 2002

Did MS Pay for Open-Source Scare? - Wired

Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous than has been thought. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact -The Atlantic Monthly March 2002

Tuesday June 04, 2002

More on using Titanium dioxide in a Gratzel Cell to reduce cost of solar cells.

Monday June 03, 2002

Opera, the natural choice for a browser.

Hopefully a good trend, IBM signs Linux deal with Germany

Penn State engineers boost hydrogen production from fermentation

Wednesday May 29, 2002

Crystal turns heat to light

Tuesday May 28, 2002

We are back from holiday in Corpus.

Linux, its not just for breakfast anymore, particularly in China

Why has the number of Massachusetts solar-heated homes; fallen from 1000 to 400 in the last decade? Read about solar power for homes on the ropes.

Good article at the BBC on an alternative to regular solar cells, the Gratzel Cell.

"Engineers should always fear biology" -Stephen Salter

Wednesday May 22, 2002

Interesting article on SEX DIFFERENCES IN THE BRAIN at Scientific American. On average, men and women typically do have slightly different strengths .

Tuesday May 21, 2002

Stephan Wolfram has just published 'A New Kind of Science'. Slashdot has a good review.

Monday May 20, 2002

South Africa may build the next generation of Peeble-bed reactors. Cuneiform tablets, the earliest form of writing, have a new of online library . An Israeli scientist has breed a featherless chicken to make a more environmentally friendly (and more profitable) bird.

Thursday May 16, 2002

Back from two weeks in England. We had a wonderful time.

Good article at TRN News on using genectically engineered viruses to create electronic devices. "Biology makes material at moderate temperatures using self assembly, self correction [and] non-toxic materials" -Andrea Belcher

George Whitesides has taken to analog technology to determine the shortest path through a maze. He sandwiches a map of the streets of London between to plates and fills the space with Helium. Applying a voltage between points, the Helium glows along the shortest path.

Friday April 26, 2002

One of the odder sites I found today is all about threes.

Wednesday April 17, 2002

Interesting article on Technology Research News about self-assembling components. Just seems there's a better way out there to make chips with some sort of self-assmebly. I think mammals are formed with each cell figuring out what it should be by who its neighbors are and where it is in the hormonal bath. Also a good blurb on using polarization of light to encode yet more info into a beam of light.

Netscape is back, sort of.

Monday April 15, 2002

While wandering around the office I noticed a slight blemise on the carpet. It turned out to be a perfectly camoflaged little moth. Thousands of years of evolution have evolved a moth with the exact speckled pattern of our ugly industrial carpet. Its been a race of random genetic mutations verses an overly ambitious cleaning staff with swift vacuums.

Tuesday April 09, 2002

Wired has an interesting article about people creating their own DVD comentaries in mp3 format for you to listen to instead of the Director's comments. A collection will be available at

Another good article in Wired this month was about replacing barcodes with tiny circuits printed on plastic. Each item in the store would have the circuit on it. to check out you just roll your cart under a scanner and it querys all the tags and prints the total.

Thursday April 04, 2002

Simple Aggie clock.

Wednesday April 03, 2002

Seems a site promoting Windows2000 as being better than Unix was actually running freeBSD

What ever happened with Bubble Fusion?

Monday April 01, 2002

Microsoft office on Linux

Friday March 29, 2002

More news on new type of Solar Cell.

Good article from Cringley encouraging Apple to port its OS X to Intel. Even better, port OS X to Linux.

Very interesting article on microsoft's use of cross domain cookies

I checked my own cookies and have a microsoft unique GUID for bcentral, expedia, msnbc, msn, and yellowpages.msn.

In windows2000 you can check your cookies by visiting "C:\Documents and Settings\YourUserNameGoesHere\Cookies". Open msn and get the GUID value. Then search the directory for any files with that string.

Thursday March 28, 2002

Interesting article on FlyWheel batteries and one on new cheap

solar panels.

Wednesday March 27, 2002

Headline from Yahoo today:

"Popularity of Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 Pushes Netscape to an All- Time Low IE 6 Soars Above 30% Global Browser Usage Share in Seven Months; Netscape's Share Drops Nearly in Half"

SAN DIEGO, March 27 /PRNewswire/ -- WebSideStory, Inc. ( ), the world's leading provider of outsourced e-business intelligence services, today reported that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT - news) Internet Explorer 6 has captured the number two spot among browser versions behind Internet Explorer 5, and is taking significant market share from Netscape.

I don't doubt that IE is doing well, but the phrase "leading provider of outsourced e-business intelligence services" seems to be a little grandiose. Then I noticed the source of the article was from none other than "WebSideStory, Inc." itself.

Tuesday March 26, 2002

Last night some friends got together and we watched a documentary on the Dreadnought battleships and the battle of Jutland. During the battle, the British commander had very little intelligence on where the German battleship lay. His task force was not relaying enough information back to him. It seems odd that in the final big battle of the dreadnoughts, after spending enormous amount of money on dozens of battleships, the British were fought to a standstill, in large part due to a lack of real time intelligence. If they had one less dreadnought and spent that money on a system for real time intelligence during battle, they might have easily won the day. General Lee at Gettyburg suffered a similar challenge. It seems we spend huge amounts of money on large items, when often its the small, cheap things we neglect that often decide our fates.

Thursday March 21, 2002

For the last month I've been following the "Bubble Fusion" story avidly. With each passing day the chances of real fusion taking place are getting smaller. I've been listening to Click to read reviews or buy Blind Mans Bluff Blind Mans Bluff, the story of submarine spying during the Cold War. Several things strike me. We spent a lot of money countering the Soviet threat. Some of it very well spent, some wasted. The US spent billions of dollars to tap Soviet underwater cables to gain access to Russian secrets. The Soviets spent under a million dollars to bribe Walker to deliever more important intelligence to them.

Wednesday March 20, 2002

I recently called our local Microsoft Technology Center in Austin to ask if one of their salespeople could give our company a demo of this ".Net" thing. The Austin Microsoft operator said she could not let me talk directly to a local salesperson. I had to call the national sales office, and they would assign me a local sales person in Austin. I called the national Microsoft sales office and he said he could not give me a name, phone number, or email address of any salesperson in Austin to call, but he could give me a fax number and I could fax my request in to the office. I specifically asked him again "So you can't give me a phone number or email address to contact my local microsoft rep, but you can give me a fax number?". "That's correct.", he said.

I just find it a little ironic that a software company forces me to fax my request to them for a salesperson contact to me.

(To be fair, I dug out a business card from my files, emailed the local office directly (even though the national guys couldn't give that to me) and they were very helpful).

Tuesday March 19, 2002

Today's stock market tip: Go short on VirusScanner software makers like McAffee. Microsoft has entered just about all the other mass consumer markets. Its only a matter of time before they introduce their own virus protection software, at which time the others stock will plummet.

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