Mitch's Blog 2003

Last Updated: May 20, 2004.

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.

Saturday December 27, 2003

Radio Nederland has an interesting article on a new automotive technique. A Dutch inventor is perfecting the 'The whispering wheel', a propulsion method where the wheel is turned into part of an electric motor. I don't think its as revolutionary as implied in the article, but still its interesting.

Friday December 26, 2003

Free Spyware and adware scanner from inside your browser, not program to install.

Bjorn Lomborg's rebuttal to Scientific American's Jan 2002 article on his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. After reading SciAm's ad hominem attack on Lomborg, I did not renew my subscription. SciAm used to report cutting edge science, but the last few years they seem to be reporting some good science, but often promoting social viewpoints.

Slashdot has a summary of the refutation of charges of scientific dishonesty.

Monday December 15, 2003

ADNug Notes from a recent DotNet User's group meeting:

Product Replaces Ship Date Comments
Longhorn Windows 2006 Rebuilt from the ground up; much work yet to be done; built for 6 GHz processors and 9:16 hi-def screen; Major Components:: Aero: 3D User Interface; Avalon: graphics api;Indigo: Web services, P2P, chat, communications; Palladium: Trustworthy Computing.
Yukon SQL Server first half 2004 core engine baked into other products
Whidbey Dev Studio 2004 Ships with ASP.Net 2.0; no build menuitem
ASP.Net framework 2004 Scott Gutherie has been watching ASP.Net development. 70% less code; Programming is more a commodity; has page templates; easier data binding to controls; login/password reset
WinFS file system 2004 built on Yukon, much more than a file system
XAML XML user interface.
(Think XUL)
2004 Microsoft is very excited about XAML
Misc Notes:
Activex is Dead.
.Net is really all about Declaritive programmer
Get your student attitude on, all the stuff you know now is becoming obsolete.

Friday November 21, 2003

A great article on XForms and SVG.

Wednesday November 19, 2003

Norman Richard, a member of the Austin Java User's Group, has an excellent blog about software.

Friday November 14, 2003

One of my penny pictures made it big at, that's cool.

Scientists create a virus that can reproduce.

Novel Semiconductor Could Soup Up Solar Cells.

Revealed: Nine ways to find your inner happiness.

Tuesday November 04, 2003

A nice powers of 10 viewer.

Tuesday September 30, 2003

I've got the perfect diet - The Seasonal Diet. Our ancestors ate what was in season at the time in large amounts. When apples were ripe, they would eat lots of apples. When berries were ripe, they would eat lots of berries. The problem with our diet today is that we eat all our food types all the time. As I will show in my new upcoming book, "Eat Seasonally and Say Goodbye to Seasonal Allergies", this causes enormous problems. Our bodies were designed to 'gorge' on foods during a season, and then move on to another type of food. By unnaturally staying with the same foods all year long, our bodies get out of balance and develop sensitivities to the foods. The new Fincher Seasonal Diet rotates foods through the year and gets your body back in nature's balance.

(Hey, it's at least as good as the Blood Type Diet).

Thursday September 25, 2003

Being smart doesn't always pay.

Thursday September 18, 2003

Artificial DNA Stacks Metal Atoms.. Could we use this to build computer chips one day?

Wednesday September 10, 2003

From ecommercetimes
In recent weeks, the company has sparred in the press with Asian governments that are considering banding together to develop their own open-source operating system to provide a leg up to local software developers. Microsoft decried the move as potentially anticompetitive.

This raises tu quoque to new heights.

Monday September 08, 2003

A sign of the future? Bacterial Battery Converts Sugar into Electricity.

Monday August 18, 2003

This humble site had a few pages retrieved by a robot named "NPBot". Respectfully, they added a link in my log file to "" in the request. NameProtect trawls the web looking for branding violations. Interesting business model. Why can't they just look in Google?

Thursday August 14, 2003

Interesting story on the battle for Munich between Linux and Microsoft.

New Gamma-ray weapons may be coming to an arsenal near you.

Friday August 08, 2003

Latest news on optical quantum computing.

The most efficient solar cell yet is 36% efficient.

Wednesday July 30, 2003

I'm thinking of writing a book, "The Six Sigma Marriage - How To Use Statistics and Measurable Goals in Your Relationship." This is to be followed quickly by "The Six Sigma Family - Raising Kids Within One Standard Deviation".

But first I have to finish my solar-hydrogen barbecue grill. I plan to use a small solar cell to generate electricity to separate Hydrogen from Oxygen in plain water and then use them to cook food. No more trips to replace your propane tank! No greenhouse gasses, No dependencies on foreign countries. Watch Amazon's appliance section for the announcement.

But even before that, I have got to figure out these quarks and leptons before somebody else does. I don't think that superstring is the answer. There's something simpler.

And in between all those I'd like to figure out Linear B.

Monday July 14, 2003

The future is peeking in on us. A few new prototype systems like the one in the Venerable Bede School in Sunderland are using Iris-scanning equipment to identify patrons. This holds a huge promise for a financial system much more secure than our current credit card method. It's a good thing.

Thursday July 10, 2003

A 16yr old perhaps finds a new way to factor quadratics.

Tuesday June 17, 2003

Reconfigurable chips are back in the news.

Tidal energy turbine launches - from the BBC and from DW.

Friday June 13, 2003

Fuel cells: environmental friend or foe? at physicsweb. What happens when 10% of all this new hydrogen we are going to create escapes and floats into the upper atmosphere? Extra funding for climatologists.

Monday June 09, 2003

Using proteins to create wires seems like a promising future. Perhaps chips will be made from a virus programmed to replicate a pattern of a silicon plate and then etched in gold.

Wednesday May 28, 2003

Microsoft loses city of Munich deal to Linux. Once the dam breaks and people see that you can run an enterprise on Linux, the dominance of Microsoft will rapidly come to an end. This will come true faster than most people think in Europe and Asia, where concerns about national security and national pride will push Microsoft aside. The US will be a lone Microsoft island for a while, but will eventually be forced by competitive pressures to follow the penguin.

Thursday May 22, 2003

Electric shock weapons could go wireless . Just like a taser, but instead of a single use dart with wires, it uses a conductive stream of liquid that can be sprayed multiple times.

Thursday May 15, 2003

Neutrino beam could neutralize nuclear bombs making them useless.

What if we could develop a beam of particles that excites a warhead to explode in the bunker? Having nukes would become a liability in some ways.

A good article about bacteria existing on just a single photon every 8 hours and on different wavelengths. Which makes you wonder if we could have solar cells that work on infra-red heat sources instead of solar energy? Not terribly efficient I'm sure, but black body radiation is everywhere.

Thursday May 01, 2003

An ASCII version of the Star Wars movie?

Friday April 11, 2003

Hydrates the future of natural gas transport?

Monday April 07, 2003

Seen on a bumper sticker: "I'm just not the same since that house fell on my sister". A bumper sticker I'd like to see: "Why question authority?"

Friday March 28, 2003

I'm fascinated by the effects of parasites on their hosts like this tale of tapeworms.

Tuesday March 25, 2003

I ran into a fun parody site,

Friday March 21, 2003

Will anyone really miss Windows(tm)? Last night I was working on some odds and ends and my windows 98 box freezes. I am not doing any rocket science stuff, just browsing the web and editing with emacs. This morning I noticed my old script to start and stop iis no longer works since moving to XP. The tiny bit of script in "toggleiis.bat":

net STOP "World Wide Web Publishing Service"
net START "World Wide Web Publishing Service"

But it no longer works because the service has been renamed to "World Wide Web Publishing" for some reason.

Thursday March 13, 2003

From our friends at the Economist (Feb 16th, 2002) comes an article on the basic goodness of our race:

Daniel Zizzo of Oxford University and Andrew Oswald of Warwick University crafted a series of experiments in which groups of four people were given nearly equal sums of money. The four had to gamble with their new wealth in random, computerized bets; two came out each time with more cash, and two with less. Richer or poorer, each was then given the chance to spend his money to reduce the take of his fellow subjects. There was no prospect that this would make him any richer. Indeed, it would cost him anywhere from two to 25 cents for every dollar destroyed that belonged to his fellow players.

The professors were shocked to find that even at the price of 25 cents for every dollar burnt, 62% of the participants paid for the privilege of impoverishing their peers.

Monday March 10, 2003

Adding water to some metal compounds make them superconductors. Perhaps this new line of research will help shed some light creating the ultimate room-temp superconductor. One of the big benefits of having superconductors I think would be the ability to store electricity in superconducting loops. This would make a lot of the renewable energy sources more attractive.

Tidal power plan to reap electricity from Scotland's coastline. Two advantages of the underwater tidal turbines: constant predictable source of power every 12 hours and no change in the view of the countryside.

Say goodbye to sulfates: Air pressure can be used to preserve food (OK maybe not sianari just yet, but its an intriguing idea).

Friday March 07, 2003

"..the new portrait precisely pegs the age of the Universe at 13.7 billion years old, with a remarkably small one percent margin of error."
But it also says
"The contents of the Universe include 4% atoms (ordinary matter), 23% of an unknown type of dark matter, and 73% of a mysterious dark energy."
But I can't help marveling that they know the age of the universe to within 1% margin of error, but haven't the foggiest idea what 96% of the universe is made of. Dark matter and dark energy are just names for stuff we suspect is there because we see mysterious forces at work, but we don't know.

I thought of the new killer app for RJR Nabisco - nicotine coffee. It would help people quit smoking, aid developing countries earn hard currency and provide a new beverage for the world. Can't you just see the sign at Starbucks(tm): "Now proudly serving Marlboro DoubleFrench Roast"?

Wednesday March 05, 2003

I'm switching over to Windows PX(TM) at work. I like in one of the setting dialog boxes where it suggestions names for computers like "Kitchen Computer or Mary's computer" - yeah right, we are going to install a windows XP computer in our kitchen.

The message said "use IE5.5 or better", but he lied - I tried Opera 7.0 and it didn't work so well.

An novel way to create sterile males for pests like fruit flies. These are released into the environment and breed with females who produce no offspring. Raising sterile male insects is expensive, because by definition they cannot pass their genes onto their offspring. The new method causing them to be fertile only as long as they are feed certain chemicals. Once released into the wild they become sterile.

Tuesday March 04, 2003

Michel Halbwachs is planning to tap the natural methane in an African lake to power generators.

Monday March 03, 2003

I watched an intriguing show on National Geographic named "Ultimate Enemies: Lions and Elephants". The show chronicles a pride of lions developing the skills to kill elephants. The lions start by feasting on an elephant who is dying of thirst and old age; quickly they decide they like elephant meat. As the lions are eating their first elephant alive the narrator intones: "The horrors we fear are only the currency of the night here."

Friday February 28, 2003

Evidence obtained by German hardware site tecChannel suggests a list of software installed on an XP machine is sent to Microsoft when users run Windows Update.

Thursday February 27, 2003

Texas A&M Physics Professor designs a more efficient engine than a Carnot engine

News flash: Global population may actual decrease due to slowing birth rates and AIDS..

Wednesday February 26, 2003

An Israeli student has a very original idea to play old LPs by scanning them and then using software to play them. The quality is not up to be worth listening to, but till its a unique idea.

Argonne Researchers Create Powerful Stem Cells From Blood; May Revolutionize Medical Research And Transplantation.

A better investment than the space station is the international Fusion Project.

According to, each time you play a DVD on your computer which has WindowsMedia player installed, it contacts a Microsoft server and logs the information. This way Microsoft can help determine the top playing DVD in the world, cheaply and efficiently, so we don't have to take time to do surveys.

Tuesday February 25, 2003

More support for the Hygiene Hypothesis link to asthma.

Friday February 21, 2003

MOLECULAR SELF ASSEMBLY shows amazing promise of future products. Just think of a computer chip that is created from a virus that replicates itself into a series of gates.

Finally an article about the benefits of global warming at the scotsman. The press relentlessly bombards us with pieces about how different species will disappear and lands become uninhabitable. What about the species that will not go extinct because global warming is opening new territory for them? What about the vast swaths of land in Canada that will now be habitable? Perhaps the native peoples there will save their culture and tongue because of global warming? Most changes have good and bad effects.

Thursday February 20, 2003

Gene sequencing to the rescue for halitosis.

A nuclear powered plane?

physicsweb has two good articles on the latest in quantum computing: "Superconductor transistor breaks records" and "Qubits are on solid ground". Quantum computing promises astounding speed for some applications.

A history of windows.

Wednesday February 19, 2003

Sorry for the silence. At work, they've installed a new firewall, and its taken me a little while to figure out how to get out.

ZDNet has an article on .Thomas Bayes Thomas Bayes, one of the leading mathematical lights in computing today, differs from most of his colleagues: He has argued that the existence of God can be derived from equations. His most important paper was published by someone else. And he's been dead for 241 years.

Saturday February 15, 2003

From CRN: Update: Star Microsoft Developer Leaves, Cites Philosophical Differences.

Thursday February 13, 2003

A new type of flexible solar cell is being planned at Spheral Solar of Cambridge, Ontario. Motorola is using Linux for smart phone

Wednesday February 12, 2003

Neah Power Systems announced a new type of small fuel cell to power small electronic devices like laptops. It uses porous silicon instead of a membrane increasing the power density. This should help us start using methanol instead of batteries to run laptops and phones. Methanol would be much more convenient in a lot of ways.

I recommend Opera's new browser - its awesome. Tabbed Panes and mouse gestures make it indispensable.

I liked this intro to a story from
Lazy guide to net culture: by Stewart Kirkpatrick [email protected]
It's hard to keep up with these trends if you've actually got a life. If you want to appear like you're at the cutting edge of net culture but can't be bothered to spend hours online, then never fear.'s pathetic team of geeks, freaks and gimps will do the hard work for you. While you sip wine, read a book or engage in normal social interaction, they will burn out their retinas staring at badly designed web pages and dodge creeps in chatrooms to prepare for you:

Tuesday February 11, 2003

Microsoft has been working hard on XDocs, which has a new name now, InfoPath.

I've been listening to Noble's "Foundations of Western Civilization". He says the Roman Republic fell because the strains of Empire were too great. Rome had existed for almost 400 years as a Republic (509-), but something happened that tipped the balance and brought in the Emperors. Noble mentions three causes:

With so much wealth now flowing into the city, it changed the rules on politics. A man could rise to command an army and gain tremendous wealth and power. Suddenly instead of 100 families controlling Rome, new players came on the scene with new agendas and changed the rules of the game.

Secondly, the influence of Greek philosophy undermined the sturdy morals of the Romans.

Lastly, due to changes in the countryside, many citizens made their way to Rome and formed the core of the mob.

Monday February 10, 2003

A fun new volunteer encyclopedia is available at

Friday February 07, 2003

I've recently finished reading, Click to read reviews or buy Salt A World History. Its an enlightening book about how the search for salt has shaped so much of our history.

Before the advent of cheap salt, fishermen had to bring their catch back each day; this limited the choice of fisheries. Once reasonably priced salt was found, fishermen could voyage for months and fish off the coast of Newfoundland with its amazing abundance of cod.

Salt was so valuable it was used to pay soldiers; hence our word 'salary'.

Tuesday February 04, 2003

Dave Thomas has a great set of slides on "How to Keep Your Job" and a good blog.

Thursday January 30, 2003

The RIAA is really fighting an uphill battle with copy protection methods. CDs can be made with all sorts of copy protection techniques, but really they can all be defeated with a tiny, inexpensive inline recorder like the one at RipFlashRipFlash.
The RipFlash takes the headphone jack from your CD player and records the analog signal intended for your headphones. No amount of rights management can prevent simply recording the music as it comes from your player. Granted, that the quality is not as good as purely digital, but yet its easy.

Wednesday January 29, 2003

In the Land of Microsoft, Where the Shadows Lie. A fun article from our friends at extremetech.

Tuesday January 28, 2003

Microsoft fails Slammer's security test.

ZDNet reports many business moving over to the penguin.

Thursday January 23, 2003

Fear the Penguin. Officials in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US, have decided to dump Microsoft Office from some of its desktops.

Tuesday January 21, 2003

Scorpions Produce Two Types of Venom. This article is also interesting in why the researcher was working on the issue.

South Africa to save billions on software using Open Source.

Bone Marrow Generates New Neurons in Human Brains

Oldest star chart found.

Well-being linked to faith in God.

Wednesday January 15, 2003

MySQL is growing up.

Lindows pursues education arena

Many schools get computers donated to them, but they can't afford to equip them with modern operating systems and software, CEO Michael Robertson said in a statement. Robertson, who is also the founder and former CEO of, added that under the new flat-free program schools, no matter what their size, will be able to provide their computers with an up-to- date OS.

Wednesday January 08, 2003

A good intro to RSS and an RSS newsreader at

Entanglement may even exist between two separate properties of a single particle, such as spin and momentum.

'Gadget printer' promises industrial revolution

Tuesday January 07, 2003

According to The , Microsoft uses Solaris servers for Hotmail.

Monday January 06, 2003

Another good article on how indium, gallium, and nitrogen can be tuned into a near perfect solar cell.

What can history teach us about forecasts of energy use?

Thursday January 02, 2003

Linux is coming to a camcorder near you.