I'm just an animal looking for a home

June 28, 2012
by mitcharf

So many monitors!

I’ve been meaning to write a quick post about this for a while now.  Rarely does a week go by at work that someone doesn’t remark on my workstation setup and asks how to do it.  Behold it in all its nerdy glory!

In some cultures, the number of monitors a man uses are a sign of his virility…

Why so many monitors?  I tend to do a lot of multitasking at work and have many windows open — source code, telnet sessions, web browsers, etc.  It’s nice to be able to find things at a glance, rather than have to shuffle between the multitude of open windows and applications.  For a long time I muddled along with just my laptop and one external monitor, which was all that my laptop supported.  I added a docking station but was disappointed to learn that this did not allow me to use additional monitors, even though it did give me additional graphics ports.  What was a frustrated nerd to do?

Finally I found this lovely device:

It is a USB graphics adapter.  Each one connects to a USB port and allows you to add an external monitor.  In my current setup I am using two of them, and I am considering adding a third.  You can buy them on Amazon for around $45 (they are the same price on newegg, last I checked).  Highly recommended to anyone who has longed for extra screen real estate!  I wouldn’t recommend them for PC gaming, and I haven’t tried them for HD video, but they have served me well for general use and productivity.

June 25, 2012
by mitcharf

Dragon Age sale (and other computer game stuff)

If you like story-rich computer role-playing games, and if you haven’t played the Dragon Age series, then I recommend you check them out.  I mention it because they’re on sale for a ridiculously low price on Amazon right now.  They’re selling Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition and Dragon Age 2 together for $9.99. (the Ultimate Edition includes all expansions/additional content)  You can also buy Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition by itself for $7.49, or Dragon Age 2 by itself for $4.99.  I think the first game is superior to the second one, but both are excellent RPGs and well worth playing.

Speaking of PC games, I just finished my first play through of Mass Effect 3 (the final game in another great RPG series).  Now most of my gaming is spent on Battlefield 3 (which I’d highly recommend to any first-person shooter fans, particularly if you enjoy team-based play).  If you’re playing BF3, I recommend you pick up Battlefield 3: Premium.  It includes all current and planned expansions for BF3, which cost more individually than the premium package costs.  It also has some additional perks, but the expansions alone make it a great value for fans of the game.  If you play BF3, my name on there is mitcharf — add me as a friend and we can play together!

April 18, 2012
by mitcharf
1 Comment

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

I recently read an article which said that the Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark books are being reprinted in new editions, but that the publishers are not using the illustrations from the original books.  Anyone who has fond memories of being frightened by these books as a child will realize what a terrible decision this is, especially if you see the replacement artwork.  Once I read the article I tracked down a used copy of the original books, in case they become hard to find.  It arrived in the mail today!

I bought a hardcover edition of the Scary Stories Treasury.  This includes all 3 original books by Alvin Schwartz featuring the artwork of Stephen Gammell.  You can buy it used on Amazon.

February 9, 2012
by mitcharf

Funny/Thoughtful YouTube Videos

Just collecting a bunch of my favorite YouTube videos of comedy and/or philosophy.


February 8, 2012
by mitcharf

Battlefield 3

A post of interest exclusively to fellow PC gamers.  I’ve been playing Battlefield 3 regularly lately.  It’s a lot of fun, even if you’re not a fan of traditional first-person shooters.  Part of the appeal of the Battlefield series has always been the crazy and unpredictable things which end up happening as a result of the vehicles and physics engine.  Just being a passenger in a jeep when my brother Matt is driving it is an experience unto itself.  Anyway, if you have the game, please add me to your friend list.  My username is mitcharf.

If you don’t have the game, you can buy it here: http://store.origin.com/bf3

Here are some YouTube videos of actual gameplay to give you an idea of what it’s like:

January 26, 2012
by mitcharf

Republicans support domestic abuse (just like Democrats hate the rich)

This afternoon I saw the following article posted on Facebook:  New Hampshire Republicans Propose Bills That Prevent Police From Protecting Domestic Abuse Victims

This prompted me to share the article on my wall along with a novel-length block of text.  I then realized this was more appropriate for a blog post, so I’m cutting and pasting it here:

Given the anti-Republican source of this article, I tried to do additional research on this. I couldn’t find any other media coverage on it, but I did find the text of the bills themselves. I’m mainly curious how the bill sponsors are explaining the necessity for these changes. It’s all well and good to demonize the Republican party (I know I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past), but generally there is a rationale behind any proposed legislation, even if it’s one with which I disagree.

In the case of HB 1608, it’s a moot point now, since I did find a news report that it never made it out of committee after the bill’s sponsor refused to show up for two consecutive hearings on it. But it sounds like the first bill, HB 1581, may still be considered this session.

The only justification for HB 1581 that I could find was in a statement of intent within the bill itself, which said “This legislation supports Part First, Article 19 of the New Hampshire Constitution, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution for the United States, and article V of the New Hampshire Republican Party Platform.”

I presume they are invoking the US 4th amendment’s protection against warrantless or non-judicially-sanctioned arrests. The part of the NH constitution which is mentioned covers much the same ground. Article 5 of the NH GOP party platform is pretty vague, and covers things ranging from separation of powers, states’ rights, English as an official language, and preserving individual liberty.

So, based on all of that, the best I can tell is that this bill was proposed on the grounds that if a police officer arrests someone for an act that they did not directly witness, then this is an infringement of the rights of the person being arrested. With no additional context, I can understand that point. Certainly I in general oppose expanding the powers of the police and of the government, and am a strong supporter of individual rights and liberties. And the laws being changed do address more than just possible domestic abuse cases. However, some sections of these laws are clearly narrowly focused just on domestic abuse, and these sections are being changed along with the others. Given what we know about domestic abuse and the psychological power an abuser can have over his or her victim, I think this is a situation where it is understandable for a police officer to make an arrest based on probable cause, even if they did not witness the victim being beaten.

Anyway, I’m just curious if anyone has any better information on how HB 1581 was justified. I’m guessing it will meet a similar fate to HB 1608, but I’m still interested. In general I am very interested about the motivations and beliefs of those with whom I tend to disagree.

In case it’s not clear, I think most people, regardless of political affiliation, are trying to do what they believe to be the right thing. Well, maybe with a healthy dollop of self-interest thrown in there. But I don’t think many people are motivated by a desire to cause harm or do evil. I wish all politicians would accept this as a given and stop trying to demonize anyone who disagrees with them, declaring them to be evil, greedy, unpatriotic, unAmerican, etc. It doesn’t help us move forward.

January 12, 2012
by mitcharf


I’m incredibly happy right now, and not just because it’s my birthday!  Normally I don’t like to post deliberately mysterious stuff like this, but for now you will just have to wonder about the cause of my happiness.  So there!

January 10, 2012
by mitcharf
1 Comment

Google chat

This morning a message popped up in my Gmail window, saying that someone named sweetiesharxo1@aol.com wanted to chat with me, and asking if I would grant permission for this.  Feeling benevolent, I did so.  This is a transcript of our conversation:

sweetiesharxo1:  hey there
Sent at 10:49 AM on Tuesday
me:  Hello, mysterious person named sweetiesharxo1!
sweetiesharxo1:  hey i’ve been sitting around sooo bored and figured i’d say hii.. hope i didn’t bother u
me:  I do agree that sharks are pretty sweet, though
sweetiesharxo1:  there is like no one around to talk to anymore.. 20/female here how bout u??
me:  Well, sweet as in awesome, not so much sweet as in kind and generous
What is your favorite thing about sharks?
sweetiesharxo1:  oh cool so what’s up?
me:  Not much.  Just drinking coffee, thinking about sharks.  You?
sweetiesharxo1:  its so boring on here now i can’t stand it
me:  You can do what I always do when I am bored — make up a story about a shark.  Or a poem.  Whichever works better for you.
sweetiesharxo1:  weIIII l have an idea if u wanna have sum fun!!!! i was gonna get on my cam and “play around” a lil u should cumm join ;)
i found this really fun sitethat is just like facebook but w/o the stupid trolls… wanna check it out???
me:  Are there sharks?
sweetiesharxo1:  it only takes asecond to signup and it’s 100% free 2!! URL redacted just click the ‘join FREE” at the top of thepage
once u signup u’ll be allgood and u can join my private chat and tell me what 2 do ;-)
me:  If not sharks, are there at least manatees?  Manta rays?  Sea lions?
sweetiesharxo1:  yeah you do need a cc of sum kind but they wiII not charge u a thing!!!!!!
me:  Do they accept payment in sand dollars?
sweetiesharxo1:  i can not wait this is going to be so much fun… wait till u see what i’m wearing right now lol i think u’ll like it;-)
me:  Ooh, is it a shark-themed jumpsuit and a shark fin hat?  If so, we’re twins!
sweetiesharxo1:  are u in babe??? i’m going to go get some “toys” but ill brb and hopefully u’ll be in when i get back hurry uppp
me:  I get the impression you don’t really think sharks are sweet…
Sent at 10:56 AM on Tuesday
You have blocked sweetiesharxo1. You can no longer see each other online or chat together.

Is this a thing spammers do now?  Use bots to initiate chats with random people?  What a brave new world that hath such spammers in it!

October 16, 2011
by mitcharf
1 Comment

From the creator of Chewlumbo* and the visionaries who brought you Shrekuiem For A Dream** and Ghost Dad: Way Of The Samurai*** comes a new series that will change television forever:

Spider Man is having one hell of a night. Attacked by a werewolf and bitten by a vampire, he is transformed into the world’s first undead lyncanthropic superhero. [But there’s a twist!] Little does he know that his real adventure is just about to begin. The very next day he…

[choose your favorite]

  • is named, due to an obscure link of genealogy, the new king of England
  • inherits ownership of a struggling minor league hockey team that has no end of problems but lots of heart
  • is selected by NASA to lead a space mission to blow up a giant meteor hurtling toward Earth
  • time travels back to World War II where he has to fight both the Nazis and the ill-tempered sergeant who has it in for him
  • adopts a blind puppy who teaches him the true meaning of love

Coming this Fall!

* I did not come up with the brilliant idea of Chewlumbo, a detective series starring a crossover between Chewbacca and Columbo. This is my brother Matt’s creation.
** Nor did I come up with Shrekuiem For A Dream! My brother Matt told me about it, although it’s unclear if he made it up himself.
*** GD: WotS is totally mine.

July 25, 2011
by mitcharf

Turntable hints and tips

I’ve created my turntable hints and tips page.  (What is turntable?)  There is a tab at the top of the window which links to it, or you can just click here.  My plan is to keep it updated as I find more hints and tips and such, rather than bury that stuff in regular posts.  I’m also probably going to add a section to it which lists my current favorite rooms on the site, but it’s not there yet.