More Roll20 tricks

I had never thought about using the Stylish app (an extension for Firefox, Chrome, etc., see the respective stores) to modify how Roll20 displays. It turns out that people have created many such stylesheets! I’ve just found two that are quite useful to me.

One lets you add rows to the map tab, i.e., the list of pages (maps) wraps instead of extending off to the right of the visible area:

Example of wrapping page list


Example of tightened sidebar list

The other creates tighter sidebar lists in the Art Library and Journal tabs:

The important thing to remember is that in all cases, the modifications will only be visible to the person using the stylesheet. So if you pick one of the many pretty themes, you’re the only one benefiting from it unless others in your group also add the Stylish extension and this specific stylesheet.

In some cases a stylesheet can interfere with a particular character sheet or API. In that case, it’s easy to disable the stylesheet in the app controls.

Stylesheet controls in browser

Tutorial: Creating a Convention Program

Covers 2008-2012For several years now I’ve been volunteering for several tabletop game conventions.  One of the tasks I’ve assumed was the creation of the print programs and other documents for some of them, particularly Emerald City Gamefest and Dragonflight.

I’ve prepared the program for Dragonflight since 2008, and it occurred to me that although I have no plans to stop volunteering, stuff happens and eventually someone will have to take over for me.  I decided to prepare a tutorial on the complete process, from negotiating with printing companies to using desktop publishing to create the document.

Although this tutorial is targeted at one specific convention, I think it can be useful to other convention organizers elsewhere.  Local and regional tabletop game conventions usually work with shoestring budgets, so I use as many free, platform-independent and open source tools as I can (such as GIMP for image editing, Scribus for desktop publishing, Calibre for e-book creation) but the workflow I describe works with equivalent commercial tools.

The tutorial can be downloaded here.  (It looks scarily long because I tried to make my explanations detailed enough to be understood by newcomers without any other help.)  I hope it can be of use to other people.

The Home-Made Condiment Report

MarinadeWe’ve been trying to make most of our food from scratch, and the most entrenched bastion of prepared food for us  — and many other people, I’m sure — is that of condiments.  I can easily whip together a rice or pasta dish better than anything coming out of a box, and I hardly ever walk down the frozen food aisles except when I’m looking for ice cream or, rarely, frozen fruit or vegetables, but there were still a lot of store-bought condiment jars in our refrigerator and pantry, so I decided to tackle this challenge.  Here are my conclusions so far.

Salad dressings and marinades — There is absolutely no reason for me to buy salad dressing.  While it is entirely possible, if one insists, to come up with a dressing recipe that is complicated to make, I can’t think of a single commercially available dressing that isn’t easy and much tastier to replicate at home.  Lots and lots of easy recipes exist, the time and equipment requirements are tiny, and the ingredients make the home-made dressings tastier and cheaper.

Sauces — Sauces of all kinds are almost always better and cheaper made at home, and generally quite easy.  I do continue to buy some “bases”, especially the soy sauce, nam pla, hoisin, and sriracha family, and the occasional curry base concentrate.  But anything more complicated than that is made at home and it doesn’t take much time or effort.  Most sauces don’t require any complicated equipment either, although an immersion (stick) blender can sometimes be useful.

Guacamole and salsa — So easy to make with fresh ingredients, I never buy the ready-made stuff anymore.  Easy to make by hand, but even easier with a food processor.  Make them a few hours in advance so the flavours have time to develop and blend.

Peanut (and other nut) butter — It’s definitely tastier to make our own peanut butter from bulk roasted peanuts.  However, so far it’s not cheaper. An added catch is that places that do sell good quality roasted peanuts at a reasonable price tend to also have a grinder, so it’s only worth it to make it at home if you can’t find a market with a grinder, you have a food processor, and you want the fresh taste.

Ketchup — Better and cheaper home-made, hands down.  You can adjust the sugar and spice level to taste, and making it from fresh tomatoes in summer when produce prices are down gives you many jars to vacuum-seal or freeze, at a fraction of the price.  You need a food processor, blender, or immersion blender if you want to get a smooth texture.

Relish — If you use fresh summer vegetables at their cheapest, relish is easy to make in large batches.  It takes hardly more time and effort to make a large batch rather than a small one, so you might as well make many jars and vacuum-seal or freeze them.  While it can be made without any special equipment, relish is a lot less work when you have a food processor or at least a manual food mill, becoming in fact dead easy.  And the result is very flavourful, at about a third of the price of the cheapest store-bought relish even when using the highest quality ingredients.

Mayonnaise and Aïoli — Very easy and inexpensive to make.  You can make this with a whisk and a strong arm, but a hand mixer, stand mixer, immersion blender, or food processor make it nearly effortless.  Bonus, you can adjust the flavour to suit your taste, pick the right oil for your diet, etc., and you can make small batches to use as needed.

Mustard — Very easy to make, but requires a blender, food processor, food mill, or immersion blender.  However, there are so many recipe variations that it can take a lot of tries to get the exact flavour you’re after (somehow, it seemed easier with the other condiments.)  Can be made in small or large batches as needed.

So far, most of the condiments I have tried making at home are well worth the relatively small amount of effort.

Tell me who you are, what you do

Copyright 2005 Sophie Lagacé

This is an invitation to all my friends — and they are many — who are looking for a job these day. It’s a crappy, crappy economic climate we’re in, and the year is shaping up to be rough; I want to help those I can.

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago to talk about the best online resources* I had found for networking, job search, and career planning. Now I’d like my many friends to tell me about their skills and the kind of job they’re looking for, to “give me their pitch.”

If I run across a contact who can help, or an opening that would fit you, I need to know! So please, send me a short summary, say the paragraph you’d put at the top of a good resume, or the core of a good cover letter, so I can keep my eyes open for you. Tell me what I need to tell about you to a contact. Better yet, I’d like to post these summaries on my site, if that’s OK with you.

I don’t know how much it will help you, but at the very least it may make you boil down your ideas to a short-and-sweet summary, and focus your search.    Or if you freelance or have your own business, send me your info too!

* I realise that these are more useful for certain types of jobs than others; if you’re looking for a job in construction, or store sales, or modelling at Abercrombie and Fitch, then you may rely less on resumes and online presence, but give it a thought anyway.