All posts by Ed

Ed Marsh is an experienced technical communicator, a podcaster, a lover of beer. This site is the home of his thoughts, as well as the Content Content podcast.

My most hated words

I’ve been told I spend a bit too much time on Twitter. To illustrate this point, I once tweeted my most hated word in the English language: slacks. It’s just an awful, harsh-sounding word. Since then, fellow twitterers and technical communicators @afox98@billswallow and @seanb_us (and some of the best people I’ve never met) have referenced The Word a few times. Continue reading My most hated words

Snowpocalypse, December 2010

Santa got lucky this year, as the biting winds and massive snowfall fell on the day after Christmas in the Northeast. It started as-promised late Sunday morning on December 26, and was at its worst in the late afternoon.

We woke up to over two feet of snow. I took this picture mid-morning on Monday. We live on the third, top floor of our condo; this is looking out on to our deck.

blizzard-12-26-2010-looking-out-deck-door

Somewhere out there are several holiday beers.

How to Embed Fonts in MadCap Flare WebHelp

This story is for intermediate to advanced help developers. It requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, and a help authoring tool such as MadCap Flare or Adobe Robohelp.

Have you ever been bored using Georgia, Tahoma, Verdana, and (sigh…) Arial over and over in your help projects? The font-face property has been available for some time in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), but browser and font foundry support are only now allowing use of fonts other than those that ship with operating systems and applications, without workarounds like sIFR and cufon.

New technologies have sprouted up, with Google creating its own font API, and Adobe announcing font support through TypeKit. However, you can also save and host freely available font files on your company’s web server, or install on your users’ PCs, and use these fonts in your WebHelp projects. The web site Font Squirrel creates the CSS for you, using only free, embeddable fonts.

There are thousands of free fonts out there, but not all font creators support font embedding, so be sure to read any license agreement before using them in your projects.

MadCap’s Flare help authoring tool (HAT) uses CSS to style its WebHelp, so you can easily  embed fonts into your help. This should work similarly in Adobe Robohelp. Continue reading How to Embed Fonts in MadCap Flare WebHelp

Easily Vegan Potato Leek Soup Recipe

This is one of those recipes that, with one simple substitution (vegetable instead of chicken stock) and one omission (bacon), is easily a vegan meal.

The upside to living with a gluten-free, dairy-free person is that we eat fresh and eat well. We also eat quite a few meatless meals, but still enjoy a full omnivore diet. And really, aren’t most things better with bacon?

A couple weeks ago, our CSA farm share supplied us with some really nice leeks and potatoes, so we made soup.

Nearly-vegan Potato-leek soup served with gluten-free/dairy-free bread.
Nearly-vegan Potato-leek soup served with gluten-free/dairy-free bread.



In searching for vegan soups, several folks added onion, which I found intriguing, but only one I came across included grated onion. Though there was no real explanation or reasoning behind it, I added the grated onion. I didn’t notice much of a difference, so you can probably just dice it to save yourself some time and cleanup.

Ingredients

One bunch leeks (three)

One medium yellow onion, grated or finely diced

Dried dill from Penzey’s

Penzey’s caraway seeds. In my opinion, no potato soup should exclude caraway.

One sprig of fresh rosemary, or to taste

Trader Joe’s uncured bacon

Approx. 8oz of Mimicreme Vegan Cream (this one:)

MimicCreme cream substitute
This stuff is pretty good.



Approx 16 oz. Kitchen Basics unsalted chicken stock (replace with vegetable stock for vegan)

Fresh chives for garnish

Directions

  1. If you’re using bacon, heat a dutch oven or similar vessel over medium-high heat, add a small amount of canola oil, and then cook the bacon. Reserve the bacon, and then remove most of the fat. Lower the heat to medium-low, and skip to step 3.
  2. If not using bacon, in a dutch oven or similar vessel, heat about two tbsp. (again, i never measure) of canola oil over medium-low heat.
  3. Add the leeks and allow to sweat for a bit. Your goal here is not to brown, but to release moisture.
  4. After a few minutes, add the onion and allow to sweat.
  5. Once the onions look translucent, add the potatoes.
  6. Add the stock, rosemary, and caraway seeds.
  7. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low until potatoes are cooked through.
  8. Add cream and stir.
  9. Use a stick blender to smooth out the soup.
  10. Serve in warm bowls, garnish with bacon (optional), snipped chives, and a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil.