Jenn Sandercock


Jenn Sandercock

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Jenn Sandercock and I'm a game designer. I've been working in games for 8 years now, mostly in digital games, but I have a passion for all kinds of experimental games, including real-world/physical games. I grew up in Melbourne, Australia, but I'm currently based in Seattle. I love the weather here (rain is awesome) and the snow-capped mountains. I also love how tech obsessed most people are.

For the past year I've been working on a variety of projects from digital to completely analog games.

The majority of my time has been working on Thimbleweed Park, a Twin Peaks-esque point-and-click adventure game. We're a small indie team that's distributed across the world and I got to put on a lot of hats on the team. I helped out with code, design, production, customer support, social media, booth creation, merch & Kickstarter rewards and more. I got to work with Fangamer to create a wide range of amazing merch for the game.

I also got to work with Sensible Object (of Beasts of Balance fame) on a new type of board game: one that uses voice-powered devices. It was part of the Amazon Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars. I worked next to other tech companies and got a real insight into the startup world. My job was to help design and produce a totally new board game that relied on the Alexa and used it in interesting ways. The game we created was called "When in Rome" and I got to talk to a lot of really interesting people from around their world about their cities.

As the new year begins, I'm ramping back up on my personal passion project: a series of edible tabletop games. That is, games where you actually eat the pieces and eating changes the gameplay somehow. I've already come up with over half a dozen edible games and my current plan is to develop more of them and then put them into a cookbook that tells people how to bake them and then how to play them!

What hardware do you use?

I mostly work from my 2015 MacBook Pro. I don't like Macs, I only use it because I used to make mobile games and you can't make iOS games without having a Mac. Note that's not entirely true, but they make it so hard that's it's just easier to get a Mac.

I have a large TV monitor that I've borrowed from the Thimbleweed Park booth set up. Anytime we show somewhere, I pull down the monitor and pack it up. It takes up a lot of deskspace, but is really pretty. For testing, I have access to an Xbox dev kit, a PS4 test kit and a Switch test kit. Each one has its own issues when trying to get the latest build of the game on it – so I generally avoided doing this if I could.

I have some large headphones from our booth as well. They've got Franklin (the ghost character) on them. I used to have better headphones that I won at some point, but I lent them and never got them back. I got my own Thimbleweed Park mousepad, which sounded silly when I got it, but I really love.

For my edible games, I use a variety of things from board game supplies to ovens to cookie cutters to ingredients. My current coworking space has an amazing board game supplies wall. They have all kinds of meeples and other tokens you could use for prototyping. They also have a laminator, so I can quickly create boards that food can go on top of and be cleaned!

When I'm doing cooking, I just use my home kitchen which isn't fantastic. There's not much counter space for everything. After having 2 hand-held beaters die on me in the middle of making gingerbread, I searched to find one with more power (UPDATE: It just died on me too, but I blame myself). The good thing about this is that it was the same brand as the underpowered ones and so my beaters fit in it too. It may not be obvious why this is so good, but the reason is about being able to beat flour-based mix and then switch to beating egg whites without having to wash beaters constantly. I love my Silpat baking mats that are easy to clean and reuse (although hard to dry in terms of finding hanging space); and my stackable cooling racks. I recently got sick of my digital scale since it kept eating up batteries and turning off in the middle of me trying to weigh things. I upgraded to this one which has an off button and a dash that pulls out when I put large bowls on top. I'm currently experimenting with a new oven thermometer and so far so good. I prefer it to the analog hanging ones since it doesn't fall down in the hot oven all the time. Disposable piping bags of various sizes are great and end up being handy for so many different things. I recently and finally learnt how to temper chocolate and now I'm doing it super frequently. The problem with tempering is you have to temper a lot more than you need and then you're stuck with a bunch of leftovers. So I bought a chocolate bar mould and then I just pour my leftovers in there and can break them into small chunks and eat – I mean reuse for tempering again.

The best thing about my kitchen set up is my partner… He'll often come into the kitchen after I've been cooking and do all the cleaning and washing for me!

And what software?

Trello is both my super power and my weakness. If something doesn't go on Trello, then it basically won't happen. I can get a bit obsessed with it… Sometimes I've done a task that wasn't on Trello and then created a Trello task just so I can mark it as "done". I've thought long and hard about how I set up my main Trello board and I have a system that goes from left to right. I have lists for the next 4 weeks of to dos, backlog, "do today", "doing", "done today", "done this week", "done this month". I use Card Counter so I can feel a sense of accomplishment, rather than having tasks just disappear. I've been keeping track of cards completed for my personal life for 2 years now and I can see when I have a big month in tasks.

I use a lot of Google Drive. Particularly Google Sheets. I love spreadsheets. I also can't remember how it was attempting to work on the same file with someone else without Google Drive. Recently I learned about "SUMIFS" and it seriously upped my spreadsheet game.

Working with remote teams and coworking spaces means I have to have Slack. Although I think I'm on too many different Slack communities now for me to keep up with all of them.

When I have to help hack together art for a quick Thimbleweed Park promotion, I use PhotoShop. I wish I was better at using it, I feel like I'm only just beginning to understand it. I'm sure it will be useful when shifting to work on images for Edible Games.

While working on Thimbleweed Park as a coder, we had custom tools called Wimpy & Compy. Wimpy helped us position items in rooms, set hot spots, trigger boxes and walk boxes. Compy helped us put together the frames from our animators and check that animations were set up right. I use BBEdit to write the code, and Slicy to break up layers from Photoshop into sprites.

For Thimbleweed Park, we use Square to run payment transactions at our booth. We used PledgeManager to help us manage Kickstarter & new backer information and pledges. We use Sprout Social to manage all the social media sites and Zendesk to manage customer support. We only started using Zendesk a few days before our launch and I can't believe we didn't start earlier – we really couldn't have survived launch without it.

Dropbox to share files is essential as well. I have so much on Dropbox, that I usually use the selective sync function. To help with this, I use DaisyDisk since my hard drive seems to always get too full. It helps me find out where the big files are. I use 1Password to help create and keep passwords and other private information.

As I start to work on my book editing and layout, I'm sure I'm going to add a whole new slew of software to my list.

What would be your dream setup?

Firstly the location: A coworking space with some likeminded people who I could have lunch with every so often, within one ride on public transport (no transfers!). Currently, it's two buses for me or a bike ride up a hill or I end up driving (and I hate commuter driving).

On the technical side of things, I don't really need much in the way of computing power. I'd love to go back to a Windows laptop, but I can't justify the cost right now, so I'm stuck with my Mac. If I did have more money, I'd get a Microsoft Surface for all my personal work and leave my Mac for professional work, so I could separate work and normal life even more.

What I'd really love is an oven in the workplace!! That's super impossible to find. Perhaps a hybrid commercial kitchen rental space with an office space next door?! Although I'm not sure how much I'd get along with professional chefs – I'd be overwhelmed by imposter syndrome. Even at home, I'd love a double oven and enough countertop space to leave out mixers and scales without having to put them away all the time.



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Kate Lacour


Kate Lacour

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a cartoonist and art therapist. I run creative arts workshops for young people with autism and other special needs here in New Orleans. About 15% of that is actual hands-on art therapy, the rest is management, supervision, grant writing, advocacy and planning, planning, planning. I recently gave a TEDx talk on inclusivity through the lens of autism and Mardi Gras. My personal work is creating comics about the body. The best ready-made category for it is "body-horror", since it involves a lot of grotesque, disturbing and sexual content. But the effect is not scary so much as sickening and funny, hopefully beautiful as well. My ongoing series, Vivisectionary, is based on biology diagrams, and The Disciple covers the metaphysical degradation of a would-be mystic.

What hardware do you use?

I draw everything in archival ink on the cheapest watercolor paper available, then paint with a blend of watercolors, colored inks and watercolor dyes. I have finally transitioned to a high-quality watercolor brush, and it's transformed my art, not so much in terms of the final product, but the ease with which I can arrive there. I use the tarot occasionally for guidance on The Disciple and anatomical references or high school biology texts for ideas for Vivisectionary.

And what software?

I use Photoshop to make minor tweaks to my scanned artwork. By far, the most useful piece of technology is Google image search on my iPad. I'm old enough to remember a time in high school when I kept books pasted full of magazine clippings that I'd use for visual reference when drawing- some gross, some beautiful, some merely useful. Nowadays, I can Google anything I need to see in order to complete a page. My search history is pretty strange and embarrassing: horse testicles, barber chair, 1970s blender, vulva, human heart, ham are some of the most recent queries.

What would be your dream setup?

I finally have my ideal physical setup – a tiny desk, an iPad, an expensive paintbrush, a quiet little room for art making. I'm also lucky enough to have a nice little suburban house, two children and a full-time job. My dream would be having a babysitter or housekeeper to cover for me while I make more art.



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merritt k


merritt k

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm merritt k. With my producer Nic Bravo, I run a podcast network called Stay Mean and host a couple of shows. With Daniel Shannon, I'm a part of Ignota Media, a publishing endeavour for and by underrepresented voices. And sometimes I write about internet culture, relationships, and labour — right now I have a column at MEL Magazine.

What hardware do you use?

I spend most of my day on a 2011 MacBook Pro that I bought for $400 from an acquaintance in 2014 and upgraded with the help of Stay Mean producer Nic Bravo. I will likely continue using it until it becomes untenable. The same goes for my iPhone 5C. For reasons that are partly necessity and partly a bizarre form of self-flagellation, I am not the kind of person who replaces things on a regular schedule.

When recording, I speak into an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic on a RODE PSA1 boom arm and monitor with Sony MDR-7506 monitor headphones. I record and do most other work on a cheap IKEA desk in the closet of my small Crown Heights bedroom.

And what software?

For episodes with guests, I use Skype with Ecamm's Skype Call Recorder to grab my side of the call and a backup of the guest's. For solo episodes, I use Piezo. I use VLC to review episodes and TextWrangler to write show notes in Markdown. I also write in TextWrangler, though I've been experimenting with Cold Turkey Writer. I'm trying to do less writing in Google Docs because I'm touchy about losing access to my work, but it's still how I communicate with my editor about revisions. My producer and I share files, solicit file uploads, and take notes using Dropbox and Dropbox Paper. Finally, I have Cold Turkey set up on a schedule to keep me offline in the morning when I do my best writing.

I've become a religious OmniFocus user thanks to my friend Henry Faber. I use the contexts feature along with blocks of time set aside in my calendar to work on different kinds of tasks — writing, communication, research — throughout the day, rather than dedicating time to specific projects. Without this division of time (and let's be honest, even with it), it's too easy to just be kind of working 24/7, a very stressful but not incredibly productive arrangement.

Daniel and I use Asana to coordinate on our work, since OmniFocus doesn't support shared projects. We also use Slack and 1Password, the latter of which I use at Stay Mean and in my day-to-day, though I still sync my vaults over Dropbox rather than using the 1Password subscription service.

I was running CrashPlan — which I loved — until they discontinued the personal user service, at which point I switched to Backblaze. I also regularly back up to an on-site Seagate external drive.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm not interested in a maximalist audio setup, and my machine still runs fine, so I'd be happy with a recording space/office outside of my home, a slightly nicer mic, and a hardware audio mixer.



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Sarah Werner


Sarah Werner

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Sarah Werner (although sometimes folks know me better as @wynkenhimself). I've recently started calling myself an independent librarian, basically a made-up job that sounds better than "independent scholar." I trained to be an English professor: I got a PhD and wrote a dissertation about Shakespeare and performance and feminism (it's also a book!). And then life happened. I didn't get a tenure-track job, I got married, I had a couple of kids. Through some making of my own luck (I hate talking about being lucky; it's hard work to be ready to seize opportunities) I ended up working at the Folger Shakespeare Library as director of their undergraduate program, and so I turned into a book historian and digital media scholar. I fell in love with rare books libraries and how we today interact with old books, and so I quit that job to write and to work as a consultant for special collections libraries.

I've just finished writing a book about how books were made in the first centuries of the printing press and how we work with them today; Studying Early Printed Books, 1450-1800: A Practical Guide will be out from Wiley Blackwell in spring 2018. While the book is in production I'm developing a website that will host images of early printed books and teaching resources.

What hardware do you use?

I rely heavily on my crappy old laptop, a Dell Latitude 6430u that I bought I don't even know when — I think 2013 when I had to take a research trip to England and it was pretty new? The trackpad clicker only works in its sweetspot and I've worn through the coating on the "n" key, but other than that, it's trucking along just fine and it's where I do all my work.

I also rely heavily on my iPhone — I'm using a 6s Plus at the moment, which was a hand-me-down from my spouse after I dropped mine in the toilet. I love the camera but it's way too big for my hands. I do a ton of reading, browsing, and tweeting on it, though, so I manage. I recently got one of the new Apple Watches so I could take walks without having to carry my phone with me, since it doesn't fit into my pockets — I worry about being out of touch if something happens to one of my kids, so this has been freeing. (Pockets, by the way, are an important hardware issue that drive women nuts.) Rounding out my Apple ecosystem is an old iPad; my son tells me it's an iPad Air 2. I use primarily to read PDFs on; when I was teaching it was a godsend. Now I still use it for reading journal articles, but it lives mostly as a device to display recipes and to play music through while I'm cooking.

Other odds and ends: I do a lot of pleasure reading on my Kindle Paperwhite — I think it's the 3rd gen, but it could be the 2nd. The ability to adjust the font size and read at night without a light shining in my aging eyes is fabulous. If I didn't have this, I wouldn't be able to read nearly as many novels as I do, and reading is part of what keeps me sane.

Finally, the biggest category of hardware that I depend on are all my books. I read novels on my Kindle, but work books are always paper codices. I find them easier to take notes on, to refer back to, and even just being able to stand in front of my shelves and stare at them can be helpful.

And what software?

I wrote my book entirely in Scrivener and it made the whole thing possible. Since the book is largely constructed out of chunks of information (these are the steps for laying out type, this is how books are bound, here is how you understand catalog records), using Scrivener let me start out with an outline that I could then slowly build up into blocks of coherent text. I could rearrange blocks as I needed, mark sections as incomplete, and easily move between different places in the project. If I hadn't had it, I don't think I could have really grasped both the large picture of what I was writing and the smaller details.

Shorter pieces, like talks or manuscript reviews, I still do in Word, even though I know everyone hates it. I also use some of the other Office 2013 things, like PowerPoint for my image-heavy talks and sometimes Excel to track various things. But I'm also an inhabitant of the land of Google products for collaborative or public documents, such as the lists I maintain of digitized Gutenberg Bibles and early printed books that aren't available as open-access digital facsimiles.

It feels like most of what I'm doing these days is creating this Early Printed Books website. It's a fun project and a super exhausting one. I spend a lot of time searching for usable images that (a) show features I need, (b) are a high-enough resolution to see details (at least 1000px and preferably around 3000px), (c) that can be downloaded as jpg, jp2, or tiff files, and (d) that are either public domain or use CC BY or CC BY-SA licenses. Oh, and I like to have images of works that cover the entire period of hand-press printing (1450-1800), that come from across the early modern West, and that are produced and hosted by a range of institutions. I have a secret Pinterest board of images I've come across accidentally (my rare books librarian friends post some great stuff on Twitter), and I have long lists on Workflowy of categories of images that I need and links of places to find things. I've been using Pinboard for years and have accumulated a bucketload of links for everything connected to these projects and other projects and just about anything I come across online that I might want again (it's connected to my Twitter and Pocket accounts, so things I fave or save there are bookmarked as well).

Once I have specific images and time to download them, I use Tropy to organize them. It lets me add my own metadata — I need to track both the details of what the imaged book is and the institution providing it, not to mention the licensing terms and tags of book features. Tropy is an open-source project from CHNM and is designed for researchers who take a lot of images in archives. It's only just been released, and I can already see it will meet my photography needs the way Zotero meets my reference organization needs. Once I've got the highest possible resolution of the images I want downloaded, I use IrfanView to resize and compress them so I can then upload them to my site. (I still download as hi-res as possible because sometimes I need to zoom in on a specific detail and it's easier for me to download things once rather than to have to go back and start over again.)

The website itself is built on WordPress with a whole lot of modifications from the standard themes. I use an AMPPS Stack to develop this thing on my local computer and spend a lot of time fiddling with bits and pieces in Notepad++ to get things to work the way I want them to. I often feel like I don't know quite what I'm doing, but between the WordPress Codex and the PHP and CSS tutorials in W3schools, not to mention the assistance of my teenaged programmer son, it's going pretty well. Plus, you learn by doing, right?

I keep all of this and everything backed up on SpiderOak, because I am a packrat and a hoarder and if I lose my work it will never get published and I will never get paid.

What would be your dream setup?

Oh, man. I would love a computer with a bigger screen because my eyes are getting old. I work at home at a built-in standing desk now, but ideally I'd like one that had adjustable height and even an adjustable seat because sometimes you just want to sit down. I always need more bookshelves, and books. If I could get full access to all the online databases I need without paying an arm and a leg, I would be thrilled. (It's hard to do research when you don't have an academic affiliation.)

But what I'd really really like is a magical filing system where I could drop a pile of paper on my desk and it would just put itself away instantly. And my own printing press would be fun.



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Ana Breton


Ana Breton

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Ana Breton and I'm a Digital Producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. I film and edit videos, take behind the scenes photos, and co-manage our show's social media accounts and website.

What hardware do you use?

At work I edit on a Mac Pro desktop and two Samsung monitors; at home I work on a 27" iMac; and on the road I edit on a 17" MacBook Pro. For filming, I use a Canon EOS C300 with Canon lenses; for photos I use the Canon 5D Mark III. If Apple or Canon people are reading this, please send me free stuff. I love you.

And what software?

For Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, I edit videos on Avid Media Composer. I edit photos in Lightroom and make mockups in Photoshop. For script-writing, we use Scripto, which allows our entire team to collaborate at the same time. At home, I edit freelance projects on Premiere Pro under a Snuggie.

What would be your dream setup?

My ideal set up: for filming, a small studio with a green screen, white cyc, and endless equipment to play with. For editing, as many monitors as humanly possible. I love monitors. If you're someone who makes monitors, well, you know what to do.



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