Posted on Programming

Don’t starve together

I’ve been playing Don’t Starve Together lately, and it’s awesome. There’s a constant sense of pressure imposed by the passage of time, days turn to night, a mild Autumn to bleak Winter. It makes any wasted time seem at worst dire, or at best mildly frustrating.

There are so many items you can cobble together, with twigs, bunny-flesh, and the like. At least 144, by my count. But unless you memorize their positions and ingredients, you’re going to waste a lot of time searching through categories for some item you’re sure you’d seen but just can’t seem to find.

I, myself, often kept a wikia tab open on my secondary monitor. But as I’m sure you’re aware, Wikia is slow and prone to annoying ads blaring sound this way and that. And even so, didn’t provide an ideal interface for that sort of thing.

I wanted to type in “charcoal” and immediately see what I could make. Or “crock pot” and see what I needed. Or even “science” to see everything that’s in that category.

And now I can!

The What can I make page is where I spend most of my time. The What do I need page is for those situations where I’m starting a new game, and know I want to create, say, 2 crock pots and 1 bird cage. It’ll tell me everything I need to collect to fulfill my crafting dreams.

If you find anything that doesn’t work, let me know, I haven’t tested it all that much.

I made it just using jquery. Then I remade it using backbone. Then I remade it using webpack, sass and react. Because why not?

This is the backbone version, because the react interface felt strangely clunky.


Posted on Programming

Duplicate emails, chrome, and favicons

Switching away from Mandrill, I found Amazon SES was sending two emails from my PHP test script. This only happened when hit from the web, running the same script through the PHP-CLI sent one email, as expected.

Looking at Chromes network tab, turns out it was loading the script as well as favicon.ico. Alas, there was no favicon.ico, and in the sites-enabled config for that location the FallbackResource was set to /index.php. Turns out it was loading index.php twice, resulting in two emails.

I used Bradicon! to create a quick favicon, uploaded it, and bam!, just one email from then on.


Posted on crafting

The Witcher costume – pauldrons, leather and chainmail

Chainmail, chainmail, chainmail. I got my mother to knit me chainmail.

Guys, I have a confession to make. I don’t know how to knit. I’ve never known how to knit, and it’s entirely possible I’ll never learn to knit. I know, I know. Knitting’s so trendy right now, but there you go, I’m ilkniterate.

But good news, once the knitted pieces magically appeared, I got on with my costume by spraying paint all over them.

Those wooden pieces are for the swords, shhh.

preparing to paint the chainmail

And through the magic of time-lapse!

All painted!

all metal-y

If you’re thinking Wow, those look pretty similar… — good eye!

Once the painting was done, it was time to turn them into armour. I wrapped them in fake leather, with a piece of thin, black craft foam between them, and sewed up the sides. Funny thing about this fake leather, it doesn’t go through the sewing machine well. It’s too… I don’t think sticky is the word, but there’s definitely too much friction. To get around this, I wrapped what I’d be sewing in tissue paper. It was a pain, but it worked.

You can't really see it, but there's a layer of thin foam in there


I added straps and buckles, as appropriate, and sewed it all together. I also lightly dusted some parts with brown spray paint to try to give the leather layering some texture. Beneath the arm pieces are some straps with velcro I sewed on.

Fast forward to this.


#Protip: If I was doing it again, I’d sew the pauldrons down so they didn’t flap around as much – or build them over something sturdier than the fake leather and a thin layer of craft foam.


Posted on crafting

The Witcher costume – foam armour

EVA foam is really cool! I grabbed some from Home Depot, and some poster board at Staples.

The first step was making the pattern. I went through a few iterations here. I started by writing down my various sizes (anything I thought would come in handy) using some dollar-store measuring tape. That wasn’t super useful, so I half-heartedly wrapped my upper torso in plastic wrap and duct tape. Which is really hard to do by yourself! (Also it gets quite warm.)

That, and I ran out of duct tape half way through. The role I’d bought from Safeway didn’t include much at all.

Oh well, I figured. It’d give me an idea — so I drew some demarcation lines on it with a silver sharpie, and cut it off. Once I cut it open I had a better idea of the shapes I’d need.

Pretty rough, but good enough!

duct tape shirt

I drew those shapes onto poster board, and cut them out with an Exacto knife. Loosely taping them together, I donned my poster-board armour — just to get an idea how it looked.

I did this a few times, tracing and making small adjustments, until I was finally happy with the pattern. It looked something like this:

(Exactly like this)

witcher pattern

Once I had the pattern, I pinned the pieces to the foam, traced them with a sharpie, and then cut the foam with a box cutter. I re-sharpened the box cutter after each one because man did the foam dull it fast. I also found the foam’s patterned side was the toughest to cut through, so I made sure to trace my patterns onto that side.

You may have noticed a cut along the bottom of the pectoral’s pattern. On the foam, I scooped out some of the foam here with my box cutter, angling the sides like a triangle. This would allow me to bend it easily, getting a nice crease, but no seam on the visible side. I’m kind of proud of how that turned out!

I setup my balcony as a work space (complete with table, camping chair, and extension cord) and covered it in plastic with the assistance of painters tape.

work space


Once the foam was cut, I donned my mask and safety glasses, and used the rotary tool I bought to sand down the rounded edges. Prepare to be covered in foam dust. After that I sanded them with increasingly fine grits (I have 100, 220, and 320).



Then came the fun part — shaping the foam with the heat gun. I got the best results by really pulling the foam, and holding it in place for a bit while it cooled.

Once I had pieces of foam shaped it was time to join them. I had some trouble getting this to work the way I wanted, but eventually (through the reliable art of trial and error) I stumbled on a technique that seemed to work.

I used LePage contact cement

LePage Contact Cement
      Sand both surfaces – it’s possible you’ve sealed it while shaping. Use a coarse sandpaper for this.
      Apply a coat of contact cement to each side – this coat will soak into the foam, taking a firm grip
      Wait 15 minutes
      Apply a second coat of contact cement to each side – this coat will attach to the first. It won’t soak in so you can use it to join the two pieces, but will benefit from the first coat’s grip.
      Wait 15 minutes
      Press the two pieces together – and hold them in place for about a minute

Once this is done, it’s probably best to give it some time to dry. But after that, you should have a nice, strong attachment! I also punched out some holes along the bottom (which you can see somewhere below).

The armour!

Witcher shirt & armour, in progress

Before I painted, I went over the joints with some Kwik Sealk Caulk to smooth them out so as to be less noticeable seams. It wasn’t really necessary, but I figured I’d give it a try.

Caulked, as they say.


Once the caulk dried, I sprayed on a few coats of Plastidip (so cool!) to give it a nice rubber coating.


Plastidip coated witcher armour

You’re probably wondering what those terrible flaps of painters tape are on the front. I put those there because I was going to glue some leather buckles to the armour. There’s another one on the side that you can’t see.

Once the Plastidip was dry, it was on to the spray painting! I roughed it up a little with watered down black paint and a wet rag, and then dry brushed various browns here and there to give it some texture, wear, and scratches. I also wove some leather through the holes I punched earlier (which I got in a giant bag of scraps from Michaels).


Witcher armour - painted

It turned out one of the chest buckles would be hidden by Geralt’s various straps, so I didn’t bother with that one – but I glued on the buckles. They didn’t hold very well, so I ended up hand sewing through the foam to make them more secure. This worked really well, and was necessary since these buckles were functional. (I’ll talk about making the buckles in a different post.)

And that was it! Foam armour complete!

The Witcher costume