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Tutorial

CSS: A Beginners’ Guide

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is one of the most important elements of the internet. Whilst HTML provides the barebones, CSS is the style of the website; the presentation and layout. CSS has a few other nifty features, such as custom styles for when an event happens. In today’s article, I look to show you how easily you can edit your WordPress site, or indeed any website, with your very own CSS code.

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TopCast, DMing 101 & Jewellery Making For Your Costumes Panel

GeekOut Top 10s

We were very busy last week, as many of you will be aware. We enjoyed seeing some incredible cosplays; we loved to attend panels; Joel and Sarah hosted a panel each; we all got involved with a TopCast, our first ever recorded Top 10 (which lead to last week’s write-up). Overall, we were incredily busy people at Kitacon last week and we seriously loved every minute of it. Although yesterday was the last specific Kitacon article, this article is just showing off three new videos: Our TopCast for the Top 10 Half Breeds, Joel’s DMing 101 panel and Sarah’s Jewellery Making For Your Costumes panel.

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How To Make Quick & Easy “Tiki” Masks

Recently, I made a rather amusing but very basic Crash Bandicoot costume, that got quite a bit of attention. From people going “W O A H” at me, as I walked around, to people who wanted pictures and even to ask if we made it ourselves, we came up with a pretty easy way to make an Aku Aku mask – But this technique can be applied to more complex masks, if you’re going full Tiki on your design. If you’re looking for something quick and easy to make, perhaps as a mask, or perhaps to jot around your home to show off a bit of your own personal creative flair, then consider making these quick & easy masks!

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An Introduction to MVC

As a programmer, you can take on one or more architectural patterns and one that you may have heard of is the Model View Controller (MVC) pattern. If you are planning on building a functional web application that is easy to test and expand, then you might want to consider using this pattern. I have worked with several PHP frameworks and virtually all of them promote the use of MVC, but you can apply the following information to anything that is based on this architecture.

To help you understand what each component is for, we will be pretending that we are going to build a simple library application where we will be cataloging books.

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Cosplay Tutorial: Tessaiga

Well I’ve been quiet about it this year, but it appears that I have two new costumes ready for Kitacon this year. One is Crash Bandicoot, which is really just a casual outfit with an Aku Aku mask – and the other is Inuyasha, the protagonist, the half-demon, the one who was bound to a tree. Part of Inuyasha is his easily recognisable Tessaiga, the huge sword he wields in battle (but he doesn’t really carry it around). Granted, I could have gone for the safe small version of the sword, but that just wouldn’t be me, so I’ve made the Tessaiga when Inuyasha is wielding it for battle. But how did I make it? Read on!

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Trello: A Users Guide

Trello is a powerful tool for managing a project, allowing you to form teams that take ownership of their projects or tasks in a more visual way. Whilst many people think of Trello as a business tool, it has many uses for home users as well. If you’ve been dabbling with the idea of creating a Trello Board for you and your friends or family, or if you’re just curious as to how to use Trello better, this is a full tutorial on all of the main functions Trello has.


Those of you who are well versed in this website will know that I like to do cosplay, where I really enjoy making my own costumes, or at least bits and pieces towards them. I recently started to show Kim from Later Levels the perks of listing out everything that’s needed to make a costume successful; but one of the talking points was motivation. As such, I set out to set up a cosplay Board for the two of us, to help with our cosplays as we march towards Kitacon Quest.

Table of Contents

Trello Front Page
Trello Board View
Trello Board Menu & Settings
Trello Lists
Trello Cards
Deleting a Trello Board, List & Card
Trello Terminology
Trello Markdown

 


Using Trello

Trello Front Page

Welcome to the front page of Trello. Yours won’t look like this – This is just a quick snippet of how it looks for me! You’ll see there are three big buttons, one of which is just an introductory Welcome Board and the other two are more specific. One is actually to do with what we do here at GeekOut South-West, called GeekOut Media as it encapsulates all of our projects.

The GeekOut Media section is a ‘Team’ view – Within teams, you are able to set it up so only members of that team can participate in your Boards, as well as add in teams specifically for your group. For instance, if you work on many projects at home, perhaps you’re a developer, or perhaps you want to do some work from home as a team, but you also want a team for your house, you can set them up by pressing the Create a new team button. There are many settings and as you can see, you can even give your team a logo. Moving on, we’re going to look at our Cosplay Progress Board.

*NOTE: If you click on the Boards button on the left hand corner of the taskbar at the top, you will be given a drop down list of all of the Boards you’ve been added into/made for yourself. Handy if you use many Boards for many different projects, as this appears even on the Board View.

Trello Board View

I wrote this article as a way to introduce people to Trello and since Kim was new to it at the time, I thought it’d be of interest to share with everyone. Welcome to our humble little Cosplay Progress Board! As I had only just set it up, literally two days before writing this article, there are only a few Cards and Lists from me. Trello is all about a really basic core terminology, of which I’ve created a really simple summary at the end of the article.

Within Boards, there are Lists and within Lists there are Cards. Within Cards, there are snippets of information, of which you fill out yourself. Information doesn’t necessarily have to be text; they can be images, checklists, markdown formatted descriptions, labels and even adding in due dates. We’ll cover all of these later, but first you need to know what’s going on. So this whole web-page is called a Board. Inside, you’ll see five Lists. Inside of the first List, you can visibly see three Cards. You can add a new List by clicking the Add a List… button to the right of the last created List.

Trello Board Menu & Settings

The other thing worth noting on a Trello Board is on the right hand side, where the menu is sat. At the top of the menu you can see the users who are on your Board, followed by a button to add more Members in. Although you can make a completely open and public Board, Trello Boards are typically private by default – You can change the settings of Boards when you first make them, or by clicking on the visibility indicator as you can see above.

Another point of the Menu on the right hand side is the Activities section, which is effectively like a log of all that has happened on the Board. Back to the top of the Menu, you have the Filter Cards button, where you can specifically seek out all Cards that have certain Labels that you set up (more on this later), or Cards that have been created by specific people, or Members who are at least set to be looking after a specific Card. There are a number of different ways you can set this up, so if your Board gets massive, this is a quick way to look through them.

Lastly, there are “Power-Ups” on Trello, which I used to be under the impression were a paid feature, but apparently are not! A Power-Up is similar to an add-on for Trello; an app, or a service, that you can connect to your Trello Board. A really good example of this is the Twitter Power-Up, in case you want to attach a Tweet to a Card. If you’ve got an app you use regularly, or want to add to your Board, activate the Power-Up and the ability to use their features are added into your Trello Cards.

Trello Lists

Lists are simply what we call these named areas within a Board – They are a place where Cards sit peacefully, waiting for people to interact with them. If you click and drag around the name area of a List, you can move them around to change the order in which they appear, like you see in the image above. As well as this, you can move Cards between them by simply click and dragging the Card around the place. This is especially useful if you have a List for “completed” Cards – As an example, you can create a fairly reliable issue/bug tracking ticketing system this way.

Trello Cards

This is the real meat of the article; Trello Cards are where your content goes and this is where you’ll spend most of your time on the website. You’ll often be looking to add content, so once you hit the Add a Card… button at the bottom of a List, you will be prompted to name your brand new Card immediately. Click Add or hit the enter button on your keyboard and you’ll create the Card. We’ll now follow the process of setting up a Card, adding content to it and then finally looking at what else you can do with the Card afterwards.

Welcome to this brand new Card View of the Card we’ve just set up. At the moment, there’s basically nothing on here. First things first, a Description is useful to add, so let’s actually explain what the purpose of the Card is. For the above, I simply typed in “LED Shoes, add update pictures in the comments.” I can add Markdown to make the description prettier, but I’ve not done that for now. If you’d like to know more about Markdown, I’d recommend jumping to the end of this article.

Next, I might decide that this is a Card only for me to use. I can add myself in – As Kim will be a Team viewer of the Board, she will be able to view it as well, but adding myself on the Card will tell me if there have been any updates. Typically this is better for bigger teams, but this also adds a layer of filtering as we’ve mentioned previously in this article. Please note: If you want a cover image for your Card, just simply attach an image and it’ll automatically become the cover image. You can remove this as the cover image if you’d prefer it to not be the cover image, but still attach the image to the Card.

I can add in various different ‘things’: I can add an attachment from my computer, or from a URL of my choice. I can also add a Due Date, I.E when the actions on the Card should be completed by. As well as this, we can create Checklists, Labels and more. Instead of showing everything, I’d like to draw your attention to the Labels section – You can rename these Labels, add more Labels, delete Labels and much more. Again, this helps with filtering; but it can also be useful if you’re creating a sort of “stop-start” system as well.

Lastly, perhaps you’d like to leave a comment on a Card; you might be asking other members of your team a question, or perhaps you just want to tell yourself what’s going on with the Card. Commenting is a powerful way to know what stage you’re up to and that you’ve not abandoned the Card, especially if you are doing something large with it. Think of this as a way to add status updates! You can add pictures to your comments, which are really useful as a visual aid for how far you’ve come on the actions on the Card.

Deleting A Trello Card, List or Board

Your Trello Board, List or Card has run it’s purpose and is now useless to you? Perhaps you instead created it by mistake and you don’t want it any more. You can remove Cards, Lists and Board, however it’s not always intuitive on how to do this. Starting off with a Card, you can delete this by clicking on the Card, clicking the Share and More… button at the bottom right hand corner of the Card and then clicking Delete at the very bottom of the dialogue box. If you’re not sure if you would like to come back to the Card some day, you can instead archive it, by hovering over the Card when you’re in the Board view, clicking the pencil icon at the top right and then clicking Archive.

Lists can be archived by clicking on the … button at the top right hand corner of the List itself and then clicking Archive This List. It’ll prompt you, warning that you’ll be archiving all of the Cards that are on the List as well. This is important, as if you don’t want to be able to get these Cards ever again, then you might want to delete those Cards separately instead. Consider where your content ends up!

Lastly then, the Trello Board itself can be deleted, but you first have to close it by going to the Board Menu on the right hand side. This is important, as once you’ve closed the Board, you will be able to reopen it, but you also needless to say never need to actually go back to the Board ever again. You can also click the Permanently Delete Board… button and away it goes, never to be seen again!


Trello Lexicon

Here are some useful hints to help you with understanding Trello’s terminology.

Boards :- Boards are the general pages where information sits. Board Settings allow you to change things, such as the background image and much more. For those wondering, the background image for our Board here was a stock image found through Trello to represent cosplay. You can subscribe to a Board for a high-level view of what’s happened on your Board via email.
Board View :- When you click into a Board, this is where you see all of the Lists, the Cards inside of the Lists and the settings.
Lists :- Lists are simply just a place where you put Cards. You can subscribe specifically to a List and be updated via email whenever something new happens to the List since you last looked.
Cards :- Cards are where information is held. Add pictures, descriptions, attachments and much more this way. Yes, you can even attach emails and yes, much like Cards and Lists, you can subscribe to them to find out when something happens on a specific Card.
Card View :- This is when you click on a Card and you can see all of the content within it.
Members :- People who have been added into the Board. These are people who can typically edit the Board. If it’s a private Board, only the Members of the Board can view it.
Team :- A bunch of Members who have been added into a group together; You can add people into a Team and if someone creates a Board for the Team, you will automatically be able to jump into it.
Archive :- Remove a Board, List or Card from view, however keep them available to be brought back.
Delete :- Permanently remove a Board, List or Card from Trello.


All Trello Markdown

The below is a quick cheat sheet for all Markdown in Trello. Useful, for if you want to format your data better.

Markdown for formatting Card descriptions, comments, checklist items

Bold: **Word** :- creates a Bold word.
Italic: *Word* :- creates an Italic word.
Strikethrough: ~~Word~~ :- creates a strikethrough on the word.
Inline Code: ‘These words are code formatted’ :- creates a formatted section, most commonly associated with coding.
Links: [Word](http://geekoutsw.com) :- creates a hyperlink on the word in the square brackets.
Mentions: @person will mention a Member of the board called person.

Markdown for formatting Card descriptions and comments only

Horizontal Rule: — :- creates a horizontal rule across the description/comment.
Code Block: ‘’’ Insert Words Here ‘’’  :- This creates a block of text which is formatted as it is between the three “ticks”. This includes new lines.
Indent: > Word :- will indent the words in a description/comment.
Bullet Points: – Word :- will create a bullet point in a description/comment.
Numbered List: 1. Word :- will create a numbered list in a description/comment. NOTE: You can ‘escape’ the numbered list, by placing a slash before the dot. For instance: 5\. will force it to be point 5.

Markdown for formatting Card descriptions only

Headers: #Header 1 :- for the largest header size. You can do ##Header 2 for a size down or ###Header 3 for the smallest header size on a Card description only.
Embedded Images: ![alt text](URL of image) :- Unfortunately, you must have the image hosted somewhere for this to work. Where it says [alt text], you can make this say whatever you want, in case the image doesn’t load. Only works in a Card description.


Wow, this article was a lot more in depth than it was originally going to be, but without the Business Class or Gold Member features being included, this is effectively all that you’d likely care about within Trello. What did you think of this comprehensive guide? Did we cover everything you’d like to see? Don’t forget, Trello has an Android and iPhone app, so you can do all of this on your phone/tablet as well. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on our Facebook, Twitter or Reddit pages.


Git – A tale of changing code – Part 1

We have mentioned Source control before and touched a little on just how useful it can be. We also in this previous post said that we would try and issue a little tutorial. This is an attempt to do just that.

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Cosplay Materials: EVA Foam

Wondered how people make massive pieces of armour in cosplay? Want to know what to look out for when buying your materials? In today’s Cosplay Materials post, we’ll be looking at EVA Foam – And the variants that they come in. There’s a lot of confusion as to what EVA foam is, as there’s many forms of it – So join me if you want to understand more about the foam, what they can be used to make, how much it typically costs and more.

eva-foam-flooring

EVA Foam flooring

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Beginning a simple PHP app

Last time I left you, we had a running Virtual Machine and maybe you have been tinkering with it a bit. If so, good for you! This is specifically aimed at PHP development so if you’re not interested in that then I maybe skip over this and wait until we get to play about with another technology.

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Gunpla Primer

Gunpla is very likely an unfamiliar word. But if I tell you it has something to do with Gundam and model building, you’ll probably figure out what the word means, but don’t worry, I’m planning to explain everything.

Gunpla is my latest hobby, and one that I’m pretty sure I’ll stick to for a long time, as I find it extremely fun. I also have some interesting ideas but can’t really put them in motion until I become more proficient with the out-of-the-box models.

Plastic History

So, what is it? Gunpla is a simple Japanese portmanteau of the words “Gundam Plastic Model,” and refers to modelling kits for building scaled versions of every vehicle and mecha of the many Mobile Suit Gundam franchises. I’ll be using this word to refer to all Gundam modelling for the rest of the article.
The first line of model kits, way before anyone ever came up with the name Gunpla, appeared on the market following the cancellation of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series in the 70s, and included every single type of mecha or vehicle seen on the show as well as variations. These models were rather simplistic by today’s standards and much like other model kits—such as airplanes—you needed to paint and glue them together yourself.

These are not pretty! | Credit: CollectionDX

These are not pretty! | Credit: CollectionDX

During the 80s, with the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam line, the style changed and they started using both polycaps (soft plastic connectors) for better-articulated joints and snap-fit parts that didn’t need glue. These two improvements make up the current standard for Gundam models aka Gunpla.

Over the years, Bandai introduced the “Grades” which represent not only levels of quality and detail but also the scale—though the first Grade introduced, the High Grade, shares the scale with three other lines. Some of these Gunpla grades had limited runs, as they were part of Anniversary events, such as the First Grade, a re-release of the first series’ mechs under modern snap-fit standards yet keeping the original simplicity, and the Mega Size Model “Grade”, 1:48 scale, during the 30th anniversary event and discontinued only three years later.

We’ve come a long way!

We’ve come a long way!

When it comes to collecting and building Gundam, it’s all…

A Matter of Scale

The average-sized mecha in the Gundam universe is around 18 meters tall. Building a plastic model that size would be overkill. You wouldn’t really fit the thing in your room, even your garage. You’d have to build it on the Thames! But I suppose you would have to do the same with any model kit, I suppose.

As I mentioned before, every grade has an associated scale, ranging from 1:144 (that is 1/144 of the original 18m size) to the quite massive 1:35. Here’s a quick breakdown:

From small to Gargantuan, kinda like D&D scales! | Credit: Japan-Cool

From small to Gargantuan, kinda like D&D scales! | Credit: Japan-Cool

High Grade (1:144 & 1:100): Introduced in the 90s and still a very popular Gunpla grade. These models are very simple and easy to put together, a recommended starting grade for most builders. You can find almost all Mobile Suit in High Grade.

Real Grade (1:144): A model type with extensive details and using the design principles of the Master and Perfect grades but at a smaller size and cheaper price. Real Grade is the highest end line for this scale.

Master Grades allow for lots of poses!

Master Grades allow for lots of poses!

Master Grade (1:100): These kits introduced something amazing to Gunpla: inner skeletal frame, for better poses and articulation. Master Grades are the 2nd highest level of Gundam models in terms of details and overall difficulty. This is the grade I chose to start with, as I wanted a challenge for myself and the hundreds of tiny pieces were a lot of fun.

Perfect Grade (1:60): Perfect Grades are the top of the line in Gunpla, with massive level of detail and parts. It’s not unusual to find PGs with led parts. Just imagine having to wire lighting in addition to all the building. Perfect Grade Gunpla as you may imagine are also quite large, at around 30cm on average and very expensive. If a Master Grade costs around £40 a Perfect Grade will cost at least five times that amount. These require a lot of skill and time to build.

In addition to these mainstream lines, there are two others worth mentioning, even though they’re not really grades but separate product lines by Bandai Hobby:

SD Gundams are really cute! | Credit: Amazon UK

SD Gundams are really cute! | Credit: Amazon UK

Super Deformed: The Super Deformed Gunpla kits are easy to build but have limited articulation and need a coat of paint for finishing. These represent the many comically proportioned Gundams from the SD Gundam Franchise. I have at least one SD Gundam planned in the future, the Star Winning Gundam from the anime Gundam Build Fighters Try, the series that inspired me to build my first Gunpla.

B-Club: These are a special category, a secondary line made of resin and with no finishing whatsoever. Because of the industrial process required for resin, these kits often have extra bits attached that the builder needs to remove and that’s just the beginning. Only experts should attempt these builds, as they require copious amounts of customisation to even build an out-of-the-box model.

Resin models are hard! | Credit: GunJap

Resin models are hard! | Credit: GunJap

With that we conclude this overview of Gunpla, so let’s get onto the fun bit…

Gunpla Building

Every Gunpla kit comes with everything you need to build the model, the pieces held together in numbered sprue’s. Along with these comes an instruction manual that will remind you of IKEA, with clear instructions of which numbers to put together and where.

You might not need glue to build Gunpla anymore, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need the proper tools. This is still model building and any craft hobby has its toolset! Your primary tools are a cutter and a hobby knife.

Just follow the instructions!

Just follow the instructions!

The cutter, as its name implies is just to cut the Gunpla pieces clear of the sprues, while the hobby knife you’ll most likely use to take off the excess plastic on the part after cutting it free. You have to be very careful with hobby knifes, not only because it’s very easy to cut yourself with the sharp blade, but also it’s very easy to go beyond the simple nub of extra plastic and take out a chunk of the part—though if you’re doing a custom build and want the part to look “damaged,” you might want to do that on purpose.

The hobby knife is also very useful in peeling and attaching decals, which come standard with most models, particularly the “Ver. Ka.” Series, which are redesigned mechs by Hajime Katoki, one of the principal mecha designers for Sunrise and who’s worked on many Gundam series, with Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz being the most famous. He’s the man responsible for the redesigned and frankly badass looking Wing Zero Custom.

I’m still missing decals!

I’m still missing decals!

Aside from these important tools, it never hurts to have a cutting board, as these come with measurements and if you use the knife, you won’t ruin the desk you’re working on.
Lastly, you might need some sandpaper to smooth out the surfaces. Sometimes, even using the hobby knife isn’t enough or the piece is too delicate or small for the blade, so sandpaper can help you where the knife can’t in making your Gunpla pieces ready to go.

This is really, really sharp! | Credit: Gunbies

This is really, really sharp! | Credit: Gunbies

Bandai also sells a ton of markers to pain the parts, or you can go with your own—this bit is really up to you. Let me just say that unless you’re building something custom and want to add your own scheme, the kits come with painted parts, so you don’t need to worry about it.

As for the scales and grades to pick, it’s up to you, but the higher the scale and grade, the more it’ll take to finish a model. High Grade and SD Gunpla take a few minutes to complete. Real Grades take a bit longer and Master Grades a few hours. Perfect Grades and beyond can take up to a day of work depending on the complexity of the model. If you’re doing custom work, it’s impossible to know how long it’ll take.

Love the box art

Love the box art

My first Gunpla, a Master Grade Freedom Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED took 6-8 hours to complete, though it’s still missing the decals. It might seem like a long time, but when you’re doing it, putting the pieces together with the cookbook, time just flies by.

My next project is another Freedom Gundam but a 2016 version with even more articulation and better construction overall. I have a few Beargguy (not a typo) III builds in the works as well, with some custom builds, including one with the GeekOut South-West colours and logo, but those will take time to come together, as will the 3rd Freedom I’ll make, but a custom build with a Decepticon design.

When I eventually make it to PG Gunpla, I’m doing the original Gundam, the RX-78.-2.

One of the most modifiable models out there!

One of the most modifiable models out there!

If you’re interested in Gunpla and want some extra information, hit me up in the comments or on Twitter and I’ll point you in the right direction. I can even teach you which sites to avoid when purchasing Gunpla! I might be just a beginner on the subject, but in this short time, I’ve seen a good chunk of scam websites and I certainly don’t want you to go through the same stuff I did.