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11 Game of Thrones Cakes

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Last week I noticed that I'd seen more than one awesome cake decorated on the theme of the TV show Game of Thrones. Actually, I could count several, so obviously there were even more such cakes on the internet. Has any other TV show inspired so many bakers to make cakes? Maybe Star Trek, but that's a much older show (and an idea for another list). Here are eleven Game of Thrones cakes for your admiration. Possible spoilers ahead for those who plan to watch the already-aired episodes in the future.

1. Redditor jeffois posted this picture of an Iron Throne cake made by a friend -not a professional baker. The throne was hand-made out of swizzle-stick swords! But of course, the first thing everyone notices is the spilled blood, er, I mean sweet red icing garnish.

2. Melissa at Suburbanitis made a cake for her husband's birthday featuring the direwolf sigil of the House of Stark. The shiny finish is the result of using pearl dust, which she describes as "edible dust glitter." Purely awesome!

3. The Iron Throne cake created by Stephanefalies is decorated with fondant, popsicle sticks, and spray-on color. She posted all the steps for making it at Instructables.

4. Charlotte Narkiewicz made a Game of Thrones cake for Zef’s birthday party. There are no baking details, but it appears the throne is made of pretzels and birthday candles.

5. Merle and Justine ordered a White Walker cake from The Regali Kitchen in the Philippines to celebrate their 4th anniversary. White Walkers are a legendary race featured in the Game of Thrones mythology.

6. Malicia Flore made this throne cake of chocolate! The swords are caramel, and the finished cake is covered in chocolate ganache. Follow the baking and decorating process in a video at Instructables in French (English subtitles available). Yes, her complete recipe is posted in English at Group Recipes.

7. After getting over the shock of seeing these Ned Stark Cake Pops, you might want to go to Not Your Momma's Cookie to see exactly how Bakerella made them so you can do it, too!

8. Kensei Yonzon posted this photo of a cake he made at The Bunny Baker cake studio in Manila, Philippines. The fondant decoration was made from marshmallows and chocolate. He said it "tastes like lies and deceit, according to the folks we made it for." But we know better.

9. This cake was made by audairymaid and posted to Cake Central. It's a cookies-and-cream cake topped with a throne made of RKTs and fondant. RKTs are Rice Krispy Treats. I'm sure the cake was delicious.

10. Game of Thrones symbolism lends itself to cupcakes, too. The Regali Kitchen made quite a selection of cupcakes with significant logos and symbols on them for Khristian's birthday earlier this year. They even made a video recreating the opening sequence of the show starring their cupcakes!

11. Redditor Craptacularama posted this birthday throne cake that was made by a friend's mother. You can see after cutting that there are two flavors of cake underneath the fondant.

There are at least as many Game of Thrones-inspired cookies, which will be another list on another day. There's just something about Game of Thrones that makes people want to cook -or eat!

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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