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Attention, Albert Broccoli: New Bond movie ideas!

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Now that we've seen "Casino Royale," we're getting psyched for the next Bond movie, which according to winner #1, Sheldon Siegel, will have a title in keeping with the rest of the Bond catalogue: "Golden Shower."

Where is James going? gay bath house
What's his best throwaway line? "Now THAT'S what I call shaken, not stirred."
Who is he after (villains and love interests)?
Villain: Blowfelt
Love Interest: Shees Hung

As for winner #2, who was supposed to take the idea (slightly) more seriously, we liked two proposals that had great possibilities for cameos. First, there was "Icebreaker," in which Bond saves the world from melting polar icecaps (suggested cameo: Al Gore). We also liked "In the Shadows of Tomorrow," which takes place in Uzbekistan and the apparently fictional country of Kyrgykistan (unsuggested but obvious cameo: Borat). But all told, we couldn't resist the proposal for "Beneath the Blue," which:

1. managed the unlikely feat of being a health PSA as well as a Bond movie

2. featured a character named "Castro Fidel"

3. included more dialogue than you'll find in the whole of "Casino Royale" -- all of which you'll find after the jump

4. Was written by someone with the fantastic Bond-girl name of "Jamieson Wolf." Congratulations, Jamieson!

Daniel Craig will repraise his role in the newest Bond flick:

BENEATH THE BLUE

When the film begins, Bond is on vacation in Maui, enjoying the sun, the women and the waves. After his latest mission, he is due for some R and R. But his vacation is about to be cut short.

Tanning under the hot rays of the Maui sun, Bond sees a familiar person approaching him. She is wearing a wide brimmed hat and glasses that hide her eyes, but Bond knows it is M.

"Enjoying the sun, Bond?"

"Yes, I always enjoy skin cancer. What can I do for you, M?"

The woman stiffens. "Don't call me that out loud." She lowers herself to the blanket beside him. "How did you know it was me?"

"No one else I know walks like you do."

"And what way is that?"

"Like you have a rod shoved up your butt."

She laughs softly, but there is no humour in it. "You must be wondering why I've come to see you on your time off."

"Not really." Bond sits up, puts his sun glasses on to block the sun. "You always inturrpt at the most inconvienient times. I'm used to it by now."

"This is a matter of great urgencey." M. looks grief stricken. "This is really a personal matter"¦"

"If you want to get personal, the least you could do is let me kiss you first." Bond smiles. "No tongue, I promise."

M. goes on to relate that her husband Frederick Tanner, a PHD who has found the cure for cancer, has been taken from their home by a hospice group that hopes to ransom off the cure for millions of dollars.

The group, led by Castro Fidel, is the most terrifying man next to Hitler.

"I didn't know you were married." Bond says.

"We don't know anything about each other, aside from the fact that we can kill if we have to. That's what makes our job so exciting."

"It's a shame the turn over rate is so high." Bond sighs. "They're not making agents like they used to."

M. takes his hand. "That's why I need you, Bond. Will you find my husband for me?"

"You realize if I go after Castro Fidel, I may very likely die."

"Is death a small price to pay to grant a favour?" M. asks.

Bond kisses her hand, softly. "Not for you, M. Not for you"¦"

Bond looks up; a leggy brunette is watching their conversation, following every word. "We are being watched"¦"

Will Bond prevail? Will he save Frederick Tanner? Who is the leggy brunette and will she fall for Bond like every other Bond Girl? Will the cure for cancer itself be relased to the world?

Watch BENEATH THE BLUE to find out!

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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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