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Modern Marriage Proposals

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The day you ask your girlfriend to be your wife is a special day. Some guys go to a lot of trouble to make it more spectacular, more memorable, and more surprising than anything else they've ever done. Here are some really awesome proposals found on the internet.

Rooftop

This rooftop proposal in Des Moines, Iowa was found on Google Maps. No word on whether she said yes. A couple more of these are recorded at the Google Earth Blog.

Cartoon

Jeffrey Paul teaches 3D animation at the Art Institue of Californa. He assembled a team of 20 co-workers and students to create this cartoon entitled Love Letters for his girlfriend, Natasha. It took three months. Then the folks from The Learning Channel arranged for Natasha to be brought to a theatre under the pretense that she'd won a prize. Around 100 friends and family members were already in the darkened theater when the cartoon was shown. Natasha's reaction was recorded for the TV show A Perfect Proposal.
Jeff and Natasha were married on June 13 30, 2006. They used another cartoon to invite the wedding guests.

Local Movie Theater

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Tom Lane proposed to his girlfriend by arranging for a personal film to be shown before the movie at a local theatre. In the movie, he used 22 placards to ask Tina Kilford to marry him. The video is attached to the story.
Even more spectacular proposals, after the jump.

TV Commercial

Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz wanted to propose to Geraldine in a spectacular fashion. Run an ad during the Superbowl? Well, it didn't quite happen that way, but it happened last month. This is the spot she saw during her favorite TV show, Veronica Mars.

See her response footage here and more here.

Search Engine

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Fishkin admitted he was inspired by Barry Schwartz'es Search Engine Proposalin 2005. That was quite clever.

Computer Key

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Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. On a Saturday night recently, Bjorn handed Jenny his laptop as they were sitting in the car after an evening out. He instructed her to hit F12, and this screen came up. She said yes!

Blog

Outi, rakkaani ja oma pörröpääni: tuletko vaimokseni ja elät kanssani hamaan loppuun asti?Outi, my dearest, will you marry me until death do us part?

Janne proposed to Outi on his blog last summer -in two languages! She said yes! At least, I'm fairly sure thats what she said on her blog. My Finnish is a little rusty.

Skydiving

This surprise proposal was arranged to be seen from the sky as the bride-to-be parachuted in. I don't know what she was thinking when she decided to wear that shirt, but it turned out to be appropriate.

Time-Lapse Camera

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During the grand opening of the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in New York last May, a guy took advantage of the time-lapse camera recording the eventto propose to his lady.

Computer Code

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Eric Maino wrote his marriage proposal in C# code. She must be a geek, too. She said yes.

Custom Website

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Dave Loves Elizabeth. Dave really loves Elizabeth. He constructed a multi-page website to propose to Elzabeth, including a slide show, video, and blog. They married on February 18, 2006. The proposal website won a Webby Award. After not updating the site for months, Dave and Elizabeth announced three days ago that they are expecting their first child.

More creative ideas for a proposals can be found at the Love and Romance Homepage.

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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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