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8 Unique Magazines I Just Learned About

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Despite the Internet age, print publications are still thriving. The magazine racks in stores are filled with a plethora of publications in certain categories (teen, fashion, men's, news, gossip), but other topics are a little more"¦ unusual. After scouring newsstands and trawling the 'net, I'm proud to present 8 really unique magazines.

1. The Magazine for the Blind: Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind

The Ziegler is a 100-year-old monthly that's distributed for free to legally blind people around the world. Published in four formats (contracted braille, cassette, online, and e-mail), the magazine reprints articles culled from 4 national newspapers and 30 magazines. Matilda Ziegler was the benefactress of the magazine; the brilliant idea was conceived by a man named Walter G. Holmes.

2. The Magazine for Haters: The Miserablist

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With the motto "Because Life is S%^," The Miserablist is for those who are anti- everything. The first issue of the student-designed concept magazine won the Magazine Academy competition held by the Periodicals Training Council (UK) and, as the winner, will be printed and distributed. Articles include "Sex is Rubbish" and "I Hate Festivals."

6 more after the jump.

3. The Scented Magazine: LEMON

LEMON.jpgWhile odors waft from the pages of most magazines, the scent of LEMON is not the result of advertisements. The twice-yearly magazine, which blends 60s/70s pop with "21st century hyper-culture," contains specially formatted inserts that "exude the scent of citrus." Adding to the mag's unique take on ubiquitous magazine features is its music coverage, which is done in graphic-novel format, "rendering musicians as comic book heroes."

4. The Oldest Magazine Still in Print: The Scots Magazine

Scots.jpgFirst published in 1739, The Scots has since grown to be the world's most widely read Scottish interest publication. The monthly mag features "the country, the people, the culture" of Scotland with articles on mull weavers, Dumfries races, and golfing. Originally a 48-page news pamphlet, the magazine actually ceased publication at least once, and also changed hands, which leads to some debate over its title as "oldest magazine in continuous publication."

5. The Lost & Found of Magazines: FOUND Magazine

FOUND.jpgA single note discovered on a car windshield spurred an idea that snowballed into FOUND Magazine, Dirty FOUND, books, tours, and a website. The magazine appears on newsstands only once a year, but when it does appear, it's packed with all things found: letters, cards, homework, lists, tickets, napkins, doodles, photos, and more. The more risqué finds appear in the sister mag Dirty FOUND.

5. The Most Ad-Heavy Magazine: Lürzer's Archive

Luerzers Archive.jpgMany readers bemoan the high ad content of popular magazines, but the readers of Lürzer's Archive are actually pleased to find their magazine filled with ads. Why? Lürzer's is a bi-monthly archive of "the best new print campaigns worldwide." Featuring spreads of said ad campaigns, the archive also includes some commentary as well as actual paid advertisements (mostly for designers and photographers). Ringing up at approximately $15/issue, the hefty tomes are also some of the more expensive magazines on the stands.

7. The Magazine for Proud Alcoholics: Modern Drunkard

Modern Drunkard.jpgThis magazine lacks a regular publication schedule, although subscriptions are available. Modern Drunkard has been "standing up for your right to get falling down drunk since 1996" and is staffed by a group of "functional alcoholics." The office includes a bar; typos are common because the proof-readers are "enthusiastic drinkers." Modern Drunkard's layout is modeled after that of men's adventure magazines from the 1950s.

8. The Sneaker Magazine: SNEAKER FREAKER

SNKR FRKR.jpgFour years old, SNEAKER FREAKER was the first international sneaker magazine. It's produced only twice a year, but is available in approximately 25 countries. The magazine covers sneakers, sneakers, and the political climate in Central America sneakers. Plus, anything else sneaker-related. Surprisingly, the magazine contains only a few ads per issue, which is a large part of why each issue costs around $9.

>>Know of any great ones we missed? Predator X-treme? Pro Bull Rider? Be sure to leave 'em in the comments.

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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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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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