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5 Crazy Reality Show Ideas Circulating on the Internet

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images2.jpgReality show ideas. You know you have them. They come to you in dreams or in traffic or during commercials. Some people ignore them, some people sue when others bring them to life, and some people head West with a treatment and a ticket to a pitch slam. Others broadcast their ideas online, hoping either to be praised, discovered, or ripped off. Here, in no particular order, are five shows you may--in some alternate universe or, hey, some slightly distant future--find yourself TiVoing.

1. THE SHOW: a game show called "Dirty Laundry"

SOURCE: Craigslist, 10/4/07

The game is pretty simple really: You have 3 contestants in a laundromat. There are 3 machines of laundry that will be spinning. 2 of the machines have clean clothes and the remaining machine contains dirty clothes. Each contestant picks a machine. The contestants who pick the clean laundry are safe and move to the next round. The contestant who picks the dirty laundry isn't so lucky! The audience will scream, "DIRTY"¦LAUNDRY"¦!!!!!" and then the "laundry monster" (a man covered in dirty clothes) will drop from an opening in the ceiling. Upon landing, he will chase the losing contestant until he is able to wrestle him to the ground. The contestant will be pummeled into submission for around 5 minutes and then a medical staff will carry him out on a stretcher and then transfer him to a trash chute that in actuality leads to an office where the contestant will receive a gift bag and parking validation.

2. THE SHOW: 10 regular guys attempt to fight Mike Tyson

THE SOURCE: Chris' Sports Blog

My reality show idea: Get 10 guys. Get Mike Tyson. Have each guy fight Mike Tyson at separate times. Whichever guy can stand up/maintain consciousness in a bout with Iron Mike gets $1 million. Mike Tyson's hard-up for cash and plenty of guys would want to do this. And everybody would watch. Why do you think there's always back-ups at car wrecks? You could spread the show out over 10 weeks, and maybe have a finale where the Top 2 guys fight him again. I'm telling you. This would be huge.

3. THE SHOW: "How to Solve the Singles Crisis"

THE SOURCE: My Urban Kvetch

No really, just hear me seems like everyone has an answer to this singles crisis thing (which all stems from the fact that Jews--and let's face it, almost everyone else too--are marrying and procreating later). So let's start an open application process. Apply with your idea, then we take seven winners and present them to Shmuley Boteach, who puts them through a series of challenges. The losers are dismissed with the show's tagline: "You have failed the Jewish people. But not as much as the single women in their 30s who 'chose' to stay single and could have had seven babies by now."

4. THE SHOW: "You Bum!"

THE SOURCE: This Blog is Full of Crap

Twelve homeless people are picked up off the streets of various cities and forced to compete for food, shelter, and medical care.

5. THE SHOW: "Celebrity Community Service"

THE SOURCE: Associated Content

Premise: Six well known celebrity offenders will compete for the opportunity to have one offense, for which they have been convicted, permanently expunged from their record.

They must live together in "The Pen" (a luxury house in the Hollywood Hills decorated in a style best described as "penitentiary chic") for a period of thirty days. They will bunk three to a room. Their bed assignments will be identified by the framed renditions of their mug shots hung above, and said bed assignments will not be negotiable.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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
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]