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8 Very Different Weddings to Remember

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You can dress in white and have a traditional church wedding with rice, candles, and flowers, if that's what you want. But don't expect anyone outside the family to remember it years from now. Or you can make it a daringly different production that no one will ever forget. Like these people.

Zombies

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Christopher Downs and Amber Nolin were married in Kansas City on February 29th. The couple own a film company, and got all the details down for a complete zombie wedding at the Macabre Cinema. The bride was wheeled in on a gurney. "Christopher, you may now take your corpse bride and devour her." Watch the video, if you don't scare easily!

World War II

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Jo Rowell and Tony Cox of Hartlepool, England used a 1940s theme for their wedding last fall. The groom, a veteran, wore a vintage lieutenant's uniform, and the bride wore a handmade period dress. Around 100 guests also wore authentic clothing from the World War II era. The ceremony began with a simulated blackout, and the bride entered to Glen Miller's Moonlight Serenade.

Hello Kitty

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A chain of hotels in Japan offers Hello Kitty wedding packages. However, it would be easy to put one together yourself with all the Hello Kitty merchandise available, but it would be difficult to get the groom and the rest of the family on board with the idea. You can see a video of a Hello Kitty wedding in Hong Kong, but be warned, it's very pink.

Science Fiction

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Terry and Liz dressed as Darth Vader and a Jedi for their wedding in January. It wasn't just a Star Wars wedding, but a general sci-fi theme. Terry's father dressed as Ming the Merciless. His mother was a time lady from Dr. Who. The bride's mother appeared as Professor McGonnagle from Harry Potter. Other guests were Jack Skeleton, Arthur Dent, Dracula, and a ghostbuster.

Goth

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Goth weddings are more common than ever, but still draw attention. Julie Williams and Dylon Holroyd got married last month in style, with the bride arriving in a coffin delivered by a hearse.

Pirate

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When Noogie and Lace got married, they stages a pirate wedding with the Fernandina Pirates Club. See more pictures at the club site.

Underwater

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John Santino and Toni Wilson had a scuba wedding 11 feet underwater off the Virgin Islands in 2003. They were joined by 106 scuba divers, which set a world record for the largest underwater wedding. Southeast Asia and Oceania have many resorts that offer underwater wedding packages. Mauritius offers wedding packages that include dive weddings and "submarine" weddings for those who aren't experienced divers. See a video of a (somewhat staged) submarine wedding.

Disney

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Robb & Elissa Alvey love theme parks. Their website Theme Park Review is all about theme parks all over the world, so it was only fitting that their wedding was at Walt Disney World. But wherever yours is, you can buy everything you need for a Disney wedding, from Cinderella cakes to Disney wedding dresses. Disney resorts even has an online wedding planner.

See also Your Wedding: Star Trek or Star Wars?

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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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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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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iStock

When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]

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