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10 Awesome Indiana Jones Facts

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Twenty-seven years after we saw the first installment of the Indiana Jones series, the fourth movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opens nationwide tomorrow. In honor of the occasion, we'll take a look at all the movies and tell you some stories you may not know about the Indy franchise.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

1. It Started with Bond Ambitions
George Lucas wrote a story called "The Adventures of Indiana Smith" in 1973. While on vacation in Hawaii in 1977, he spoke with Steven Spielberg, who mentioned he always wanted to do a James Bond film. Lucas told him the Indiana Smith character was even better than James Bond, and that's how the collaboration between the two movie giants began.
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2. Tom Selleck Almost Starred in It
Spielberg wanted to use Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones from the beginning, but Lucas rejected the idea, since he had already used Ford in American Grafitti and Star Wars. So Tom Selleck was chosen for the role. However, he dropped out to star in the television series Magnum, P.I. Selleck thought it would be a scheduling conflict, but filming on Raiders of the Lost Ark finished before Magnum went into production. Nick Nolte turned down the role also. Danny DeVito was the first choice for the character Sallah, but dropped out to do the TV show Taxi.

3. The Fourth Wall (it keeps out snakes)
Indiana Jones is not the only one afraid of snakes. When Marion (Karen Allen) falls in the snake pit, you can see the reflection of a cobra in the glass wall between them. You can also see a glass wall between Indiana and the cobra in the original movie and videotape, but it was cleaned up for the DVD release.

The Temple of Doom (1984)

MFtemple.jpg4. Star Wars Tributes
There are many Star Wars touches in The Temple of Doom. The name of the nightclub in Shanghai is Club Obi Wan. The sound effect you hear when the lava pit opens as they begin to sacrifice Willie is the sound of Darth Vader opening his light saber. The sound effect of the plane failure is the same sound effect used for the Millennium Falcon when it stalls in The Empire Strikes Back. And the vest that Indy wears in his palace room was made for Han Solo.
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5. Dan Akroyd has a Cameo?

Part of the crew made cameo appearances. In the airport scene at the beginning of the movie, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, costume design Anthony Powell, and PR man Sid Ganis are missionaries. Executive producer George Marshall is a coolie pulling a rickshaw. Dan Akroyd (not a crew member) appears as an airport official who walks the cast to the plane.

6. An Elephant Almost Ruined the Movie
The dress Kate Capshaw wore in the Shanghai nightclub scene was covered with rare vintage beads made in the '20s and '30s. The club scene was filmed last, but the dress also made an appearance during the camping scene, where an elephant began eating it! Since there were no extra beads to match, the costume department had to repair the dress as best as they could. The result was so tight that Capshaw had trouble moving in it when they filmed the nightclub scene. Costume designer Anthony Powell filled out insurance forms for the dress, citing the cause of the damage as "dress eaten by elephant". This was only the second movie for Capshaw, who has a masters degree in special education. Spielberg married Capshaw in 1991.

The Last Crusade (1989)

MFcrusade.jpg7. Even the Rats were Insured
The thousands of rats used in The Last Crusade were insured. The insurer wanted to know the minimum number of rats the scene could be shot with, and used the answer to write a policy with a "1,000 rat deductible." The cast was padded with another thousand mechanical rats. Their voices were enhanced with the sound effects of ....chicken voices!
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8. Lucas' Dog was his Inspiration

At the end of the movie, Jones explains to his friend Sallah that his nickname Indiana came from his pet dog from long before. Sallah responds, "You were named after a dog?" and gets a great laugh out of it. But it's true. Indiana was the name of an Alaskan malamute George Lucas owned in the '70s. The same dog inspired the look of the Star Wars character Chewbacca. Jones' real first name is Henry, which is why his father Henry Jones, Sr. calls him Junior. The characters Willie and Short Round in The Temple of Doom were also named after other people's dogs.

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

MFskull.jpg9. The Sequel Almost Involved Mars
Nineteen years is a long time to come up with a new title for a movie, and many were posed before producers settled on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Fake titles that have been released over the years include Indiana Jones and the Staff of Moses, Indiana Jones and the Shores of Avalon, Indiana Jones and the Jade Princess,Indiana Jones and the Raiders of Time, and Indiana Jones and the Ravages of Time. Real script titles or ideas that were rejected were Indiana Jones and the Garden of Life, Indiana Jones and the Monkey King, Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men From Mars, and Indiana Jones and the Red Scare. Working titles for The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull have included Fourth Installment of the Indiana Jones Adventures, Indiana Jones 4, Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods, Raiders of the Lost Ark Sequel, and The Untitled Genre Project. It is clear that a lot of work went into the movie before they even knew what it would be about!

10. The Secret of the Film's Look
Great pains were taken to give the fourth movie the look and feel of the first three, despite the time gap. Steven Spielberg insisted on using stunt men instead of computer animation. Computer-generated effects are used only when absolutely necessary. The footage was shot on film instead of digital format. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski painstakingly studied the first three movies in order to preserve the style of previous cinematographer Douglas Slocombe (who is now retired). The result looks, as George Lucas said, "like it was shot 3 years after the Last Crusade, you'd never know there was 20 years between shooting." Unlike a certain other George Lucas franchise we all know and love.
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Test your knowledge of the franchise with Stacy Conradt's Indiana Jones quiz.

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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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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]

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