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11 Weird and Wonderful Wedding Rings

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Once upon a time, wedding bands were plain gold, or more likely gold plated. Their value was in the symbolism. "Look, I'm married!" or "Forget him; he's married." Today many who tie the know want something that also symbolizes their individual styles, or rings to set this pair apart from other couples. These individualistic rings not only tell you that someone is married, they can often tell you who they are married to, if you can find the other unique ring in the crowd.

Binary Rings

With a binary ring, you can engrave a coded message of your choice, up to 20 characters. They will be rendered in up to five lines of binary code, perfect for the romantically-inclined computer geek!

Decoder Rings

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Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing is getting a decoder ring to use as a wedding ring. This one has three rotating bands that can be lined up to decode secret messages. He's now looking for a proper code.

Intertwined Rings

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Rings that intertwine with each other are quite symbolic. They look great together, but I don't know how comfortable they would be to wear apart.

Nuts and Bolt Rings

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Kiley Granberg designed a wedding ring set as a nut and bolt. Perfect for the mechanically-minded couple. This is symbolic on more than one level, if you know what I mean.

Ethernet Rings

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Taking the connectivity idea a little further, Jana Brevick designed Cat-5 Rings that connect with each other by ethernet connectors. They are available at her Etsy store.

USB Rings

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Gas Design and Jennifer Flume have developed the USB Flash Drive Swarovski Crystal Engagement Ring. The two wearers can connect the rings and share data! The ring was created in partnership with famed crystal company Swarovski.

Sphere Rings

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It would be cool to have a ring that you could play with. This sphere ring made by acanthusleaf is modeled on a historical pattern that has four rings hinged at different points. Update: Laurie Cavanaugh, who made this ring, has them available at the Mad Jeweler's Workshop.

Remember Rings

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There are even rings with embedded technology. The Remember Ring will remind you of your anniversary by getting hotter! Too bad it's only a concept and not available for sale... yet.

Coin Rings

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Make your own wedding rings is an individual statement, and will save money, too! You can make rings out of coins, but keep in mind that it is illegal to deface US currency. Still, not all coins are US currency. Watch a video of a similar process here.

Bone Rings

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What could be more individual than your own DNA? Scientists and artists have collaborated to make rings out of the wearer's bone tissue. The tissue is taken from a wisdom tooth and grown on a scaffold in the laboratory. However, the original company website is no longer active.

Fingerprint Rings

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Just yesterday, I saw a fingerprint ring (which inspired this post). This guarantees that you'll never see anyone else with exactly the same ring! Fingerprint rings are available in many styles. Rings by Gerd Rothmann feature a fingerprint that resembles a charm on top. Jeweler Andrew English does commissioned wedding rings with the fingerprint inside or outside.

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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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