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Greetings That Must be Remembered

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Believe it or not, there was a time when you went down to the dime store (yes, there were such things) or drug store and bought greeting cards to send to friends and family for special occasions. You could buy birthday greetings, get well cards, congratulations on your new baby, sympathy cards, and not much else. Now that the internet has made our world into a global marketplace, there are special greetings for occasions you'd have never thought of, in styles that no national distributor would've taken a chance on selling just ten years ago. Many ecards are free, which only forces sellers to raise the quality of greetings worth paying for. Niche greetings are not limited to ecards, either -you can buy paper greetings in a range of styles that would make Grandma's eyes pop. This is by no means an exhaustive, or even representative list, just some greeting sources you may not be familiar with.

Depressing Times holiday cards

Order of St. Nick offers Depressing Times greeting cards for all occasions, because no matter how bad you've got it, someone else is worse off... and you may as well laugh about it instead of crying! The card shown is actually a birthday card. The 5x7 cards are printed on glossy cardstock and are made of 50% recycled fiber.

Some Ecards


Some Ecards uses the tag line "for when you care enough to hit send." These greetings are free, but require registration. This company is right on top of the current buzz, with ecards available now on the topics of the Iranian protests and the death of Michael Jackson, as well as the example you see here. You can also customize cards with your own text, colors, and a huge library of images.

Three Squares Greetings


Three Squares Greetings are cards specially designed to be sent to those who are incarcerated. Some are humorous, many are supportive, and some say the things that you might find really difficult to say in your own words. You can order cards individually online or find them in stores in California.

Wrong Cards


Wrong Cards are "ecards that are wrong for every occasion", but are fine for your friends who have a sense of humor. Subjects range from apologies for every dreadful thing you could have done to the event of zombie attacks. And they are free to send.

Gramkin Paper Studio


Gramkin Paper Studio is an Etsy seller of high-quality printed notecards, stationery, and greeting cards. The greeting cards are slightly rude and somewhat generic, sold in boxed sets with blank interiors so you can customize them to any occasion -or no occasion at all!

Mean Cards


Mean Cards features "stories of daily peril, both real and imagined." Many of these are situations you'll relate to, but have never before seen on a greeting card. Cards are blank inside, and are made of recycled paper.



Wondermark is not specifically a greeting card company, but artist David Malki ! has a store attached to the site where you can find his strange ideas in greeting card form. See what the inside of this card says here. Greetings are printed on premium linen cardstock.

Cute Baby Animals


Amanda Mccall and Ben Schwartz published a book of postcards called Grandma's Dead: Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals.  The removable cards feature distractingly sweet puppies, kittens, and other fuzzy critters to mitigate the news that you are having an affair, think the recipient is too fat, or that you may have given the recipient an STD. Some reviewers recommend buying two copies, so you can send the cards and keep a book for yourself. Get a preview of some of the cards here.

See? Now there is no excuse for sending anyone a boring greeting.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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]