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How Did You Know Daniel Wilson?

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We accidentally lost our winners post from last week, so here's a quick recap:

We're up to 560 fans over on the Hunt's Facebook page! During last month's HDYK, some of our FB posts garnered close to 100 comments as gamers took it upon themselves to trade answers through cryptic clues! And like that, a whole new angle of HDYK is born. Nice going Fans! Keep on using the page in new, and cool ways as the community grows.

Daniel Wilson, our champion from two months ago, reclaimed the title and the big $100 prize with the following winning answers:

Final Answer

Einstein died in Princeton, New Jersey.

Day 1

Part 1: In order, the beverages shown are:
1) Gatorade G2
2) V8
3) Coca Cola Zero
4) half and half milk (1/2+1/2=1. Clever.)
5) 2% milk
A=beverage 1*beverage 2=2*8=16
B=beverage 3*beverage 4*beverage 5=0*1*2=0
Part 2: The products are as follows:
Marlboro (tobacco) M
Esquire (magazine) I
Nuggets (sports-Denver NBA team) none
Twitter (web site) T
Aquafina (beverage) A
Lego (toy) none
Fender (musical instruments) E
Lee (clothing) none
Oreo (snack food) R
Subway (restaurant) A
Starburst (candy) S
MITAERAS anagrams to Maserati (automobile).
Part 3: The ads are as follows:
Thighmaster exerciser
Wendy's hamburgers
Hot Wheels Scorcher Chamber
WHAM-O Super Elastic Bubble Plastic
Quaker Oats Life Cereal
Anheuser-Busch Budweiser beer
Jeep Liberty

Day 2

Part 1: Stephen Colbert mentioned reddit while introducing Movits on his show earlier this year.
Part 2: The albums are as follows:
Believe, Chemical Brothers
Candy-O, The Cars
Ego Trippin', Snoop Dogg
Under the Pink, Tori Amos
Point of Know Return, Kansas
Daisies of the Galaxy, The Eels
Abbey Road, The Beatles
With the Beatles, The Beatles
True Blue, Madonna
Part 3: The decoded musical acts are as follows:
Jonas Brothers
Good Charlotte
Papa Roach
Jordin Sparks
The common bond is that all the acts have performed a song titled "SOS".

Day 3

Part 1: The winners are as follows:
May 08 Kevin HOWK
Jun 08 Maggie WITTLIN
Jul 08 Katie WNUK
Aug 08 Chan STEVENS
Oct 08 Hayley WELLS
Nov 08 Nathan RICHARDS
Dec 08 Katie RICHIE
Feb 09 Natt SUPAB
Mar 09 Bridget DRISCOLL
Apr 09 Rosalyn LORGUS
May 09 Daniel WILSON
Jun 09 Neil KONOUCHI
Jul 09 Dawn LESTER
The remaining letters spell out WHO WON THE FIRST HDYK?
The answer is Neil Konouchi.
Part 2: The soundbites are:
"I wanna make love in this CLUB"--Usher
"have your pet SPAYED or neutered"--Bob Barker
"shape of my HEART"--Sting
The fourth suit in a deck of playing cards are diamonds.
Neil Diamond is the answer.
Part 3: The encoded names are as follows:
1) Eugene O'Neill
2) Vince Neil
3) Neil Armstrong
4) Neil Young
5) Neil Peart
6) Shaquille O'Neal
7) Neely Harris (first mental_floss editor)

Day 4

Part 1: The two sentences are:
No money lost kills Jill in her garden. Find eight diners called Big Al.
Reversing this gives us:
Al Big called diners eight find garden her in Jill kills lost money no.
Removing the first letters:
Moving the first letter to between the last two:
Deleting the first ten letters:
Adding the hyphen:
The things we deleted are letters. These two hints gives us David Letterman.
Part 2: The talk show hosts are as follows:
Tony Danza
Jimmy Fallon
Ricki Lake
John McEnroe
Jenny Jones
Arsenio Hall
Part 3: The personalities are as follows:
E/LL/END/EG/ENE/RES Ellen DeGeneres
M/EGA/NM/UL/LAL/LY Megan Mullaly
G/REG/BE/HRE/NDT Greg Behrendt
P/ATS/AJ/AK Pat Sajak
C/AR/OLI/NER/HEA Caroline Rhea
M/AUR/YP/OV/ICH Maury Povich
R/OS/IEO/DO/NN/ELL Rosie O'Donnell
R/ACH/AE/LR/AY Rachael Ray
O/PR/AHW/INF/REY Oprah Winfrey
B/ONN/IE/HU/NT Bonnie Hunt
J/ERR/YS/PRI/NG/ER Jerry Springer

Day 5

The snack food from Day 1 is Oreo, first made in 1912. 1+2=3.
The beverage solution was 16. 16*3=48. 48 degrees.

Walsh says his "Maserati does 185." The FM movie features rock and roll.
Rock @ Random is channel 161. 185-161=24. 24 minutes.

Variable B=0. 0 seconds.

9 letters ran across the grid. 9 degrees.

Phil Donahue began his career in 1959. 59 minutes.

Variable B=0. 0 seconds.

The street is the Bahnhofplatz, in Ulm. Einstein was born here in 1879
and died in 1955 in Princeton, New Jersey.

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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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© Nintendo
Nintendo Will Release an $80 Mini SNES in September
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© Nintendo

Retro gamers rejoice: Nintendo just announced that it will be launching a revamped version of its beloved Super Nintendo Classic console, which will allow kids and grown-ups alike to play classic 16-bit games in high-definition.

The new SNES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original console, comes with an HDMI cable to make it compatible with modern televisions. It also comes pre-loaded with a roster of 21 games, including Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, and Star Fox 2, an unreleased sequel to the 1993 original.

“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”

The SNES Classic Edition will go on sale on September 29 and retail for $79.99. Nintendo reportedly only plans to manufacture the console “until the end of calendar year 2017,” which means that the competition to get your hands on one will likely be stiff, as anyone who tried to purchase an NES Classic last year will well remember.

In November 2016, Nintendo released a miniature version of its original NES system, which sold out pretty much instantly. After selling 2.3 million units, Nintendo discontinued the NES Classic in April. In a statement to Polygon, the company has pledged to “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.”

Nintendo has not yet released information about where gamers will be able to buy the new console, but you may want to start planning to get in line soon.