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18 Memorable Ad Questions

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Ad slogans and taglines generally come to us in the form of a declaration. Like, It takes a licking and keeps on ticking; or With a name like Smuckers....it has to be good; or Good to the last drop. But my favorites have always been the ones that beg you to answer a question. Here are 18 of the most memorable ad questions. If we left one of your favorites off the list, drop a comment and let us know!

1. Got milk?

Brand: California Milk Processor Board
Ad Campaign Launched: 1993
That $10,000 trivia question: Serious _flossers should remember that very first ad that ran on TV, featuring the history buff who had to answer the question: "Who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?" (A. Sitting Vice President Aaron Burr, of course, in 1804.)

2. Have you driven a Ford lately?

FordBrand: Ford
Ad Campaign Launched: 1982
Can you say Sigma?: The original name of the Ford Taurus was Sigma. But the brass at Ford didn't like the name. So it was changed to Taurus because the top two men running the Sigma rollout had wives who were born under the astrological sign Taurus.

3. Can you hear me now?

veruzinBrand: Verizon Wireless
Ad Campaign Launched: 2002
Who is that guy? Paul Marcarelli, an actor and a writer. He has a twin brother named Matthew, a highly decorated lieutenant at the New Haven Fire Department.

4. Where do you want to go today?

MSNew2_8Brand: Microsoft
Ad Campaign Launched: 1994
Madison Ave? Not quite. The tagline was the work of a Portland, Oregon-based firm called Wieden+Kennedy. Dan Wieden and David Kennedy were the guys who cooked up the famous Nike tagline: Just do it.

5. Do you"¦ Yahoo!?

do_you_yahooBrand: Yahoo!
Ad Campaign Launched: 1996
Yah-ching!: There are more Yahoo! e-mail accounts around the world than twice the population of Mexico. Yahoo stands for: Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.

6. Does she or doesn't she?

ad-miss-clairol-does-she-or-doesnt-sheBrand: Clairol
Ad Campaign Launched:1964
What's in a name? Started in 1931, the name Clairol comes from a hair-coloring preparation found in France while the company's founders were traveling there.

7. Where's the beef?

Brand: Wendy's
Ad Campaign Launched:1984
Watch it now:

8. How do you spell relief?

rolaidsBrand: Rolaids
Ad Campaign Launched:1970s
What's in a name? It's reportedly derived from the old-school packaging: a foil roll (like Lifesavers, etc.)

9. Is it live, or is it Memorex?

Brand: Memorex
Ad Campaign Launched:1971
Did you know? Ella Fitzgerald appeared in an early ad:

10. This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?

eggBrand: Partnership for a Drug Free America
Ad Campaign Launched: 1987
Did you know? While most remember the tag line I've printed above, the one that actually aired on television was, "This is your brain. This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?"

11. Aren't you glad you use Dial? Don't you wish everyone did?

Brand: Dial
Ad Campaign Launched:1953
Blast from the past:The 1950s were a great period for TV spots. Check this one out:

12. Did somebody say McDonalds?

mcdonalds1Brand: McDonalds
Ad Campaign Launched: 1997
Did somebody say hit the slopes? Forget Drive-thrus. Did you know that in Sälen, Sweden, one of the McY D'z sports ski-thru service?

13. What would you do for a Klondike bar?

klondikeBrand: Good Humor-Breyers
Ad Campaign Launched:Early 1982
Did you know? The original Klondike hit the market in 1929 and was only sold in PA and Ohio until the 1970s. The polar bear has been on the wrapper since the beginning.

14. How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie-Pop?

Brand: Tootsie-Roll
Ad Campaign Launched: 1969
Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin': Unless you grew up in the '70s, you probably never saw the longer version, where the cartoon boy asks many different animals the classic question. It's the shortened version with the turtle and the owl most of us know, and it's still running today, making it one of the longest running commercials in history. Here's the original (more or less ;-):

15. Doesn't your dog deserve ALPO?

alpo-comengetitBrand: Purina
Ad Campaign Launched: 1970s
What's in a name? ALPO is short for Allen Products, founded in 1936 by Robert F. Hunsicker in Allentown, PA.
Will the real spokesperson please stand up? ALPO has been blessed with not one, but three famous ad faces: Lorne Greene, Ed McMahon and Garfield.

16. Fun anyone?

Picture 2Brand: Sony PlayStation
Ad Campaign Launched: 2003
PlayStation Fun Fact: It was originally intended as a CD add-on to the Super Nintendo. But then licensing problems and other issues popped up, so Sony decided to develop the PlayStation by itself.

17. Wassup?!

Picture 3Brand: Anheuser-Busch Budweiser
Ad Campaign Launched: 1999
Wassup must come-a-down: Everyone knows about all the parodies, but did you know the slogan made its way into pop songs? According to Wiki: "Whazzup" by True Party reached #13 on the UK Singles Chart in 2000, and "Wassup" by Da Muttz (a nom de plume of producers Alex Rizzo and Elliot Ireland) hit #11 in the UK, and #12 on the Australian ARIAnet singles chart, also in 2000.

18. Pardon me. Do you have any Grey Poupon?

Brand: Grey Poupon
Ad Campaign Launched: 1980
Have you seen the original?

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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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iStock
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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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