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The Weekend Links

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From the Annals of Too Much Time: An incredible movie mashup that creates a song (that rhymes! with a beat!) from bits of dialogue spanning TV and movies from the '20s onward. (Also try playing the game of "which movie is that from?" while you watch)
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Will the Duggars inherit the earth? Is Jim Bob the new Genghis Khan? Scary!
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Bored at work? Try getting inspiration from some of these Best Office Pranks of All Time. As the site aptly says, "Nothing says happy birthday like being an obsessive compulsive prick."
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Just another reason to stay out of the water (ok ok, so these creatures are typically REALLY far down in the ocean ... but still!): the 12 Most Bizarre and Frightening Deep Sea Creatures.
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Still, we shouldn't pick on deep sea dwellers just because they aren't stupidly cute. After all, some very gorgeous things can be quite deadly, such as these 13 unassuming poisonous plants.
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From Jan: If you think you know your car facts (or at least can recognize cars based on several arcane-to-obvious clues), try your hand at this car quiz. (er ... I made a D)
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Sure, the writer-director or actor-singer is nothing new. But a singer-wrestler? When certain celebrity's careers tank, they might turn to wrestling to get a small second wind going (See: K-Fed, Steve-O), but unfortunately fame rarely goes the other way. Here is a list of 7 professional wrestlers who unsuccessfully tried to become musicians.
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Sure, most of you will have seen the majority of these Eye-Popping Illusions, but I always find them fun. Someone in the comments posted a link to one in particular which I hadn't seen before, and I couldn't get over it. Too cool!

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1Nebraska
8 Cutting-Edge Cheese Sculptures
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It was always hard for me to believe in French class that a cow or dog made a completely different sound in France than it did in the United States. But perhaps they do ... after all, it turns out that newborn babies cry in their native tongues!
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So what exactly separates humans from animals? As this chart proves, less than you think.
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Interesting and sobering space images that compares Earth's size to the other planets as well as other stars in our solar system and far beyond.
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Sure we all get tired of getting menus stuffed under our doors, but how far would you go to stop it? This note surely takes the cake! Do any of you Flossers have proven methods of your own?
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Feel like sleeping away a third of your life is a waste? Here are some different sleep techniques to maximize sleep efficiency. (Has anyone tried any of this alternative methods?)
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Further proof that, to cats, humans are just large head-scratching machines.
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A very apt comic for anyone who knows (or who is!) an indie rock snob.
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Finally, a "do with this what you will" link: Aileen sent in this odd video and admitted that the drummer in question is her brother, and Flossy reader Danyel also sent in the same link (a rare occurrence), so it must be popular in some circles this week! (This was a close contender for the "Annals of Too Much Time")
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I hope everyone had a great week and restful weekend ahead. Just don't forget to keep sending in those great links! Submit all finds to FlossyLinks@gmail.com

[Last Weekend's Links]

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
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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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Opening Ceremony
fun
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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