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Setgo Transport Urban Bag

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You've got a lot of gadgets to carry around with you  -your phone or Blackberry, iPod, keys, maybe a DS, and a wallet. Women carry them in a purse. Men's pants pockets are roomy, but they can only go so far. Some guys put everything in a backpack, camera bag, or laptop bag and hope what they carry doesn't resemble a man bag, or a "European shoulder bag". Especially when it's a gift from someone who will want to see you use it. So when is a man bag not a man bag? When it resembles something more manly, like maybe an ammunition bandolier! That's apparently the idea behind the Setgo Transport Urban Bag.
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This bag hugs your body over the shoulder and keeps your gadgets close and secure enough to plug earbuds into. It's made of strong but lightweight nylon. There are two strapped pockets in the front for gadgets, a small place to keep the one card you use most (like your subway card or student ID), and a zipper pocket as well. On the back you'll find three layers of pockets: three internal, one external, and a long zipped 250transportbagpocket for anything that won't fit into the other pockets. If you don't go overboard and carry more gadgets and gear than you normally would, this should fit against the body well enough to wear your coat over and no one would be the wiser. It might even surprise and confound a pickpocket. And it has to be a better way to distribute weight on your back and shoulders than a purse with all those gadgets in it, so women will find this useful as well as men. The Setgo Transport Urban Bag might even help fulfill your fantasy of looking like Chewbacca or Pancho Villa!
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Sure, this would make traveling easier ...up to a point. There's no danger of setting a bag down and walking off without it, and a thief would have a hard time grabbing it. But I have to admit, the first thing I thought of when seeing this accessory is how it would go over at the TSA airport screening line. Not only does it look like a bandolier, it also looks like you've strapped something to your body (which you have, but for innocent reasons, of course). The best thing you could do in that situation is to remove any outer garments and the transport urban bag early in the line and have it ready to shoot through the x-ray machine before someone panics.

I find myself calling this the "urban transport bag" because there's something a little weird about saying "transport urban bag." The word sequence reminds me of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, which should naturally be "the comic insult dog". $79 from Yanko Design.

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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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Opening Ceremony
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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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