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Sexy Beast Perfume, The Furcedes & 8 Other Lavish Dog Gifts

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Dogs are generally easy creatures to shop for, but what do you get the dog that has everything? Consider this list your guide—or a reality check—as you put the finishing touches on your holiday shopping this week. For the record, I know that my dog will be perfectly content with a large bag of Beggin' Strips and a new bone.

1. Sexy Beast Dog Fragrance

perfume
If you're thinking about spending $65 on a 3.4 ounce bottle of Sexy Beast's signature dog fragrance, a "highly addictive, classic blend of bergamot, vanilla, mandarin, and nutmeg oils," you should at least consider spending a little more for a limited edition version encrusted in Swarovski crystals. The sparkly bottle is hand-numbered, engraved with your dog's name, and costs a cool $850. Why dog perfume? Because, like it says on Sexy Beast's website, giving your dog a bone is so 80s.

2. Jog A Dog Treadmill

dog-treadmillYour pooch might need a few spritzes of Sexy Beast after a workout on the Jog A Dog, the gold standard of canine treadmills. The Jog A Dog, which has been refined over more than 30 years since company founder George Hyland developed the first model in the 1970s, is the perfect gift for the pooch who's hoping to shed his paunch in the new year and the owner who's too lazy to walk him. Among its many benefits, the Jog A Dog helps pups develop muscle strength and stamina, exercise in adverse weather, and maintain a vibrant coat year-round. The Jog A Dog comes in four sizes, with an adjustable incline setting up to 11 degrees. The DC4, for the smallest dogs, weighs 84 pounds and costs $1,195. The DC7, for the largest dogs, weighs 261 pounds and costs $2,995.

3. Brick Estate Dog House

dog-mansion

There's no word on whether Obama's first-time home buyer tax credit applies to this monstrosity, which was created for a celebrity through Beyond the Crate for the low, low price of $25,000. This particular house includes running water, lighting, air conditioning, and heat. Designers can create a house for your dog that is perfectly scaled to match your own house, or something completely different. It's up to you and your dog. But mainly you.

4. Cape Cod Kennel

dog-house

Doowaggle, which specializes in dog houses, offers two luxury models, including the Cape Cod Kennel shown here. The house costs $2,695 and comes as a kit with all of the necessary hardware for assembly. Rain gutters, however, are not included. The Cape Code Kennel includes a 4-foot by 8-foot enclosed area for your dog and two working windows with screens. If the Cape Cod model isn't your style, Doowaggle also offers a Victorian luxury house kit.

5. Helmutt House

helmuttThere's finally a way to shelter your dog and let the neighbors know where your college football loyalties lie. The Helmutt House is heavy duty and weather resistant, and promises to keep your dog warm or cool in style. The standard size Helmutt House retails for $399, and even if you don't have a dog, it makes one heck of a lawn ornament. Company headquarters are in Osage Beach, Mo., which explains why the Missouri State Bears are one of 15 NCAA teams—along with the Georgia and Mississippi State Bulldogs—currently available. According to the company's website, NFL teams will be available soon.

6. Designer Clothes

designer-dog
You could get lost for hours browsing the selection of dog clothes on sites such as Bling Bling Poochies, if canine apparel inspired by luxury designers is your thing. From Aberpup & Fido to Burbaby and Christian Dioggie, Bling Bling Poochies has you—and your dog—covered. The all-inclusive outlet has apparel for big and small dogs, a size chart, and a scrapbook of customer-submitted photos. The Posh Puppy Boutique's collection includes a pair of $32 pink leopard hot pants.

7. Armoire

armoire-dog
Your dog is going to need a place to keep all his designer duds and the PL Bon Armoire, available for $200 from Uptown Poochie, is the perfect solution. From the site's description, this piece of furniture "neatly organizes and protects your pet's apparel while keeping outfits within convenient reach." No one likes a dog who leaves his clothes all over the floor.

8. Furcedes

dog-car

While less privileged dogs wake up on towels or traditional padded dog beds, your dog will be ready to tackle the day after a great night's sleep in the luxurious Furcedes. Features of the Furcedes include a removable, machine-washable ultra-soft plush cover, plump poly-fill interior cushion, and an "LA Dog" license plate. The Furcedes retails for $250-$350.

9. Diamond Collars

i-love-dogs

He went to Jared? No, he went to I Love Dogs. It takes about 6 to 8 weeks to produce one of their diamond collars, which were featured on Dogtime.com's list of the top 10 luxury dog gifts. You'll have to call for a price, but the Amour Amour, the most exquisite collar in La Collection de Bijoux, features over 1,600 hand-set diamonds, 52 carats, and crocodile leather. From the website: "'Amour' means 'love' in French, and Amour Amour represents the love you have for your dog, and the love your dog has for you. Its striking design is inspired by this special bond that lasts forever." Perhaps a better name would be Cher Cher.

10. Luxury Travel Kit

travel-kit

The Global Gallivanter Trunk by Lila Paws is the perfect gift for the doggie on the go. The handcrafted trunk, which doubles as a bed, includes a pet passport holder, water bowl, bone-shaped cushion, leash and collar holders, and plenty of room for towels and puppy apparel. The Scandinavian leather case with damask fabric interior costs about $2,300.

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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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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