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18 Social Media Icons You Need to Know

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Sure, you know what those Twitter, Facebook, reddit and Digg icons mean at the bottom of most blog posts these days, but what about all those other funny-looking ones? There's a pantload of them - so many that it can be overwhelming and confusing.

Allow us to break down our 18 favorites for you (click each icon to be taken to their Web site):

1. Delicious

What started out as has evolved into One of the better known free social bookmarking sites, Delicious uses tags instead of folders to help you organize your bookmarks. Because they are stored online, your bookmarks are accessible from any computer. You can also share your bookmarks with others, and see what articles are popular for any given topic.

2. StumbleUpon

Like flipping through channels on the television, StumbleUpon allows you to surf the web but only hit the sites that interest you or fit the criteria you choose. The StumbleUpon bar at the top of the screen allows you to stumble to another site, say you like the site, share the site with others, read reviews of the site, or save your favorites. StumbleUpon also can connect with Facebook and has a Firefox add-on.

3. Squidoo

Use Squidoo to find or create useful posts, called lenses, on any topic. By writing on a topic yourself, you share your unique point of view. Ad revenue from ads that are shown on your lens pages makes money, part of which you can donate to a charity, or keep yourself.

4. Kiva

Here's one of my personal favorites! Kiva is a microdonation site that enables you to donate small amounts (or large amounts) of money to help small entrepreneurs with their businesses, all over the world. Your money is grouped with money from others to make a bigger difference. Follow the stories of the entrepreneurs in the Journal section.

5. Diigo

Both a research tool and a social collaborative community, you can use Diigo to organize your bookmarks, archive pages, and annotate each page. You can also share those pages with others, or create a group with which to collaborate. They also offer free educator upgrades to help teachers organize their lesson plans and communicate with their students.

6. Folkd

This social bookmarking site allows you to save and share bookmarks, tag and organize them, access them from anywhere, see what is popular today, and look at friends' bookmarks. Installing the bookmark button in your browser allows for easy adding. Big props to these guys, too, for having one of the cooler icons of the lot!

7. Gnolia

Currently invitation only, Gnolia is a community based on sharing and saving links and bookmarks. With its rebirth in 2009, they have incorporated lessons learned from the old Ma.gnolia service, including keeping the site a manageable size. They hope to encourage the growth of the community through personal connections.

8. Plurk

Plurk is a social network that allows you to share what is going on in your life with others. It is different from other social sites in that it displays your updates, and those of your friends, in a timeline format. Why plurk? We have no idea but it sounds pretty cool!

9. SlideShare

SlideShare is a professional media sharing community in which to share presentations and other documents you create. You can share things such as PowerPoint & Keynote presentations, videos, and Word and PDF documents. You choose how public or private your presentations will be.

10. Plaxo

Plaxo is a socially connected address book site which allows you to access information for your contacts from anywhere. It uses Pulse to connect with places like Twitter, Flickr, and other sites. Plaxo allows you to import contacts from your current contact list, and Plaxo Premium allows you to sync your contacts, calendar, and tasks with Outlook.

11. GratitudeLog

Express your gratitude for people, things, companies, or whatever you are grateful for with GratitudeLog, a social networking site. Add friends to your list of people to follow, and show your appreciation for others.

12. APSense

APSense is an affiliate social network where you can share ideas with other affiliate marketers, find new affiliate opportunities, or advertise your own business.

13. iLike

iLike is a social music discovery site where you can share playlists and music recommendations with others. It is partnered with MySpace Music and can be used on sites such as Facebook, Google, Orkut, and others.

14. deviantART

An online social network for artists and art lovers everywhere, deviantART allows artists to display and promote their own work as well as enjoy work by others. Communicate with other artists in the community, sell your art, or purchase artwork on display.

15. Orkut

Orkut, part of Google, is a social community where you can stay in touch with friends by sharing photos and sending notes, find new friends who share your interests, or develop new professional contacts.

16. Mments

Sick of missing interesting comments on articles you read? Tired of having to keep returning to sites to follow comment threads? With Mments you can bookmark a post whose comments you want to follow. Then track your marked conversations together on one page. You can also follow the comments in email or your feed reader.

17. Kirtsy

A social media site, Kirtsy allows you to connect with others, find information, and discover products. Items are submitted by readers. Clicking on posts that you like will help promote items to the top of the list where they can more easily be discovered by others.

18. Simpy

Simpy is a social bookmarking site that allows you to save, organize, and share your bookmarks and notes with friends or groups that you create. You can import and export bookmarks at any time. Simpy will also detect broken bookmark links.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
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