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The Quick 10: 10 Bizarre Name Changes

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Most of us cringe when we hear some of the names celebrities inflict on their kids - Moxie Crimefighter, Audio Science. But what about people who do it to themselves? Check out these 10 people who weren't satisfied with the "boring" names their parents gave them and decided to take matters into their own hands.

1. Buzz Lightyear. With Toy Story 3 recently coming out, this one almost sounds like a plant. But it's true - a 26-year-old mechanic from England decided Buzz Lightyear was a cooler name than Steve Bolton. "My girlfriend is going to love telling people she's going out with Buzz Lightyear," he said. Umm"¦ think again.


2 and 3. Bella and Edward Cullen. Proving that it's not just tweens and teens obsessed with the sparkly vampire trend, Bev and Steve Hart of North Wales changed their names to Bella and Edward Cullen. No word if any of their four children will be changing their names to "Renesmee."

4. John Rambo. Hey, it's OK if the former Stephen O'Rourke strolls through town wearing a bandana and camo and doing a pretty killer Stallone impression - he is Rambo, after all. O'Rourke changed his name 20 years ago after seeing all of the action-packed Sly films. "I thought Rambo was great and we were so similar I knew I was just the real-life version of the character. The name was the only thing missing and once I changed that I really was John Rambo." I beg to differ, but you can judge for yourself.

5. "The" Dan Miller Experience.

I actually kind of love this one. Akron, Ohio, native Dan Miller, now known as "The" (with quotation marks), decided to change his name simply because he found it funny.

6. Optimus Prime. I suspect there are a lot of men out there who secretly would like to change their names to Optimus Prime, but Ohioan Scott Nall actually did it as a 30th birthday present to himself. I wonder if the name would help or hurt on a resume.


7. Captain Fantasic. Well, really, that's just his first name. Optimus Prime probably feels silly that he just settled for one hero-based name. George Garratt now goes by Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined. I think "Mr. Combined" might be the easiest way to address him.


8. MacGyver Chewbacka Highlander. And that's just the last half of it. The whole name is Julius Andreas Gimli Arn MacGyver Chewbacka Highlander Elessar-Jankov. Andreas Jankov was his name before. Here's how the rest of the name breaks down: Julius is the name of a famous chimp at the Kristiansand Zoo in Norway; Arn is a Swedish movie about knights, Elessar and Gimli are from Lord of the Rings, and I assume you're all familiar with MacGyver, Chewbacka (it's unclear if the misspelling was intentional or not) and Highlander.

9. They. Yep, the former Andrew Wilson went completely the opposite direction. Instead of adding a string of names to his official moniker like Captain Fantastic and MacGyver Chewbacka Highlander, he decided to simplify to "They." He said he did it to poke fun of grammar, basically, as "They" totally messes up some phrases, such as when his friends call and say "Is They there?" when someone picks up the phone. They lives in Branson, Missouri.

10. Princess-Rainbow.com. I can almost get behind Princess Rainbow, but the .com throws me a bit. Claire Forshaw of Manchester, England, said, "I actually didn't think about it that much - I'd had a few drinks." Really? I'm shocked.

If you could change your name with no repercussions, what silly thing would you change it to?

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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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Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
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