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Root (or boot) all 32 NFL teams

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Coming Thursday: Woody's Winners for Week 1! In the meantime, mental_floss has your football fix right here. Even if you're not an NFL fan, now that the new season is almost upon us, someone, somewhere will ask you your opinion about a team or two. We've done the work for you by scouring last year's pro football statistics, so whether you want to "talk up" an NFL team or rant about how horrible they are, one of these factoids should fit the bill. Enjoy!

ARIZONA CARDINALS

  • A good sign from last season: The Cardinals completed 94.7% of their field goals in 2009, best in the NFL.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Cardinals were worst in the NFL in 2009 with 18 lost fumbles.

ATLANTA FALCONS

  • A good sign from last season: The Falcons committed only 78 penalties in 2009, fewest in the NFC.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Falcons defense allowed opponents a 43.5% third-down completion rate in 2009, highest in the NFC.

Click "more" to view the positives and negatives of each of the NFL's other 30 teams.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

  • A good sign from last season: The Ravens allowed only 3.4 yards per rush in 2009, best in the NFL.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Ravens had trouble in close games in 2009; 5 of their 7 losses were by six or fewer points.

BUFFALO BILLS

  • A good sign from last season: The Bills defense led the AFC in 2009 with 29 interceptions.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Bills scored only 6 rushing TDs in 2009, worst in the AFC.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

  • A good sign from last season: The Panthers boasted two 1000-yard rushers with 17 TD between them.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Panthers allowed 24.8 yards per kickoff return in 2009, highest in the NFC.

CHICAGO BEARS

  • A good sign from last season: The Bears were the only NFL team in 2009 not to allow any opponent a return/recovery TD.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Bears rushed for 71 first downs in 2009, fewest in the NFL.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

  • A good sign from last season: The Bengals averaged 11.9 yards per punt return in 2009, best in the AFC.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Bengals lost 12 fumbles in 2009, twice as many as their defense recovered.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

  • A good sign from last season: The Browns scored 3 touchdowns on kickoff returns in 2009, most in the AFC.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Browns scored in single-digits in 7 of their first 11 games in 2009.

DALLAS COWBOYS

  • A good sign from last season: The Cowboys scored at least 25 points in five of their first 7 games in 2009.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Cowboys didn't return a kickoff for more than 41 yards last year, worst in the NFL.

DENVER BRONCOS

  • A good sign from last season: The Broncos defense forced 30 fumbles in 2009, most in the AFC.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Broncos won their first six games of 2009, but then had two four-game losing streaks.

DETROIT LIONS

  • A good sign from last season: The Lions' 101-yard interception return for a TD was 2009's longest.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Lions were the only team to lose to the Rams in 2009, and they did so at home.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

  • A good sign from last season: The Packers scored three or more TDs in 15 of 16 games last season.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Packers led the NFL with 118 penalties in 2009.

HOUSTON TEXANS

  • A good sign from last season: The Texans led the NFL with 290.9 passing yards per game in 2009.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Texans' longest rush of 2009 was 32 yards, worst in the NFL.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

  • A good sign from last season: The Colts completed 49.2% of their third-down conversions in 2009 to lead the NFL.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Colts allowed opponents to complete 45% of their third-down conversions in 2009, tied for worst in the NFL.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

  • A good sign from last season: The Jaguars had the fewest penalties and fewest penalty yards in the NFL in 2009.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Jaguars were sacked 44 times in 2009 while their defense only doled out 14.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

  • A good sign from last season: The Chiefs kicked 41 punts inside the opponents' 20, most in the NFL in 2009.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Chiefs had as many fumbles as touchdowns (31 of each) in 2009.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

  • A good sign from last season: The Dolphins scored 22 rushing TDs in 2009, tying them for the league lead.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Dolphins defense allowed 14.2 yards per catch, worst in the NFL in 2009.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

  • A good sign from last season: The Vikings scored 27 or more points in 13 games in 2009.
  • A bad sign from last season: Three of the Vikings' four 2009 losses came to non-playoff teams.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

  • A good sign from last season: The Patriots earned 397.3 yards per game, best in the AFC.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Patriots' 39-yards-per-punt average was worst in the NFL.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

  • A good sign from last season: The Saints scored 9 TDs on returns and recoveries in 2009, three more than any other team.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Saints allowed 14.3 yards per punt return in 2009, worst in the NFL.

NEW YORK GIANTS

  • A good sign from last season: The Giants only punted for touchback twice in 2009, tied for first in the NFL.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Giants scored single digits in three of its final six games last season.

NEW YORK JETS

  • A good sign from last season: The Jets' defense held opposing QBs to a 51.6 completion percentage in 2009, lowest in the NFL.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Jets had trouble in close games, losing 5 times by five points or fewer in 2009.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

  • A good sign from last season: The Raiders averaged 51.1 yards per punt in 2009, 3.5 yards more than any other team.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Raiders only scored 22 points in the 3rd quarter all of last season.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

  • A good sign from last season: The Eagles averaged 13.1 yards per pass completion in 2009, tops in the NFL.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Eagles lost to the Cowboys three times in 2009 (twice in the regular season, once in the playoffs).

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

  • A good sign from last season: The Steelers sacked opposing QBs 47 times, most in the AFC in 2009.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Steelers allowed 4 kickoff returns for TD in 2009, while no other NFL team allowed more than 2.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

  • A good sign from last season: The Chargers' 13.3 yards per reception in 2009 was tops in the NFL.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Chargers' 3.3 yards per carry in 2009 was worst in the NFL.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

  • A good sign from last season: The Seahawks scored two shutout victories in their first five games last year.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Seahawks led the NFL with 33 fumbles in 2009.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

  • A good sign from last season: The 49ers held their opponents to 10 or fewer points in seven games in 2009.
  • A bad sign from last season: The 49ers led the NFC in punts in 2009 with 99.

ST. LOUIS RAMS

  • A good sign from last season: The Rams were successful on 6 of 7 FG of 50+ yards in 2009.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Rams allowed 4 interception returns for TD in 2009, tied for the NFL lead.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

  • A good sign from last season: The Buccaneers defeated the Super Bowl Champion Saints during the 2009 regular season.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Buccaneers only scored more than 24 points in one game in 2009.

TENNESSEE TITANS

  • A good sign from last season: The Titans averaged 27 points per game over the last 10 games of 2009.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Titans did not have a TE or WR with 50 or more catches in 2009.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

  • A good sign from last season: The Redskins boasted two players with 11 sacks.
  • A bad sign from last season: The Redskins took the ball away only 17 times in 2009, fewer than any NFL team.

NOTE: The use of current and former NFL logos is for identification and informational purposes only, and these logos remain the copyrights of the National Football League and/or the franchises depicted.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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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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iStock
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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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iStock

Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]

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