CLOSE
Original image

Woody's Winners, NFL Week 6

Original image

NFL WEEK SIX:

Week 6 was an absolute mess, leaving prognosticators nationwide scratching their heads. My 6-8 record last week included the Giants’ upset win at Houston, but who’d have predicted Oakland over San Diego or Arizona over New Orleans? Heck, some teams – Minnesota, for instance – can do the Jekyll & Hyde thing in a single game, looking awful in the first half and awesome in the second. Still, Woody promises to do better in Week 6. Here are my picks:

+++

Cleveland (1-4) @ Pittsburgh (3-1)

Colt McCoy vs. Big Ben Roethlisberger. It sounds a lot like an Old West gunfight, and it may well turn out that way. The former is a rookie QB expected to make his first start for the Browns, while the latter returns for the Steelers after a four-game suspension for rustling. McCoy has a capable six-shooter of an arm, but may spend most of the day digging Steel spurs out from his hinder. Big Ben may have a bit of rust on his cannon, but he’ll knock that off in short order against that logo-less team from across the state line.

Woody’s Winner: Pittsburgh

FACT: RB Peyton Hillis scored another TD last week, giving him one in each of Cleveland’s five games.

Click "more" to see my picks on the remaining games in Week 6.

+++

New Orleans (3-2) @ Tampa Bay (3-1)

These NFC South foes lie on opposite sides of the Gulf of Mexico, and they were on opposite ends of upsets last week; the Saints fell to Arizona while the Buccaneers surprised Cincinnati. Neither team can run – or stop the run, for that matter – so the outcome of this game will hinge on passing the pigskin. There, New Orleans has the edge. The Freebooters would love nothing more than to send the Canonized Crew limping back to Bourbon Street with an even record, and it could happen. Still, as defending NFL champs and spiritual beings, the Saints don’t have to worry about contracting TB.

Woody’s Winner: New Orleans

FACT: The Buccaneers are 4-2 over their last six games against the Saints.

+++

Miami (2-2) @ Green Bay (3-2)

Two of the five combined victories these teams have posted in 2010 have come against 0-5 Buffalo (and two others against one-win teams), so neither has impressed much this season. The Pack has major injury issues on both sides of the ball, and Miami will look to take advantage of the situation Sunday at Lambeau Field. Green Bay is used to packing meat, not fish, and the slippery Dolphins may prove tough to tackle. Both teams need a win to keep pace in their respective divisions, and the coin flip goes to:

Woody’s Winner (in an upset): Miami

FACT: Historically, the Dolphins won their first 8 games vs. the Packers, but Green Bay has taken 3 out of the last 4 meetings.

+++

San Diego (2-3) @ St. Louis (2-3)

How is it that the Chargers are #1 in the AFC in both offensive yards and defensive yards-against, but have a losing record? Turnovers. Last week, they frittered away the game to Oakland with three lost fumbles and two blocked punts. Now, the Bolts face a Rams defense that looked good before Week 5’s shellacking at Detroit. The Golden Horns will sorely miss WR Mark Clayton (out with a season-ending injury) but if San Diego continues its thunder-with-no-lightning play, they could be in for a bad storm.

Woody’s Winner: San Diego

FACT: The Chargers have never beaten the Rams in St. Louis.

+++

Baltimore (4-1) @ New England (3-1)

In one of Week 6’s most anticipated matchups, the Patriots host Baltimore in a battle of two of the AFC’s best teams. The Ravens have been eating clam chowder all week to prepare to face Foxboro’s league-leading scoring machine. Soup is good food, but that’s a tall order. The departure of WR Randy Moss didn’t affect New England last week, but they’ve yet to face a defense as Raven-ous as this one. Baltimore will truly have something to crow about after putting down the Red, White and Blue.

Woody’s Winner: New England

FACT: This will be the Ravens’ fourth road game (out of 6 total games) this season.

+++

Kansas City (3-1) @ Houston (3-2)

After a season-opening victory at home against Indy, the Texans have lost two consecutive home games. Those same Colts became the first team to knock off the Chiefs this season, although the Kansas City defense put on a good show in the loss. Houston QB Matt Schaub has passed for under 200 yards in each of the last two games, with 2 TDs and 3 turnovers. He’ll perform better this week against an Arrowhead defense that’s among the worst in the league in passing yards allowed. Sorry about that, Chiefs.

Woody’s Winner: Houston

FACT: A win at home this week will even Houston coach Gary Kubiak’s career record to 35-35.

+++

Detroit (1-4) @ N.Y. Giants (3-2)

Woody picked Detroit to win last week, and they won, and that’s swell. But this game is on the road, and the Lions have not won an away game in nearly three years. The Giant trio of Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw has hit its stride the past two weeks, and New York’s defense has returned to form as well. The Lions’ wounded Pride will head into their bye week with their tails back in a more familiar position – tucked firmly between their legs. Can you say “dead cat bounce”?

Woody’s Winner: New York

FACT: Uncharacteristically, the Lions have had success on the road against the Giants, winning their last three games there (in 1994, 2000, and 2004).

+++

Atlanta (4-1) @ Philadelphia (3-2)

It’s birdwatching time in Philly this week when the Falcons fly in to meet the Eagles. It’s probably for the best that Michael Vick won’t start against his former team, as the Atlanta defense would undoubtedly dog his every move. Kevin Kolb has improved with each game, however, and an impressive victory over Atlanta could muddle the Eagles’ QB situation even more. In a decidedly un-avian fashion, this game will be decided on the ground, and that’s where the Red-and-Black will prove their mettle as game birds.

Woody’s Winner (in an upset): Atlanta

FACT: The Eagles are undefeated on the road (3-0) and winless at home (0-2) so far this season.

+++

Seattle (2-2) @ Chicago (4-1)

The Seahawks hope to jump-start their rushing game with newly-acquired RB Marshawn Lynch, but it’ll be a challenge to do so against Chicago’s grizzly defense. The Bears are convinced that their loss to the Giants was an aberration, and they’re not about to let any coffee-swilling ocean-birds into their den. Recovered from a concussion, QB Jay Cutler will return to the huddle in just the nick of time. In his absence, backup Todd Collins was 10 of 27 for no TDs and 5 INTs. Utterly unBearable.

Woody’s Winner: Chicago

FACT: Bears RB Matt Forte ran for 2 TDs last week. Prior to that game, Chicago had not scored a rushing TD since Week 13 of last season.

+++

Oakland (2-3) @ San Francisco (0-5)

Oakland played inspired football last week, scoring on a TD, FG, and safety before their game was even five minutes old. Still, the winless 49ers are favored to win against the team from right across the Bay. That’s not too surprising, considering the team went to the wire against three of the NFC’s best (the Saints, Falcons, and Eagles). Frisco RB Frank Gore has yet to hit his stride, something he should be able to accomplish against a Raider defense that couldn’t stop a run in a cheap pair of pantyhose.

Woody’s Winner: San Francisco

FACT: O.J. Simpson was a 49ers running back in 1979, the last time the team started a season 0-5.

+++

N.Y. Jets (4-1) @ Denver (2-3)

It’s “Orange Sunday” in Denver, as the team hopes the fans will join them in wearing orange and making Invesco Field look like a giant circus peanut. Being Jets, New York will feel at home a mile up in the air, and they’re eager to do some Bronco bustin’ in Week 6. The Jets’ ground crew will eat up the clock and force Denver to pass, which is all they do anyway. The runway will be lit-up and lined with defenders, however, and limited Horsepower just won’t cut it.

Woody’s Winner: New York

FACT: The Jets have averaged 31.5 points over their last four games, all victories.

+++

Dallas (1-3) @ Minnesota (1-3)

Which of these touted teams will break out of its funk this week? That’s a good question, and the answer may hinge on the availability of old number four. Minnesota QB Brett Favre is in danger of missing a start for the first time in 289 games. Despite their love for #4, some Purple fans feel that the scrambling ability of backup QB Tavaris Jackson might be just the thing to right the listing Viking ship. One team will wear stars in this game, and the other will be seeing them.

Woody’s Winner (in an upset): Dallas

FACT: The Cowboys and Vikings have battled each other in 20 regular season games, and each team has won 10 times.

+++

Indianapolis (3-2) @ Washington (3-2)

Something’s not quite right with the Colts. Peyton Manning has galloped to a great start, but the rest of the team has just trotted along without much inspiration. In Week 6, they saddle up for our nation’s capital to face the on-again, off-again Redskins. Washington fans are thrilled that their team has kept up in the tough NFC East with victories against the Eagles and Cowboys. With 6 of their next 9 games on the road, however, the Indians know a win at FedEx Field this week would put a sure-‘nuff fluff on those feathery headdresses.

Woody’s Winner (in an upset): Washington

FACT: In the 1960s, the Colts faced the Redskins 9 times, and won every game.

+++

Tennessee (3-2) @ Jacksonville (3-2)

All four teams in the AFC South have identical 3-2 records, but this matchup ensures that Week 6 won’t end that way (save for ties). Action Jacksonville will be doing the Titan-It-Up on Monday Night Football when the Music City team invades Florida, and while the Olmecs worshiped Jaguars, the Titans don’t kowtow to anybody. When the Cats look up to see the license plate of the truck that just ran over them, they’ll see that it reads “10SE.”

Woody’s Winner: Tennessee

FACT: The Titans and Jaguars are two of the NFL teams whose geographic and team names begin with the same letters. Can you name the other two? (see below)

+++

BYE: Arizona, Buffalo, Carolina, Cincinnati.

+++

ANSWER: the Bills and the Seahawks.

+++

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, but please be cordial to others; this is all in good fun. Thanks!

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
arrow
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
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!

Original image
Opening Ceremony
fun
arrow
These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
Original image
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:

501069-OpeningCeremony2.jpg

Opening Ceremony

To this:

501069-OpeningCeremony3.jpg

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]

SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES