The Weird Week in Review

One-armed Legless Man Beats Nurse

A male nurse is off work with his knee in a brace after being attacked by a disabled man he was caring for. The patient, who has only one arm and no legs, punched the caregiver with his arm and flailed around with his stumps at Royal Darwin Hospital in Northern territory, Australia. The 50-year-old nurse’s knee was severely injured. A spokesperson from the hospital refused further comment, citing privacy issues, except to say that the hospital tolerates no violence and that the matter has been resolved.

Man Proposes; Drops Ring in Sewer

John Iverson of Denver, Colorado presented a diamond ring to his girlfriend and asked her to marry him. She said yes and accepted the ring. Iverson then dropped the wedding ring that went with with the diamond engagement ring. It fell into a grate and down the storm sewer. The Denver Fire Department was called, and firefighters managed to retrieve the ring after 45 minutes of work. With video.

Woman Saves Husband from Tiger with Soup Ladle

Tambun Gediu of Kg Sungai Tiang, Malaysia, was hunting squirrels when he encountered a tiger. The 60-year-old man tried to climb a nearby tree, but the tiger dragged him down. Gediu’s wife, 55-year-old Han Besau, heard the tiger’s roar. She grabbed the first thing she came to and rushed into the woods to help her husband. Besau found the tiger attacking Gediu while the man tried to defend himself. Besau screamed and beat the tiger on its head with her weapon -a wooden soup ladle! The tiger ran off. Gediu had deep lacerations, but he had to wait ten hours to be taken to the hospital, because the village is so remote. He is expected to recover from his wounds.

The Phil Campbell Convention

Phil Campbell was surprised to find a town named Phil Campbell, Alabama. He visited the town, got a nice reception, and decided to organize a Phil Campbell convention. The first one was in 1995, and the second one is this year. So if your name is Phil Campbell (or Phyllis Campbell or Felipe Campbell), you are invited to Phil Campbell to meet other Phil Campbells in June. There is a Facebook group for the convention in which many members have the same name.

Busted by His Own Dog

A sheriff’s deputy in Moro, Oregon pulled over a pickup truck with California plates. As he approached the vehicle, a sock flew out the window. The sock was stuffed with marijuana. The driver, 32-year-old Joel Dobrin of San Diego, was busted by his own dog!

After the stop, the driver explained to Sgt. Terrel that as he was being pulled over, he tried to stash the sock. His pit bull mix dog grabbed the sock and wouldn’t let go, enjoying the tug-of-war game. The dog won, tossing the sock out the window.

Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey had high praise for the canine.

“I wish everyone traveled with their own personal drug dog. It sure would make our job easier.”

Dobrin was charged with possession of marijuana and hashish.

Stabbing Pains Due to Knife in Head

Li Fu of Yunnan Province, China got into a fight in 2006 and was stabbed in the head. He was given medical treatment for his injuries. Last month, he sought treatment for continuous migraine headaches. An x-ray revealed that Li had a four-inch knife blade embedded in his brain! The family was so shocked that they went for a second opinion, which confirmed that the blade was indeed still in his head. The knife that Li was stabbed with four years earlier had broken off, but was never detected by those who treated Li at the time. He underwent surgery last weekend to remove the blade, and is expected to recover.

Firefighters Rescue Plastic Swan

Residents of Straubing, Germany, called the emergency line when they spotted a black swan in a frozen pond. The swan did not move, and was obviously stuck in the ice. A total of 25 firefighters responded to rescue the bird, inching out over the ice to reach it. They found the swan to be a plastic decoy, which had been placed to scare other birds from the pond. Luckily, no one was injured during the operation, and the firefighters chalked it up as a training run.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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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]