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10 Classic Video Game Fashions

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Playing video games is usually a solitary pursuit. You wear what you like as long as you’re comfortable. A t-shirt and pajama pants will do nicely, and you can find those printed with your favorite video game characters and icons at most clothing stores. For conventions and cosplay events you will want a full costume, which you can find online with no problem. Then there are those times you go out in public and would like to broadcast your interests, subtly or not-so-subtly, to break the ice with potential kindred spirits. These are the fashions for such an occasion: some are available to buy, while others are one-of-a-kind creations that might inspire you to make your own!

1. 1-up Mushroom Scarf

Etsy seller UrbanPrincess will make this Super Mario-inspired 1-up mushroom scarf for you in whatever color(s) you like! Her other scarves feature Princess Peach and Mario knitted right in.

2. Super Mario Warp Zone Socks

Will warp zone socks make you run faster? No, but they might make you feel like you’re throwing fireballs!

3. Super Mario Sweater Vest

The Happy Seamstress calls this “The Nerdiest Sweater Vest in the World.” She converted pixels into knitting stitches to recreate a scene from the world of Super Mario which continues around the back of the vest, complete with the level and time!

4. Super Mario Gloves

These fingerless gloves have the pattern of a fire flower from Super Mario Brothers. Craftster leahseraph made them for her brother so he can continue playing when the temperature drops. And then there are video game fashions other than Super Mario…

5. Video Game Sweaters

The reason these sweaters feature old-school video games is that they were custom-knitted in the mid 80s! Yet the classics are still favorites for many. In addition to Q-bert and Donkey Kong, Flickr user Scurra_2002 has sweaters that depict Pac-Man and Space invaders. There are more video game characters knitted into the ends of the sleeves.

6. Tetris Tube Top

Available from Etsy seller ZidishaLuxe, this tube top comes in stretchy black fabric with 54 cubes in the shapes of Tetris blocks falling.

7. Missile Command Skirt

Lenore at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories made a Missile Command Skirt by adorning a simple black skirt with appliques and ribbons detailing the destruction. You’ll find illustrated instructions in case you want to make your own!

8. Tetris Dress

Erin wished she had some Tetris printed fabric to make a dress, and since she made this wish online, a friend contacted a fabric printer to make the perfect print. The resulting Tetris dress was a hit, and now you can order the fabric to make yours.

9. Handheld Game Unit Dress

Etsy seller SewOeno isn’t calling this dress by the brand you recognize, but you do recognize this classic Handheld Game Unit dress, don’t you?

10. Nintendo Controller Dress

Artist Liz Tan made this awesome Nintendo controller dress for Halloween. Sadly, hers is a one-of-a-kind project, but you can get a strapless knit version from ZidishaLuxe.

If you are too shy to wear such clothing and want to get your message across more subtly, you might want to go with video game jewelry. But that’s an entirely different list, coming soon!

See also: 10 Ways to Game Up Your Home and 8 Awesome Video Game Quilts.

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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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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