11 Obscure 'J' Words Useful in Words With Friends

Someone recently played "jute" on me with devastating results. I decided I didn't know enough quick, hard-hitting 'J' words. Here are 11 that I just discovered:

1. Jute

A strong, coarse fiber from two East Indian plants often used in making burlap and gunny. Basically, the stuff sacks are made of.

2. Jus

A legal word (from Latin) meaning "a right" or a yummy word meaning juice or gravy, as in "au jus," which is French for "in its own juice"—it's the stuff in which you dip your Quizno's Steakhouse Peppercorn sandy.

3. Jow

As a noun, it's the ringing or tolling of a bell. As a verb, it is to ring or toll a bell or to hit or strike someone, especially on the head. It's a new word for me and one that could have launched Edgar Allan Poe into a more Seussian poetic career with this kid-friendly alternative to "tintinnabulation" (which, by the way, is just an altogether wonderful word).

4. Jarl

A Scandinavian earl.

5. Jaup

Of Scottish, and supposedly onomatopoetic, origin. In its noun form, it means a splash or drop of water. As a verb, to splash or spatter.

6. Jauk

To dawdle. Not thought to be onomatopoetic in origin, although it is incidentally the exact sound that I tend to make when procrastinating. It is, however, of Scottish origin, which once again proves my theory that Words With Friends creators love Scotland almost as much as Germans love David Hasselhoff.

7. Jinn

From Islamic mythology, the class of supernatural beings that, on the spirit hierarchy, is just below angels. The Qu'ran indicates that they are one of the three sentient creatures of Allah (along with angels and humans) and were made of "smokeless fire." They are thought of as the precursor to the "genies" of more modern cultures.

8. Juba

A kind of lively dance that involves rhythmic hand-clapping, stomping, and patting of the arms, legs, chest, and cheeks. Some of the steps in juba dance are called "Blow That Candle Out," "Pigeon Wing," and "The Long Dog Scratch."

9. Jupe

French for "skirt," this word has, over the years, referred to several different articles of clothing: a tunic, usually featuring heraldic arms, typically worn over armor (shortened from "jupon"); a type of skirt; a style of jacket; or baggy pants in what they call "Central European hip-hop fashion"—a style with which I am not at all familiar but surely ought to be. Jupe is accepted in Words With Friends but I'm not certain which fashion statement the game finds most acceptable—I like to think that it's the armor bit because that's what I envision myself wearing when I play.

10. Jabot

A decorative ruffle or other arrangement of lace or cloth starting at the neckline and extending down the front of a shirt or dress. A jabot is, in part, what makes "The Puffy Shirt" puffy.

11. Jawan

A soldier in the Indian army.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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Opening Ceremony
These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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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:


Opening Ceremony

To this:


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]