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26 Life-Size Versions of Popular Board Games

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Everyone's favorite board games get a whole lot more fun when they're super-sized. (Also: the pieces are harder to lose.) We've gathered up a collection of jumbo variations on classic board games—if you think we've missed a good one, let us know in the comments!

Candy Land

I was surprised there weren't more life-size versions of the candy-themed game, but the quality of these two jumbo versions makes up for the lack of other variations.

Lombard Street

San Francisco's famously winding Lombard Street was turned into the biggest version of Candy Land ever to celebrate the children's game's 60th anniversary in 2009. Laughing Squid has more videos and photos.

Candy Land Garden

Craftster user KandeeCorner (and YouTube user eieioh1) created a garden based on the various iterations of the Candy Land game board. You can read about her project in the Craftster boards.

Operation

On G4's "Attack of the Show," Kevin Pereira, Candace Bailey, and Gillian Jacobs played a life-sized G4 version of the buzzing medical game. Check out the photos on Attack of the Blog.

Scrabble

America's favorite word game is also one of the most popular games to get the life-size treatment.

Mississippi Children's Museum


The Mississippi Children's Museum boasts a Hasbro-official giant Scrabble. In the photo above, some members of the Navy ham it up at the museum for Mississippi Navy Week. Photo from the Mississippi Children's Museum's Facebook album of Mississippi Navy Week.

Canstruction Vancouver 2011


Amazingly enough, the Scrabble above was created from canned goods for the 2011 Canstruction Vancouver, a canned food sculpture competition that raises money for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. Photo by Flickr user Karen Neoh (karen_neoh).

Valley Fiesta 2010


The "Giant Games in the Valley" portion of the 2010 Valley Fiesta in Brisbane, Australia, boasted this colorful version of the word game. Photo by Flickr user Michael Zimmer (zayzayem).

Kensington Market


Toronto's Kensington Market has "Pedestrian Sundays," during which this giant homemade version of Scrabble was available to play. Photo by Ish & Jen of SunshineInToronto.com.

World Literacy Day 2010


Literacy Aotearoa Wellington (LAW), a not-for-profit organization that provides free numeracy and literacy support to residents of Wellington (New Zealand), hosted a giant street game of Scrabble on World Literacy Day 2010.

Toy Story Mania!


While this version isn't playable, its size earns it a place on this list. Gracing a building at Toy Story Mania! in Pixar Place at Disney's Hollywood Studios is a folded Scrabble board being hoisted by Army men. Photo by Flickr user Beau B.

Monopoly

These "life-sized" versions of Monopoly aren't quite the size of the real locations named on the popular game's board, but they're still a lot bigger than the table-top version!

Guadalupe River Park


This permanent installation in Guadalupe River Park, near the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, CA, is the largest Monopoly game board in the world. Photo by Flickr user HarshLight.

Bally's: Atlantic City


To attract attention for their "Pass GO! Collect $200" promotion, Bally's and Hasbro created a jumbo Monopoly game on the boardwalk outside the Atlantic City casino. More information about the game and promotion at Press of Atlantic City. Photo from ACWeekly.com's Atlantic City Central blog.

Minnesota State Fair 2002


The 2002 Minnesota State Fair included a tented walk-able version of Monopoly. Photo by Stephen A. Edwards from his Crazy Minnesota album.

Mousetrap

This amazing life-size game of Mousetrap was created by Mark Perez and company for Maker Faire 2007. To see more of the game, check out Nathan Bennett's (mostly) night-time photos.

Word on the Street

Origins Game Fair 2010 hosted the first life-size rendition of Out of the Box Games' Word on the Street.

The Royal Game of Ur


Odessa Design created a giant (yet portable) version of the Royal Game of Ur for the British Museum to celebrate the press launch of www.mesopotamia.co.uk/. Photo from Odessa Design.

Chess

Giant chess games can be divided into two categories: human chess, in which people are the pieces, and super-sized chess, in which jumbo versions of the traditional pieces are used.

Jeu d'Echecs Indien


Henri-Pierre Picou's 1876 painting, Jeu d'Echecs Indien, depicts a human chess game in India. Unfortunately, we can't find much more information about it, although there are an awful lot of sites offering reproductions. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Monselice, Italy


This human-chess game took place in Monselice, Italy, and was photographed by Wikimedia Commons user Zyance.

Jai Mahal Palace Hotel


The grounds of this luxury hotel in Jaipur, India, include an amazing carved life-size chess set. Photo by Flickr user squinting.

Taj Exotica


Taj Exotica, another luxury hotel owned by the same company as the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel, is also home to a cool jumbo chess set. Photo by Flickr user Sean Ellis (s_w_ellis).

Brindavan Gardens


They must really love chess in India, because a third life-size chess set resides at the Brindavan Gardens in Krishna Raja Sagara, India. Photo by Flickr user lucy like whoa.

Yahoo! Burbank


Yahoo!'s Burbank, CA, campus includes this giant courtyard chess set surrounded by flowers. Photo by Flickr user Konrad Summers (tkksummers).

Best Western Resort Country Club


The fourth (or fifth, if you count the Henri-Pierre Picou painting) Indian life-size chess board on our list is an amenity included with club membership at Best Western Resort Country Club, Gurgaon in New Delhi, India. Photo via the Best Western Resort Country Club web site.

The Embarcadero


Pieces for the giant chess board at the Embarcadero in Morro Bay, CA, can be rented from the city's Recreation Department. Photo via TripAdvisor.com.

Checkers (and Chess)


Bastions Park in Geneva, Switzerland, has at least four grids painted onto the pavement, with corresponding sets of playing pieces for checkers or chess, whichever strikes the players' fancy. Photo by Flickr user gringaespanola.

Chinese Checkers


The “Giant Games in the Valley” portion of the 2010 Valley Fiesta in Brisbane, Australia, also included this large version of Chinese checkers as well as the previously mentioned large Scrabble. Photo by Flickr user Michael Zimmer (zayzayem).

Battleship


Julie, who writes the blog Jules Journal, and her family created this jumbo version of Battleship for an event at their church. Photo via Jules Journal.
***
26 jumbo versions of our favorite board games not enough for you? Don’t worry, we’re not stopping the fun. Head over to our “Popular Games, Super-Sized” board on Pinterest for more giant games around the world. And if you’ve seen a good one, let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to the board.

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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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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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