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11 Great Geek Wedding Dresses

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More and more couples are opting for fun-themed weddings to express their common interests. Here are a few great geek dresses that are way more memorable than another white gown.

Rivendell Bridal is a company that bases many of their lovely dress designs on famous female characters from classic stories, such as Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Guinevere (the King Arthur myths). They used to theme all the dresses and their names after the Lord of the Rings series, but have since stopped this practice (possibly over copyright issues). The dresses can all be customized and many come in a variety of colors. Here is one of their creations, worn by Norwegian bride Elizabeth.

Hello Kitty has actually designed its own line of wedding dresses, but even more impressive is this adorable gown worn by the curator of the Hello Kitty Museum in Germany, complete with a kitty bodice and a skirt adorned with 3D kitties and strawberries. Of course, having Hello Kitty herself at the wedding only makes it that much more geektastic.

Brenda and Rob love sci-fi, which is why they chose to incorporate Firefly, Star Wars and Doctor Who into their wedding. The couple even managed to get one of their invitations signed by the creator of Firefly, Mr. Joss Whedon. While all of that is pretty cool, it’s Brenda’s beautiful dress inspired by Firefly’s Inara that qualifies the couple for this list.

If this dress looks familiar to any of you gamers out there, that’s probably because it’s closely based on the clothing of Rydia from Final Fantasy IV. Bride Kouhotaru got together with cosplay designer Catherine of God Save the Queen Fashions to create this beautiful dress based on Rydia’s distinctive style. The result was a beautiful and fitting tribute that could actually be used as a wedding dress (unlike anything the character herself ever wore).

While plenty of people have Star Wars weddings, Nada’s dress here is unique in that it perfectly captures the fashion style of the movies without actually directly copying any outfits seen in the films. Of course, it was good to have some clothing pulled from the series, including the groom’s Jedi robes and the adorable flower girl’s Princess Leia outfits.

The bride at this Star Wars wedding, photographed by Justin Winokur, made a similar choice, opting to wear a white sci-fi inspired gown while her Mon Calamari groom and Princess Leia priestess helped make sure the theme was totally clear.

No one has actually gotten married in this particular gown, but with over 24,000 colored LED lights embroidered across its silk surface it’s certainly geeky and gorgeous enough to earn its place on this list. The design by futuristic textile company Cute Circuit is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. If any of you brides-to-be have enough money, you could probably convince Cute Circuit to create an LED dress just for you, like they did for Livia and Magnus.

Whatever your feelings about steampunk, there’s no denying that the Jules Verne-inspired, retro-futuristic fashion is definitely geeky. While there are plenty of steampunk wedding photos out there, Adrianna’s is special in that it is far more than just a corset with a nice skirt underneath. The lovely gown and all of her jewelry were created by Nancy Wong of Aerisk Fashion.

Anja and Lutz are both into live action role playing (LARPing) and they wanted their wedding to reflect their interest in history. The couple created every piece of their Tudor-inspired outfits themselves, with the exception of their shoes. As an extra bonus, the couple and all of their friends were able to reuse their outfits in future LARP events.

Speaking of historical gowns, Flickr user MrsCherry and her husband were actually married at a Renaissance Fair, so it was only fitting that the wedding party dressed appropriately. Here is the beautiful bride with her maid of honor, both in perfect period attire.

Floridian couple Scott and Molly had a pirate-themed wedding that was quite elegant. The wedding and reception were held on a pirate ship that sailed through the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and guests could not attend unless they were in costume. As for the bride’s stunning wench dress, it was custom made by her friend Luis Ortiz.

Who's been to a wedding where the bride (or groom!) wore something unexpected? Would any of you wear one of these gowns at your own wedding? Personally, I’ve always wanted a red wedding dress since I saw Beetlejuice when I was six.

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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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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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