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11 Geeky Couples Portraits We Love

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We’ve featured geeky wedding photos and geeky family photos before. Here's more geek love!

1. Come to the Dark Side (We Have Kisses)

Red and Jonny are the most famous stormtrooper cosplayers around and this great vacation picture featuring the two kissing through their helmets is probably the most romantic (non-wedding photo) the two have taken as of yet.

2. Lord and Lady Vader

Imagine how much less evil Lord Vader would be if he had a Lady Vader by his side like this couple spotted at Dragon*Con ’08 by Flickr user Cayusa.

3. Beam My Heart Up, Scotty

The best thing about this geek couple’s 2002 Halloween picture, taken by Flickr user soozums, is that the gentleman’s expression looks like one Shatner would make as well.

4. Blood + Passion

I still don’t know much anime or manga, so I had no idea who Saya and Haji are or what their story is in Blood +. That being said, I still appreciate just how beautiful this passionate image, by Rubina Longu, is and I hope you guys do too.

5. Zombies Have Undying Love

Here’s a couple that thinks “till death do us part” still isn't long enough. While I don’t know the names of the living dead, I can tell you that the makeup was done by Monica Fajardo and the image was shot by Robert Bejil.

6. A Steamy Set of Steampunks

If you love the Old West, but wish that it had a tiny touch of Jules Verne’s futuristic ideas, then you’ll certainly appreciate this couple’s great steampunk cosplay from the 2012 Comic Con. Photography by Howie Muzika.

7. Lord of The Romance

Here you can see lovely lady Arwen, played by Stef, with Aragorn (after he’s gotten a haircut presumably), played by Dave. Just look at the adoration in her eyes as she stares at her brave hero in this great picture by Flickr user ex.libris.

8. Passion for the Ages

This lord looks like he is about to get into all kinds of trouble with his chambermaid at the 2011 Texas Renaissance Festival. Luckily, the two were spotted by photographer Frank Kovalchek before they got up to anything too naughty.

9. “I Love You.” “I Know.”

These last few images are all ones I’ve taken at Comic Con throughout the years. I’ve always been struck by the passion shared by this couple, cosplaying as Han and Leia at the 2011 convention, and am happy to get to share that emotion with all of you as well.

10. Sweeney Todd

These two, seen at the 2008 Comic Con, might not be as passionate as the rest, but I love how much thought they put into their accessories and their poses for cosplay photographers like myself. Also, it was great how disgusting and mysterious that meat pie looked.

11. Joker and Harley

Admittedly, this is certainly the silliest photo in the collection, but the fact that Harley Quinn was actually pregnant and that their costumes so imaginatively portrayed what these villains would probably end up doing if they were going to have a baby made these two, spotted at the most recent convention, my favorite Comic Con couple ever.

And thank you commenters for identifying these two as Donald and Tara Strand of Gotham Public Works.

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Unfortunately, only two of these images had the names of the people in the portraits, even though the couples are the stars of this article. Most of them, including my photos, came from cosplay events where people rarely have the time to stop and write down names. If you know any of the people seen here—or you're in one of these photos—please give us some names so we can credit them. (Hopefully all the couples are still together too).

Also, if you have any geeky couple’s portraits of your own, feel free to share them in the comments.

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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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