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Forget Wayne's World 3: 8 Movie Sequels Actually on Track for 2015-16

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This week reports surfaced online that we'd be getting another installment of Wayne's World. Sadly, it was just a rumor. But it got us thinking of other sequels that are definitely coming down the line.

1. Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

There's already a tentative release date: March 18, 2016. According to the Los Angeles Times, in a first for any Hollywood animated feature film, this new installment will be made in China as a co-production. It's too soon to know what Chinese animation will add, as Oriental DreamWorks only launched this past February. The deal allows the studio to take 50 percent of box-office ticket sales in China compared with the typical 25 percent for foreign films there. However, worldwide distribution of the film isn't expected until 2017.

2. Finding Nemo 2 (2016)

This summer, the rumors turned into an inevitability when Nemo director Andrew Stanton confirmed that he'd be returning to the depths of the ocean for a sequel to the hit 2003 film. Stanton has won Academy Awards for the first Nemo and Wall-E, but after his live-action blockbuster John Carter flopped, Stanton opted to return to his bread and butter in the animation studio. The news only added fuel to existing speculation that Pixar may order more installments from other perennial winners like Toy Story, Wall-E, and Up. After the re-release of the first Nemo in 3D earlier this year, there's clearly a built-in audience counting down the days until 2016.

3. How to Train Your Dragon 3 (2016)

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Confused, because you don't recall the second one coming out? That's because the first sequel to the massively successful How to Train Your Dragon is slated to open on June 20, 2014. And the DreamWorks team is so confident that it will also be a smash hit that a third film is already on the schedule. It makes sense once you consider that the series was thought of as a trilogy. Director Dean DeBlois is reportedly on board with the plan. DreamWorks' full schedule shows that it plans to release three to four movies each year over the next few years, with its core mission being to keep the winning franchises fresh in people's minds in hopes of selling large amounts of licensed merchandise along the way.

4. The Avengers 2 (2015)

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Marvel Studios announced in August that the next film in the franchise will come on May 1, 2015. During the interim, fans will get more films based on their favorite characters: Iron Man (May 2013), Thor (Fall 2013), and Captain America (Spring 2014). It'll be up to writer/director Joss Whedon to weave together all those storylines—but if the first Avengers film was any indication, he's up to the task. But some fans believe the final release date could get pushed off as a result of the additional work involved. Stay tuned.

5. Star Wars: Episode VII (2015)

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm earlier this month, it announced that it plans to make more Star Wars films—and fans went wild. The first film is slated for a 2015 release. No director has been chosen for the project as of yet, but according to reports, "Screenwriter Michael Arndt 'has already written a treatment for the next three Star Wars films and is in line to write the script for Episode VII.'"

6. Avatar 2 (2015)

Originally, Fox executives hoped to have this sequel open in 2014, but the release date has been pushed back to 2015. Maybe it's taking so long because director James Cameron is reportedly filming both the second and third films at once. As of this summer, Cameron was still working on the script and hadn't begun shooting. What's clear, though, is that Cameron has some new tricks up his sleeve. "We can have Chinese Na’vi; [and in the live-action sequences] we can also have Chinese actors who speak English in the film," Cameron said in September. "We are projecting a future in Avatar, and if you project that future out, it is logical that there would be a number of Chinese amongst the contingent on Pandora."

7. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015)

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Francis Lawrence, currently directing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (due out November 2013), recently agreed to helm the rest of the series. Lionsgate split the final novel into two parts; the first half hits theaters November 2014, and Part 2 is set for November 20, 2015. It seems like a good strategy after the first installment grossed nearly $700 million worldwide.

8. Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

Sony Pictures Animation confirms that a sequel to Hotel Transylvania has been ordered and is scheduled for release on September 25, 2015. Since the news came down just two weeks ago, very little else is known, even whether director Genndy Tartakovsky is attached to the project. It's another good example about how money talks in Hollywood. According to one writer at MTV, "It wasn't received especially well by critics, but it broke the September box office slump and that's all that counts."

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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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Sponsor Content: BarkBox
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.