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Beauty for the Geek

14 Hand-Painted Geeky Shoe Designs

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Beauty for the Geek

While plenty of people have geeky tee shirts, nerdy shoes are far less common—but shoes are great because, unlike tees, you can wear them day in and day out if you so please. If you’re ready to put your best geek foot forward, here are a few great shoe designs to get you started.

1. The Doctor and The TARDIS

Can’t get enough of The Doctor and his beloved TARDIS? Then head to Etsy seller TooCrazyGirl’s shop and grab a pair of these great Doctor Who sneakers. You can choose between a bow tie and suspenders with the quote "Trust me, I'm the Doctor" or a neck tie and a pinstriped jacket with the phrase "Allons-y!"

2. Silence

Do you forget where you left your shoes the second you take them off? Well, forget about ever remembering where you put these Silence shoes by Etsy seller Scrapcrafter. After all, they’re designed just to make you forget.

3. Dalek

The Dalek “To Victory” poster has proven to be one of the most popular designs ever released by the BBC. If you don’t really dig posters and would rather share this design on your feet, head over to Etsy seller TheWhitelicorice and grab a pair of these sneakers.

4. Star Wars

Toms are great for the charitable nature of the company. If you love the idea of a person in need receiving a free pair of shoes for the pair you bought, then grab a pair of Etsy seller EastBayCalifornia’s awesomely detailed Star Wars shoes.

5. Yoda

When it comes to amazing custom shoe paintings, it’s hard to beat What’s Shop. As these amazing Yoda Converse prove, the artists at What’s Shop might just be some of the most amazing shoe painters in the world. Of course, that talent comes at a price: Their shoes sell for $150 and up. Fortunately, if you can’t afford a pair, you can always enjoy looking at their magnificent paintings on their Tumblr.

6. Angry Birds Avengers

If you’re wondering how high What’s Shop’s prices reach, look no further than these one-of-a-kind Angry Birds Avengers Converse. Since this is the only pair the company will ever make, they’ll set you back a cool $850.

7. Amazing Spider-Man

Of course, many of What’s Shop’s designs are one-off designs made for customer special orders. Some of the designs will never even appear in their shop, like these Amazing Spider-Man Converse that are, in fact, amazing.

8. Marvel Heroes

Etsy seller BBEE is also well known and extremely talented when it comes to custom shoe creations, which is why the shop is able to charge $250 for this pair of Marvel Vans.

9. Batman and Joker

If you can’t afford to have a professional make you a custom pair of shoes, you can always see if someone you know might be willing to do it for you. Redditor Zacch asked his mother to make him a pair of Batman shoes and the results were impressive enough to get him over 2600 upvotes.

10. Batman

Sometimes it’s hard to be a fashionable geek girl. While there are plenty of geek sneakers out there, it’s much harder to express yourself with shoes that will match your favorite dress. Fortunately, these sparkly Batman flats by Etsy seller strollingcanvases look great with all kinds of fashion ensembles.

11. Paper Mario

Of the entire Mario series, Paper Mario is perhaps the cutest, with the characters bearing such adorably juvenile faces. That’s why it was such a good decision on the part of Etsy seller blacknorns to choose that incarnation for these fantastic stiletto heels.

12. Bubble Bobble

These two adorable dinosaurs make a basic pair of blue flats into something infinitely more fun and fashionable. In fact, even if people aren’t familiar with the classic game, they’ll most likely still appreciate the cute characters painted on these shoes by Etsy seller MagicBeanBuyer.

13. Rebel Alliance

Sparkly, pink, and nerdy! Now that’s a super girly geek’s dream shoe, and can you blame them when these pink Rebel Alliance flats by Etsy seller aishavoya are so darn cute?

14. Darth Maul

Beauty For the Geek specializes in making custom, hand-painted geek heels. While all the designs in their photo gallery are impressive, their Darth Maul designs are particularly fantastic because they not only feature a special paint job, but the spikes in the back make them truly fit the inspiration.

Of course, if you don’t like any of these designs, but love the idea of having your own custom geek shoes, then you can always try making your own. Geek With Curves has a great article on how to organize a shoe decorating party, and even if you prefer to work solo, the piece has plenty of useful ideas and inspiration to get you started on your own special shoe designs.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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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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One Bite From This Tick Can Make You Allergic to Meat
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We like to believe that there’s no such thing as a bad organism, that every creature must have its place in the world. But ticks are really making that difficult. As if Lyme disease wasn't bad enough, scientists say some ticks carry a pathogen that causes a sudden and dangerous allergy to meat. Yes, meat.

The Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum) mostly looks like your average tick, with a tiny head and a big fat behind, except the adult female has a Texas-shaped spot on its back—thus the name.

Unlike other American ticks, the Lone Star feeds on humans at every stage of its life cycle. Even the larvae want our blood. You can’t get Lyme disease from the Lone Star tick, but you can get something even more mysterious: the inability to safely consume a bacon cheeseburger.

"The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions," allergist Ronald Saff, of the Florida State University College of Medicine, told Business Insider.

What prompted them was STARI, or southern tick-associated rash illness. People with STARI may develop a circular rash like the one commonly seen in Lyme disease. They may feel achy, fatigued, and fevered. And their next meal could make them very, very sick.

Saff now sees at least one patient per week with STARI and a sensitivity to galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose—more commonly known as alpha-gal—a sugar molecule found in mammal tissue like pork, beef, and lamb. Several hours after eating, patients’ immune systems overreact to alpha-gal, with symptoms ranging from an itchy rash to throat swelling.

Even worse, the more times a person is bitten, the more likely it becomes that they will develop this dangerous allergy.

The tick’s range currently covers the southern, eastern, and south-central U.S., but even that is changing. "We expect with warming temperatures, the tick is going to slowly make its way northward and westward and cause more problems than they're already causing," Saff said. We've already seen that occur with the deer ticks that cause Lyme disease, and 2017 is projected to be an especially bad year.

There’s so much we don’t understand about alpha-gal sensitivity. Scientists don’t know why it happens, how to treat it, or if it's permanent. All they can do is advise us to be vigilant and follow basic tick-avoidance practices.

[h/t Business Insider]