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Shop for Today's Best Amazon Deals Now

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As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, May 13.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

GADGETS, TOYS, AND MEDIA

Mpow Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear, Hi-Fi Stereo Wireless Headset, Foldable, Soft Memory-Protein Earmuffs, w/ Built-in Mic and Wired Mode for PC/ Cell Phones/ TV for $35.69 (list price $45.99)

[Mini Design for Travel] iClever BoostStrip IC-BS01 Portable Smart Power Strip / USB Charger, 4320 Joules Surge Protector with 2 AC Outlet 4 USB Port, 5ft Extension Cord for Indoor & Outdoor, White for $23.99 (list price $32.99)

ACDelco Super Alkaline AA Batteries, 100-Count for $12.56 (list price $19.70)

Photive Hydra Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. Waterproof Rugged Portable with built in Subwoofer and Long Battery for $29.95 (list price $79.95)

ThorFire Cap Hat Light 5-LED Headlamp Rotatable Ball Cap Visor light Clip-on Hat Light Hands Free for Hunting Camping Fishing (Pack of 1) for $7.99 (list price $19.00)

Spigen Ultra Hybrid [2nd Generation] iPhone 7 Plus Case Clear with Reinforced Camera Protection and Air Cushion Technology for iPhone 7 Plus 2016 - Black for $11.99 (list price $22.99)

Portable Chargers RAVPower 16750mAh External Battery Pack 4.5A Dual USB Output External Phone Charger Battery Bank Power Bank (iSmart 2.0 Technology) for Nintendo Switch, iPhone 7, Galaxy S8 - Black for $29.99 (list price $99.99)

SENSO Bluetooth Headphones, Best Wireless Sports Earphones w/ Mic IPX7 Waterproof HD Stereo Sweatproof Earbuds for Gym Running Workout 8 Hour Battery Noise Cancelling Headsets for $36.97 (list price $169.99)

Stuhrling Original Men's 395.33U16 Aquadiver Regatta Analog Swiss Quartz Stainless Steel Link Bracelet Watch for $69.00 (list price $395.00)

LEGO STAR WARS TIE Striker 75154 for $42.13 (list price $69.99)

LEGO Star Wars Eclipse Fighter 75145 for $19.37 (list price $29.99)

Etekcity 2-in-1 Bluetooth Receiver Transmitter Wireless 3.5mm Audio Adapter with Volume Control, Bluetooth 4.1, aptX Low Latency Supports Dual Mode for $33.99 (list price $79.99)

WD 1TB Black USB 3.0 My Passport Portable External Hard Drive (WDBYNN0010BBK-WESN) for $56.88 (list price $79.99)

16 RFID Blocking Sleeves (12 Credit Card Holders & 4 Passport Protectors) Ultimate Premium Identity Theft Protection Sleeve Set for Men & Women. Smart Slim Design perfectly fits Wallet / Purse. for $10.95 (list price $28.99)

KITCHEN

Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker 18/10 Bonus Stainless Steel Screen (1000ML) for $21.99 (list price $69.99)

ROYAL CRAFT WOOD Organic Bamboo Cutting Board with Juice Groove, Best Kitchen Chopping Board for Meat (Butcher Block), Cheese and Vegetables | EXTRA LARGE & THICK | Antibacterial Heavy Duty w/ Handles for $14.97 (list price $29.99)

Victorinox 7-Inch Fibrox Granton Edge Santoku Knife for $35.00 (list price $54.00)

OXO Good Grips GreenSaver Produce Keeper - Large for $19.99 (list price $24.99)

MaxBrew 24K Gold Reusable K-Carafe Filter for Keurig 2.0 - K-Cup Reusable 4-5 Cup Carafe Filter for Keurig 2.0 for $29.95 (list price $29.95)

Wilton Recipe Right 3 Piece Cookie Pan Set for $9.99 (list price $13.49)

Baker's Secret 3-Cup Stainless Steel Flour Sifter for $8.00 (list price $13.28)

Guzzle Buddy It Turns Your Bottle of Wine Into Your Wine Glass for $21.99 (list price $29.99)

Microwave Popcorn Popper | Replaces Microwave Popcorn Bags | Enjoy Healthy Air Popped Popcorn - No Oil Needed | BPA Free Premium European Grade Silicone Popcorn Maker by Cestari Kitchen (Makes 8 Cups) for $18.99 (list price $26.99)

Crock-Pot 3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel, SCR300SS for $19.69 (list price $24.99)

Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juice Extractor for $119.96 (list price $149.99)

Oster CKSTRC61K-TECO Titanium Infused 6 Cup Rice & Grain Cooker with Steam Tray, Medium/One Size, Silver/Black for $17.99 (list price $25.27)

Cresimo 10-Inch Stainless Steel Cocktail Muddler and Mixing Spoon with Cocktail Recipes (eBook) for $7.50 (list price $13.95)

HOME

Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner with Storage bag (ARC-14S) for $452.15 (list price $599.99)

InterDesign Linus Spice Rack, Corner Organizer for Kitchen Pantry, Cabinet, Countertops - 3-Tier Clear for $15.74 (list price $16.99)

Whitmor Woven Strap Small Shelf Storage Tote, Java for $9.31 (list price $16.98)

URPOWER Garment Steamer 130ml Portable Handheld Fabric Steamer Fast Heat-up Powerful Travel Garment Clothes Steamer with High Capacity for Home and Travel, Travel Pouch Included for $23.99 (list price $69.99)

Millenium 1600 Series 4 Piece Dobby Stripe Sheet Set. (4 Sizes, 9 Colors) (Queen, White) for $14.99 (list price $89.99)

BioPEDIC Ultra-Fresh Anti-Odor Standard size Pillow, Set of 4 (White) for $27.99 (list price $49.99)

Homtime Multi-function Alarm Clock, Indoor Thermometer, Charging Station/Phone Charger with Dual Port USB for iPhone/iPad/iPod/Android Phone and Tablets, Black for $33.99 (list price $59.99)

Yankee Candle Company Eucalyptus Large Jar Candle for $22.39 (list price $27.99)

Rowenta DW5080 Focus 1700-Watt Micro Steam Iron Stainless Steel Soleplate with Auto-Off, 400-Hole, Brown for $69.99 (list price $100.00)

Greenco Set of 3 Floating Cube Shelves, Espresso Finish for $13.84 (list price $18.99)

ClosetMaid 5784 Cubeicals Fabric Drawer, Black for $4.36 (list price $6.99)

Dr. Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater, 2 Pack, 1500-Watt for $185.25 (list price $245.00)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Bekith Eco-Friendly Bamboo Toothbrush Adult Size – Natural Dental Care for Men & Women, Set of 6 for $10.00 (list price $19.99)

Colgate Slim Soft Charcoal Toothbrush (Pack of 3) 17x Slimmer Soft Tip Bristles for $4.10 (list price $5.95)

Colgate MaxFresh Wisp Disposable Travel Toothbrush, Peppermint - 24 Count for $3.41 (list price $7.99)

Philips Sonicare 2 Series Plaque Control Sonic Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush, HX6211/30 for $39.95 (list price $69.99)

Philips Sonicare Essence Sonic Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush, White for $19.97 with coupon (list price $49.99)

Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh By Marc Jacobs Eau-de-toilette Spray for Women, 2.50-Fluid Ounce for $38.60 (list price $75.00)

Essential Oil Labs Natural Therapeutic Grade Lavender Oil with Glass Dropper, 4 Ounce Bottle for $13.95 (list price $34.99)

Myüz Oils Aromatherapy Pure Essential Oil Set, Therapeutic Grade - (6) 10mL each (Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Sweet Orange, Peppermint), 6/10mlL for $19.99 (list price $30.00)

Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak With Epsom Salt, Helps Soak Away Toenail Fungus , Athletes Foot & Stubborn Foot Odor – Softens Calluses & Soothes Sore Tired Feet -16 oz for $13.85 (list price $19.49)

Viva Naturals Sweet Almond Oil, Hexane Free for Skin and Hair, 16 oz / 473 ml for $11.54 (list price $23.08)

Viva Naturals Fractionated Coconut Oil, 16 oz - Ultra Hydrating Massage & Aromatherapy Oil, Hexane-Free for $10.00 (list price $20.00)

100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Essential Oil with 45% Terpinen-4-ol, 1 fl. oz. A Known Solution to Help in Fighting Acne, Toenail Fungus, Dandruff, Yeast Infections, Cold Sores.. for $10.95 (list price $65.00)

Maybelline New York Volum' Express The Colossal Washable Mascara, Glam Black, 0.31 fl. oz. for $4.19 (list price $7.77)

Amope Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File, Extra Coarse for $29.88 (list price $49.99)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

Bostitch EZ Squeeze 50 Sheet Desktop Stapler, Reduced Effort, Black (B850-BLK) for $17.99 (list price $47.69)

AmazonBasics 17-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper, CD, and Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket for $104.99 (list price $114.99)

VicTsing Mouse Pad with Gel Wrist Support , Non-Slip PU Base Wrist Rest Pad for Gaming Typist Office, Black for $8.49 (list price $16.99)

BIC Brite Liner Highlighter, Chisel Tip, Assorted Colors, 24-Count for $7.00 (list price $9.00)

HP Paper, Color LaserJet Poly Wrap, 28lb, 8.5 x 11, Letter, 98 Bright, 500 Sheet / 1 Ream (205050R) Made In The USA for $9.88 (list price $19.55)

Crayola Colored Pencils, 50 Count, Vibrant Colors, Pre-sharpened, Art Tools, great for Adult Coloring Books for $7.41 (list price $12.89)

Paper Mate Profile Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Bold (1.4mm), Assorted Colors, 12 Count for $7.97 (list price $17.09)

Paper Mate Profile Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Bold (1.4mm), Black, 12 Count for $7.19 (list price $8.47)

Strathmore Bristol Smooth Paper Pad, 9 by 12-Inch, 20 Sheets for $7.43 (list price $12.99)

Fluorescent Liquid Chalk Markers (10 Pack) By Kassa - Child Safe (Non-Toxic) - 2 Tip Sizes (6 and 4 mm) Chalkboard Paint Markers - Erasable Ink for Chalk Board (Nonporous), Glass and Windows for $12.95 (list price $24.95)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Victorinox Swiss Army Spartan II Folding Camping Knives, Red, 91mm for $21.86 (list price $30.00)

TOTU Windproof Umbrellas Auto Open Close Folding Golf Strong Durable Compact Travel Umbrella Reinforced Ribs 60 MPH Windproof Canopy and Slip-Proof Handle, Portable Lightweight Easy Carrying Black for $14.49 (list price $49.99)

Coleman 54 Quart Vintage Steel Belted Cooler for $109.08 (list price $199.99)

Mountain House Italian Style Pepper Steak with Rice Premium Case Pack for $46.33 (list price $49.99)

Klean Kanteen Water Bottle, Brushed Stainless, 20 oz for $29.88 (list price $32.95)

KONG Wubba Dog Toy, Extra Large, Colors Vary for $7.10 (list price $13.77)

Premium Cat Scratcher by GoPets, Wedge Shaped Corrugated Cardboard is Reversible Lasts 2x Longer Includes 1 Pack Catnip, Natural Incline More Ergonomic Than Scratching Post, Cutouts to Hide Toys for $17.00 (list price $45.99)

Chuckit! Classic 26M Launcher (Colors Vary) for $6.23 (list price $7.79)

Jealous Devil Quebrancho Blanco Hardwood Lump Charcoal, 100% Natural, Restaurant Quality, 35 lb for $44.99 (list price $48.99)

Catit Hooded Cat Litter Pan - Gray for $24.99 (list price $30.40)

Retractable Dog Leash, WINSEE 16ft Soft Grip Auto Retractable Leash for Small Medium Large Dogs Up to 110 lbs,Tangle Free, Large Black for $14.99 (list price $79.99)

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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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May 23, 2017
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