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Hurry to Take Advantage of Today's Best Amazon Deals

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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 15.

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

Omron 10 Series Wireless Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Cuff that fits Standard and Large Arms (BP786/BP786N) with Bluetooth Smart Connectivity for $51.99 (list price $99.99)

Anker SoundBuds Slim Wireless Headphones, Bluetooth 4.1 Lightweight Stereo Earbuds with Magnetic Connection, NANO Coating Sweatproof Sports Headset with Metallic Housing & Bulit-in Mic for $20.99 (list price $35.99)

TONOR XLR to 3.5mm Podcasting Studio Recording Condenser Microphone for Computer with Adjustable Microphone Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand and Microphone Kits for $31.99 (list price $69.99)

UL LISTED Surge Protector - EZOPower Desktop Charging Station with 3 AC Outlets, 3 USB Charger Ports 6.3A and Built-in Phone / Tablet Holder Stand Slot for iPhone, iPad, Tablet and more - White for $14.99 (list price $69.99)

IQIYI [ Apple MFi Certified ] Apple Watch Charger,Magnetic Charging Cable for Apple Watch 38mm & 42mm - 0.3 Meter / 1.0ft for $20.79 (list price $99.00)

Amir Bamboo Wood USB Charging Station, Desk Stand Charger, 3 USB Ports, for iPhone 7/6s/6/5s & 38mm/42mm Apple Watch for $13.99 (list price $33.99)

AUKEY FM Transmitter, Radio Transmitter Car Kit with 1 USB Charging Port, Compatible with all Mobile Audio Devices for $11.99 (list price $24.99)

Mpow Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear, Hi Fi Stereo Wireless Headset w/ Mic and Wired Mode for Cell Phone/ PC/ TV for $36.69 (list price $45.99)

iPhone Cable,Liwin Lightning Cable 3Pack 6FT Nylon Braided USB Charger Charging for iPhone 7/7 Plus/6/6 Plus/6S/6S Plus,SE/5S/5,iPad,iPod Nano 7 ( Black&Blue) for $12.99 (list price $21.99)

ATGOIN Bluetooth Headphones, Wireless 4.1 Earbuds Stereo Earphones, Noise Cancelling Sweatproof Headset Secure Fit for Sports with Built-in Mic for $18.99 (list price $66.99)

iClever BoostCube EU Plug 4.8A 24W Dual USB Wall Charger with SmartID Technology, White for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

Blueotooth Speakers,DOSS SoundBox Color Portable Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Speakers with 12W Stereo Sound and Enhanced Bass, 12 hours playtime and handsfree for iOS and Android devices[Galaxy Black] for $26.99 (list price $69.99)

KITCHEN

KitchenAid KC2AS12ER Aluminum Nonstick 12 Piece Cookware Set, Empire Red for $109.99 (list price $155.44)

Oster Pro 1200 Blender Plus 24 oz Smoothie Cup for $49.99 (list price $79.99)

Flatware Set - Sterling Quality - Royal Cutlery - Multipurpose Use for Home, Kitchen or Restaurant (20 Pc Flatware Set) - by Utopia Kitchen for $14.99 (list price $39.99)

Glass Teapot with Infuser for Blooming and Loose Leaf Tea Pot by Cozyna, 41oz (36oz to Strainer) | 1.2 Liter, Lotus for $22.95 (list price $69.90)

COOKLIFT Knife Sharpener, 3 Stage Knife Sharpening Tool Helps Repair, Diamond Coated Sharpening Wheel System for $15.99 (list price $35.99)

Prooral Ball Spheres Silicone Ice Cube Molds four Large 4.5 cm ice balls Reusable & BPA Free for $4.99 (list price $35.99)

Estilo Handcrafted Solid Hammered Copper Moscow Mule Mugs, 20-ounce - Set of 4 for $21.93 (list price $25.81)

Air Fryer by Cozyna, Low Fat Healthy and Multi Cooker with Rapid Air Circulation System, 3.2 L with 2 e-cookbooks Included (over 50 recipes) for $97.67 (list price $199.00)

HOME

Coop Home Goods - PREMIUM Adjustable Loft - Shredded Hypoallergenic Certipur Memory Foam Pillow with washable removable cooling bamboo derived viscose rayon cover -Queen for $41.24 (list price $54.99)

Gel Memory Foam 10 inch Mattress Made in the USA by eLuxurySupply - Queen for $516.99 (list price $689.99)

Aromatherapy Essential Oils Gift Set, Top 6 100% Pure Premium Therapeutic Grade Oils -Lavender, Tea Tree , Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Orange, Peppermint Essential Oils for $9.99 (list price $20.95)

Eufy HomeVac Lightweight Cordless Upright-Style Vacuum Cleaner, 28.8V 2200 mAh Li-ion Battery Powered Rechargeable Bagless Stick and Vacuum with Wall Mount - Black for $103.99 (list price $219.99)

Pure Enrichment PureSteam Fabric Steamer - White for $21.99 (list price $34.99)

Granite Gold GG0051 Daily Cleaner Value Pack Daily Cleaner 24 Oz Spray & 64 Oz Refill for $18.26 (list price $26.86)

1byone 400ML Powerful Thermo-electric Dehumidifier, White for $29.99 (list price $56.99)

Levoit Aria Himalayan Salt Lamp Natural Crystal Rock (SPA style), Original Designed Levoit Basin, Touch Brightness Dimmable Control, 2 bulbs, UL-Listed Cord and Luxury Gift Box for $159.99 (list price $159.99)

Timex T129B RediSet Dual Alarm Clock with Dual USB Charging and Extreme Battery Backup - Black for $21.97 (list price $26.73)

Non-slip Soft Rubber Bathtub Mat OTHWAY Bathroom Bathmat with Strong Suction Cups Blue for $11.89 (list price $19.99)

Wool Dryer Balls, Set of 6 Organic Laundry Balls for Dryer, White, by InsideSmarts for $14.99 (list price $29.99)

InterDesign Rain Pivoting Cosmetic Organizer with Lid for Vanity Cabinet to Hold Makeup, Beauty Products - Clear for $13.07 (list price $16.78)

InterDesign Axis Scarf Hanger, No Snag Storage for Scarves, Ties, Belts, Shawls, Pashminas, Accessories - 18 Loops, Copper for $8.17 (list price $18.74)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Philips Norelco Electric Shaver 8900, Wet & Dry Edition S8950/91 for $103.06 with coupon (list price $133.06)

Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 Electronic Power Rechargeable Battery Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth Connectivity Powered by Braun for $135.99 with coupon (list price $155.99)

Gillette Fusion ProShield Chill Men's Razor Blade Refills, 8 Count, Mens Razors / Blades for $29.68 (list price $41.99)

Jason Fragrance Free Shampoo, 32 Fluid Ounce for $8.99 (list price $12.25)

DenTek Fresh Clean Floss Pick, 75 Count for $2.35 (list price $3.49)

Accoutrements Waxed Bacon Floss for $3.99 (list price $5.99)

Plackers Kids Flossers, 75 Count (Pack of 4) for $11.68 (list price $14.44)

DenTek Slim Brush, Professional Interdental Cleaners, Tight Teeth, Mouthwash Mint, 32 Count for $3.85 (list price $4.99)

Crest Complete Whitening Plus Scope Toothpaste - Minty Fresh, Net Wt. 6.2 oz(175 g) (Pack of 3) for $7.94 (list price $8.77)

Tom's of Maine Antiplaque and Whitening Fluoride-Free Toothpaste, Peppermint, 5.5 Ounce, Pack of 2 for $8.50 

Bamboo Charcoal Black Toothbrush and Charcoal Toothpaste set (MADE IN JAPAN) for $16.99 (list price $19.99)

Crest 3D White Brilliance Daily Cleansing Toothpaste and Whitening Gel System, Total Weight 6.3 Oz for $12.96 (list price $14.99)

Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver for Beachy Waves for $19.90 (list price $27.99)
American Crew Fiber Pliable Molding Creme For Men 3 Ounces for $9.78 (list price $10.90)

Silk18 Natural Hair Conditioner Argan Oil Sulfate Free Treatment for Dry and Damaged Hair Silk Amino Acids Jojoba & Keratin All Hair Types Women & Men & Teens Safe for Color Treated Hair for $21.77 (list price $24.99)

Scalpmaster Shampoo Brush, Purple for $3.40 (list price $14.99)

Batiste Dry Shampoo Original Clean & Classic 6.73 fl. oz (2 pack) for $13.88 (list price $15.99)

Rapidlash Eyelash and Eyebrow Serum for $31.00 (list price $49.00)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Pens, Fine Point, Assorted Colors, 8-Pack (31128) for $7.20 (list price $8.34)

Eparon 40-piece Gel Pen Set with 40 Unique Colors! for $7.99 (list price $19.99)

Singer 1304 Start Free Arm Sewing Machine with 6 Built-In Stitches for $63.48 (list price $86.99)

Avery Ready Index Table of Contents Dividers, Black/White, 12-Tab Set (11140) for $1.52 

Pilot Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen, Black Barrel, Classic Design, Fine Nib, Black Ink (91111) for $12.50 (list price $18.75)

Dual Tip Brush Pen Set 12 PACK - Brush Tip & Fine Tip - Watercolor Markers, Blending, Shading, Calligraphy, Drawing, Vibrant Colors Great For Adult Coloring for $15.97 (list price $33.00)

Artist's Choice Sketch Pad ,75 sheets, Pack of 2 for $12.99 (list price $39.99)

Sharpie 28026 Accent Pen-Style Retractable Highlighter, Fluorescent Green, 12-Pack for $8.49 (list price $19.49)

Amzdeal Magnifier Eye Glasseses Eye Loupe For Reading Drawing Making handicrafts Repairing for $13.99 (list price $39.99)

Pentel Twist-Erase III Automatic Pencil with 2 Eraser Refills, 0.7mm, Assorted Barrels, 2 Pack (QE517BP2-K6) for $8.35 (list price $10.90)

Wilson Jones Basic Round Ring Binder, 1 Inch Capacity, 8.5 x 11 Inches, Red (W368-14NR) for $2.11 (list price $4.76)

Five Star Spiral Notebooks, 1 Subject, 100 College Ruled Sheets, Assorted Basic Colors, 6-Pack (38052) for $18.49 (list price $30.14)

Staedtler Lumocolor Correctable Pens (305FWP4) for $10.53 (list price $17.40)

Strathmore 400 Series Cold Press Wire Bound Watercolor Pad 9 x 12 Inches (ST440-1) for $8.36 (list price $16.99)

SINGER 4411 Heavy Duty Extra-High Sewing Speed Sewing Machine with Metal Frame and Stainless Steel Bedplate for $106.30 (list price $125.35)

Smart Color Art - 36 Color Premium Gel Pen Set for $6.99 (list price $39.00)

Derwent Water Color Pencils, Watercolor, Drawing, Art, 24-Pack (32883) for $20.35 (list price $42.14)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Hulislem Blade Sport Polarized Sunglasses, Smoke - Matte Black for $24.59 (list price $115.95)

VicTsing Garden Hose Nozzle Spray Nozzle, Metal Water Nozzle with 10 Washers, Heavy Duty 8 Adjustable Watering Patterns - Slip Resistant - for Watering Plants, Cleaning, Car Wash and Showering Pets for $12.99 (list price $19.99)

URPOWER Rechargeable Pet Nail Grinder Upgraded USB Charging Nail Trimmer Clipper Gentle Paws for Dogs Cats and Other Small & Medium Pets for $15.99 (list price $35.99)

FoxPrint Princess Castle Play Tent with Glow in the Dark Stars, convinientlly folds in to a Carrying Case, your kids will enjoy this Foldable Pop Up pink play tent/house toy for Indoor & Outdoor Use for $21.99 (list price $38.52)

Zero Grid Money Belt w/RFID Blocking - Concealed Travel Wallet & Passport Holder for $18.73 (list price $34.95)

Retractable Dog Leash, WINSEE 16ft Soft Grip Auto Retractable Leash for Small Medium Large Dogs Up to 110 lbs,Tangle Free, Large Black for $15.69 (list price $79.99)

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)

eBags Crew Cooler JR. (Grey Matter) for $29.99 (list price $50.00)

Folding Clover Solar LED 100 Lumen Camping Lantern | USB Rechargeable and Solar Chargeable | 3 Level Brightness Including SOS Flashing | Hurricane Storm Tent Lantern | Only 6" High for $15.99 (list price $29.99)

Fisher-Price Grow-With-Me Trike for $33.99 (list price $59.99)

 

TOOLS

Shop-Vac 2030100 1.5-Gallon 2.0 Peak HP Wet Dry Vacuum, Small, Red/Black for $30.79 (list price $47.99)

First Alert PRC700 Battery Operated Combination Carbon Monoxide & Photoelectric Smoke Alarm with Slim Round for $22.15 (list price $39.99)

URPOWER Tactical Flashlight Super Bright CREE LED Flashlight Zoomable Tactical Flashlight Rainproof Lighting Lamp Torch -with Rechargeable 18650 2800mAh Battery -For Cycling Hiking Camping Emergency for $8.99 (list price $39.99)

Morakniv Craftline Robust Trade Knife with Carbon Steel Blade and Combi Sheath (3.6-Inches) for $14.58 (list price $17.13)

Ironclad General Utility Gloves GUG-03-M, Medium for $11.98 (list price $14.69)

Etekcity 2 Pack Mini Smart Plug Outlet, WiFi Wireless Energy Monitoring, Works with Alexa, White for $32.99 (list price $59.99)

Dr.meter Backlit Digital Multimeter test Volt Ohm Diode Continuity Capacitance Resistance hFE Test for $21.99 (list price $39.99)

DEWALT DWMT72164 156 Piece Mechanics Tool Set for $99.99 (list price $139.99)

Danco 88821 2-3/4-Inch Tub Mesh Strainer, Stainless for $3.47 (list price $5.74)

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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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iStock
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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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iStock

When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]

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