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The Best Amazon Deals We Could Find Today

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Amazon

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 18.

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

Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ Angle 3 PLUS Bluetooth Speaker with 30-Hour Playtime - Richer Bass Greater Sound Quality & 10W+ Loud Volume, Water Resistant Splashproof, Portable Wireless Speaker for $23.99 (list price $100.00)

SYBA external USB Stereo Sound Adapter for Windows, Mac, Linux Extra Audio Source with Microphone SD-CM-UAUD for $5.26 (list price $7.42)

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

Fire Tablet with Alexa, 7" Display, 16 GB, Blue - with Special Offers (Previous Generation - 5th) for $59.99 (list price $69.99)

Coidak E26 RGB+W LED Color Changing Light Bulb with 2.4G RF Wireless Remote Controll (Not IR), Pure White, Dimmable A19 Lamp for $12.70 (list price $34.99)

Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC, Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 Portable Charger with Power IQ, Power Bank for Samsung, iPhone, iPad and More for $26.99 (list price $49.99)

Amir Rechargeable 5 LED Book Light with Micro USB Cable, 45 Lumen Clip On Reading Lamp, 2 Brightness Settings for Desk, Bed and Music Stand (Black) for $10.99 (list price $25.99)

DIGOO M1Q 960P HD 2.8mm Lens Home Security Camera, Indoor Surveillance IP Camera With 115°Wide-Angle Viewing, Night Vision, Motion Detection, Baby Monitor, Two-way Audio, Black for $25.99 (list price $59.98)

UL LISTED Power Strip 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 - White for $14.99 (list price $69.99)

Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger, PowerPort Solar for iPhone 7 / 6s / Plus, iPad Pro / Air 2 / mini, Galaxy S7 / S6 / Edge / Plus, Note 5 / 4, LG, Nexus, HTC and More for $50.99 (list price $99.99)

[3 Pack] Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB 3.0 Cable (3ft) with 56k Ohm Pull-up Resistor for USB Type-C Devices Including the new MacBook, ChromeBook Pixel, Nexus, OnePlus 2 and More for $13.99 (list price $21.99)

LEGO Star Wars Battle on Scarif 75171 Building Kit (419 Pieces) for $39.99 (list price $49.99)

KITCHEN

Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker, WIFI 2nd Gen, 900 Watts for $169.00 (list price $199.00)

Rubbermaid Commercial FGTHO550 Stainless Steel Oven Monitoring Thermometer for $5.50 (list price $6.49)

Contigo Snapseal(TM) Byron Stainless Steel Travel Mug, 24 oz., Stormy Weather for $11.00 (list price $14.72)

GDEALER Digital Kitchen Scale 11lb/5kg Accuracy Food Scale Multifunction Kitchen Scale with Bowl, Stainless Steel, 2.15L Liquid Volume, Alarm Timer, Temperature, Backlight LCD Display for $19.99 (list price $35.99)

Cooks Standard 02502 Classic Everyday Chef Stir Fry Pan, 12"/30 cm, Silver for $25.77 (list price $32.97)

Le Chateau Wine Decanter - 100% Hand Blown Lead-free Crystal Glass, Red Wine Carafe, Wine Gift, Wine Accessories for $37.67 (list price $41.86)

HQY Best Rabbit Wine Opener Corkscrew With An Extra Corkscrew Worm/Spiral, Luxury Golden for $26.50 (list price $99.99)

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

KitchenAid 17-piece Tools and Gadget Set, Red for $42.99 (list price $46.72)

Keurig 2.0 My K-Cup Reusable Coffee Filter for $8.13 (list price $16.99)

Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-quart Colander-Dishwasher Safe for $19.50 (list price $34.95)

Kitchen Mission Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls 1.5,3,4, and 5 Quart. Plus Measuring Cup and Spoon Sets, Set of 6 (Complete Set) for $21.77 (list price $49.99)

HOME

Dyson Ball Allergy Upright, Blue/Iron (Certified Refurbished) for $232.98 (list price $349.99)

Veneev 3191817, Sun Shade for Side and Rear Window (3 Pack)- Car Sunshade Protector- Includes 3 sun shades for $11.91 (list price $31.52)

Famili 271B Accurate Digital Body Weight Bathroom Scale with Non Slip Design 11lb to 400lb / 5 to 180kg for $13.99 (list price $29.99)

Skip Hop Moby Bath Kneeler, Blue for $11.19 (list price $16.00)

VicTsing 300ml Essential Oil Diffuser, Wood Grain Ultrasonic Aroma Cool Mist Humidifier for Office Home Bedroom Baby Room Study Yoga Spa for $29.99 (list price $49.99)

Hoover PETPLUS 2X Concentrated, 64oz Pet Stain and Odor Remover, AH30320 for $15.44 (list price $18.99)

Hotel Luxury 3pc Duvet Cover Set-ON SALE TODAY-1500 Thread Count Egyptian Quality Ultra Silky Soft Top Quality Premium Bedding Collection, 100% Money Back Guarantee -Queen Size Lavender for $24.99 (list price $79.99)

Snuggle-Pedic Shredded Bamboo Combination Memory Foam Body Pillow With Kool-Flow Cover for $69.99 (list price $199.99)

Whitmor Supreme Over the Sink Shelf, Chrome & Wood for $25.04 (list price $29.99)

Whitmor Storage Bag, Jumbo for $8.24 (list price $14.99)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Panasonic ES2113PC Facial Hair Trimmer for Women, with Pivoting Head and Eyebrow Trimmer Attachments, Battery-Operated for $9.99 (list price $19.99)

PURELL NATURALS - Advanced Hand Sanitizer - 12 oz Pump Bottle (Pack of 12) for $27.44 (list price $52.44)

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)

Foxbrim Orange Blossom Water face toner - 100% Natural Face Toner, Alcohol-Free - Imported from Morocco - 120mL/4.oz for $13.56 (list price $27.99)

K + S Salon Quality Men’s Shampoo + Conditioner Set – Tea Tree + Peppermint Oil Infused To Prevent Hair Loss, Dandruff, and Dry Scalp - Reduce Flakes While Promoting Stress Relief (16 ounce) for $24.99 (list price $34.99)

KEDSUM 300pcs Disposable Lipstick Wands Lip Gloss Applicators Makeup Brushes Tool Kits for $10.00 (list price $21.00)

Pecham Water Flosser Professional Cordless Dental Oral Irrigator - 3-Mode Rechargeable IPX7 Waterproof High Capacity Water Tank with 4 Jet Tips for $39.99 (list price $52.99)

Large Leak Proof Travel Bottles, Set of Four 3.3 oz TSA Approved Refillable Squeezable Silicone Bottles With Shampoo Lanyard By AusKit for $17.99 (list price $34.95)

Natural Makeup Remover Facial Cleansing Wipes from 1790 Are the Best Gentle Towelettes For Your Face - Remove Eye Makeup - Kind to Your Skin - Blemish Free Finish (25 Count, Pack of 6) for $19.99 (list price $24.99)

Matto Classic 10 Pcs Lake-Blue Makeup Brush Set with Black Pouch Premium Synthetic Hair Kabuki Brush Kit for Face Eye Foundation Cosmetic Tool for $9.99 (list price $35.99)

PURELL 9111-04-EC Sanitizing Wipes, 100 Count Canister (Case of 4) for $14.71 (list price $51.22)

Facial Hair Scissors, Eyebrow Trimmer, Grooming Scissors for Shaping, Ear, Nose, Nostril and Mustache Trimming – for Men and Women. Leatherette Case. By PEAK (4.5 Inches, Stainless Steel, Sharp Tip) for $19.99 (list price $39.95)

Perfect Summer Clear Matte Top Coat Gel Nails Polishes 8ml UV/Led Soak Off Nail Lacquers (Non-wipe) for $7.99 (list price $15.99)

Anself 3 In 1 Men's Shave Suction Razor Stand Holder Set, Shaving Badger Brush, Bowl, Acrylic Stand for $8.99 (list price $12.95)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

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

Feela 260 Colors Gel Pens,Gel Pen Set for Adult Coloring Books Writing Drawing 70% MORE INK 130 Unique Colored Gel Pen + 130 Ink Refill (0.6-1.0 mm) for $20.29 (list price $79.00)

BIC Velocity Bold Retractable Ball Pen, Bold Point (1.6mm), Black, 12-Count for $5.32 (list price $9.65)

I Go 1.8 Mil Clear Packing Moving Shipping Storage Box Sealing Wholesale Packaging Tape, 18 Rolls for $19.68 (list price $35.99)

Swingline Extra Large Rubber Finger Tips, Size 14, 12-Pack, (S7054014C) for $3.29 (list price $4.60)

ACCUSTAMP Round Pre-ink Stamp, Star Symbol, Red Ink (030726) for $5.99 (list price $6.99)

rOtring Tikky 3-in-1 Mechanical Pencil / Ballpoint Pen / Highlighting Pen, 0.5 mm, White Barrel, Black & Red Ink for $12.74 (list price $14.99)

TOMOKO 87 Key Mechanical Keyboard, Water-Resistant Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with Blue Switch, Anti-ghosting Keys (Black) for $33.99 (list price $59.99)

Electric Pencil Sharpener Automatic Heavy Duty Self Sharpening Colored Pencils Battery/Plugging In Operated Portable For Kids School Office Home Use (Blue) for $15.98 (list price $18.99)

Milletech Pom Pom Keytrain USB Cable Women Handbag Parts for Mobile Phone (Purple) for $15.00 (list price $19.99)

BIC Brite Liner+ Highlighter, Chisel Tip, Yellow, 12-Count for $8.33 (list price $13.54)

Piokio 12 pcs Natural Sparkle Gold Dipped Feather in Bulk for Craft Party Decoration, Baby Bridal Shower Home Wedding Decorations, Marriage Birthday Table decor for $7.59 (list price $16.99)

Lelix Premium Soft Core Colored Pencils 60 Unique Colors Perfect Pencil for Adult Coloring Books and Artists for $8.99 (list price $50.00)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

I Go First Aid Kit (85 Pieces) Compact, Lightweight for Emergencies at Home, Outdoors, Car, Camping, Workplace, Hiking and Survival for $12.58 (list price $20.99)

SOG PowerLock EOD Multi-Tool B63N-CP - 18 Tools, V-Cutter, Black Oxide, Nylon Sheath, Compound Leverage for $50.72 (list price $71.41)

SOG Folding Saw F10N-CP - High Carbon Steel 8.25" Removable Wood Saw Blade, Nylon Carry Case for $13.25 (list price $16.25)

Globe String Light,Dailyart LED Starry Light Fairy Light for Garden,Wedding,Xmas Party (WW, Battery-powered, 13feet/4meters) for $8.99 (list price $25.00)

Coleman Evanston 6 Screened Tent,Green,6-Person for $130.73 (list price $178.99)

Coleman Green Valley Cool Weather Sleeping Bag for $38.21 (list price $45.99)

TOOLS

Oria Precision Screwdriver Set, 60 in 1 Magnetic Driver Kit with 54 Bits, Professional Electronics Repair Tool Kit for iPhone/ Cell Phone/ iPad/ Tablet/ PC/ MacBook and Other Electronics for $14.99 (list price $34.99)

Oria Combination Lock, 4 Digit Anti Rust Padlock Set, Metal & Plated Steel and Weather Proof Design for School, Employee, Gym & Sports Locker, Case, Toolbox, Fence, Hasp Cabinet & Storage - Pack of 2 for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

Yosoo Flexible Extention Screwdriver Drill Bit Holder with Magnetic Quick Connect Drive Shaft Tip for $8.49 (list price $10.99)

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 $12.99 (list price $35.99)

Chamberlain WD832KEVG Garage Door Opener, ½ HP, Ultra-Quiet Belt Drive Operation, Bundled With Chamberlain MyQ Internet Gateway For Smartphone Control for $177.50 (list price $229.99)

Kershaw 1605CKTST Clash Folding Knife with SpeedSafe (2-Step Serration) for $19.99 (list price $25.52)

Coast G20 LED Inspection Beam Flashlight for $11.37 (list price $18.00)

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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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