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11 Father’s Day Gifts for Every Type of Dad

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Scrambling to find a last-minute Father’s Day gift? You’ve come to the right place. Whether your dad enjoys playing board games, grilling outdoors, or all of the above, there’s likely something for him on this list.

1. FOR THE DAD WHO WANTS TO START A FAMILY BAND.

Buying your dad a time-consuming new hobby is one way to show him how much you love him. This Fender acoustic guitar looks great, and once your dad learns how to play some real chords, it will sound great too. The CD-60SCE includes a built-in tuner and an "Easy-To-Play" neck, making it the perfect gift for beginning to intermediate level musicians.

Find it: Fender, $300

2. FOR THE FASHIONABLE DAD WHO’S IN TOUCH WITH HIS WILD SIDE

If your dad can name his spirit animal without hesitation, this shirt is for him. The inside of this plaid flannel is lined with fabric depicting scenes from nature. In case your dad isn’t a bear person, there are other shirts emblazoned with fish, eagles, turkeys, and seals.

Find it: Pladra, $119

3. FOR THE ADVENTUROUS GRILLER DAD

Even master grillers can learn new tricks. After 20 minutes on the barbecue, this Himalayan salt block becomes a sizzling hot surface that imparts natural salt to whatever it cooks. What a steak cooked on the slab lacks in grill marks it makes up for in flavor.

Find it: Amazon, $18

4. FOR THE DAD WHO’S A CRAFT BEER FANATIC

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Collection of craft beer bottles.
Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club

Though your beer-loving dad would probably be happy with a six-pack for Father’s Day, you can do better. Leave the beer selection up to the experts and buy him a membership to the Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club. Each month, members receive a dozen 12-ounce bottles from two boutique microbreweries in the U.S. The package includes a newsletter with tasting notes, potential food pairings, and profiles of the breweries.

Find it: Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club, $27.95 per month

5. FOR THE ACTIVE DAD

Working out is hard enough—the last thing fitness fanatics need is a loose earbud disrupting their gym flow. That’s not a problem with these custom-fit earphones. Before popping them in, wearers must first run the thermoplastic molds under hot water and attach them to the pods. The pliable material is then ready to conform to the unique shape of any ear. So whether your dad does cardio to '90s hip hop or heavy metal, an uncomfortable listening experience won’t be an issue.

Find it: Decibullz, $35

6. FOR THE ASPIRING ASTRONOMER DAD

With this gift, a clear night spent star gazing can quickly turn into an astronomy lesson. The handheld device can identify over 1500 stars. After setting the latitude, date, and time, users peer through the Stellarscope to study an accurate star map superimposed over the real night sky. It’s the perfect way for your dad to entertain himself while sitting by a campfire this summer.

Find it: Amazon, $33

7. FOR THE DAD WHO LOVES BOARD GAMES

At the next family game night, give your dad a chance to show off his intellect. Wit’s End remixes the traditional trivia board game format by phrasing questions as puzzles and brainteasers. Players race around the board navigating subjects like history, popular culture, geography, and science. The questions get tough, so don’t be surprised when your father’s competitive side starts to show.

Find it: Amazon, $29

8. FOR THE DAD WHO’S A PALEONTOLOGY NERD

If you can’t afford to get your dad an annual museum membership for Father's Day, this mug is a good alternative. At room temperature, it depicts a Tyrannosaurus rex stalking its prey. After the hot liquid is added, the dinosaurs fade into lifeless fossils in an exhibit.

Find it: Amazon, $15

9. FOR THE UTILITARIAN DAD

The leather exterior of this iPhone case will appeal to your dad’s simple taste. But inside there’s a secret: The case comes with built-in pockets for holding bills, cards, or anything else that goes in a wallet. It also features a magnetic seal that opens easily and snaps tightly shut to keep contents secure.

Find it: Amazon, $17

10. FOR THE ECO-FRIENDLY COMMUTER DAD

While your dad is out saving the environment by biking to work each day, make sure he doesn’t neglect his own safety. This tricked-out helmet will protect him on the road without compromising his style. The integrated turn signals connect to detachable handlebar controls and the red brake light illuminates automatically when the bike slows down. The gadgetry is also water-resistant, so your dad can keep up his eco-friendly habits rain or shine.

Find it: MoMA Store, $179

11. FOR THE DAD WHO LOVES BASEBALL

A piece of MLB history is knitted into each one of these beanies: the wool yarn used to make them comes from the insides of baseballs used in professional league games. All hats come with a story card detailing the game in which the ball appeared. So if all goes well for your dad’s favorite team this season, he’ll be superstitiously wearing the cap to ball games by October.

Find it: UncommonGoods, $225

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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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© Nintendo
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fun
Nintendo Will Release an $80 Mini SNES in September
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© Nintendo

Retro gamers rejoice: Nintendo just announced that it will be launching a revamped version of its beloved Super Nintendo Classic console, which will allow kids and grown-ups alike to play classic 16-bit games in high-definition.

The new SNES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original console, comes with an HDMI cable to make it compatible with modern televisions. It also comes pre-loaded with a roster of 21 games, including Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, and Star Fox 2, an unreleased sequel to the 1993 original.

“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”

The SNES Classic Edition will go on sale on September 29 and retail for $79.99. Nintendo reportedly only plans to manufacture the console “until the end of calendar year 2017,” which means that the competition to get your hands on one will likely be stiff, as anyone who tried to purchase an NES Classic last year will well remember.

In November 2016, Nintendo released a miniature version of its original NES system, which sold out pretty much instantly. After selling 2.3 million units, Nintendo discontinued the NES Classic in April. In a statement to Polygon, the company has pledged to “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.”

Nintendo has not yet released information about where gamers will be able to buy the new console, but you may want to start planning to get in line soon.

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