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Don't Miss Out on Today's Best Amazon Deals

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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, June 16.

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

Bluetooth Speakers,URPOWER Hi-Fi Portable Wireless Stereo Speaker with 7 LED Visual Modes and Build-in Microphone Support Hands-free Function, for iPhone 7 Plus,7,Samsung,Tablets and More-Z3 for $21.99 (list price $55.99)

Amazon Prime Deals, Premium Bluetooth Headphones, HIFI ELITE Super66 - Over-the-Ear, Wireless, Bluetooth Headsets, Microphone-feature, Noise-Isolating, Lightweight Headset Design for $49.99 (list price $319.99)

TREBLAB XR500 Bluetooth Headphones, Best Wireless Earbuds For Sports, Running Or Gym Workout. 2017 Updated Version. IPX7 Waterproof, Sweatproof, Secure-Fit Headset. Noise Cancelling Earphones w/ Mic for $33.97 (list price $179.99)

Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, Regular fit - Black for $199.99 (list price $249.99)

Samsung Gear VR W/Controller - Latest Edition (US Version with Warranty) for $102.07 (list price $129.99)

CardNinja Ultra-slim Self Adhesive Credit Card Wallet for Smartphones, Black for $6.95 (list price $12.99)

TaoTronics Bluetooth Headphones Wireless In Ear Earbuds Sports Sweatproof Earphones with Built in Mic (Cordless 4.1, Secure Ear Hooks Design, 7 Hours Play Time) for $21.99 (list price $29.99)

VicTsing Bluetooth FM Transmitter, Wireless In-Car FM Transmitter Radio Adapter Car Kit With USB Car Charger AUX Input 1.44 Inch Display TF Card Slot for $18.99 (list price $39.99)

Anker PowerLine+ Lightning Cable (6ft) Durable and Fast Charging Cable [Double Braided Nylon] for iPhone, iPad and More(White) for $13.99 (list price $39.99)

CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD Intelligent LCD Series UPS 1500VA 900W AVR Mini-Tower -New Design and More Features for $129.95 (list price $139.95)

Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader - LRW400CRBNA for $24.45 (list price $34.95)

Adjustable Cell Phone Stand, Lamicall iPhone Stand : [UPDATE VERSION] Cradle, Dock, Holder For Switch, iPhone 7 6 6s Plus 5 5s 5c charging, Accessories Desk, all Android Smartphone - Silver for $13.99 (list price $49.99)

AUKEY Laptop Cooling Pad, 15.6"-17" Laptop Cooler with 2 USB Ports and 3 Blue LED Fans for Laptops for $14.99 (list price $30.99)

AUKEY Powered USB Hub with 7 USB 3.0 Ports for Data Transfer and 12V/2.5A Power Adapter, Desktop Aluminum Hub for PCs and Laptops for $29.99 (list price $48.99)

Doberman Security SE-0106-4PK Ultra-Slim Window Alarm (4 Pack) for $19.91 (list price $29.99)

Foscam FI9821P HD 720P WiFi Security IP Camera with iOS/Android App, Pan, Tilt, Zoom, Two-Way Audio, Night Vision up to 26ft, and More (Black) for $55.24 (list price $79.99)

KITCHEN

1byone Digital Kitchen Scale Precise Cooking Scale and Baking Scale, Multifunction with Range From 0.04oz (1g) to 11lbs, Elegant Black for $10.99 (list price $23.99)

12-Pack KEURIG Compatible Water Filters by K&J - Universal Fit (NOT CUISINART) Keurig Compatible Filters - Replacement Charcoal Water Filters for Keurig 2.0 (and older) Coffee Machines for $9.95 (list price $19.95)

Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set, C77SS-15PK for $44.10 (list price $156.00)

LivingKit Stainless Steel Kitchen Knife Block Set Block 14 Piece For Home Cooking Culinary School Commercial Kitchen for $21.99 (list price $99.99)

Goplus Electric Ice Crusher, Ice Shaver Machine, Snow Cone Maker, Shaved Ice Machine, 143 Lbs for $47.99 (list price $79.99)

Bodum 8 Cup Chambord Classic Coffee Maker, 34 oz, Copper for $41.09 (list price $50.00)

DOWAN 17oz Porcelain Bowls - 4 Packs, White, Unique Square and Round Style for $19.99 (list price $24.99)

Hiware 12-piece Good Stainless Steel Dinner Forks Cutlery Set, 8 Inches for $15.59 (list price $22.00)

Hamilton Beach 49980A Single Serve Coffee Brewer and Full Pot Coffee Maker, 2-Way for $55.25 (list price $89.50)

Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Steam Espresso System with Milk Frother, ECM160 for $35.99 (list price $39.99)

Pre Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet (12.5 inch) by Utopia Kitchen for $26.99 (list price $49.99)

Oster TSSTTRWF4S 4-Slice Toaster for $29.99 (list price $39.99)

HOME

Household Essentials 5100 Over-The-Washer Storage Shelf – Organize and Store Laundry Room Supplies -White for $16.99 (list price $26.99)

Maytag M400 Speed Heat Iron & Vertical Steamer for $37.39 (list price $44.99)

Samsung POWERbot R7040 Robot Vacuum, Works with Amazon Alexa for $399.99 (list price $499.00)

BLACK+DECKER BDH3600SV 2-in-1 Lithium Stick Vacuum with ORA Technology, 36-volt. for $158.05 (list price $299.99)

[2016 Model] Back Seat Mirror - Rear View Baby Car Seat Mirror by Baby & Mom - Wide Convex Shatterproof Glass and Fully Assembled - Crash Tested and Certified for Safety for $13.97 (list price $28.99)

Etekcity Wireless Dimmable Color LED Desk Lamp: Touch-Sensitive Control Panel, 256 Color Changing Base, 3 Adjustable Brightness Levels, USB Rechargeable 1000mAh Li-on Battery, White for $15.99 (list price $29.99)

URPOWER 2nd Generation 300ml Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser Ultrasonic Air Humidifier with AUTO Shut off and 6-7 HOURS Continuous Diffusing - 7 Color Changing LED Lights and 4 Timer Settings for $19.99 (list price $49.99)

Ultra Soft Body Pillow - Long Side Sleeper Pillows - 100% Cotton Cover with Soft Polyester Filling - by Utopia Bedding for $23.79 (list price $49.99)

Royal Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat - 20 in x 39 in x 3/4 in - Ergonomic Multi Surface, Non-Slip - Waterproof All-Purpose Luxurious Comfort - For Kitchen, Bathroom or Workstations - Black for $32.25 (list price $79.99)

Secura Instant-Steam Handheld Garment and Fabric Steamer with Stainless Steel Soleplate and Accessories, 1000-Watt 360° Rotating Non-Bind Cord (2-year Warranty) for $24.99 (list price $64.99)

Greenco Super Strong Bed and Furniture Riser, Great for Under Bed Storage - Pack of 4 for $9.99 (list price $12.06)

StorageWorks Hanging Closet Organizer with 1 Drawer & 1 Box Set & 1 Underwear Drawer, Foldable Polyester Canvas Hanging Accessory Shelves, Natural, 6-Shelf for $32.98 (list price $119.99)

HOMFA 5-Tier Mesh Wire Rolling Cart Multifunction Utility Cart Kitchen Storage Cart on Wheels, Steel Wire Basket Shelving Trolley,Easy moving,Silver for $36.54 (list price $94.99)

Ohuhu Slacks Pants Hangers, Open Ended Trousers Organizers, Set of 24 for $16.99 (list price $19.99)

URPOWER Cool Mist Humidifier, 5L Whisper-quiet Operation Humidifiers Waterless Auto Shut-off Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier with Adjustable Mist Mode for Home Bedroom Office Kids Spa for $39.99 (list price $129.99)

StorageWorks Cotton Storage Cube Box with Strong Cotton Rope Handle, Waterproof Foldable Basket Bin Organizer, Natural, 3-Pack for $25.08 (list price $89.99)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver for Beachy Waves for $19.90 (list price $27.99)

Conair 1875 Watt Soft Touch Tourmaline Ceramic 2-in-1 Styler / Hair Dryer; Black for $23.21 (list price $27.79)

Neutrogena Age Shield Face Oil-Free Lotion Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Spf 110, 3 Fl. Oz. for $9.72 (list price $12.99)

Wahl Elite Pro High Performance Haircut Kit #79602 for $39.97 (list price $82.99)

ArtNaturals Natural Lip Balm Beeswax, Assorted Flavors 0.15oz Each-Best Chopstick for Dry, Chapped and Cracked Lips-Lip Repair and Therapy with Aloe Vera, Coconut, Castor and Jojoba Oil, Pack of 6 for $7.96 (list price $12.00)

Old Spice Red Zone Collection Men's Pure Sport Scent Deodorant 3 Ounce (Pack of 3) for $11.91 (list price $14.97)

Softsoap Soothing Aloe Vera Moisturing Hand Soap Refill, 56 fl oz for $3.99 (list price $10.99)

Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Aftershave for $37.95 (list price $41.19)

Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Deoderant Stick, 2.5-Ounce for $17.99 (list price $20.28)

OGX Shampoo, Hydrating TeaTree Mint, 13oz for $6.31 (list price $7.99)

Uppercut Deluxe Pomade 3.5oz for $13.99 (list price $18.00)

Tom's of Maine Whole Care with Fluoride Natural Toothpaste, Peppermint 4.7 oz (Pack of 2) for $8.58 (list price $12.37)

Soft Mint Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash For Bad Breath Germs, 1.5 L for $6.57 (list price $10.70)

Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean Floss, Mint, 6 Count for $14.97 (list price $17.99)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

HP Paper, Multipurpose Ultra White, 20lb, 8.5x11, Letter, 96 Bright, 1,500 Sheets / 3 Ream Case, Made In The USA for $17.49 (list price $21.99)

Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pen, Medium Point, White Barrel, Blue Ink, 12 Count for $11.32 (list price $22.49)

TOPS Docket Gold Writing Tablet, 8-1/2 x 11-3/4 Inches, Perforated, Canary, Legal/Wide Rule, 50 Sheets per Pad, 6 Pads per Pack (99707) for $10.56 (list price $18.99)

CHALK MARKERS - Liquid Chalkboard Paint Water-based Pens Free 40 Chalkboard Labels (10 Color) for $15.99 (list price $39.99)

Kensington Duo Gel Mouse Pad with Wrist Rest - Blue (K62401AM) for $14.33 (list price $16.99)

ALEX Toys Artist Studio 24 Glitter Shakers for $16.50 (list price $28.99)

Sparco Desk Sorter, 7 Compartments, 8-3/4 x 5-1/2 x 4-3/4 Inch, Black (SPR11876) for $5.89 (list price $7.00)

Post-it Pop-up Notes, 3 in x 3 in, Assorted Colors, 5 Pads/Pack for $6.99 (list price $10.69)

VANRA Metal Mesh Desktop File Sorter Organizer Desk Tray Organize with 3 Letter Trays and 2 Vertical Upright Sections, Black for $33.98 (list price $68.80)

Sharpie Metallic Permanent Markers, Gold, 4/Pack for $8.51 (list price $11.19)

Serta Back in Motion Health and Wellness Mid-Back Office Chair, Black for $182.08 (list price $379.99)

Tribesigns Modern L-Shaped Desk Corner Computer Desk PC Latop Study Table Workstation Home Office Wood & Metal for $139.99 (list price $259.99)

Brother MFCL2700DW Compact Laser All-In One Printer with Wireless Networking and Duplex Printing for $129.99 (list price $169.99)

DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo Thermal Label Printer (1752265) for $44.15 (list price $69.95)

Tribesigns Modern L-Shaped Desk Corner Computer Desk PC Latop Study Table Workstation Home Office Wood & Metal for $139.99 (list price $259.99)

EXPO Low-Odor Dry Erase Markers, Fine Tip, Assorted Colors, 8-Count for $8.19 (list price $11.49) 

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Miracle-Gro AeroGarden Sprout LED with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit, Black for $68.79 (list price $99.95)

Nicecho Exercise Resistance Loop Bands, Fitness Exercise Bands, Set of 5, 12-inch Workout Bands for Workout & Physical Therapy, P90x, CrossFit, Beach Body, Yoga With Exercise Booklet and Carry Bag for $7.99 (list price $24.99)

Polar Bottle Insulated Water Bottle (24-Ounce) (Starburst) for $8.92 (list price $11.99)

Led String Lights Dimmable Copper Wire Starry Light, 33ft, UL certified 5v Power Adapter For Christmas Wedding and Party suitable for indoors or outdoors Updated Remote Controller for $10.99 (list price $39.99)

Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife, Fine Edge, Coyote [30-001058] for $58.81 (list price $86.00)

Led String Lights Dimmable Copper Wire Starry Light, 33ft, UL certified 5v Power Adapter For Christmas Wedding and Party suitable for indoors or outdoors Updated Remote Controller for $10.99 (list price $39.99)

eBags Ultralight Packing Cubes - Ultimate Packer 7pc Set (Blue) for $49.99 (list price $94.93)

12 Survivors Fish and Fire Emergency Kit, Green for $10.99 (list price $15.99)

eBags Shoe Bag (Denim) for $16.99 (list price $30.00)

S-ZONE Oversized Canvas Leather Trim Travel Tote Duffel Weekend Bag Wheel Version 50L for $69.99 (list price $89.99)

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

G4Free 12x25 Waterproof Binoculars(BAK4,Green Lens),Large Eyepiece Super High-Powered Field Surveillance Binoculars for $27.99 (list price $39.99)

SABRE Red Pepper Spray - Police Strength - Tactical Series with Locking Top, 10-Foot (3M) Range & 20 Bursts (Up to 5x Other Brands) for $7.72 (list price $12.99)

Callaway CXR Power Golf Balls for $14.99 (list price $19.99)

2 Pack Swimming Cap - TURATA Waterproof Unisex Premium Earmuffs Silicone No-Slip Swimming Cap for Adults Kids Woman and Men One Size Hat - Black & Blue for $12.99 (list price $21.99)

Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph Tennis Racquet-4 3/8 for $143.99 (list price $249.00)

InnoGear Swim Gloves Aquatic Fitness Water Resistance Training Aqua Fit Webbed Gloves (Large) for $8.80 (list price $29.99)

Enkeeo 2 Pack Hiking Walking Trekking Poles Ultralight Collapsible Trail Walking Stick with Durable Aluminum, Anti Shock & Quick Lock Technology (Black and Orange, 1 Pair) for $23.99 (list price $35.99)

TOOLS

TEKTON 30812 Double-Faced Soft Mallet, 35 mm for $7.42 (list price $9.02)

Homitt Sound Ear Muffs Hearing Protection Ear Defenders with Noise Cancelling Technology for Shooting, Hunting, Working or Construction – Black for $34.99 (list price $34.99)

Makita LCT209W 12-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Cordless Combo Kit, Black, 2-Piece for $99.00 (list price $139.00)

SOG Flash II Assisted Folding Knife TFSAT8-CP - Black TiNi 3.5" Tanto Straight Edge Blade, GRN Handle for $39.92 (list price $46.92)

Swiss+Tech ST66676 Polished SS 6-in-1 Utility Key Multitool for Keychain for Auto, Camping, Hardware for $7.07 (list price $8.50)

Maglite LED 3-Cell D Flashlight, Black for $23.06 (list price $28.99)

Led Flashlight Gosund T10 Ultra Bright Zoomable Adjustable Focus Water Resistant Portable Flashlights of 5 Modes Bottom Click Tactical Torch for Indoor or Outdoor for $13.69 (list price $21.99)

Origami R5-01W General Purpose 4-Shelf Steel Collapsible Storage Rack with Wheels, Large for $86.49 (list price $120.95)

Custom Leathercraft 1100 Multi-Purpose Clip-on Zippered Poly Bags for $6.72 (list price $7.82)

Magnelex Best Magnetic Wristband for Holding Tools, Screws, Nails, Bolts, Drilling Bits for $13.90 (list price $24.90)

Bosch GLM 35 Laser Measure, 120-Feet for $69.00 (list price $79.99)

Duck Brand 1303158 Metallic Color Duct Tape, Chrome, 1.88 Inches x 15 Yards, Single Roll for $3.37 (list price $6.39)

Kidde FA110 Multi Purpose Fire Extinguisher 1A10BC, 1 Pack for $19.98 (list price $42.99)

Deflecto Dryer Duct Cleaning Kit, Extends Up To 12' for $17.87 (list price $22.97)

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
Original image
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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Live Smarter
Working Nights Could Keep Your Body from Healing
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iStock

The world we know today relies on millions of people getting up at sundown to go put in a shift on the highway, at the factory, or in the hospital. But the human body was not designed for nocturnal living. Scientists writing in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine say working nights could even prevent our bodies from healing damaged DNA.

It’s not as though anybody’s arguing that working in the dark and sleeping during the day is good for us. Previous studies have linked night work and rotating shifts to increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and car accidents. In 2007, the World Health Organization declared night work “probably or possibly carcinogenic.”

So while we know that flipping our natural sleep/wake schedule on its head can be harmful, we don’t completely know why. Some scientists, including the authors of the current paper, think hormones have something to do with it. They’ve been exploring the physiological effects of shift work on the body for years.

For one previous study, they measured workers’ levels of 8-OH-dG, which is a chemical byproduct of the DNA repair process. (All day long, we bruise and ding our DNA. At night, it should fix itself.) They found that people who slept at night had higher levels of 8-OH-dG in their urine than day sleepers, which suggests that their bodies were healing more damage.

The researchers wondered if the differing 8-OH-dG levels could be somehow related to the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate our body clocks. They went back to the archived urine from the first study and identified 50 workers whose melatonin levels differed drastically between night-sleeping and day-sleeping days. They then tested those workers’ samples for 8-OH-dG.

The difference between the two sleeping periods was dramatic. During sleep on the day before working a night shift, workers produced only 20 percent as much 8-OH-dG as they did when sleeping at night.

"This likely reflects a reduced capacity to repair oxidative DNA damage due to insufficient levels of melatonin,” the authors write, “and may result in cells harbouring higher levels of DNA damage."

DNA damage is considered one of the most fundamental causes of cancer.

Lead author Parveen Bhatti says it’s possible that taking melatonin supplements could help, but it’s still too soon to tell. This was a very small study, the participants were all white, and the researchers didn't control for lifestyle-related variables like what the workers ate.

“In the meantime,” Bhatti told Mental Floss, “shift workers should remain vigilant about following current health guidelines, such as not smoking, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of sleep and exercise.”

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