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29 Vintage Photos of Dogs Being Man's Best Friend

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Getty Images

Happy National Dog Day! Celebrate by taking a look at these historical pictures of pooches. All photos and captions courtesy of Getty Images.

1. 1860: A canine amateur photographer.

2. 1867: A Victorian family sitting outside their country home.

3. 1890: A woman posing for a portrait in a photographic studio with her dog.

4. 1890: Children of the Klondike area of Yukon Territory, Canada, sitting with their dog by a street sign. In the 1890's there was a great gold rush here, yielding over $22 million worth of gold in one peak year of production.

5. 1895: A pet dog sitting on the dining room table whilst a couple has their dinner.

6. 1904: A party of holidaymakers at the seaside.

7. 1908: A young crocodile, the perfect new pet for ladies, as demonstrated by this woman and her dog at Bostock's Jungle, Earls Court.

8.1910: Lady Aberdeen, wife of British statesman John Campbell Hamilton Gordon (1847 - 1934), 7th Earl of Aberdeen, with her dogs at Dublin Castle.

9. 1917: A member of the American medical staff, who are playing in a baseball match at Epsom, holds their bulldog mascot which is in uniform.

10. 1924: Natalie Kingston, one of Mack Sennett's bathing belles, is pictured on the beach, embracing her dog.

11. 1925: A dog dressed in a suit tries to get past a security guard at the Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios.

12. 1925: A young child with a bowl and a little dog on a lead.

13. 1926: Mrs H Bebbington and her Great Dane Hereward of Cubourough at the Croydon Dog Show.

14. 1926: Ralph Miller spars with 10-month old "Battling Von," a member of the Melford Kennels AC of Los Angeles.

15. 1926: Mr. Barnard, a member of the London Aero Club, makes sure that his canine co-pilot has the right goggles.

16. 1929: American President Calvin Coolidge with his wife and dog in front of the White House.

17. 1930: Mrs. Bernard Cathbert drapes one of her chow dogs around her shoulders in the garden of Omar House, Catford, London.

18. 1932: A doggie produces a milk bottle in an effort to stem the flood of tears from its charge.

19. 1934: Wally Kilminster enjoys a foam bath with his dog in the dressing rooms at Wembley Stadium.

20. 1935: Little Evelyn Luff with her entourage of Saint Bernard dogs at Staines Abbots Pass kennels, near Reigate in Surrey.

21. 1938: A kennel-maid from Ifield Kennels takes to a bicycle to exercise two French Poodles.

22. 1941: American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his car with his Scottish terrier, Fala.

23. 1954: A cyclist in Holland transports her pet dog in one of the panniers on the back of her bicycle.

24. 1955: A dog joins its owner at the salon for a cut and blow-dry.

25. 1955: A young pupil from Green Chimneys school, Brewster, New York, playing with a bull terrier.

26. 1960: Actress Audrey Hepburn on a film set with her pet poodle.

27. 1962: Charles Tumbridge riding his scooter through the streets of Kensal Rise, London, with his pet dog Susie in his mobile kennel.

28. 1966: A blind woman relaxes at the local swimming pool, watched over by her guide dog.

29. 1971: Miss Freda Cook wheels in her West Highland White Terriers to the Crufts Dog Show at the Olympia Stadium.

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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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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