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Koisny, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Game Boy Will Be the Latest Classic Nintendo Console to Receive an Upgrade

Koisny, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 2016, Nintendo delighted nostalgic gamers with the release of the NES Classic. The miniature console was too popular for its own good, selling out faster than stores could restock it. The success of the SNES Classic in fall 2017 proved that the retro console trend isn't limited to the NES. Now, peripheral manufacturer Hyperkin is revamping one of Nintendo's most iconic classic consoles before the Japanese gaming giant beats them to it. As Gizmodo reports, a new and improved Game Boy is currently in development.

Hyperkin announced the gadget, tentatively named the Ultra Game Boy, at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. It's modeled after the Game Boy Pocket and includes the same volume and contrast dials and 8-bit screen players remember.

But they will also notice some major upgrades. The body is made from sturdy aluminum, making it more resistant to dents and scratches if dropped. Hyperkin plans to add a third dial that will let users adjust the backlit LCD display, or they can turn it off completely if they want to play the way they did in 1996. Other new features include a built-in 6-hour battery, USB-C port for charging, and left and right audio output connections. Listening to mono sound through a fancy sound system may not make a big difference to most gamers, but the update will make it easier for musicians to use the console to create chiptunes.

The biggest feature that's missing is the built-in games aspect offered by the NES and SNES. Because the Ultra Game Boy is coming from Hyperkin, not Nintendo, users will need to provide the original cartridges to play it. But if you've been holding on to your game collection for the past 20 years, the new console may be a smart purchase. It's set to retail for less than $100 when it hits stores as anticipated in late summer 2018.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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How Common Is Your Birthday? An Interactive Map Can Tell You
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by James Hunt

At some point in their life, everyone counts back from their birthday and tries to figure out what anniversary, special occasion, or other excuse might have happened to their parents nine months before they were born. To make this backtracking exercise easier—and give us the chance to do it for a much larger population—data journalist Matt Stiles created an interactive "heat map" showing the most common birthdays in the United States for individuals born between 1994 and 2014.

Click on the map and you'll quickly notice that July, August, and September are by far the most common birth months. It's no surprise that nine months prior you'll find the dark and rainy period of October, November, and December when—to put it delicately—people have to make their own entertainment.

According to Stiles, "People generally seem to have time for baby-making during their time off. Several of the most common birth dates, in September, correspond with average conception periods around Christmas. September 9 is most common in this dataset, though other days in that month are close. September 19 is second. Following a customary gestation period, many of these babies would, in theory, have been conceived on December 17 and December 27, respectively."

But that's not all we can tell from the chart. When you take into account the fact that some people get to choose their child's birthday because of induced and elective births, they tend to want to stay away from the hospital during understaffed holiday periods.

"The least common birthdays in this dataset were Christmas Eve, Christmas [Day], and New Year’s Day," Stiles concluded. "Dates around Thanksgiving aren’t as common. July 4 is also at the bottom of the list. Conversely, Valentine’s Day ranks relatively high, as you can see in the graphic, as are the days just before a new tax year begins."

Amazingly, though it only comes around every four years, Leap Year babies aren't as uncommon as you might think: February 29 ranked 347th out of 366 on the list.

You can play around with the interactive graphic, and see the full ranking of birthdays, here.

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