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Tabitha de Luna

19 Great Quilts That Keep Geeks Cozy

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Tabitha de Luna

Everyone needs something to keep them warm at night. Geeks might want one or more of these totally nerdtastic quilts.

1. A Super Super Mario Quilt

When it comes to geek quilts, there is no more popular subject than the Mario franchise. And it makes sense—the  incredibly popular games originally came out in 8-bit format, so the characters are perfectly built for quilt squares. This quilt by Moira Fogarty is particularly delightful because it is so massive and detailed—and because it has a removable coin pillow that pops out of the question box.

2. I’d Hit That

With so many other Mario quilts out there, it’s hard to stand out, but the great humor in this creation by gamer and skilled crafter Quiltoni is certainly worth a mention.

3. The Legend of Quilting

Like Mario quilts, there are tons of great Zelda quilts out there. I’ve chosen to only include this fantastic example by Etsy seller McFrogling that features Link, his heart meter, and all kinds of icons from the game around the border.

4. More Like Samus Awesome

Metroid was one of the first games with a powerful female protagonist—and I’m a particularly big fan of this intricate design by Sprite Stitch user lucyinthesky.

5. Best Robotic Friends Forever

There are a lot of Megaman quilts out there. What distinguishes this creation by Sprite Stitch reader Lynn from the rest is the decision to include Megaman’s friendly robotic dog, Rush, in the piece.

6. Suck It In, My Friends

If you ask me, there just aren’t enough great crafts or fan art dedicated to the delightful pink blob known as Kirby. At least Etsy seller bsayasane has the inflatable cutie’s back.

7. Just Keep Jumping

QBert is a perfect inspiration for quilting because that great staircase where the game takes place is so perfectly blocky. Add in your hero and a few villains and you have a lovely quilt, like this one by Lenore Edman, celebrating the wonderfully weird game classic.

8. Great Games Galore

For those with a soft spot for classic Nintendo, it’s hard to find a more fitting tribute to the console than this quilt by Flickr user needleandthread that features some of the system’s most memorable games.

9. Keep the Insect Fighters at Bay

For those old-school gamers who preferred the arcade over the home console, Carolina Patchwork’s Galaga quilt is certain to bring back memories of quarter-eating aliens.

10. Another Alien Invasion

If you always thought Space Invaders was pretty much the exact same thing as Galaga only with less insect-like ships, you’re right. But there are still plenty of people who will argue over which of the two games is better. For those on team Space Invaders, you’ll undoubtedly prefer this great quilt by Flickr user Sloth003.

11. Smash the Pigs!

For fans of more modern games, this Angry Birds quilt by Flickr user Bubbachic is sure to get your index finger twitching as you think of all the ways you could squish those pesky piggies.

12. Cozy Kitty Rivals

Can’t get enough memes in your life? Then perhaps cuddling up with this Nyan and Waffle cat quilt by Craftster user princesspimp81 would help you dream of flying pastry kitties –or at least tasty toaster-friendly snacks.

13. Dreaming of The Doctor

You may not ever be swept off your feet by a mysterious time-traveling alien that’s over 900 years old, but at least you can dream about it while you cuddle up under a comfy TARDIS quilt. Best of all, Instractables user Tabitha de Luna has all the steps you need to make your own (assuming you know the basics of quilting).

14. Spocktacular

You have to wonder if Spock would see the logic in quilting, especially a quilt with his face on it. Either way, Star Trek fans will find Instructables user funthread’s creation, and the directions to remake the quilt, quite fascinating.

15. She Made It So

Those who prefer the Next Generation over the original would be happy to pledge their loyalty to this huge Captain Picard quilt by Craftster user Semel. Oh, and if Patrick Stewart’s face on a giant quilt isn’t good enough for you, you should know that the back features the Star Trek insignia. Semel also created an equally impressive quilt featuring Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

16. The Force is Strong With This One

You can’t have a list of anything geeky without at least one Star Wars creation, and this R2D2 baby quilt by Craftster user dellastella is a great way to start any baby off on the path towards geeky contentedness.

17. A World of Wonder

Craftster user danynn’s great Hobbit quilt is both lovely and inspirational, something I think Tolkein himself would have appreciated.

18. Sing the Doom Song

Invader Zim may have been a relatively short-lived Nickelodeon show, but it still inspired legions of loyal fans, most of whom (including myself) are simply obsessed with Zim’s dull-witted sidekick, Gir. Craftster user lyric889 is one such fan and she managed to express her dedication with this great quilt of Gir that took a whopping 1,344 squares to finish. Impressively, this was her first attempt at quilt making.

19. Periodically Comfy

Science geeks who take comfort in the natural laws would feel nothing but cozy under this fantastic periodic table quilt by Craftster user cherry_blossom55.

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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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