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8 Foods You've Been Eating All Wrong

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foodbeastTV

You think you know how to eat an apple, but you're wrong. Back in November 2013, FoodBeast posted a video called “How to Eat an Apple Like a Boss" that went viral. The clip shows that rather than eating an apple from the outside in to the core—which wastes approximately 30 percent of the fruit—people should eat it from the top down. The core simply disappears, allowing for 100 percent consumption of the apple. And apples aren't the only food you're eating wrong. 

1. Pancakes

[Image via @OMGLifeHacks]

Drowning your pancakes in syrup is inefficient: The top pancake will be completely soggy, while the middle pancakes are totally dry. The solution: Carve a hole in the middle of your stack before pouring any syrup, which will then distribute more evenly through your pancakes.

2. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

[Image credit: Reddit user ChickenMcFail, via lifehacker]

If you’ve eaten a PB&J, you’ve also probably had a dollop of jelly seep out and land on your table or clothes. But there’s a better way to construct this staple sandwich that stops messy drips: Simply fence the jelly in with peanut butter. Spread as much peanut butter as your heart desires on two slices of bread, then create a taller border with peanut butter on both sides. On one slice, put the jelly in the hole that the border creates, then complete your sandwich.

3. Oranges

[Image credit: JewelPie]

If you have a knife handy, opening oranges doesn’t have to be a hassle. Cut small slices off the top and bottom of the orange. Then, cut a slit in the side of the orange. The orange should unroll, leaving a nice row of slices.

4. Pomegranates

[Image credit: Food Wishes]

This fruit is way less difficult to seed if you use a bowl of water. First, cut the fruit in half. Then, submerge the fruit in cold water and pull the fruit apart, releasing the seeds with minimal mess. The unwanted membrane, which holds the seeds, will even rise to the top of the water.

5. Pistachios

[Image credit: Thinkstock]

Never break a nail trying to open a sealed pistachio again—just use another pistachio shell to separate the nut that’s hard to crack.

6. Cupcakes

[Image credit: Katy Brown/Mommy Mishmash]

Think there’s no way to eat a cupcake without getting frosting on your nose? Think again. Get rid of that pesky wrapper, slice about half of the bottom off the cupcake, then make a frosting sandwich out of the two slices. With that delicious gob of frosting safely in between two pieces of cake, the odds of frosting all over your face will be minimized. A fork might also solve this problem, but it’s way less fun.

7. Hard-Shell Tacos

[Image credit: Curry and Comfort]

Hard-shell tacos tend to fall apart, leaving too many meat and cheese casualties. But wrapping a tortilla around the taco will help. The food that would normally just fall will be caught by the protective tortilla. You can make this more binding with a layer of refried beans in between the tortilla and the taco shell.

8. Bananas

[Image credit: Crazy Bananas]

Most people start peeling from the end with the longer stem. But if you peel from the bottom, it will be easier and the banana will contain fewer stringy pieces. This is also the way that monkeys open their bananas, so you know it’s right.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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iStock

When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]

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