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R2-D2 and C-3PO Briefly Appear in Raiders of the Lost Ark

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George Lucas is obviously best known for the Star Wars films, and fans of Steven Spielberg can list any number of brilliant cinematic spectacles from the Bearded One. But the most fruitful collaboration between the two is the Indiana Jones saga.

As a nod to each other’s work, both dropped so-called easter eggs within each movie for fans to discover. Everyone’s favorite droids from a galaxy far, far away—R2-D2 and C-3PO—appear in Raiders of the Lost Ark…in our very own galaxy, in a time not too long ago.

R2 and 3PO pop up not once, but twice in the scene where Indy and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) descend into the Well of the Souls. The most visible example occurs just as the two lift a giant stone slab aside to reveal the titular Ark. Look at the stone pillar just to the left of Indy and you’ll see two hieroglyphics that look suspiciously like the droids.

The second example is fairly hard to see, but occurs just as Indy and Sallah lift the Ark out of its case in the same scene. Look directly towards the back wall in the shot that features Sallah on the left and Indy on the right. You’ll see a bigger hieroglyph of what looks like Princess Leia uploading the plans to the Death Star into R2-D2, with C-3PO standing in back of them.

The Star Wars and Indiana Jones films are filled with these types of winks between Spielberg and Lucas. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the plane that Indy uses to escape from the evil Belloq and the native Hovitos warriors features the call sign “OB-CPO” along the side, in reference to Obi Wan Kenobi and C-3PO from Star Wars.

Then, in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy escapes again—this time from a Shanghai nightclub called “Club Obi Wan.”

If you want to go even further, Lucas even tends to include a nod to himself throughout his films by hiding variations of the number 1138—a reference to his first film, THX 1138—in different places in different films. It’s the license plate number of John Milner’s hot-rod in American Graffiti, cell block 1138 is where Princess Leia is held prisoner in A New Hope, it's the number of a Battle Droid in The Phantom Menace, and so on.

The list of the slightly hidden interconnected nods to each other’s films goes on and on—let’s not even get into the Wilhelm Scream—and shows both a mutual appreciation and an understanding that all of these films have transcended their stories and have truly become staples of modern popular culture.

[via Wayne Stevens]

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]