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15 Classified Ads We Hope Had Happy Endings

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Today, if we have specific needs or questions, we can usually find a specific forum or website to help us get hooked up with whatever we need. A century ago, there was only the Classifieds section of your town’s newspaper—tiny blocks of print disguising entire lives and stories behind very few words. Here are some of those stories that we hope met with a happy ending. We hope:

1. That Lula was all settled up at Woolworths.

“To Whom It May Concern: Lula Dumont, having left my bed and support, I will not be responsible for any debts contracted by her. - F.E. Dumont” 1920

We hope that Lula’s next partner valued the virtue of an open marriage as deeply as she did. You can’t put chains on love, man.

2. That Exactly This Happened and Nothing Else.

“Is there someone who would raise and have a clean young boy of 12 educated, for a home companion?” 1907

Howdy. I’m Chris Hansen. Why don’t you come along and set a spell over there on the divan?

3. That It Was the Meet-Cute Story They Told Their Great-Grandchildren.

“Will some nice girl take Christmas dinner -at any hotel she chooses- with a decent young man; a stranger and alone in the city” 1907

If there isn’t a Reese Witherspoon movie with this premise one should be made immediately.

4. That Mrs. Verhilla Finds Justice

“GIRLS- Please return purse taken from lavatory of Circle Theater, as you are known. Police have your description and there will be a warrant out if not returned. – Mrs. Verhilla” 1920

May God have mercy on your souls, girls. Because Mrs. Verhilla will not.

5. That the Lady in Question Will Not Remain Unsupported for Long

“Lost- Two unfinished linen brassieres. Kindly leave at Washington hotel. Reward." 1907

From what I’ve seen early brassieres were two handkerchiefs tied together with twine. Good riddance, honey. Stick with the corset for another decade or so.

6. That Room 24 Held All the Delights it Promised

“Ladies, if you want to go to a very select place for your electric treatments and massage, go to room 24 in Marquam House. You will get the best attention” 1907

Hysteria cures weren’t all bad.

7. That a Certain Gentleman Will Realize His Oversight

"Lost: Will the Gentleman who occupied my room Tuesday pm please return jewelry taken? No questions asked.” 1907

Come on Wilbur. We both know you looked ridiculous in that lavaliere.

8. That this is Not Nearly as Depressing as it Sounds

“I have two children, boy and girl, ages 10 and 12, that I would like to leave with a nice family for a year: want good neighborhood and where proper care will be given.” 1897

A parent who spends 5 whole cents to procure the safety of his children can’t be completely negligent.

9. That All These Girls Have Been Thoroughly Briefed on the Mann Act

"Wanted: Girls. Must be pretty, small, and 16 years of age. Apply today at Los Angeles Theatre Box Office” 1911

Nothing suspicious, seedy, or potentially criminal here.

10. That…ehh. Sorry buddy. This isn’t going to end well.

“For Sale- Calf with two legs. Call or write quick: make offer.” 1909

Write quick? It’s not like the poor thing is going anywhere.  

11. That Ray Had a Reason

“Ray- good luck to you in your coming explanation. Dollie.” 1909

Shame on your suspicious mind, Dollie. It just so happens Ray remembered to have a photograph taken of himself next to the Guatemalan children whose school he’s been building for the past two months.

12. That G and B were only dating.

"G- You are, as I thought, a sad mistake. –B”

Jeez Mom. So I didn’t make Varsity. You didn’t need to take out an entire ad. 

13. That the Realization of Love and Family are Not Exclusive to People Over 5 Feet tall.  

“Am 40, 3ft 11 in high, weigh 175 lbs, best health, brown hair, brown eyes and mustache, erect figure, regular features; good business, wish the acquaintance of little woman with common sense. Object: Matrimony.”

An extremely prudent use of a personal ad. In an era where differences were not always celebrated, this gentleman stood to meet more potential willing brides than by any other means available to him.

14. Doesn’t Matter how it Ended. The Joy was in the Journey.

 “Wanted: Ten Monkeys, Talking Parrots, and Canaries.” 1900

That was a weekend no one ever forgot.

15. No Joke. Just Really, Really Wishing for a Happy Ending.

In my research I thought I’d hit a goldmine of peculiar, personal classifieds when I stumbled across a 1906 copy of The San Francisco Call. But what appeared to be a laundry list of strayed husbands and cryptic codes turned into something much more tragic on closer examination of the date.

 “News Wanted of Mrs. R J Pringle by her husband.”

“Sarah Rockel, come to Sullivan’s. Am much worried.”

“Daisy- Bring Mother to Port Richmond.”

These ads and dozens more like them were placed on April 21, 1906, three days after the Great San Francisco Earthquake demolished 80 percent of the city and killed 3000 people. Here’s hoping many more were reunited with their loved ones. 

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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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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]

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