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30 Pixar Easter Eggs to Look for Next Time

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PixarWikia.com

Pixar is famous for sneaking little inside jokes and references into their movies. You probably already know about A113—if not, we'll get to that in a minute. But the famous room number is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the "nudge-nudge-wink-wink"ing the animators do. Here are a handful to look for when you find yourself watching Toy Story for the seventeenth time, or when you're trying to distract yourself from sobbing through the beginning of Up.

The Luxo Ball

The Luxo Ball has a long history with Pixar, appearing in its first-ever short, Luxo, Jr.—you know, the one with the playful desk lamp. The short changed the face of the industry, showing hand animators that computers were assets to the industry instead of the end of it. Along with the lamp, the Luxo Ball has become an icon for Pixar, which is why they like to squeeze it in whenever they can. In addition to the shots above, here are a few places you can find the little guy.

1. When Buzz Lightyear “proves” that he can fly in the first Toy Story, the Luxo Ball is the toy he bounces from.

Photo courtesy of JimHillMedia.com 

2. It’s also in a toy basket at Sunnyside Daycare in Toy Story 3.

Image courtesy of Pixar.Wikia.com 

3. If you really squint at Russell’s merit badges in Up, you’ll spot a familiar shape in there. Hint: Check the middle row on the lower left.

Image courtesy of Amptoons 

4. The Luxo Ball's cameos aren't limited to feature-length films. It can also be found in Pixar shorts, such as Presto, which originally ran before WALL-E. In this case, it appears as one of many items that fall out of the magician's sleeve. 

5. And there's Jack-Jack Attackthe 2005 short based on The Incredibles. Jack-Jack's babysitter thrusts a bunch of toys at the little superhero in an attempt to keep him entertained. One of them is no ordinary bouncing ball!

See Also: 11 Disney Character Cameos in Other Disney Movies

I Spy the Pizza Planet Truck

The pizza delivery truck that played a central role in the first Toy Story movie has turned up in every Pixar movie since, except for The Incredibles. Keep your eyes peeled the next time you’re watching these movies.

6. In A Bug’s Life, the To“YO”ta can be found parked next to the trailer with the deadly bug zapper.

7. In Monsters, Inc., the Pizza Planet delivery truck can again be found parked next to the trailer with the bug zapper from A Bug’s Life, because that’s where Randall the monster is banished when he’s kicked out of Monstropolis.

8. In Finding Nemo, you can catch a blurry glimpse of the truck through the thick aquarium glass as Gill the fish plots the escape from the tank.

9. It makes perfect sense that the pizza delivery truck can be found watching the Piston Cup race in Cars, doesn’t it?

10. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo, but the Toyota can be found taking in the Paris sights in the background of Ratatouille as Skinner is chasing Remy near the Seine.

Image courtesy of eeggs.com

11. The Pizza Planet truck fared about as well as the rest of humanity in WALL-E. EVE finds the truck and scans it, then shuts the hood and moves on.

12. As Carl’s house sails into the air in Up, we get a bird’s eye view of the streets below. The truck is down there, faithfully delivering pies as always.

Image courtesy of PixarWikia.com

13. “Yo” is definitely a racing fan, because in addition to the Piston Cup in the first Cars, he’s also in attendance at the Radiator Springs Grand Prix in Cars 2.

14. By the time Brave came out in 2012, fans were on to the whole Pizza Planet truck inside joke—and they wondered how in the world animators were going to work a modern-day vehicle into a film set in ancient Scotland without totally disrupting the continuity of the storyline. Here’s how:

15. All college students—even those of the monster variety in Monsters University—love pizza. Proof:

Image courtesy of pixartimes.com

Character Cameos

Animators love to sneak in references to other Pixar movies, sometimes even including films that haven’t been released yet. For example...

16. The poster of Finn McMissle from Cars 2 (2011) that showed up in Andy’s bedroom in Toy Story 3 (2010).

Image courtesy of ComingSoon.net 

17. Lotso, the bad guy from Toy Story 3, can be found in a little girl’s bedroom in Up (2009) as Mr. Frederickson’s house flies past her window. Also spotted: the Luxo Ball.


Image courtesy of eeggs.com

18. In Monsters, Inc. (2001), Boo hands Sulley a stuffed clownfish, which is really a sneak preview at the lead character in 2003’s Finding Nemo. And check out what else he's holding in his paws.

Image courtesy of Pixartalk.com

19. The dentist in Finding Nemo has pretty good waiting room material—a little boy waiting for his appointment can be seen reading a comic book that stars none other than The Incredibles (2004).

Image courtesy of Loffee

20. Actually, that’s not all that’s in his waiting room. He also has a treasure chest of toys, including everyone's favorite space ranger.

Image courtesy of Finding Mickey

21. When the newly-announced Cars 3 eventually comes out, keep your eyes peeled for the Radiator Springs Drive-In. In Cars, it’s showing Toy Car Story. In Cars 2, Mater and Lightning McQueen drive past the sign that states it's showing The Incredimobiles.

22. When the Toy Story gang is cruising through the aisles of Al's Toy Barn, Barbie isn't the only toy they happen across. Eagle-eyed viewers will be able to spot A Bug's Life toys on the shelves.

Image courtesy of Pixartalk.com

A113

Now, let's get to those A113 references. A113 is the number of the classroom where many California Institute of the Arts graphic design students studied, including Pixar heavies John Lasseter and Brad Bird. Hiding references to it has become a nod that animators like to hide within their work—and not just Pixar films. "A113" has appeared in episodes of The Simpsons, American Dad!, South Park, Tiny Toon Adventures, Rugrats, and more. But that's another post—today we'll just stick to a few of the Pixar references.

23. Here it is on the scuba diver's camera in Finding Nemo:

Photo courtesy of PixarPost

24. In Roman numeral format above a doorway in Brave.

Image courtesy of PixarTimes

25. Andy's mom has a familiar license plate in the Toy Story movies.

Image courtesy of PixarTalk

26. When Mr. Frederickson has to appear in court for his little assault charge in Up, the court's room number happens to be A113. And here's an extra little tidbit: The summons number is 94070, the ZIP Code for San Carlos, CA, where a Pixar producer was once mayor.

Image courtesy of Slashfilm

27. In WALL-E, A113 is the directive given that means humans can never go home. 

See Also: 11 Disney Character Cameos in Other Disney Movies

28. When Mr. Incredible is being held captive by Syndrome, he's being held in Level A1, Cell 13.

Image courtesy of Pixar Place

29. Mater's license plate in Cars 2? A113, of course.

Image courtesy of FindingMickey 

30. Finally, this one is the most fitting of all of the A113 appearances yet. In Monsters University, as Sulley is entering his first class at college, the plate on the door pays homage to one of the first classes his animators took. That one, in my opinion, is going to be pretty hard to top.

Image courtesy ofPixarTalk

Have a favorite Pixar reference that wasn't featured here? Share in the comments!

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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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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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