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20 Excellent IKEA Hacks You Should Try

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ThreeMaxTons.com

Make sure your home doesn't look like everyone else's by using some DIY know-how and hacks like these—and even more at IKEAhackers.net.

1. Coffee Table Hack

Want to buy a mid-century style table? Be prepared to shell out lots of dough—unless you’re willing to go the DIY route. To pull off this easy hack from Triple Max Tons, all you need is a LACK coffee table and tapered legs from eBay (if the legs don’t come with top plates, you can buy straight or angled—as they are in this hack—at Loews). Unscrew the old legs, install the tapered legs and top plates about an inch from the corners, and voila! Charming, fancy looking table at a reasonable price.

2. Bar Cart Hack

Bar carts are all the rage at the moment, and, like a nice mid-century coffee table, they can be really expensive. But all this hack from Blush and Jelly of the BYGEL utility cart (a mere $24.99) requires is some gold spray paint. Assemble the frame; spray it gold, waiting about 20 minutes between coats; let dry overnight, and add the remaining pieces. If you want to get even fancier, you can add a stemware rack, like this one from Bed Bath and Beyond.

3. Dresser Upgrade

Upgrading IKEA’s TARVA dresser is as easy as adding a few coats of paint and swapping out the hardware. Refinery29 has a tutorial.

4. Storage to Litter Box

Let’s face it: Litter boxes are gross, even if they have covers on them. This elegant hack of IKEA’s EXPEDIT shelving serves both as storage and as a hiding spot where kitty can do his business. A little mat in the entryway keeps litter from getting tracked on the floor.

5. DIY Standing Desk

Virginia Woolf did it. Ernest Hemingway did it. Now you, too, can have a standing desk without breaking the bank. (And if those celebrity endorsements aren’t enough for you, consider this: Science says sitting too much is bad for you.) This hack requires an EXPEDIT storage system, CAPITA legs, and a VIKA AMON table top.

6. Window Herb Garden

So what if you don’t have a backyard, or you’re too lazy for a real garden! You can still grow fresh herbs by employing this elegant solution. All you need is IKEA’s ORE shower curtain rod, FINTORP pots, GRUNDTAL S hooks, and some spray paint.

7. Side Table

Transform IKEA’s $30 PS2012 side table into a classy-looking statement piece by following this tutorial.

8. Lamp Hack

Get beachy by tying driftwood around IKEA’s HEMMA or JANUARI lamp bases. To make the base blend in, you can paint it beige-gray.

9. Mini Cork Board

Turn IKEA’s plain HEAT pot stands into fabric covered cork boards by breaking out your hot glue gun and following this simple tutorial.

10. Arcade

This ambitious DIYer used a BILLY bookshelf (with substantial additions) to build an IKEA arcade game. Based on the tutorial, it wasn’t easy—but it is awesome.

11. Bookshelf

To make this fun little shelf, you’ll need to buy an IKEA STATLIG board, an EKBY BJARNUM shelf holder, and some paracord and steel washers.

12. Doggy Food Bar

Is your dog a slob? Consider building this food station out of a FAKTUM kitchen cabinet, HARLIG door, and PATRULL cabinet lock. It serves as both a mess-proof eating station and a storage area for the pooch’s stuff.

13. Rast Hack

One super-hackable IKEA item is the RAST dresser. This hacker combined two RASTs into one big dresser, then painted it and added new hardware for a truly custom finish.

14. Rast

This hack—made three RAST dressers (two for the piece itself, and one for extra parts)—uses metallic paint and a stainless steel sheet for an industrial look.

15. Wall-Mounted Charging Station

To charge your gadgets in one place, follow this hack, which cleverly uses three FORHOJA boxes to create a wall-mounted charging station that isn’t an eyesore.

16. Ice Chest

It’s just about garden party weather—so it’s the perfect time to look into doing this hack, which turns IKEA’s TARVA dresser into a cool looking cooler, for yourself.

17. Another Bar

Where the bar cart hack was simple, this BESTA hack (which also uses an Inreda mirrored glass shelf insert and Inreda shelves) is more complex—and pretty impressive.

18. Cocktail Ottoman

This hacker used fabric, batting, and spray paint to transform a VITTSJO nesting table into a beautiful ottoman.

19. Hamster Home

There are a number of ways to hack IKEA furniture for your pets—some of which we've already featured—but few are as cool as this elaborate hamster habitat made out of the 5x5 EXPEDIT.

20. Hidden Bookcase Door

Take the idea of a fort one step further by creating your very own hidden door. This hacker used two BILLY bookcases to get the job done.

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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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