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ACCT Philly

Great Ads for Cat Adoption During Adopt-A-Cat Month

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ACCT Philly

June is almost over, but there’s still a week left in Adopt-A-Cat Month from the American Humane Association. The spring crop of kittens are old enough to go to new families and there are plenty of mature cats who need a place to call home. To this end, many animal shelters are going the extra mile to grab your attention and many offer special discounts on pet adoptions. They also come up with clever and enticing ads to pique your interest.


In 2012, the Shelter Pet Project ran an ad campaign that turned cats into little comedians. Their thoughts may be well represented, though, because the things humans do can be inexplicable. The campaign included quite a few funny videos, too.


We just missed this event! Anjellicle Cats Rescue in New York City had a Downton Tabby event at PetCo last week. Each cat had a poster outlining his/her personality and selling points, which you can see in a gallery at Gothamist.


But Anjellicle Cats Rescue also has a campaign in which they latch onto World Cup fever by featuring cats rooting for different countries. It’s called FIFA Cats! Shown here is today’s entry. Also see cats for the USA, Germany, France, and more.


The Seattle Animal Shelter is offering adult cats for a low $5 adoption fee. The fee covers spay or neutering, vaccinations, Fe-Leuk testing, microchip implant, and two cans of cat food. What a bargain! The $5 offer also goes for rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, birds, turtles, and snakes through June 29th. The poster here is from last year’s June adoption event.


The Boone Area Humane Society in Boone, Iowa, has a great ad and a great deal on cat adoption through the end of this month.


Some even reference particular models, and don’t forget to ask for the catfax!


Graphic artist Alix Sobler created this ad for The Winnipeg Humane Society campaign a few years back. The sentiment is still the same- adopting a cat is the best ten pounds you’ll ever gain.


ACCT (Animal Care and Control Team) Philly in Philadelphia is offering cats with special discounts, and cats over five years old can be adopted at no charge during June. They also have special promotions that change every week. The whole point is to find homes for the many cats who need them.


The Animal Humane Society of Minnesota had some clever bus ads a few years ago, reminding us of one huge benefit of owning a cat.


The Homeless Animal Adoption League in Bloomfield, New Jersey, posts pictures of adoptable pets on their Facebook page, but they also have a habit of dressing them up as image macros that make you just want to hug them all!

Your local shelter may be offering some great deals in June on cats who need loving homes. If you don’t know how to find your local shelter, just enter your zip code into Petfinder.

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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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iStock
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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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iStock

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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