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Netflix Knows When You’ll Go From Browsing to Binge Watching

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Netflix

Did you get to the second episode of Breaking Bad? How about the third episode of Orange Is The New Black? Chances are you then devoured the entire series.

Netflix has crunched the numbers to determine when, exactly, people go from casually trying out a new show to binge-watching it to the detriment of whatever other social obligations they might have had. As it happens, that point almost never happens during the pilot episode. For some shows, it’s the second episode. For others, it might take as many as eight episodes for viewers to get hooked. 


Click to enlarge image

To figure out who binge-watched, Netflix analyzed data from popular shows like Dexter and Mad Men, determining which episode served as the deciding factor for viewers torn between giving up on a new show and committing to a whole season. If 70 percent of people watched the entirety of season one (and beyond) after completing a certain episode, that’s what the company considers the “hook” episode. So, for instant-binge shows like Breaking Bad, most people either quit after the pilot, or watch the second and then rush through the whole series. Shows like How I Met Your Mother are more of a slow burn—people didn’t get hooked until the eighth episode. Mad Men took six episodes to get viewers attached to its characters and story arcs.  

There were also some regional differences. People in Australia and New Zealand tended to hold out longer, starting their full-out binge two episodes later than other countries for most shows. Viewers in the Netherlands, by contrast, seemed to get hooked before viewers in other countries.  

The data came from viewers watching season one of these shows in the first half of 2015, so they may not represent the most avid television consumers (Breaking Bad ended two years ago). The data might look a little different for the TV-obsessed Netflixer watching a buzzy new show right when it comes out. 

[h/t: Fast Company]

All images courtesy Netflix

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Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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How Common Is Your Birthday? An Interactive Map Can Tell You
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by James Hunt

At some point in their life, everyone counts back from their birthday and tries to figure out what anniversary, special occasion, or other excuse might have happened to their parents nine months before they were born. To make this backtracking exercise easier—and give us the chance to do it for a much larger population—data journalist Matt Stiles created an interactive "heat map" showing the most common birthdays in the United States for individuals born between 1994 and 2014.

Click on the map and you'll quickly notice that July, August, and September are by far the most common birth months. It's no surprise that nine months prior you'll find the dark and rainy period of October, November, and December when—to put it delicately—people have to make their own entertainment.

According to Stiles, "People generally seem to have time for baby-making during their time off. Several of the most common birth dates, in September, correspond with average conception periods around Christmas. September 9 is most common in this dataset, though other days in that month are close. September 19 is second. Following a customary gestation period, many of these babies would, in theory, have been conceived on December 17 and December 27, respectively."

But that's not all we can tell from the chart. When you take into account the fact that some people get to choose their child's birthday because of induced and elective births, they tend to want to stay away from the hospital during understaffed holiday periods.

"The least common birthdays in this dataset were Christmas Eve, Christmas [Day], and New Year’s Day," Stiles concluded. "Dates around Thanksgiving aren’t as common. July 4 is also at the bottom of the list. Conversely, Valentine’s Day ranks relatively high, as you can see in the graphic, as are the days just before a new tax year begins."

Amazingly, though it only comes around every four years, Leap Year babies aren't as uncommon as you might think: February 29 ranked 347th out of 366 on the list.

You can play around with the interactive graphic, and see the full ranking of birthdays, here.

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