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9 Apps All Young Adults Should Have on Their Phones

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So you’ve graduated college, moved into your own apartment, and snagged a full-time job. As a fully responsible adult human, you’re still a work in progress, but now is the time to really step up your game. Time to set your phone settings to Adult. Here are nine apps you should download to help you get there.

1. LEVEL MONEY

It’s time to learn to live within your means, and even save some money. Level is a budget app that will tell you exactly how much you can spend on any given day or week and still make ends meet. Just connect it to your bank account, put in your sources of income, your recurring bills, and how much you’d like to save each month, and it will calculate your “spendable” cash. You can also track certain categories of purchases, helping you realize that you’re spending $200 on Starbucks every month and only $50 on actual groceries. 

Find it: iOS, Android

2. HANDY

For when you’re grown up enough to know your home shouldn’t be covered in a two-inch thick layer of dust and grime, but not quite ready to invest in cleaning supplies and spend hours scrubbing your shower. On Handy, you can book a regular cleaning service or a one-time touch up (hint for the stingy: You can sign up for the discounted weekly or monthly cleaning and just reschedule your bookings into infinity). You can even hire someone to paint your room or come put up those bookshelves that have been sitting unassembled for six months. 

Find it: iOS, Android

3. ALLSTATE DIGITAL LOCKER

You’re not as young as you used to be, and that friend-of-a-friend who crashes your party might sue you when he falls off his keg stand and breaks his leg in your kitchen. You have expensive electronics that could get stolen when your starter apartment in the only neighborhood you can afford gets robbed. Your Craigslist roommate might burn down the house by leaving one of his monster joints lying around. So just go ahead and get renter’s insurance. Allstate’s Digital Locker app is a good place to start. It’s free to use, and lets you inventory your home just by taking photos of your stuff, so you can document it all before you need to file a claim. 

Find it: iOS, Android

4. OUTLOOK

As you start to take on more responsibilities at work, you’ll probably need to check your work email outside of the office on occasion (though we do not condone this kind of behavior!). On the bright side, Outlook’s phone app is way easier on the eyes—and easier to use—than its desktop equivalent. Some even call it the best mobile app for email around. 

Find it: iOs, Android

5. EVERNOTE SCANNABLE

You’re never going to own a Rolodex. Accept it. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never need the info on a business card that was handed to you at that networking conference six months ago. Evernote’s Scannable app can be used to digitize business cards, pulling additional information about that contact from their LinkedIn profile. It also does receipts, so you’ll have them ready when those expense reports come due. Unfortunately, they haven’t come up with an Android version yet. 

Find it: iOS

6. GOOGLE WALLET

It’s super easy to pay your friends back with Venmo, but the app has notorious security issues. Upgrade to something that will protect your money when something goes wrong. Google Wallet is a safer way to send money to your friends using just their email address or phone number. It’s monitored for fraud, FDIC-insured, and protected by MasterCard’s liability coverage so that you aren’t responsible for any rogue transactions—and if the company happened to go under, your unused funds would still be safe. 

Find it: iOS, Android

7. OPEN TABLE

You’re a grown up. Please, just make a reservation for that six-person brunch.

Find it: iOS, Android

8. ANYLIST OR OUT OF MILK

You can’t live on takeout forever. Organize your grocery shopping efforts with your roommates or significant other using a syncing list app like AnyList (available for iPhone) or Out of Milk (available for Android). Both let you create and share grocery lists, and will update everyone when something is added or checked off. Use it for food, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, or any other purchases you share. No one wants four gallons of milk in the fridge—or worse, none at all.

Find it: AnyList for iOS, Out of Milk for Android

9. KOKO

Let’s just get it out there: Being an adult-in-progress can be hard. The job market is stressful, having to buy your own groceries is a pain, and you may not know very many people in your new city. Koko is a social networking app for better mental health. You can post your worries and anxieties and other people will help you think about them in a new light. Remember to give yourself a break now and then. 

Find it: iOS, sign up for the forthcoming Android app at itskoko.com

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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