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Guernsey's

10 Legendary Rock and Jazz Guitars You Can Own

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Guernsey's

On February 27, New York City-based Guernsey’s auction house will conduct an auction of some of the rarest guitars in history, including instruments played by and signed by some of the biggest names in rock and jazz. Presented from several private collections, the Guitar Auction includes 20 pieces from jazz guitarist George Benson and rare guitars and mandolins from the Henry Lowenstein Collection.

The live auction will take place in New York City and online at liveauctioneers.com and invaluable.com. Here is a preview of some of the cool instruments up for grabs.

1. EDDIE VAN HALEN’S CUSTOM 1982 CHARVEL GUITAR

Charvel electric guitars were popular among 1980s rock gods, and Van Halen's Eddie Van Halen became known for playing ones that were made specifically for him by the company. The striped design of this piece has become iconic and has since been replicated, but this specific guitar, which Van Halen gave to Entertainment Tonight, has the original bill of sale to prove its provenance.
 

2. MARTIN BELLEZZA BIANCA PROTOTYPE FOR ERIC CLAPTON

The third of four prototypes built for Eric Clapton in 2004, this piece has a maker’s label inside signed by the musician, C.F. Martin IV (CEO of the company), Dick Boak, and designer Hiroshi Fujiwara.
 

3. TONY MOTTOLA’S GIBSON CUSTOM SUPER 400 CES 7-STRING

This is one of only two seven-string Super 400s ever made, according to Guernsey's, and the only one that has 24 frets. Built in 1952, it is a rare piece in its own right, but the fact that it was made by Gibson for Mottola definitely adds to the coolness of this guitar.
 

4. GUITAR PLAYED BY RINGO STARR


From the hands of one of The Beatles, straight to your collection ... if you want it badly enough.
 

5. D’ANGELICO NEW YORKER


Named after the famed New Yorker Hotel, this D’Angelico (and every D’Angelico) was made by hand with quality woods and in limited quantities.
 

6. GUITAR PLAYED BY STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN

 

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, the late—and legendary—guitarist is often cited as one of the greatest of all time. Fans of his music, or of rock music in general, will jump at the chance to own an instrument that his hands worked their magic on.
 

7. 1910-1920 ENRIQUE GARCIA GUITAR


One of the older items in the auction, this guitar is believed to be the handiwork of Spanish luthier Enrique Garcia who, in 1893, won first prize for one of his instruments at the Chicago World’s Fair and later set up shop in Barcelona.
 

8. 1970 RICKENBACKER MODEL 331LS “LIGHTSHOW” GUITAR
 

As the name suggests, this guitar is definitely a spectacle piece. It features colored lamps beneath a translucent top, which has wavy psychedelic patterns that would have fit in nicely on stage in the 1970s, or even today in the right hands.
 

9. IN COLD BLOOD GUITARS


This lot features two guitars: one was played by Robert Blake in the Oscar-nominated 1967 film based on Truman Capote's novel, In Cold Blood, and the other is the actual instrument that was owned by Perry Smith, the real-life murderer that Blake portrayed in the film.


10. IBANEZ GEORGE BENSON GB15 TEAM J CRAFT GUITAR


From George Benson’s personal collection, Guernsey’s says that this particular guitar is a “very high-end” version of the GB15 guitar that was made in Japan only in 2006. They believe that it was sponge-painted in gold so that it could “stand out on stage.” Mission accomplished.

All images via Guernsey's

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
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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technology
Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]

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