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11 More Pop Culture Coloring Books

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amazon / istock

As you well know by now, coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore. These days, you can find coloring books about almost anything you can imagine. We’ve already compiled one list of spectacular pop culture coloring books, but there are so many available now that we had to make another. These books are the perfect way to de-stress while waiting for that much-delayed movie sequel or the next season of your favorite TV show.

1. HARRY POTTER; $18

Thanks to the generous people at Scholastic, there are a whole slew of Harry Potter coloring books to choose from. This poster book contains 20 designs printed on high-quality card stock, so when you’re done with your creations, you can tear them out and hang them (they're one-sided, making them perfect for decorating your home). The designs come from two of the regular coloring books in the series, Harry Potter Coloring Book and Harry Potter Magical Creatures Coloring Book.

Find it: Amazon

2. ALICE IN WONDERLAND; $10

Anything goes in Lewis Carroll’s magic world of Wonderland, so the coloring possibilities are likewise endless. In this book, illustrator Amily Shen created 80 pages of beautiful and intricate designs—everything from the Cheshire Cat's smile to the teacups at the Mad Hatter's tea party—for fans of the classic tale to color.

Find it: Amazon

3. OUTLANDER; $12

Lovers of the novels and Starz television series Outlander will enjoy reliving it all with this official coloring book. You’ll need to grab a lot of green pencils to fill in the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands.

Find it: Amazon

4. SUPERNATURAL; $12

Color in your favorite fraternal paranormal hunting duo as they drive across the country in their black 1967 Chevy Impala (or any color car you want, really). This 96-page coloring book features a whole host of characters, angels, and monsters from the CW show Supernatural that could all use a bit of color. Each page is intricately detailed, so colorers will need plenty of time on their hands to get through it all.

Find it: Amazon

5. DOCTOR WHO; $11

If you already worked your way through the last Doctor Who coloring book, consider pre-ordering the next installment, which features a number of the doctor’s friends as well as notable people from history like Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, and Vincent van Gogh. The book comes out this July, so you either need the TARDIS or a little patience to get your hands on a copy.

Find it: Amazon

6. DISNEY VILLAINS; $10

 

Break out your red and purple crayons, because you’re going to need them if you want to do Disney’s best villains justice. Color in the extravagant outfits of villains like Cruella De Vil and Ursula (preferably while cackling maniacally). The fancy cover, a thick board with double metallic foil stamping, is fitting for any villain.

Find it: Amazon

7. THE WALKING DEAD; $9

The Walking Dead comics have traditionally always been in black and white, but now is your chance to inject a little color (mostly brown and red). There are 96 pages of gunslinging survivors and shambling zombies to color your way through.

Find it: Amazon

8. MARVEL CIVIL WAR; $8

 

Just in time for the movie, Marvel fans can give their comic book heroes a makeover. There are 120 single-sided pages to color, all featuring the heroes we all know and love. Whether you’re a Captain America fan or an Iron Man fan, there’s plenty of content for both sides.

9. WONDER WOMAN; $13

Celebrate Wonder Woman throughout the years with this new coloring book that comes out in October. Color in the star-spangled hero as she explores her homeland, Themyscira and fights crime in the United States. The 80-page coloring book offers hours of entertainment.

Find it: Amazon

10. TAYLOR SWIFT; $11

The “Colour Me Good” series has a ton of different celebrities to choose from, including Ryan Gosling and Harry Styles. Another option is pop star Taylor Swift. Illustrator Mel Elliott has created 16 line drawings of the singer for you to color in.

Find it: Amazon

11. NICHOLAS CAGE; £8.00 ($11.50)

Actor and meme-favorite Nicholas Cage is the perfect face to color in with this entertaining activity book. You can dress him up, help him out of a maze, or draw him a new face.

Find it: Belly Kids

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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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