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13 Products That Taste and Smell Like Pickles

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amazon / istock

Pickles can be a divisive topic: You either love them or you hate them. But the people who love pickles really love pickles. Thankfully, devout fans of the brined cucumbers can celebrate their love with a whole slew of items that smell or taste like pickles.

1. LIP BALM; $6

Unfortunately, you can't eat pickles all day long, but you can at least have the smell lingering on your lips with this novelty lip balm. The 2.5-inch tube boasts a strong dill flavor that may lead to some vinegary (but soft!) lips.

Find it: Amazon

2. MINTS; $6

Usually people eat mints to get rid of pickle breath, but who's to say that you'd ever want to? Each green tin comes with 100 dill-flavored mints that will give your mouth a fresh-from-the-jar smell.

Find it: Amazon

3. POP ROCKS; $6

People who love both candy and pickles will want to pick up these off-brand Pop Rocks, which promise to be "not only a barrel of fun, but also dill-icious."

Find it: Amazon

4. DORITOS; $9

Doritos may not have the flavor breadth of other brands—Lay's, for example, continues to astound and alarm their fan base with flavors like wasabi and mango salsa—but they do have some quirks. This Intense Pickle flavor claims to "add some zing to your meal."

Find it: Amazon

5. VODKA

Any fan of the pickleback knows that alcohol and pickles are a match made in heaven. Now you can get your booze and your pickle juice in the same shot glass thanks to Chilled Dills. The dill-infused vodka is meant to be enjoyed in Bloody Marys, mojitos, or just on the rocks.

Find it: Chilled Dills

6. A GUMMY; $11

Why settle for a boring bag of gummy bears when you can enjoy a 4.5 ounce gummy that looks and tastes just like a real dill pickle?

Find it: Amazon

7. SOAP; $7

Now shower time can smell like a New York deli with these realistic gherkin pickle soaps. They come in packs of 12, so every bathroom in your house can have one. (These soaps also come in a margarita scent.)

Find it: Etsy

8. CANDLE; $25

If you're trying to set the right ambience for a date, might we recommend this pickle-scented candle? This green, 8-ounce candle come in a metal tin for easy storage.

Find it: Amazon

9. TOOTHPASTE; $10

This dill-flavored toothpaste is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Likely not a practical option for oral hygiene, the 2.5-ounce tube does make for a good gag gift.

Find it: Pickle Addicts

10. GUMBALLS; $4

Blow some green, salty bubbles with this novelty bubble gum. Each tin contains roughly 22 brined gumballs.

Find it: eBay

11. ICE POPS; $9

Cool down on a hot day with a pickle-flavored ice pop. Each bag comes with six pops that can be eaten frozen or unfrozen, and the snack is guilt-free: it has less than five calories and no sugar added.

Find it: Amazon

12. SPORTS DRINK; $13

Believe it or not, drinking pickle juice is an old-fashioned trick runners use to prevent muscle cramping. While it might seem counterintuitive to gulp down something so salty when you need to stay hydrated, there is some evidence that pickle juice really does help. These 8-ounce bottles come in groups of six and pack a salty punch.

Find it: Amazon

13. POPCORN; $45

OK, hear us out: Pickle popcorn is surprisingly good. The zippy dill taste works just as well as salt and vinegar works on chips. You can get a huge case of 12 bags of organic pickle popcorn online, because you're definitely going to have to share.

Find it: Walmart

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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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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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iStock

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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