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You Can Use Facebook to Find—and Apply for—Your Next Job

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Facebook wants to help you find your next job. The company just launched a jobs page within the site to allow companies to advertise their career openings, as Fast Company reports. If you see a job you want to apply for, you don’t even have to leave the site to throw your hat into the ring.

The Facebook jobs page allows you to filter opportunities by location, industry, and time commitment (full-time, part-time, internship, etc.). The jobs bookmark gathers all listings in the same place, but if you’re looking for work with a specific company, corporate Facebook pages now have a jobs tab in the same toolbar where you’d look for their photos or their “about” section.

If you see a posting you like, you can apply within the site. Facebook will pre-populate the application with basic info from your profile, and then you can insert your cover letter and add relevant experience or education that isn’t on your Facebook profile as needed. You can also delete or edit information that Facebook auto-filled from your profile if necessary.

Screenshot via Facebook

Screenshot via Facebook

It’s a great deal for Facebook, since the social media network can now become even more intertwined with the rest of your life. Even if you tire of the social aspects of the site, you'll need to maintain a profile in order to use its job-searching capabilities. And making it easier to apply for jobs is a good incentive to get people to share information about their education and past job experience on their profile, even if they previously didn’t think Facebook needed to know what high school they went to.

For users, the amazing convenience might be colored a bit by privacy implications. For one thing, you're adding to the treasure trove of (sometimes creepy) personal information Facebook already has about you. And then there's the fact that you’re throwing the doors to your social-media presence wide open for potential employers. Employers may have already looked up potential hires on Facebook to suss out any red flags that might make them think twice about a candidate, but when the job application itself is on Facebook, the process is that much easier. The jobs function lets applicants choose what information on their profile to share with the potential employers, but if you do forget to hide something damning, it won’t take any real effort on the part of your would-be boss to find it.

[h/t Fast Company]

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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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Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
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