CLOSE

You Can Win Two Free Nights in Austin’s Human-Sized Birdhouse

Finding a place to stay in Austin during the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is easier said than done. Nightly rental rates spike by hundreds of dollars, and empty rooms get booked fast. HomeAway is looking to make planning a little easier for two groups of SXSW visitors this year. As inhabitat reports, the vacation rental site is offering four free nights in their giant birdhouse to a handful of contest winners.

The so-called "World’s Largest Human Birdhouse" is located at the company’s headquarters in downtown Austin, Texas. On the outside, guests will find a round window and a massive blue perch extending over the back patio. With help from West Elm, the interior has been renovated into a cozy, two-bedroom space. Two groups of up to six guests are eligible for the chance to stay. To be considered for the prize, contestants need to answer the question "Why do you want to stay in the Birdhouse during SXSW?" and specify whether they wish to stay from March 10 to March 12, or March 17 to March 19. HomeAway will also provide an additional two nights stay elsewhere in Austin to each of the winning groups.

Every March, tens of thousands of people flock to Texas’s capital for the film, music, and interactive media events of SXSW. Visitors looking to honor the city’s “Keep Austin Weird” philosophy can enter to win the birdhouse vacation at HomeAway.com.

[h/t inhabitat]

All images courtesy of HomeAway.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
iStock
iStock

You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
fun
How Common Is Your Birthday? An Interactive Map Can Tell You
iStock
iStock

by James Hunt

At some point in their life, everyone counts back from their birthday and tries to figure out what anniversary, special occasion, or other excuse might have happened to their parents nine months before they were born. To make this backtracking exercise easier—and give us the chance to do it for a much larger population—data journalist Matt Stiles created an interactive "heat map" showing the most common birthdays in the United States for individuals born between 1994 and 2014.

Click on the map and you'll quickly notice that July, August, and September are by far the most common birth months. It's no surprise that nine months prior you'll find the dark and rainy period of October, November, and December when—to put it delicately—people have to make their own entertainment.

According to Stiles, "People generally seem to have time for baby-making during their time off. Several of the most common birth dates, in September, correspond with average conception periods around Christmas. September 9 is most common in this dataset, though other days in that month are close. September 19 is second. Following a customary gestation period, many of these babies would, in theory, have been conceived on December 17 and December 27, respectively."

But that's not all we can tell from the chart. When you take into account the fact that some people get to choose their child's birthday because of induced and elective births, they tend to want to stay away from the hospital during understaffed holiday periods.

"The least common birthdays in this dataset were Christmas Eve, Christmas [Day], and New Year’s Day," Stiles concluded. "Dates around Thanksgiving aren’t as common. July 4 is also at the bottom of the list. Conversely, Valentine’s Day ranks relatively high, as you can see in the graphic, as are the days just before a new tax year begins."

Amazingly, though it only comes around every four years, Leap Year babies aren't as uncommon as you might think: February 29 ranked 347th out of 366 on the list.

You can play around with the interactive graphic, and see the full ranking of birthdays, here.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios