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9 Signs You've Been in Your Job for Too Long

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It may come after six months or six years, but there’s a moment in every job when you realize you’ve reached your limit. Whether it’s due to burnout, boredom, or a generally bad fit, you'll eventually get to a point where you've simply been doing the same thing for too long and find yourself unhappy and unfulfilled. It’s not always easy to recognize, but it’s important to act on that "Aha!" moment when it hits so that you don't waste any more time in a stagnating career. So how do you know you’ve been in a job too long?

We spoke to career coaches Kate Bagoy and Rebecca Thompson, both of whom burnt out in their previous roles—Kate in consulting and Thompson in politics—and now use their experiences to advise others who find themselves in the same boat. “People stay in things way too long,” says Thompson, who stuck with a job for five years even though she knew it wasn’t the right fit after six months. “Know when it’s time to get out, and get out.”

According to Bagoy and Thompson, here are the key signs you’ve been in a job too long:

1. YOU'RE COUNTING YOUR SICK DAYS.

Playing hooky is fun to think about, but if you’re regularly considering pulling a Ferris Bueller, it’s a pretty clear indication that you’re unhappy. “If you get up too many days in a row and think, ‘I don’t want to go to work,’ ‘How many sick days do I have left?’ ‘Would anybody even notice if I show up today?’” says Bagoy, “for me, that’s the first sign that’s something is wrong."

2. YOU FEEL LIKE ALL OF YOUR CREATIVITY HAS BEEN DRAINED.

No matter your industry, you should spend most of your time feeling inspired by your job, not beaten down by it. “That burnout from my job was seeping over into the rest of my life,” says Bagoy. “It had eaten up all of my creative energy and my joy.” If you feel like your role is taking too much brain-power and not allowing you to keep those creative juices flowing, it may be time to make a change.

3. YOU'VE STOPPED PARTICIPATING IN OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE.

Being tired after a long day at the office is one thing, but being burnt out is another, and it’s important to know the difference. “I was so miserable in the eight hours a day I was in my job that I had nothing left,” says Bagoy. "I would come home, microwave a plate, binge-watch Netflix, and go to bed.”

When you’re burnt out, the rest of your life suffers, and you can use that as an indicator that things aren’t working. And, Bagoy says, if you find yourself using addictive behaviors like drinking, binge-eating, or online shopping to numb yourself to the burnout, get out of there fast.

4. YOU'RE DREAMING OF LEAVING A HIGH-PAYING JOB FOR MINIMUM WAGE.

“I used to fantasize about leaving my six figure role to go flip burgers,” says Thompson, while Bagoy used to “dream about going to work at Starbucks, even if it meant going to work 80 hours a week to make up the salary." If the tax on your mental energy is so high that you’re dreaming of doing anything else, just to give your brain a break, get out.

5. YOU'VE EXHAUSTED YOUR OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH.

Not every job is meant to launch an entire career (otherwise turnover rates would be non-existent) and that’s totally OK. Think about each role as a steppingstone, and know what you want out of the position when you start. When you feel like you’ve learned and grown in every way that you can, move on. “Get what you came to get, then get out,” says Thompson.

6. YOU AREN'T GETTING PROMOTED.

While you shouldn't necessarily expect a promotion every year, if there is no room for any upward movement—or if your peers are consistently beating you out for more senior positions—there’s no point in staying in a role any longer than you have to. Have an honest conversation with your boss about whether or not there are any options for you within the company, and if there’s no possibility that you’ll get promoted or your role will change, take your services elsewhere.

7. YOU CAN TELL YOUR PERFORMANCE IS SLIPPING.

For a while, you may be able to get away with it, but eventually people will notice. Don’t allow yourself to settle for doing a mediocre job, and don't wait for your supervisor to talk to you about it; use your drop-off in performance as a sign that your mental capacity can be better used somewhere else.

8. YOU'RE ON AUTOPILOT.

No matter how much you love your job, some days are going to be more productive than others. But if you’re spending the majority of your time scrolling through E! News or hammering away like a mindless monkey at a keyboard, make the conscious decision to put your brain to better use elsewhere.

9. YOU WANT TO GET FIRED.

When you’re fantasizing about getting fired so that you don’t have to go to work another day, it’s time to quit. “I knew [my company] wanted me to quit, instead of firing me,” says Thompson. Of course, getting laid off may have certain financial benefits, but waiting it out and letting your performance slip in the hopes that you’ll be let go isn’t doing anyone, most of all you, any favors.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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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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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]

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