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Amazon

Check Out Friday's Awesome Amazon Deals

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Amazon

As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, April 28.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

GADGETS, TOYS, MEDIA, AND ELECTRONICS

SleepCompanion, the #1 sleep enhancing and monitoring light for $94.64 (list price $99.99)

SkylinkHome TD-318 Home Control Wireless LCD Deluxe Remote Transmitter with Scene & Timer setting feature for $19.65 (list price $24.99)

Wemo Mini Smart Plug, Wi-Fi Enabled, Works with Amazon Alexa for $29.99 (list price $34.99)

Wink Hub 2 for $90.00 (list price $99.00)

Smart Color Light Strip USB LED LTB010 with Bluetooth, 2 meters (6.5ft) LED Strip, Water Resistant, 16 Million Colors, Proximity Control, Schedule On/Off, Dimmable, Apple Watch Compatable for $34.99 (list price $49.99)

JAM Plus Portable Speaker (Grey) HX-P240GY for $19.99 (list price $28.11)

Tacklife SLM01 Classic Decibel Meter Portable Sound Level Meter Tester Measuring 30dBA~130dBA Accuracy within +/-1.5dBA Max/Min & Hold Function with Large LCD Screen Display 9V Battery Included for $16.97 (list price $79.99)

Kootek Portable Clip On Music Light Stand 9 LED Orchestra Lamp Adjustable Neck Reading Light Rechargeable USB Book Lights for $19.99 (list price $25.99)

Panasonic BK-3HCCA4BA Eneloop Pro AA High Capacity Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries (Pack of 4) for $16.99 (list price $24.99)

Doberman Security Ultra-Slim Design Security Alarm, White (SE-0106W-2PK) for $23.00 (list price $27.10)

Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II (Carbon) for $179.00 (list price $199.00)

Masterbuilt 20072115 Bluetooth Smart Digital Electric Smoker, 30-Inch for $276.00 (list price $326.81)

Ecobee3 Thermostat with Sensor, Wi-Fi, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa for $198.25 (list price $249.00)

Hunter Fan Company 99107 SimpleConnect Programmable Control, Small, White for $40.00 (list price $99.00)

Scientific Explorer Magic Science Kit for Wizards Only for $10.84 (list price $23.99)

Backyard Safari Lazer Light Bug Vac for $11.02 (list price $17.00)

WakaWaka Power+ Solar-Powered Flashlight + Charger, Black for $59.99 (list price $79.00)

Energizer Max AA Premium Alkaline Batteries (24-Pack), No Leaks - Guaranteed or we will replace your device for $13.89 (list price $28.61)

Bluetooth Headphones, Hussar Magicbuds Best Wireless Sports Earphones with Mic, IPX7 Waterproof, HD Sound with Bass, Noise Cancelling, Secure Fit, Up to 9 Hours of Play for iPhone Android (Upgraded) for $28.99 (list price $169.99)

SoundFit Plus Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker - Durable Portable Outdoor Wireless Sound System - Features Powerful Bass and Clear Treble - Hands-Free with Built-In Microphone - Dust and Shock Resistant for $32.95 (list price $79.95)

Anker Quick Charge 3.0 39W Dual USB Car Charger, PowerDrive Speed 2 for Galaxy S7 / S6 / Edge / Plus, Note 5 / 4 and PowerIQ for iPhone 7 / 6s / Plus, iPad Pro / Air 2 / mini, LG, Nexus, HTC and More for $21.99 (list price $59.99)

AmazonBasics Mini DisplayPort (Thunderbolt) to HDMI Adapter for $8.99 (list price $9.99)

Wireless Presenter, Doosl Wireless Presenter, RF 2.4GHz Powerpoint Clicker Presentation Remote Control Pen. for $14.99 (list price $27.90)

Bamboo Solar Calculator, Natural Handmade Crafted Environmentally Friendly Calculator 12 digits dual power Bamboo Wooden mini Calculator for $19.99 (list price $26.99)

FosPower All-In-One International Power Adapter, High Speed [3.1A] Dual USB Ports Travel Plug Charger (US UK EU AU) for iPhone, iPad, Smartphones, Tablets, Laptop - Black for $9.99 (list price $12.97)

Amprobe BAT-200 Battery Tester for $6.26 (list price $7.95)

Bose SoundTrue around-ear headphones II - Apple devices, Charcoal for $99.95 (list price $179.95)

Anker PowerCore+ mini, 3350mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger (3rd Generation, Premium Aluminum Power Bank), One of the Most Compact External Batteries for $12.99 (list price $39.99)

Bloodborne: The Card Game for $19.99 (list price $34.99)

Blood Rage for $46.69 (list price $79.99)

The Grizzled Cooperative Card Game for $22.61 (list price $24.99)

100 Assorted Pokemon Trading Cards with Bonus 6 Free Holo Foils for $13.94

Pandemic Board Game for $26.89 (list price $39.99)

Zombicide Black Plague Board Game for $69.75 (list price $99.99)

Play Doh Fun Factory Set for $7.85 (list price $9.99)

Play-Doh Plus Color Set, NET WT 8OZ, 8-Pack for $5.99 (list price $8.99)

Play-Doh Max The Cement Mixer for $15.59 (list price $51.99)

KITCHEN

Denby Azure Cascade Mug, Aqua for $21.88 (list price $34.00)

JoyJolt Savor Double Wall Insulated glasses Espresso Mugs Set of 2, 5.4-Ounces for $14.99 (list price $29.95)

Old & Urban Moscow Mule Mug - 100% Pure Solid Copper Mugs, 16 oz Unlined, No Nickel Interior, Handcrafted Hammered Copper Cups for $15.95 (list price $49.95)

Disney Mickey Mouse Mug Warmer, Black/Red for $9.19 (list price $11.98)

Greens Steel 10oz Stainless Steel Cups (4 Pack) Great for Kids - 10 oz/ 300ml for $24.95 (list price $49.99)

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder | Conical Burr Mill for Precision Brewing | Brushed Stainless Steel for $23.99 (list price $59.99)

Monster Brew Home Brewing Supp Amber Beer Bottles (24 Pack), 12 oz for $21.86 (list price $23.37)

Chef's Star CASE OF 6 - 16 oz. EASY CAP Beer Bottles - CLEAR for $16.79 (list price $29.99)

"Magic" Reusable Labels - 12 Vinyl Static Cling Stickers for Glass, Ceramic, Metal, Plastic - Re-Write with Wet Erase Markers - Tag Spices, Preserves, Bottles, Pitchers, Canisters and Mason Jars for $11.85 (list price $27.99)

Native Spring Chalkboard Labels, Premium Waterproof Peel and Stick for Jars, Pantries, Craft Rooms Black for $10.97 (list price $19.97)

Rachael Ray 10-Piece Cucina Nonstick Bakeware Set, Latte Brown with Cranberry Red Handle for $49.14 (list price $52.05)

Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 4-Piece Toaster Oven Set, Gray for $18.91 (list price $40.00)

Ozera 2 Pack Silicone Ice Cube Tray Molds Candy Mold Cake Mold Chocolate Mold, 15 Cavity, Blue for $10.99 (list price $19.99)

Mirenlife 8-Cavity Egg Shape Non Stick Silicone Mold for Chocolate, Pastry, Cake, Muffin, Bread, Big Ice Cube, Soap, and More for $8.98 (list price $19.99)

Contigo SnapSeal Byron Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug, 24oz, Matte Black for $12.51 (list price $14.99)

Contigo Snapseal(TM) Byron Stainless Steel Travel Mug, 24 oz., Stormy Weather for $11.12 (list price $14.72)

Blendtec TB-621-25 Total Blender Classic with WildSide+ Jar, Black (Certified Refurbished) for $199.99 (list price $279.95)

Oster CKSTWFBF10MR-ECO DuraCeramic Flip Waffle Maker, Candy Apple Red for $28.79 (list price $39.99)

Proctor-Silex 59738A Hand Blender for $14.44 (list price $19.01)

BLACK+DECKER GD2011B Family Sized Electric Griddle, 20 x 11-Inch, Black for $26.99 (list price $39.99)

HOME

Swiffer WetJet Hardwood and Floor Spray Mop Cleaner Starter Kit, Includes: 1 Power Mop, 5 Pads, Cleaner Solution, Batteries for $22.97 (list price $51.98)

Zober Flexible Zippered Underbed Storage Bag (Pack of 2) Breathable Polypropylene Storage Bags for Blankets Clothes, Shoes, and Linens 18 x 42 x 6 inches - Java for $14.95 (list price $24.99)

AmazonBasics Microfiber Sheet Set, Cal King, Navy Blue for $21.24 (list price $24.99)

Holmes Portable Desktop Heater with Comfort Control Thermostat and Cool-Touch Housing, HFH111T-NU for $26.99 (list price $31.85)

Kiera Grace Cubbi Contemporary Floating Wall Shelves, 5 by 5-Inch, 7 by 7-Inch, 9 by 9-Inch, White, Set of 3 for $17.00 (list price $24.99)

CYLEN HOME - Memory Foam Bamboo Charcoal Infused Ventilated Orthopedic Seat Cushion for Coccyx Back Support - Blue Washable & Breathable Cover for $22.89 (list price $69.99)

GORILLA GRIP Rectangle (35-Inch-by-16-Inch) Non-Slip Machine Washable Bath Mat, Clear for $10.99 (list price $29.99)

Natures Miracle Laundry Boost Stain and Odor Additive - 32 FL Oz for $5.59 (list price $6.99)

Essence of Bamboo Pillows - The Original Premium Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Fiber Pillow with Bamboo Derived Rayon / Poly Cover- Designed and Filled in USA (Queen 2-Pack) Best Sleep Ever for $39.99 (list price $149.99)

Mellanni Bed Sheet Set - Brushed Microfiber 1800 Bedding - Wrinkle, Fade, Stain Resistant - Hypoallergenic - 4 Piece (Queen, White) for $19.70 (list price $59.99)

Lysol No Mess Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Citrus, 2 Count for $2.97 (list price $6.33)

Lysol Disinfecting Wipes Value Pack, Lemon & Lime Blossom, 240 Wipes (3 Packs of 80 Wipes) for $8.99 (list price $13.99)

Black Sonoma 6 Drawer Dresser for $196.69 (list price $278.90)

Furinno 11159EX/BR Multipurpose Storage Cabinet w/4 Bin Drawers, Espresso/Brown for $34.45 (list price $40.66)

URPOWER 500ml Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Humidifier with 4 Timer Settings, 7 LED Color Changing Lamps and Waterless Auto Shut-off for $21.99 (list price $59.99)

Powilling 300ml Essential Oil Diffuser, Wood Grain Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser with 4 Timer Settings, 7 LED Color Changing Lamps and Waterless Auto Switch-off for $21.99 (list price $57.99)

InterDesign Raphael Bathroom Shower Caddy, Regular - Satin for $14.06 (list price $19.99)

AmazonBasics Fade-Resistant Cotton 6-Piece Towel Set, Acorn for $14.69 (list price $17.99)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Vitafusion Vitamin D3 Gummy Vitamins, Assorted Flavors, 150 Count for $8.49 (list price $10.49)

Vitamin K2 (MK7) with D3 Supplement - Vitamin D & K Complex for Strong Bones and a Healthy Heart - 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 & 90 mcg of Vitamin K2 MK-7 - 60 Small & Easy to Swallow Vegetable Capsules for $19.99 (list price $24.99)

NOW Vitamin D-3 & K-2,120 Veg Capsules for $4.99 (list price $7.31)

BIOTIN PRO WITH CALCIUM. Potent Formula, 10,000 mcg. Best Product for Hair, Skin and Nails. Non GMO, Made in USA. Metabolic support supplement, Vitamin H for hair growth, healthy skin and strong nails for $16.70 (list price $19.70)

John Allan's Pomade Blu, 2.4 oz. for $18.00 (list price $24.00)

ZENSATION Collagen Rose Facial Toner Colourless, 4.2 Oz for $22.75 (list price $35.00)

ZENSATION Forever Young Advanced Micro Vibration Spa Treatment for $42.25 (list price $65.00)

Germ-X 1000042964 Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer Lotion 12 oz. (Pack of 6) for $27.32 (list price $50.87)

Deva Curl Ultra Creamy Daily Conditioner, One Condition, 32-Ounces for $31.81 (list price $39.96)

OGX Nourishing Conditioner, Coconut Milk, Salon Size, 25.4 Ounce for $11.31 (list price $12.99)

Organic Argan Oil Conditioner - 11oz - Get Shiny, Silky Hair, Moisturizes Damaged Hair, Dry Scalp, Hypoallergenic, Sulfate Free - Lavender - Tree to Tub for $17.99 (list price $28.00)

Nexxus Humectress Moisture Conditioner, for Dry Hair 33.8 oz for $24.49 (list price $28.59)

Organic Castor Oil - 100% USDA Certified Pure Cold Pressed Hexane free - Boost Growth For Eyelashes, Hair, Eyebrows, Face and Skin - with Treatment Applicator Kit - Satisfaction Guarantee, 1oz (30ml) for $15.77 (list price $29.95)

Argan Oil Shampoo, Sulfate Free, 8 oz. - With Argan, Jojoba, Avocado, Almond, Peach Kernel, Camellia Seed, and Keratin - 100% Safe for Color Treated Hair - For Men, Women, and Teens - All Hair Types - Most Beneficial Haircare Product Available for $10.95 (list price $25.00)

Anjou Ionic Hair Straightener Brush Electric Ceramic Heating Straightening Brush Anti-Burn & Anti-Static for Frizzy Hair (Max 450℉, Adjustable Temperature, Auto Lock, 120-min Timer) for $24.99 (list price $89.99)

ElleSye 8-Piece Soft Synthetic Makeup Brush Set with Sponge and Braided Bag, Silver for $8.99 (list price $25.99)

Dove Men+Care Body Wash, Extra Fresh 23.5 oz for $6.97 (list price $9.19)

Q-tips Cotton Swabs, 2000 count for $8.88 (list price $14.89)

Gillette Fusion Manual Men's Razor Blade Refills, 12 Count for $33.97 (list price $47.99)

Oral-B Sensitive Gum Care Electric Toothbrush Replacement Brush Heads Refill, 3 Count for $14.49 (list price $19.99)

Nicorette Nicotine Gum, Stop Smoking Aid, 4mg, White Ice Mint Flavor, 160 count for $58.04 (list price $79.99)

Dove Men+Care Body and Face Bar, Extra Fresh 4 oz, 10 Bar for $11.47 (list price $14.99)

Eye Gel for Wrinkles, Fine Lines, Dark Circles, Puffiness & Bags - 100% Natural, 75% ORGANIC, With Hyaluronic Acid, Jojoba Oil, MSM, Peptides & More for $15.48 (list price $29.99)

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo Original Formula, 4.4 Fl. Oz for $3.37 (list price $7.59)

Anti-Aging Daily Facial Moisturizer for Men 4oz - All natural & organic anti-wrinkle face lotion - For all skin types for $23.96 (list price $45.00)

Daily Power Scrub Facial Cleanser For Men - 8 OZ - Face Wash + Energizing Toner + Exfoliating Scrub All-In-One - Natural & Certified Organic Ingredients for $24.95 (list price $39.00)

OFFICE, ART, AND SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Post-it Notes, 1 3/8 in x 1 7/8 in, Cape Town Collection, 18 Pads/Pack, 100 Sheets/Pad (653-18AU) for $7.98 (list price $15.88)

Post-it Notes, Recycled Pop-Up Refill, 3 x 3 Inches, Canary Yellow, 12 Pads per Pack (R330RP-12YW) for $9.37 (list price $24.25)

Aimeio Creative Self-Stick Notes Post it Notes Sticky Note Memo Notes (20 Sheets/Pad,8 Pad/Pack) for $19.99 (list price $19.99)

Post-it Super Sticky Notes, 2 in x 2 in, Marrakesh Collection, 8 Pads/Pack (622-8SSAN) for $6.08 (list price $10.45)

Post-it Pop-Up Notes, 18-Pads Cabinet Pack, 100 Sheets-Pad (R330-18CTCP) for $28.36 (list price $42.08)

Tombow Mono Hybrid Correction Tape, 10-Pack for $10.84 (list price $14.69)

Pentel EnerGel RTX Retractable Liquid Gel Pen, Medium Line, Metal Tip, Assorted Ink, 8-Pack (BL77BP8M) for $15.54 (list price $24.00)

Pentel Color Shades Writing Pack - Black (BLBKALZBPA) for $4.48 (list price $6.44)

Courise - 108 Unique Colors Gel Pen Set for $16.99 (list price $79.99)

Leather Writing Journal Notebook, MALEDEN Classic Spiral Bound Notebook Refillable Diary Sketchbook Gifts with Unlined Travel Journals to Write in for Girls and Boys (Sky Blue) for $8.99 (list price $16.99)

Custom Self Inking Rubber Stamp - 3 Lines (42A1539) for $8.70 (list price $19.99)

BIC Pencil Xtra Sparkle (colorful barrels), Medium Point (0.7 mm), 24-Count for $4.08 (list price $5.19)

Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens, Medium Point, Limited Edition Tropical & Assorted Colors, 24 Pack for $17.01 (list price $20.02)

Epson XP-640 Expression Premium Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner & Copier for $69.99 (list price $149.99)

Paper Mate InkJoy 300RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Medium Point, Black, 24 Count for $8.92 (list price $14.31)

EXPO Low-Odor Dry Erase Set, Ultra Fine Tip, Assorted Colors, 7-Piece for $11.99 (list price $14.11)

Avery Index Maker Clear Pocket Clear Label Dividers, 8-Tab Set (75501) for $5.28 (list price $9.29)

Post-it Super Sticky Notes, 6 in x 4 in, Rio de Janeiro Collection, 8 Pads/Pack (6445-SSP) for $11.21 (list price $13.78)

Duck Brand Bubble Wrap Original Cushioning, 12-Inches x 150-Feet, Single Roll (284054) for $18.35 (list price $20.99)

Epson WorkForce ES-500W Wireless Color Duplex Document Scanner for PC and Mac, Auto Document Feeder (ADF) for $319.99 (list price $399.99)

Tombow Blending Kit, Palette, Mister, & Colorless Blender, 1-Pack for $5.47 (list price $7.99)

Sakura 30067 8-Piece Pigma Micron, Graphic & Brush Pen Set, Black for $10.81 (list price $23.19)

Scratch Map  USA Edition Personalised Map by Luckies for $17.85 (list price $27.57)

Columbian CO171 (#10) 4-1/8x9-1/2-Inch Poly-Klear Left Window Security Tinted White Envelopes, 500 Count for $18.49 (list price $24.04)

Adams 3303-50-0569 People Shaped Magnet Clip, Assorted Colors for $9.17 (list price $11.31)

Highland Pop-up Notes, 3 x 3 Inches, Assorted Pastel Colors, 12 Pack for $9.00 (list price $11.17)

BIC Xtra Fun Stripes #2 HB Black Lead Pencil with Latex Free Eraser, 18-Count for $5.36 (list price $7.36)

Epson FastFoto FF-640 High-Speed Photo Scanning System with Auto Photo Feeder for $549.99 (list price $649.99)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Quik Shade Expedition EX100 10'x10' Instant Canopy for $70.67 (list price $149.99)

Coleman 48 Quart Performance Cooler Holds 63 Cans, Red for $19.99 (list price $30.23)

Camelbak Products Chute Water Bottle, Charcoal, 1-Liter for $12.99 (list price $14.00)

Coghlan's Kids Magnifier for $6.17 (list price $7.95)

CamelBak Forge Travel Mug, Blaze, 16-Ounce for $25.27 (list price $30.00)

Coleman 10-In. Steel Tent Stakes for $5.00 (list price $9.28)

True Temper Forged Round Point Digging Shovel - 2585600 for $14.98 (list price $19.99)

SKLZ Pro Mini Basketball Hoop W/ Ball. 18"x12" Shatterproof Backboard. for $19.99 (list price $29.99)

INTEY Multitool Knife pocket, Portable Stainless Steel 14 in 1 Folding Blade Mi Pliers (Black) for $11.99 (list price $38.99)

Pictek Electric Bug Zapper, Handheld Mosquito Swatter Racket Bug Zapper Racket for Both Indoor and Outdoor Use, Powered by 2 AA batteries included for $12.99 (list price $24.99)

ThermoPro Electric Wireless Digital Food Cooking Meat BBQ Grill Oven Smoker Thermometer with Timer, Black for $15.99 (list price $39.99)

Culinary Herb Seed Collection - 100% NON-GMO, Easy-to Grow Heirloom Seeds - from a REAL Seed Company! for $12.99 (list price $19.99)

InStep Sync Single Trailer, Blue for $87.42 (list price $119.99)

INTEY Folding Picnic Table, Portable Ultralight Roll Up Camping Table with Storage Bag for Outdoors for $26.99 (list price $42.99)

Nutri-Vet Hairball Paw-Gel for Cats, Chicken Flavor, 3-Ounce for $4.43 (list price $9.99)

Weber 7447 Compact Rapidfire Chimney Starter for $11.05 (list price $13.99)

SharpSurvival Survival Tin Emergency Preparedness Survival Kit (10 Items) for $14.99 (list price $39.99)

Portland Design Works Bar-Ista Coffee Cup Holder for $16.99 (list price $22.00)

Baden Champions Bocce Ball Set, 90mm and 107mm, Durable Case and Measuring Tape for $71.65 (list price $109.99)

Lightning Nuggets N100SEB Firestarters Super Economy Box of Fire-Starting Nuggets, 100 Count for $20.76 (list price $31.99)

TOOLS

Hitachi C10FCH2 15-Amp 10-inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw with Laser Marker for $141.80 (list price $159.97)

Gerber EVO Tanto Knife, Serrated Edge, Large [31-001755] for $25.84 (list price $39.00)

Tacklife EST01-2 Advanced Outlet Testers Socket Wall Plug Detector for Correct Wiring Neutral Live Earth US Sockets Testing 90-120V (2 Packs) for $27.97 (list price $39.99)

SentrySafe X055 Security Safe, 0.5 Cubic Feet, Black for $46.98 (list price $58.98)

SIMBR Extension Cord Power Cord UL Listed SJTW Red (50FT) for $27.99 (list price $49.99)

Makita XT273R 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Compact Cordless 2-Pc. Combo Kit (2.0Ah) for $174.00 (list price $259.00)

Etekcity MSR-R500 Digital Multimeter , Electronic Volt Amp Ohm Meter with Diode and Continuity Test, Backlight LCD Display, Red for $12.98 (list price $39.99)

Keter 17182239 Folding Compact Workbench Work Table, 21.7 x 33.5 x 29.75-Inches, Black for $69.99 (list price $109.99)

INTEY OBD II Car Vehicle Code Reader Auto Diagnostic Scan Tool for $27.09 (list price $59.99)

Gorilla Super Glue, 6 g for $2.53 (list price $4.49)

Bosch JS470EB 7-Amp Barrel-Grip Jigsaw for $147.99 (list price $301.00)

3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator for $15.16 (list price $19.99)

Hitachi C10FCH2 15-Amp 10-inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw with Laser Marker for $141.80 (list price $159.97)

Gerber EVO Tanto Knife, Serrated Edge, Large [31-001755] for $25.84 (list price $39.00)

Tacklife EST01-2 Advanced Outlet Testers Socket Wall Plug Detector for Correct Wiring Neutral Live Earth US Sockets Testing 90-120V (2 Packs) for $27.97 (list price $39.99)

SentrySafe X055 Security Safe, 0.5 Cubic Feet, Black for $46.98 (list price $58.98)

SIMBR Extension Cord Power Cord UL Listed SJTW Red (50FT) for $27.99 (list price $49.99)

Makita XT273R 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Compact Cordless 2-Pc. Combo Kit (2.0Ah) for $174.00 (list price $259.00)

General Tools 836 Angle-izer Template Tool for $2.11 (list price $22.64)

LifeHammer The Original Emergency Hammer with Seatbelt Cutter, Made in The Netherlands, Orange for $16.95 (list price $19.99)

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
Original image
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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iStock
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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
Original image
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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