TensorFlow lends a hand to build a rock-paper-scissors machine

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Editor’s note: It’s hard to think of a more “analog” game than rock-paper-scissors. But this summer, one Googler decided to use TensorFlow, Google’s open source machine learning system, to build a machine that could play rock-paper-scissors. For more technical details and source code, see the original post on the Google Cloud Big Data and Machine Learning Blog.

This summer, my 12-year-old son and I were looking for a science project to do together. He’s interested in CS and has studied programming with Scratch, so we knew we wanted to do something involving coding. After exploring several ideas, we decided to build a rock-paper-scissors machine that detects a hand gesture, then selects the appropriate pose to respond: rock, paper, or scissors.

But our rock-paper-scissors machine had a secret ingredient: TensorFlow, which in this case runs a very simple ML algorithm that detects your hand posture through an Arduino micro controller connected to the glove.

To build the machine’s hardware, we used littleBits—kid-friendly kits that include a wide variety of components like LEDs, motors, switches, sensors, and controllers—to attach three bend sensors to a plastic glove. When you bend your fingers while wearing the glove, the sensors output an electric signal. To read the signals from the bend sensors and control the machine’s dial, we used an Arduino and Servo module.

hardware components of rock paper scissors
The hardware components of the rock-paper-scissors machine

After putting together the hardware component, we wrote the code to read data from the sensors. The Arduino module takes the input signal voltage it receives from the glove, then converts those signals to a series of three numbers.

probability of rock paper scissors
Estimated probability distribution of rock (red), paper (green) and scissors (blue), as determined by TensorFlow and our linear model

The next step was to determine which combination of three numbers represents rock, paper or scissors. We wanted to do it in a way that could be flexible over time—for example if we wanted to capture more than three hand positions with many more sensors. So we created a linear model—a simple algebraic formula that many of you might have learned in high school or college—and used machine learning in TensorFlow to solve the formula based on the given sensor data and the expected results (rock, paper or scissors). What’s cool about this is that it’s like automated programming—we specify the input and output, and the computer generates the most important transformation in the middle.

Finally, we put it all together. Once we determine the hand’s posture, the Servo controls the machine hand to win the game. (Of course, if you were feeling competitive, you could always program the machine to let YOU win every time… but we would never do that. 😉)

kaz's son drawing
My son drawing the sign for the machine hand

Rock-paper-scissors probably isn’t what comes to mind when you think about ML, but this project demonstrates how ML can be useful for all kinds of programmers, regardless of the task—reducing human coding work and speeding up calculations. In this case, it also provided some family fun!

from Official Google Blog http://bit.ly/2yT6RlU
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Why are weddings so expensive?

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Real quick: How much does the average wedding in the United States cost?

If you guessed anything other than $35,329, you’d be wrong.

How is it possible that someone can spend this much money on a single day? And how is it possible that everyone who thinks their wedding “doesn’t need to be that fancy” eventually spends more than they planned?

To answer that question, you have to understand that every little part of the wedding — from the venue right down to who you want videotaping everything — is going to cost money. And these costs add up quickly. The Knot recently published their list of average costs, so let’s take a look at the average price spent on (most) everything at a wedding.

2016 national average wedding spending from The Knot

A few quick takeaways:

  • The venue is the most expensive part of the wedding. And if you think you’re going to be able to save on it by holding your wedding at your house, you’re wrong — and I’ll explain why in a bit.
  • Your final price is going to fluctuate depending on how many guests you have, but on average there are about 120 guests at a wedding. That means catering for everyone can be in the neighborhood of $8,520.
  • LOL at how much more my fiancee’s dress is going to cost than my tux.

These prices might actually INCREASE depending on where you live. For example, the average wedding in New York City can cost over $78,000. When compared to Utah, where you’ll most likely pay in the neighborhood of $20,000, NYC can seem astronomical.

So how do we solve this $35,329 question?

How to save for your dream wedding (with advice from a wedding planner)

To get a better idea of how couples can save for their dream wedding, we talked to wedding planner Sarah Glick. She co-owns Brilliant Event Planning along with Chelsea LaFollette. For years, the two have been planning weddings all around the world — so they’ve personally handled their fair share of expensive weddings.

“The budgets for our clients really vary, depending on head count and location, but we have planned weddings for clients with budgets exceeding $1 million,” Sarah says.

Whether you want to save for a wedding of $35,329 or $1 million, all you need to do is follow a system of three steps:

  1. Set a realistic budget
  2. Prioritize the important things
  3. Use sub-savings accounts to help you save

Step 1: Set a realistic budget

Even though you’re on a personal finance site like IWT, you’re still human. That means that your wedding will most likely be much pricier than you originally thought. The best way to not fall into debt when the day you sign a check to vendors arrives is to anticipate and plan for it.

“Set a budget,” Sarah says. “People often think they can just handle each contract with a vendor as it comes up and deal with the costs on a case-by-case basis. However, that often results in the client spending way more than they wanted to spend and more than they would have spent had they considered the overall big picture from the beginning of the planning process.”

So sit down and make a realistic budget of how much your wedding might cost you. The back-of-a-napkin formula for it is simple too. Simply take into account:

  1. The average age at marriage, which is about 31 for men and 29 for women.
  2. The average wedding cost, which is about $35,000.

If you’re 21, you should each plan to save around $3,500 a year or $292 a month.

And if you think that’s unreasonable, I have two things to tell you:

  1. Even if you can’t save that much now, any amount you CAN save will add up down the road. Can you afford $50/month? If so, that’s $50 better than you were doing yesterday.
  2. If you work towards earning more money, you’ll be able to eventually save this much. Keep reading and I’ll give you the exact resources you can use to get there.

Of course, this will change depending on how old you are and how much you want to spend on your wedding. Here’s a great wedding cost calculator you can use to give you a rough estimate of how much you should save based on what you want for your big day.

Step 2: Prioritize the important things

If your budget seems a little bit intimidating and you want to find areas to save, don’t worry. You can always prioritize aspects of your wedding to help you cut back.

“This depends on what the couple’s priorities are. Everyone is a little bit different,” Sarah explains. “Couples can save by choosing one or two areas to splurge on and then being cost conscious for everything else.”

It’s human nature to want the best for our wedding day, and we need to be realistic about that. However, you also need to be realistic about the fact that you can’t always have the best of everything. That’s where prioritization comes in.

From Sarah:

“For example, even though a DJ is cheaper than a band, live music is sometimes a must for people, regardless of budget. If you decide that the live band is a must-have, then you might want to skip custom invitations and order from an online vendor to save on stationary.

Couples can also save by going with a venue that has tables, chairs, linens, etc. already included. The contrast to this is a raw space where you would need to rent everything (which corresponds to a significantly higher rental spend).”

Remember how I mentioned that your wedding’s location can affect how expensive it is? You can leverage this fact and cut back on your wedding expenses by choosing a more budget-friendly location.

“A wedding in Mississippi, for example, will cost much less than a wedding in New York City, even if the head count stays the same,” Sarah says.

Once you know what your priorities are, revisit your projected wedding budget and reconsider some areas where you can cut back. If you have the costs on paper, you’ll know exactly which trade-offs you can make to keep within your budget. If you haven’t decided on what you want to spend though, it’ll look like there are no trade-offs necessary.

THAT’S how people get into debt for their wedding.

But I’m not going to let that happen to you. That’s why I’m going to show you how to set up a sub-savings account where you can put money away for your wedding automatically each month.

Step 3: Use sub-saving accounts to help you save

Let’s assume you’re 25 years old and plan to spend $40,000 on your wedding. Let’s say you also plan on getting married by the time you’re 30.

If you want to pay for the whole wedding yourself (a totally achievable goal), you’ll have to save about $8,000 a year or $666 a month for the wedding (let’s not read too much into that last number).

A perfect way to put away that evil amount each month is through a sub-savings account. This is a savings account you create in addition to your regular savings. Often times, you can even name them too!

You can leverage your sub-savings account to:

  1. Put money away towards specific savings goals
  2. Save cash when you automate your finances

The beauty about them is that they allow you to see exactly how much you’ve saved because the account is tailored for that specific goal. This does wonders for you psychologically.

When I first discovered sub-savings accounts, I created one and named it “Down Payment” for a down payment on a house. I was regularly transferring money into it based on my savings goals using my automated finances.

As the months passed, the amount in that account grew bigger and bigger, and I felt really proud of my accomplishment.

During this time, one of my friends was just blindly putting away money in an account he had mentally earmarked for vague goals.

Though we might have had the same amount saved away, the difference between us psychologically was staggering. Where he felt despair about trying to save money, I was motivated.

For me, I wasn’t working towards $20,000 for a down payment. I was working on saving $333 a month over five years — a perfectly achievable goal, especially after I tracked my progress.

So go to your bank’s website and open up a sub-savings account and name it “Wedding fund.” Once you’ve done that, you can now automate your finances so you’re putting money into it each month automatically.

Check out my video below to learn exactly how to set it up today.

Two big things couples get wrong about their wedding

There are a few things that couples do that they think are saving them money but are actually costing them more in the long run. Let’s go into them now so you can avoid them when planning for your wedding.

According to Sarah, those two misconceptions are:

“I’m just going to put a tent up at my home — it will be cheaper.”

The venue is typically the biggest expense for any wedding day. So if just use your home instead, shouldn’t that offset the cost?

According to Sarah: Nope!

“A lot of clients come to us and say they want to put a tent on private property to save on venue costs,” Sarah says. “However, if the property is a private home, I can almost promise it’ll be more expensive than a more typical wedding venue.”

The reason why is the same reason wedding venues are so expensive in the first place. Vox actually did an investigation of why wedding venues are so expensive and it’s due to the fact that weddings need more tender loving care than normal events.

Think about it. This is one of the only events that people expect to go perfectly. If it doesn’t, you end up with situations where people act like they’re on an episode of Bridezilla.

Also, your home is probably not suited for a wedding anyway.

“Your home is not created for events,” Sarah says. “You need to bring everything in including bathrooms for your guests, heating/cooling if the weather isn’t perfect, functional lighting, access to water and power (which means we need to run those lines), a second tent for catering, all of the tables, chairs, china, glassware, and flatware…and more!”

You also have to worry about paying for delivery and moving for all of the above, she adds.

So having the wedding in your backyard won’t help. Maybe if you had a destination wedding instead…

“Destination weddings are cheaper — fewer people will show up!”

Some people think that because you’re flying out for your wedding, you’ll be able to save money because, surely, fewer guests will want to show up…right?

“Truth is, [destination weddings] often cost the same as a local one,” Sarah says. “It used to be that if a wedding required travel, people would have a hard time getting there or affording the travel. And so they wouldn’t be able to come. However, nowadays, it is SO easy to travel. Flights can be found inexpensively and companies like Airbnb exist to make staying in a foreign place simple and affordable.”

So even if you have that awesome travel rewards credit card and can fly anywhere in the world for free, it doesn’t mean that your wedding will be cheaper.

“We’ve found that our head counts for destination weddings often do not differ very much from our local weddings,” she says.

Earn more to afford the wedding of your dreams

Despite what society tells you, there’s no right or wrong price for your wedding. You might have a wedding in the high six figures, or you might just have a wedding that ends up costing a couple thousand. Both are perfectly fine. What matters most is that you’re realistic about what you’re going to spend so you know what to save.

If you want a wedding that might cost a little bit more than you’re able to save for right now though, there is a solution: Earn more money.

You can only save so much money at the end of the day. However, there’s no limit to how much you can earn.

That’s why my team and I have worked hard to create a guide to help you invest in yourself today: The Ultimate Guide to Making Money.

In it, I’ve included my best strategies to:

  • Create multiple income streams so you always have a consistent source of revenue.
  • Start your own side hustle so you’re earning money for any financial goal (like a wedding).
  • Increase your income by thousands of dollars a year through earning raises and freelancing.

Download a FREE copy of the Ultimate Guide today by entering your name and email below — and start earning money for your big day today.

Why are weddings so expensive? is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

from I Will Teach You To Be Rich http://bit.ly/2yXk7bs
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5 Forms Of Cardio That Will Burn More Fat Than Running

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cardio

Shutterstock

For a long time after high school I hated the thought of cardio. I loathed it. Detested it with every single fiber of my being. I couldn’t see why I would willingly go do cardio, unless it was playing basketball or flag football, which, by the way, my teams were awesome at.

Part of this was because I was so heavily influenced by everything that I read online. It was common to talk about how cardio will make you fat, weak, slow, and effeminate.

The muscle magazines at the GNC I worked at said I needed to lift, and if I wanted to get cardio in, then I should just lift weights faster.

And while those magazines weren’t entirely wrong, they weren’t exactly right, either. Cardio isn’t a bad thing. It can do wonders for your work capacity, ability to recover in between hard sets, and body composition.

In other words, cardio helps you become a well-rounded athlete. Last time I checked, that’s a good thing.

So in honor of that being a good thing, I’m going over my 5 favorite forms of cardio.

 

  • Strength circuits

Naturally a style of cardio that involves throwing around some iron, sweating profusely, and wondering if the my-lungs-are-going-to-explode feeling is bound to be high up on the list.

I wrote all about strength circuits here, so if you haven’t checked out the knowledge bombs on why you need to be doing strength circuits, then you need to go read that before we dig in any further.

Oh, you’re too lazy to go click? Don’t worry. I won’t take that personally.

Strength circuits are one of the greatest ways to blend lifting and cardio. They function as a way for you to get extra lifting volume in, send your heart rate through the roof, and burn through a ton of calories thanks to the intense energy expenditure during and after exercise.

Once again, I’ll reiterate that you really need to read this piece on them, because you’re going to get a badass strength circuit workout that you can follow.

  • Jump rope

If there’s one piece of equipment I really love in a gym, it’s the jump rope. Maybe it’s because I like getting in touch with my inner Rocky, and randomly yelling out “ADRIENNE” while skipping rope.

Or maybe it’s because I just like feeling light on my feet and athletic. Either way, I love the jump rope.

For those of you who are total newbs when it comes to jumping rope, then this might not be the best option for you to try and start incorporating. At least not as your main source of cardio, try and throw it into a circuit before you get really crazy and make jumping rope an entire workout by itself.

To the other masochists out there, well, I like your style.

If you’re trying to turn a jump rope into a cardio workout, here are a couple of options to try:

–       Set a timer for 25 minutes and see how many skips you can get. Keep a steady pace the entire time, and don’t go near as fast as you think you should. Slow and steady is the name of the game here.

–       Set a timer for 25 minutes again, only this time alternate between periods of extremely fast and slow skipping. Go as fast as possible for 30 seconds, and spend another 90 seconds at a steady pace.

  • Mobility circuits

I really hate mobility work. I find it incredibly boring, and I’m not good at it. At all. But I know I need to do it, so I’ve found a way to fit it in.

Mobility circuits are a form of cardio that I’ve really fallen in love wit has of late because it helps me kill two birds with one stone. I get better at moving well, and I also get some cardio done.

They allow me to get in plenty of thoracic spine and hip mobility work, keep my heart rate high enough to get the performance benefits of cardio, and also melt away body fat.

Another added benefit to them is that I also typically feel far more athletic and in control of my body thanks to the mobility work. That’s a feeling that I really enjoy, and I think it’s something that far too many of us neglect once we start lifting all the time.

  • Complexes

Barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell complexes are one of my favorite ways to make a hot, nasty lovechild between lifting and cardio.

At the most basic they involve picking up a weight, performing a series of exercises, and then putting said weight back down. Which should sound extremely simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy.

The reason complexes work so well is similar to the reason that strength circuits work so well. They involve nearly every single muscle you’ve got, you don’t get much rest, and the weight is relatively heavy.

All of these elements, like a perfectly concocted recipe, come together nicely for a fat loss concoction that leaves you gasping for air, and with a nice set of abs.

Looking to try out a barbell complex? Then give this one a whirl:

  1.     Romanian deadlift
  2.     Barbell row
  3.     Front squat
  4.    Overhead press

Do 8 reps of each, rest 60 seconds between each round, and perform 6 rounds total. Thank me later.

  • Walking (loaded)

While I realize that the above title could be misconstrued for meaning walking while drunk, that’s unfortunately not what I meant. Though walking while drunk is a challenge, and my friend Robbie Farlow was inspired to write about lateral training after seeing me stumble sideways.

Which should tell you a couple of things:

1)   I’m clearly adept enough at walking while drunk, that no matter how much I stumble, I can maintain my balance. Lateral training, for the win.

2)   Robbie believes that other people need to learn to this skill. I agree with him.

What I’m talking about is loaded carries, or farmer walks. One of the simplest, yet most effective ways to blend strength training and cardio to bring about some badass physique changes.

I’ve written on the topic before, and for good reason. Farmer walks are downright awesome. They build upper back strength, challenge your core, coordination, and make you really awesome at carrying in the groceries.

Plus, if you’re feeling extra creative you can alter the way you carry the load and cause a whole new training stimulus. Seriously, loaded carries are awesome. Go do them more.

That’s that, folks. 5 of my favorite forms of cardio. Feel free to take any and all of them for a spin. If you’ve got one that you think I’m leaving out, then don’t hesitate to drop a comment and let me know.

from BroBible.com http://bit.ly/2yT52FA
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These wireless earbuds made me want to wear headphones all the time

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New York City is never quiet, but most of the city’s residents prefer to walk around with their own private soundtrack blaring in their ears. Nearly everyone you see on the street is perpetually in an aural bubble, separate from the outside world.

Wireless headphones make those bubbles even more pronounced without tethers to a separate device, and I think I’ve found the best pair for city life: Nuheara’s IQbuds, a set of “true” wireless buds with solid sound, touch controls, massive battery life, and augmented hearing features that put them in a class above just about anything else I’ve ever put in my ears.  

IQbuds bring out all the sounds in the big city.

IQbuds bring out all the sounds in the big city.

Image: lili sams/mashable

I haven’t always been so comfortable wearing headphones at all times, though. Their ubiquity in public spaces shocked me when I first moved to the city a few years ago, accustomed as I was to the Midwestern niceties of Ohio where we typically place a constant burden upon ourselves to be outwardly friendly in public. 

Even then, I remember thinking the surly earbud-wearing teens I saw were a troubling sign of millennial disengagement from the real world, isolating themselves with technology even when they were forced to break away from a screen.  

Then I moved to the city. Merely existing in public in New York is a particularly lonely endeavor, even though it feels to me there are roughly more people going about their business on one typical NYC block than the entire city of Cleveland. Keeping sane within the bustle with your favorite album or podcast isn’t rude or weird — it’s almost a necessity, providing some small measure of identity among the masses, giving one small factor of control in a world filled with subway delays and traffic jams.

I soon found myself popping in my basic Apple EarPods more often than not when I hit the streets. Slowly but surely, I was morphing into a headphone person — but I wasn’t quite ready to spend every waking moment out and about with them in my ears. While it was easy enough to just keep the corded buds in my pocket at all times, something held me back. I still felt uncomfortable at times in my bubble, wanting to be more available to the public at large.

IQbuds and their carrying case, which provides extra charging capacity.

IQbuds and their carrying case, which provides extra charging capacity.

Image: lili sams/mashable

My time wearing the IQbuds has helped me solve that problem. The buds have a killer feature that’s particularly valuable in the city — you can choose to turn the world on and off. The augmented hearing functions, activated via a simple tap, can be used to tune into the scene around you just as well as its noise-cancelling setting shuts sound out. Speech amplification can home in on someone’s voice to help you make out exactly what they’re saying over the constant noise in the background. 

I first experienced this on a crowded subway, totally by accident. I set the buds to their “Street” setting in their companion app (other modes include Home, Office, Workout, and Plane) and paused my music for a moment. I was able to hear the conversation going on four people away from me as clearly as if they were speaking directly to me. (Serial eavesdroppers, these are definitely the headphones for you.)

I’ve also used the setting to pick up friends’ voices better on a busy street. Instead of asking them to speak up, I was able to tap my right ear to help boost their voices above the din.

The sound from the IQbuds isn’t quite as rich as other wireless headphones I’ve tried, like Fitbit’s surprisingly competent Flyer, but Nuheara did a passable job here with solid bass and customizable settings for a tailored sound. I compared the IQbuds to Apple’s mega-popular AirPods, the current king of true wireless headphones, for a better sense of what they brought to the table. The layered guitars of Brand New’s “Can’t Get It Out” were more distinct on the IQbuds, and the ability to adjust the treble and bass made the listening experience much more enjoyable.  

You can adjust your personal sound profile in the IQbuds app.

You can adjust your personal sound profile in the IQbuds app.

Image: lili sams/mashable

The IQbuds’ carrying case isn’t as small as AirPods’ compact case, but it fits in my back pocket and provide a recharge when the buds are stowed away. Nuheara claims the whole rig provides 16 hours of Bluetooth streaming on one charge. I didn’t estimate my exact hourly usage, but I’ve been able to go for over a week without needing to recharge, which is great for an everyday carry earphone. 

IQbuds aren’t perfect, though. Sometimes when I put them back in the case, a piercing squeal of feedback eeks out, and the Bluetooth connection has cut out a few times. Then there’s the cost. The buds will set you back $300 — you can almost buy two pairs of the $160 AirPods at that price. The augmented hearing features are really cool, but many won’t be able to justify that much of an extra cost.

New York is a headphone town, and even with their flaws, IQbuds might be the best earbuds for the city. They have helped to finally turn me, completely and unreservedly, onto wearing headphones in public at every moment because I can tune the world out or welcome it in.     

Nuheara IQbuds

The Good

Good sound Great battery life Truly useful augmented hearing features

The Bad

Expensive Ear-splitting feedback quirks Some dropped Bluetooth connections

The Bottom Line

IQbuds are more expensive than AirPods, but they make up the difference with killer augmented hearing features and an impressive battery life. These could be your new favorite headphones.

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