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How to build a machine learning model in 10 minutes

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I like to divide my machine learning education into two eras:

I spent the first era learning how to build models with tools like scikit-learn and TensorFlow, which was hard and took forever. I spent most of that time feeling insecure about all the things I didn’t know.

The second era–after I kind of knew what I was doing – I spent wondering why building machine learning models was so damn hard. After my insecurity cleared, I took a critical look at the machine learning tools we used today and realized this stuff is a lot harder than it needs to be.

That’s why I think the way we learn machine learning today is about to change.

It’s also why I’m always delighted when I discover a tool that makes model-building fun, intuitive, and friction-less. That couldn’t be more true of Teachable Machine. It’s a free program, build by Google, that lets you train deep learning models right from your browser. It’s so easy that even elementary school kids can use it!

Today, you can train image, pose, and sound models with Teachable Machine.

Screenshot of teachable machines UI

Under the hood, it uses TensorFlow.js to train a model, which is nice for a couple of reasons:

  • Training happens locally, in the browser, so none of your data gets sent the cloud. Go data privacy!
  • When training is done, Teachable Machine lets you export your model so you can use it later, in your own app, from Javascript.
  • By design, TensorFlow.js uses your GPU (if you have one) to train models, so it’s kinda speedy!

If you want the whole scoop, check out my latest episode of #MakingWithML:

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This article was written by Dale Markowitz, an Applied AI Engineer at Google based in Austin, Texas, where she works on applying machine learning to new fields and industries. She also likes solving her own life problems with AI, and talks about it on YouTube.

Published October 15, 2020 — 08:27 UTC

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Keep Your Mind and Hands Busy With the Best LEGO Deals

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Image: The Lego Movie

Best Gaming DealsBest Gaming DealsThe best deals on games, consoles, and gaming accessories from around the web, updated daily.

Featured Deal: LEGO Hidden Side Lighthouse of Darkness | $32

These are the best LEGO deals for October 2020.

If you’re looking for something to occupy your quarantine hours, why not pick up a new LEGO set or two? They’re mentally stimulating, whether you’re building to instructions or just creating things from scratch, and they’re a great activity whether you’re solo or with family.

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Right now, you’ll find solid savings on LEGO sets inspired by Star Wars, Minecraft, Spider-Man, Batman, and more. Scroll on for today’s best LEGO deals!

LEGO Star Wars: The Child (Pre-order) | $80

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Baby Yoda and LEGO: two irresistible pop culture creations that seem irresistible together. LEGO will launch this adorable version of The Child with the season two debut of The Mandalorian in late October.

There’s no discount as of this writing, but even so, serious fans will want to drop a pre-order at Amazon now to ensure they can find it later this year. It’s 1,073 pieces, too, so the price-per-brick ratio is pretty solid.

And if you need a big building project to tackle in the meantime, Amazon has the full-size Attack of the Clones Yoda—a huge 1,771-piece set—for $86 right now.

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LEGO Hidden Side Lighthouse of Darkness | $32

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Here’s a larger-than-usual savings on the super-cool and seasonally appropriate Lighthouse of Darkness, one of the set’s from LEGO’s original Hidden Side franchise. This 540-piece has a ghost pirate, a skeleton, and other minifigures, and like all Hidden Side sets, you can use a smartphone app for digital augmented reality enhancements. It’s 35% off right now at Amazon.

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LEGO Architecture Statue of Liberty | $96

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Right now, you can save $24 off the price of the towering Statue of Liberty kit. With 1,685 pieces, it’s a meaty challenge aimed at anyone 16+, and the end result stands 17 inches tall. Grab this deal while it lasts!

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LEGO Spider-Man Spider Mech vs Venom | $36

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Does Spider-Man really have a mech? Does he need a mech, let alone against Venom? We’re not totally sure, but we are sure of this: Aunt May is the star of this set.

Did you ever think you’d have a chance to own an Aunt May minifig? Now’s your moment. You also get Ghost Spider (a.k.a. Spider-Gwen) on a hoverboard (again, why?) and a Venom minifig alongside a giant Venom… mech. In any case, this unique set is $14 off right now.

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LEGO Star Wars Boost Droid Commander | $168

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Here’s a cool set for kids that not only lets you build a trio of rad Star Wars droids, but also gives you the ability to interact with them via a tablet coding app. The LEGO Star Wars Boost Droid Commander kit has 1,177 LEGO bricks, a color and distance sensor, a motor that can be moved between the three built droids, and the ability to learn coding as you play via the iOS and Android app. Save $32 right now at Amazon.

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LEGO Architecture London | $34

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We haven’t seen a good deal on one of LEGO’s Architecture cityscapes in some time, so we’re pleased to have spotted this London bargain at Amazon.

Currently 15% off list, this 468-piece set includes landmarks such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and the London Eye. You probably won’t be hopping the pond anytime soon, but this LEGO kit is far cheaper than a plane ticket anyway.

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LEGO Star Wars: Major Vonreg’s TIE Fighter | $52

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Big fan of the Star Wars Resistance animated series? If so, then you might be pleased to see this Major Vonreg’s TIE Fighter set from the show.

It’s 26% off the list price right now, albeit still a bit pricey for a 496-brick set. Still, this TIE Fighter looks awesome and comes with a few minifigures: Vonreg, General Leia, Kaz Xiono, and the droid Bucket (R1-J5).

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LEGO Creator Monster Burger Truck | $41

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It’s a monster truck. It’s a burger truck. It’s a… wait for it… monster burger truck. Now that’s three words that sound pretty great together. In fact, this original LEGO Creator set comes with instructions for three different builds with its 499 pieces, and right now you’ll save 18% off at Amazon.

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LEGO Minecraft The Blaze Bridge | $24

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Some of the LEGO Minecraft sets are more whimsical in nature, but this one is all action. The Blaze Bridge is a lava-filled environment with interactive elements, and four minifigures: heroine Alex, a Wither Skeleton, and a pair of Blazes. It’s 20% off right now at Amazon.

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LEGO Technic Catamaran | $40

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This is a super-cool LEGO Technic build for a catamaran boat that actually floats on water. You can build it tall with a sail or short like a motorboat, and this 404-piece set is $10 off now.

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LEGO 2020 Advent Calendars | $20-30 Each

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Got a little LEGO lover in the home? These new LEGO advent calendars are fresh for 2020, each featuring 24 little LEGO prizes for each day leading up to Christmas in December.

Each one is marked down $10 right now: the Star Wars and Harry Potter sets are $30 each, while the LEGO City and LEGO Friends ones are just $20 apiece. Each bundle has 300+ pieces and might be worth grabbing now—not only while the deal is live, but also while they’re still easy to track down.

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LEGO Technic RC Stunt Racer | $81

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If you haven’t built one of the remote-controlled LEGO Technic sets before, this might be a perfect starting point. Right now, this RC Stunt Racer is $19 off the list price. It can be built into two totally different configurations, both with tank treads, motors and a receiver, a remote, and the ability to drive the completed car all over the place.

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LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box | $26

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If you’re buying LEGO for a young kid, start with one of the LEGO Classic boxes. This Medium set is a good size, providing a robust 484 pieces within a handy plastic carrying case.

Without step-by-step directions, this set is ideal for getting kids familiar with the tiny blocks and unlocking a bit of creativity in the process. Of course, there are larger Duplo blocks for the really young’uns, but LEGO suggests this is ideal for ages 4+. It’s $9 off right now.

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Twitch stars are lining up to stream Among Us with AOC

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is looking for Among Us teammates. On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez put out an open call for people to play with “to get out the vote.” In a follow-up tweet, she shared a Twitch page for AOC with the note “getting set up!”

Her tweet has already drawn attention from streamers like Pokimane and HasanAbi. “It’d be an honor,” wrote Pokimane. As Election Day 2020 closes in, politicians have been turning to game spaces to reach prospective voters.

Last week, Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s campaign created a virtual field office in Animal Crossing: New Horizons; in September, the campaign released Biden-Harris signs in-game. Presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang have used Twitch in an effort to reach younger voters.

Although Ocasio-Cortez appears to have only responded to Pokimane and HasanAbi as of publication time, personalities such as Greg Miller (who recently streamed from Biden’s Animal Crossing island), DrLupo, Neekolul, Felicia Day, and James Charles have all jumped in to volunteer.

Ocasio-Cortez’s choice of game is a strategic one. (She’s also known for being a formidable League of Legends player.) In the last few weeks, Among Us — a party game where players work together to find a saboteur — has blown up into a massive hit on Twitch and mobile. The game has become so popular developer InnerSloth scrapped its plans for a sequel to focus on improving the original.

Election Day 2020 is on November 3rd. Information on how to check your registration status is available here.

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Google Assistant displays get a new UI, a dark theme, and more features

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Google’s been on a roll lately. After announcing new hardware and major updates to search, the company today introduced a bunch of new features coming to Assistant-powered displays soon, including a new, more intuitive UI and a dark mode.

The new UI is meant to make it easier to interact with the display and access the information you’re looking for without having to summon the Assistant. Previously the displays features a long list of functions would could scroll through, and it could be difficult to access the exact feature you wanted. Now the displays will divide functions into a few different pages.

The first of these pages is called ‘Your Morning,’ ‘Your Afternoon,’ or ‘Your Evening,’ on which the assistant will serve up some recommendations based on what it thinks would be most useful to you. For example, the Your Morning screen might show “a reminder for your first meeting, a run down of the morning news and a glance at the weather ahead,” according to Google.

The ‘Home Control’ page give you one area to access all your smart thingamajigs like lightbulbs and cameras. ‘Media’ is handy for starting a YouTube video, podcast, and the like, while ‘Communicate’ makes it easy to start a Meet or Duo call (Zoom support arrives “later this year”). Lastly, ‘Discover’ helps you learn about the different features accessible on your smart display.

The other most visible new feature is the ability to active a dark theme on these displays. It makes just as much sense on a smart display as it might on your phone, making the panel easier on your eyes, especially at night. You can also set the display to change automatically depending on the time of day, should you prefer something brighter while the sun is out.

Other updates include the ability to run both personal and work accounts on smart displays — useful for meetings and calls — the ability to auto-frame your webcam image on the Nest Hub Max, and the ability to raise the brightness of your screen before your alarm goes off.

The features are rolling out now, though some might take longer to arrive. For more on these features, you can check out Google’s post at the source link below.

For more gear, gadget, and hardware news and reviews, follow Plugged on Twitter and Flipboard.

Published October 19, 2020 — 21:19 UTC

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