So Much Information and Insight

Every month I review the latest Glass Magazine and I am always excited that I can learn something new.  As always, the knowledge growth was there  but the amount of insight in this latest edition is stunning.  The March issue is the annual “Top Fabricators” one and it’s loaded from start to finish.  The first major takeaway is that it comes with a pull out map of the 2018 top fabricators.  It is old school and awesome and I am sure now hanging in the glass shops and glazing operations throughout North America.  Next is the rundown and detail of the top fabricators.  I always enjoy the project profiles that come with it.  I mentioned last week the fabulous Vitrum Glass Group job and that was joined by several other amazing pieces of fabrication.  Add in the details of some of the poll questions and you get excellent visibility into the world of the fabricator. In addition this issue had outstanding pieces on buying a tempering furnace from a finance point of view, an incredible interview with Jeff Razwick of TGP on his deal with Allegion, and a nice piece on glass in health care.  And selfishly I was pretty excited to be included in an superb piece by Olivia Parker on best booth practices for trade shows.  Overall a tremendous issue, please make sure you check it out!


–  Ad of the month was a tough one yet again- lots of companies really raising their game with creative pieces but the winner was Consolidated Glass Holdings and their “line card” ad that was included in the issue in a special way- it was on thicker stock that was attached to another page.  So that immediately caught my eye- and then the info on there was very in-depth. Nice work and congrats to Angela Beach at CGH to make that all happen!

–  While I am talking about good detail and insight, I need give credit to Rob Struble and the team at Vitro on their e-mail blasts.  Their “Vitro Glass Insider” consistently delivers quick and helpful education.  I know we all get tons of e-mails, and its tough to stand out, but they do with this approach.

–  So it looks like the AIA show is following the lead of Greenbuild by pushing celebrity approaches and concert sort of settings with the news that DJ and musician Questlove will be featured at their opening party.  If you watch the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Questlove is his musical leader and is pretty well known in the musical space.  Whether this helps the always-frustrating issue of a lack of architects on the floor and in your booth remains to be seen…

–  For my friends in eastern Canada are you attending Top Glass later this month?  Looks like a solid day of education and information.  Speaking wise, two guys that I am a big fan of will be on stage.  Cody Thomas of Glass Renu will be there talking on glass restoration and Chris Fronsoe of ICD Coatings will be breaking down the spandrel world.  So those sessions and others will make it a good one overall…

–  Last this week… it is now baseball season and while I don’t follow the day to day happenings as close as I used to, I still enjoy the sport and it always signals the beginning of an awesome sporting stretch.  Baseball opening, NHL and NBA playoffs, NFL Draft, College Spring Football, The Masters, and the Indy 500- lots of great distractions from the hustle and bustle of daily life.  Oh and just for the heck of it, for baseball I’m going Yankees to win it all.  That lineup is pretty awesome.


A story you don’t see every day- guy performs on Hollywood show and then walks away from all of the parts of it.
This was a wild MMA fight- accidental knockout, flips, and reversed decisions.
Orange snow in Europe.  Would scare me too.  The video of the slow moving avalanche is wild too.
Since I mentioned Questlove and Jimmy Fallon it only makes sense to show them in action… here joined by Will Smith and doing some great old TV theme songs… Fun!!

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DID 1/6th scale WWII 77th Infantry Division Medic "Dixon" 12-inch figure: Hacksaw Ridge?

Hacksaw Ridge is a 2016 biographical war drama film directed by Mel Gibson and written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan, based on the 2004 documentary The Conscientious Objector. The film focuses on the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacifist combat medic who, as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, refused to carry or use a weapon or firearm of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa. Andrew Garfield stars as Doss, with Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, and Vince Vaughn in supporting roles.

For those of you who have been clamoring for Army medics, DID has the perfect item for you. This is “Dixon”, a member of the 77th Infantry Division serving as a Combat Medic. Have him take care of all your World War II Allied Forces figures.

You can get this figure from Cotswold Collectibles (link HERE)

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DID 1/6th scale WWII 77th Infantry Division Medic “Dixon” 12-inch figure Features: Two super realistic head sculpts (one with scars and weathering), Articulated body, Open palms, Relaxed palms, Palms for holding accessories, Green T shirt, Green uniform, Green pants, Y strap, Belt, Suspender, M1 helmet, Medical Pouch x 2 with Type I insert + Type II insert, Cantle Ring Strap x 2, M2 First Aid kit pouch, M1936 musette bag, Surgical instrument case, First Aid kit pouch, M43 boots, Canteen with cover x 2, Emergency Medical Tag x 5 with booklet, Solution of Morphine Tartrate x 5 (four with covers)with packing box x 3, 0.5 oz Hard Rubber Black Vials x 6, Crystalline Sulfanilamide Paper Envelope x 5 with packing box x 3, Curity adhesive tape, Adhesive Surgical Plaster, Safety Pins x 7 with cardboard, Metal Container, Flask w/Cup, Double-Blunt Scissors, Hemostatic Forceps x 2, Scalpel x 2, Spring Tissue Forceps, Folding Stretcher, Compressed White Bandage x 5 with boxe x 2, Geneva Convention Brassard

Related posts:
Dragon Models Limited (DML) 1/6th scale WWII Combat Medic “Doc Peterson” 12-inch action figure posted on my toy blog HERE
Toy Soldier’s 7th Anniversary figure: USMC Force Recon Rifleman/Corpsman, Vietnam 1970 posted HERE

Andrew Garfield posts:
Kitbash 1/6th scale Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man 12-inch figure (parts unknown) – pics HERE
I got up close to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 cast members, in Singapore for Earth Hour 2014 posted HERE

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Sideshow Collectibles 21-inch tall Batman Premium Format™ Figure Preview Pics


“I am Batman. This is my city. At night, it belongs to me.”

Criminals of Gotham, beware! Sideshow is proud to present the Batman Premium Format™ Figure.

Batman measures 21 inches tall, perched atop an Arkham cemetery base. Fans familiar with the shaded history of Gotham’s famed asylum may recognize the marks of madness carved into the gravestones beneath Batman’s boots.

The Batman Premium Format™ Figure stands ready to bring justice to his city, wearing an updated version of his iconic costume. The polyresin figure has a sculpted black and grey tactical bodysuit featuring a gold utility belt. Batman’s chest, gauntlets, and boots textured with elements of battle-damage.


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The Caped Crusader’s portrait is detailed with a grim expression, framed by his iconic cowl with white eyes. The Batman Premium Format™ Figure also has a tailored fabric cape with internal wiring to allow custom cape poses when displaying the piece.

The Exclusive edition of the Batman Premium Format™ Figure includes alternate left and right hands clutching Batarangs. Use the Dark Knight’s arsenal to defend Gotham with this added display option.


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Hot Toys Star War Episode III 1/6th scale Obi-Wan Kenobi (Deluxe Version) Collectible Figure


“Bring balance to the force… not leave it in darkness!”

Legendary Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi is fans’ beloved character in the Star Wars galaxy! Gifted in the ways of the Force, he fought alongside Qui-Gon Jinn, trained Anakin Skywalker, and served as a general in the Republic Army during the Clone Wars. In Star War Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, fans finally witness the conflict and climatic battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin who had turned to the Dark Side!

Today, following the release of Hot Toys’ 1/6th scale Anakin Skywalker collectible figure, we are very excited to officially introduce the eagerly anticipated a Deluxe Version of 1/6th scale collectible figure of Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith!

Sophisticatedly crafted based on the appearance of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the film, the 1/6th scale collectible figure features a newly developed head sculpt with stunning likeness, a skillfully tailored Jedi robe and tunic, a LED light-up lightsaber, severed battle droid parts and a specially designed figure base with interchangeable graphic cards!

Moreover, this Deluxe Version will exclusively include hologram figures of Darth Sidious and Anakin with LED light-up table and a baby Luke Skywalker!


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Hot Toys MMS478 Star War Episode III: Revenge of the Sith 1/6th scale Obi-Wan Kenobi (Deluxe Version) Collectible Figure specially features: Authentic and detailed likeness of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith | Movie-accurate facial expression with detailed wrinkles, beard, and skin texture | Approximately 30.5 cm tall Body with over 30 points of articulations | Eight (8) pieces of newly sculpted interchangeable hands including: pair of relaxed hands, pair of open hands, pair of hands for holding lightsaber, Two (2) gesturing left hands

Costume: brown colored under-tunic, beige colored tunic, brown colored Jedi robe, brown leather-like belt, beige-colored pants, brown leather-like boots

Weapons: LED-lighted blue lightsaber (blue light, battery operated), blue lightsaber blade in motion (attachable to the hilt), lightsaber hilt

Accessory: Comlink, Three (3) pieces of security battle droid remains, baby Luke Skywalker***, hologram figure of Anakin Skywalker***, hologram figure of Darth Sidious***, LED – lighted security hologram table**, Interchangeable graphic cards, Specially designed figure stand with Obi-Wan Kenobi nameplate and movie logo

*** Exclusive to Deluxe Version

Release date: Approximately Q1 – Q2, 2019


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Investing in France’s AI Ecosystem

Posted by Olivier Bousquet, Principal Engineer, Google Zürich

Recently, we announced the launch of a new AI research team in our Paris office. And today DeepMind has also announced a new AI research presence in Paris. We are excited about expanding Google’s research presence in Europe, which bolsters the efforts of the existing groups in our Zürich and London offices. As strong supporters of academic research, we are also excited to foster collaborations with France’s vibrant academic ecosystem.

Our research teams in Paris will focus on fundamental AI research, as well as important applications of these ideas to areas such as Health, Science or Arts. They will publish and open-source their results to advance the state-of-the-art in core areas such as Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning.

Our approach to research is based on building a strong connection with the academic community; contributing to training the next generation of scientists and establishing a bridge between academic and industrial research. We believe that both objectives are key to fostering a healthy research ecosystem that will flourish in the long term. These ideas are very much aligned with some of the recommendations that Fields Medalist and member of French Parliament Cédric Villani is putting forward in his report on AI to the French government.

As we expand our teams in France, we have several initiatives that illustrate our commitment to these goals:

  • We are sponsoring “Artificial Intelligence and Visual Computing” Chair at École Polytechnique (one of the leading higher education institutions in France) which will support their education initiatives in AI
  • We just established a partnership with INRIA for conducting collaborative research projects
  • We are funding academic research with unrestricted grants mostly dedicated to the support of PhD and postdoc positions through our Faculty Research Awards and PhD Fellowship programs, as well as our Focused Research Awards. As one example, we have recently funded a project on large scale optimization of neural networks led by Francis Bach (INRIA and ENS) and Alexandre d’Aspremont (CNRS and ENS)
  • We are working on offering CIFRE PhD positions (joint PhD positions between Google and an academic lab) as well as internships for PhD students

Additionally, we are pleased to announce that one of the world’s leading experts in computer vision, Cordelia Schmid, will begin a dual appointment at INRIA and Google Paris. These kind of appointments, together with our Visiting Faculty program, are a great way to share ideas and research challenges, and utilize Google’s world-class computing infrastructure to explore new projects at industrial scale.

France has a long tradition of research and educational excellence, and has a very dynamic and active machine learning community. This makes it a great place to pursue our goal of building AI-enabled technologies that can benefit everyone, through fundamental advances in machine learning and related fields.

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Using Machine Learning to Discover Neural Network Optimizers

Posted by Irwan Bello, Research Associate, Google Brain Team

Deep learning models have been deployed in numerous Google products, such as Search, Translate and Photos. The choice of optimization method plays a major role when training deep learning models. For example, stochastic gradient descent works well in many situations, but more advanced optimizers can be faster, especially for training very deep networks. Coming up with new optimizers for neural networks, however, is challenging due to to the non-convex nature of the optimization problem. On the Google Brain team, we wanted to see if it could be possible to automate the discovery of new optimizers, in a way that is similar to how AutoML has been used to discover new competitive neural network architectures.

In “Neural Optimizer Search with Reinforcement Learning”, we present a method to discover optimization methods with a focus on deep learning architectures. Using this method we found two new optimizers, PowerSign and AddSign, that are competitive on a variety of different tasks and architectures, including ImageNet classification and Google’s neural machine translation system. To help others benefit from this work we have made the optimizers available in Tensorflow.

Neural Optimizer Search makes use of a recurrent neural network controller which is given access to a list of simple primitives that are typically relevant for optimization. These primitives include, for example, the gradient or the running average of the gradient and lead to search spaces with over 1010 possible combinations. The controller then generates the computation graph for a candidate optimizer or update rule in that search space.

In our paper, proposed candidate update rules (U) are used to train a child convolutional neural network on CIFAR10 for a few epochs and the final validation accuracy (R) is fed as a reward to the controller. The controller is trained with reinforcement learning to maximize the validation accuracies of the sampled update rules. This process is illustrated below.

An overview of Neural Optimizer Search using an iterative process to discover new optimizers.

Interestingly, the optimizers we have found are interpretable. For example, in the PowerSign optimizer we are releasing, each update compares the sign of the gradient and its running average, adjusting the step size according to whether those two values agree. The intuition behind this is that if these values agree, one is more confident in the direction of the update, and thus the step size can be larger. We also discovered a simple learning rate decay scheme, linear cosine decay, which we found can lead to faster convergence.

Graph comparing learning rate decay functions for linear cosine decay, stepwise decay and cosine decay.

Neural Optimizer Search found several optimizers that outperform commonly used optimizers on the small ConvNet model. Among the ones that transfer well to other tasks, we found that PowerSign and AddSign improve top-1 and top-5 accuracy of a state-of-the-art ImageNet mobile-sized model by up to 0.4%. They also work well on Google’s Neural Machine Translation system, giving an improvement of up to 0.7 using bilingual evaluation metrics (BLEU) on an English to German translation task.

We are excited that Neural Optimizer Search can not only improve the performance of machine learning models but also potentially lead to new, interpretable equations and discoveries. It is our hope that open sourcing these optimizers in Tensorflow will be useful to machine learning practitioners.

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