The Coolest Vintage Gadgets on Etsy

Snappy Snapper ($89)

Snappy Snapper
This camera looks familiar. We imagine it takes vintage-hued photos in an instant. Oh, wait.

“Vintage” and “gadgets” are maybe not two words you want to see together, particularly when you’re in the market for a shiny new toy.

Help Me, Rhonda ($20)

Help Me, Rhonda
This transparent Cicena Rhonda isn’t subject to the whims of cellular service, so you can hear clearly now.

But just as home décor enthusiasts like to hunt for antique furniture, techies find pleasure in hunting down the gadgets of yore.

Be Mine ($368)

Be Mine
Our hearts have been set on the Valentine for a while now. This is a classic and has a home at MoMA.

And while you could jet off to South Korea and hunt through Seoul’s flea markets for old cameras, PCs, or cell phones, Etsy is probably a more affordable choice.

Learn to Project ($40)

Learn to Project
Mid-century modern and colorful, the Argus Special is just the thing to shine a light on some of your favorite images.

The place that made steampunk available to the masses also peddles old-time tech. There’s no better way to see how far you’ve come than to remember where you’ve been.

Pump Up the Volume ($164)

Pump Up the Volume
Rhythmic, systemic, and world control is what this Sharp boombox from the 80s promises to deliver.

Landline-locked princess telephones and chunky, clunky Polaroid cameras stir something in us. Something that makes us want to sit these things on a shelf and stare.

Tune In ($97)

Tune In
The Voxson television is a beautiful example of Italian design from its height, the 1970s.

And it seems Etsy understands the power of tech. Earlier this week, it announced plans to acquire Grand St., a marketplace for creative technology.

Game the System ($420)

Game the System
It’s been 25 years since it came out, so you likely have lost your Game Boy by now. But you can buy another…for a bit more than your parents paid for your original.

“Grand St. strives to enable small designers and maker teams to find a legitimate path to market, just as Etsy’s goal is to empower our sellers to start and grow their independent, creative businesses,” Etsy said in a statement.

Time Warp ($213)

Time Warp
Forget the tick-tock of time, a nice satisfying flip is the sound of the 70s with this Bosch flip clock.

Whether or not the gadgets created by Grand St. makers will one day be as coveted as some of the vintage gadgets currently for sale on Etsy remains to be seen. Until then, peruse our slideshow for some old-timey devices you can buy now.


Urban office architecture envisions a rising city at parramatta square

urban office architecture envisions a rising city at parramatta square

the city of parramatta, australia held a competition calling for two commercial high rises with an emphasis on energy efficient design. in response, urban office architecture have proposed ‘the city rises,’ which fuses two towers to begin as one unified entity and diverge as they rise. carlo enzo’s new york-based office has envisioned the building to serve as an asset to the public realm, extending from parramatta square to the north. glass boxes at the outermost layer of the structure contain vertical circulation allowing pedestrian access to upper levels. throughout the ascent, visitors are able to access programmed ‘floating rooms,’ which provide various urban functions.

urban office architecture parramatta square designboom
‘floating rooms’ connected by glass circulation volumes

the building’s specific twisting and projection to the south is prompted by performative efficiency in regards to heat loss/gain and structure. the result simultaneously offers improved interior configurations for office layouts. as the structure rises, offices have a close relationship to public areas, allowing for a healthy and enjoyable working environment.

urban office architecture parramatta square designboom
curving form responds to efficiency of building systems such as structure and solar gain

located near sydney, australia, ‘the city rises’ relates closely to its climatic conditions. oriented towards the north, black and glass boxes are able to collect and circulate water, light, and solar energy. the curving and aerodynamic form reduces wind loads and sun glare. multiple layers of glass treated with a photosensitive film lessen the solar gain, while remaining nearly transparent.

urban office architecture parramatta square designboom

urban office architecture parramatta square designboom

multi-layered glass skin treated with photosensitive film to reduce heat gain

urban office architecture parramatta square designboom


MERS virus kills 92 Saudis; Egypt reports its first case

Cairo – In the past week, significant outbreaks occurred in Saudi Arabia’s coastal business hub of Jeddah and in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi, both involving healthcare workers, infectious diseases experts said.

The World Health Organisation is particularly worried these two clusters could indicate there is an “evolving risk” in the spread of MERS. Pointing to “critical information gaps” regarding the transmission of the virus, it has offered to work jointly with national health authorities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to investigate the outbreaks in order to determine the transmission chain.

Saudi hospital employees wear mouth and nose masks as they stand outside the a local hospital's emergency department, on April 22, 2014 in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah.  AFP PHOTO/STR
Saudi hospital employees wear mouth and nose masks as they stand outside the a local hospital’s emergency department, on April 22, 2014 in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah

Neighbouring countries, as well as those whose nationals make up Saudi Arabia’s large foreign workforce, are growing increasingly worried about the kingdom’s apparent slow response to the virus.

Malaysia, Greece, Yemen and the Philippines all reported their first cases of the virus in the past two weeks – all the sufferers had been working or travelling in Saudi Arabia.

A significant outbreak of the virus occurred in Saudi Arabia's business hub of Jeddah in the past week.
A significant outbreak of the virus occurred in Saudi Arabia’s business hub of Jeddah in the past week

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health reported 14 new cases on Wednesday and Thursday alone, as well as four deaths among previously notified patients. This brings the Saudi total to 299 cases and 87 deaths since the virus was first recognised in 2012, the ministry said on its website on Thursday.

Internationally, about one-third of those affected have died. The total number of confirmed infections worldwide is 345, with 107 deaths, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Sweden reported on Thursday. The bulk of these infections are in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“Approximately 75 per cent of the recently reported cases … have acquired the infection from another case through human-to-human transmission,” World Health Organisation regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean Ala Alwan said in Cairo.

Saudi Arabia has fired Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabiah.
Saudi Arabia has fired Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabiah

“The majority of these secondary cases have been infected within the healthcare setting and are mainly healthcare workers, although several patients are also considered to have been infected with MERS-CoV while in hospital for other reasons.”

It took more than two years to reach the first 100 cases of MERS, said Michael Osterholm, director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

“Now, in just the past two weeks, we’ve had 100 cases … There’s a major change occurring that cannot just be attributed to better case detection,” he said. “When humans readily transmit to humans, that’s what will cause a worldwide outbreak. We are very concerned that … with what we’ve seen over the past two weeks … we may be at that point now.”

Saudi Arabia is expected to receive a surge of Muslim pilgrims in July during the annual fasting month of Ramadan, followed by millions more in early October for the Haj. But instead of openly stepping up its infection-control procedures and announcing other public health measures, Saudi Arabia has fired its Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabiah.

Adel Fakieh, the Minister of Labour who is now acting Health Minister, this week promised “transparency and to promptly provide the media and society with the information needed” on the virus after visiting the Jeddah hospital where the latest cluster of cases occurred.

MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes both the common cold and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) that killed more than 800 people in a global outbreak in 2003. Its symptoms can include fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure, experts say.

A lack of “basic epidemiological detective work” meant the biology of the virus, how it is transmitted and whether there is a seasonal element to its spread, had yet to be confirmed, warned Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

A recent study said the virus has been “extraordinarily common” in camels for at least 20 years, indicating it may have been passed from camels to humans, but even this hypothesis left many unanswered questions, Ms Garrett said. “You have to be able to explain why all those people in the camel racing business and the camel auctioning and breeding business are not infected.

“Camel milk is a staple in Saudi Arabia – millions of people drink the milk throughout the Emirates and the Persian Gulf – and yet we do not see MERS in the kind of numbers you’d expect from that kind of exposure.”

MERS CoV virus

Given the “dramatic surge in infections in the past six days”, it is time for Saudi Arabia to do more than just sack its health minister, she said, and start taking the steps that really do save lives, starting with much more aggressive infection control procedures in its hospitals.

Google wants its Project Ara modular smartphone to cost $50

Motorola's 'Project Ara' want to make modular smartphone hardware a reality

How much will a modular smartphone set you back? If Google gets its way, about $50 — assuming you forgo all of the bells and whistles. The team behind Project Ara wants to launch what it calls a “grayphone,” a barebones customizable exoskeleton that comes with little more than a screen, a frame and a WiFi radio. That wouldn’t be much of a phone, of course, but its only the bait. Google’s Paul Eremenko told Time Techland that users would customize their underpowered husks at special kiosks outfitted with tools to help customers build the device that’s right for them.

Sounds bold? It is, a little; the team admitted to Time that it hasn’t actually reached its price target just yet, and between the FCC and public opinion, it still has more than a few hurdles to leap before its modular cellphone is ready for market. That said, Eremenko says the focus is to make Ara great, not profitable — a statement that adds to the nebulous handset’s allure. Skip down to the attached source for Time’s full rundown of Project ARA, Google’s ATAP group and Eremnko’s thoughts on redesigning the smartphone.

DNA Day: Celebrate the programming language of life with your own DNA test

Happy DNA Day! 61 years ago today, the molecular structure of DNA was revealed to the world in the pages of Nature. The double helix is now emblematic of the programming language of life, and our understanding of DNA has grown by leaps and bounds over the past six decades. To commemorate such an important landmark in the history of man, let’s take a look at some of the most recent developments in the field of genetic research, and maybe even get tested ourselves.

So, what has been happening recently in the realm of genetic research? More than I could ever cover in a single article, but some interesting news regarding Neanderthal genetics has surfaced just a few days ago. On April 22, a fascinating study lead by Svante Pääbo (the world’s foremost expert in Neanderthal genetics) was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Based on the genomes of three neanderthals found in disparate locations in Eurasia, Pääbo and his team discovered that the genetic diversity in neanderthals pales in comparison to present-day Homo sapiens. It also appears as if the Neanderthal populations were relatively isolated and tiny, so gene flow was extremely limited for these groups.

File:DNA NoBB.png

On the very same day, an article was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that proposes the idea that skin cancer from the sun’s damaging UV rays was actually a driving force in the national selection for dark skin in early humans. In the article, Mel Greaves delivers a compelling argument that the deadliness of skin cancer in young albino children in Africa and Central America demonstrates just how vital it was for early humans to develop dark skin.

Despite earlier conjecture that skin cancer doesn’t kill early enough to play a major role in natural selection, this article outlines exactly how skin cancer seems to have shaped human evolution.

Y-DNA Tree

Earlier today, National Geographic and Family Tree DNA teamed up to release a brand new version of the human Y-DNA tree. This new tree of Y chromosome mutations has over 1,200 branches — almost double the number of branches that the Genographic Project was displaying before.

With this much refinement, it’s now even easier to track the historical migrations of your distant ancestors. To celebrate this monumental roll-out, Family Tree DNA is offering a 20% discount on the 37-marker Y-DNA test and all individual Y-DNA SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) tests to help you get started on your own research.

File:DNA replication en.svg

Nat Geo’s Genographic Project is on the cutting edge of genetic anthropological research, and its test is available to any interested party for only $200. Just a few months ago, I had the pleasure to discuss the intricacies of direct-to-consumer DNA testing with National Geographic’s Dr. Spencer Wells, so take a moment to read the full transcript of the interview for more information.

If you’re more interested in the realm of genetic genealogy and your more recent relatives, take a look at’s AncestryDNA product. From now until April 27, you can save 20% on your very own DNA test, and potentially find living relatives from all over the world. Consumer DNA tests are more affordable than ever before, so don’t hesitate to jump in now.

Facebook and Tesla Are Winning Wall Street Because They Make the Biggest Bets

Photo: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty

This week, shares in Google, Facebook, and Tesla reached an all-time high on Wall Street, helping push the NASDAQ to its tallest peak since the dot-com crash 14 years ago. These three tech outfits are very different operations, but right now, they have at least one thing in common: each has taken a strong stance on unproven tech. On Wall Street, it seems, risk is in. The question is whether such faith in Silicon Valley’s aggressive optimism will ultimately be rewarded.

Facebook just spent $19 billion on ad-free messaging service WhatsApp. Google is buying up robotics companies and artificial intelligence startups — as well as the smart thermostat maker Nest — in a bid to become the digital mediator not just on computing devices but across the rest of the physical world. And Tesla is positioning itself not as a car company, but an energy company that happens to make cars. In the past, bankers in bow ties and suspenders may have eyed extreme risk with skepticism, but today’s Wall Street is embracing the sunny confidence of Silicon Valley “disruption.”

During the dot-com bubble, investors threw money at everything on the internet, because no one knew the value of any of it. The medium was just too new. But that’s not what’s happening here. Two decades after the web reached the mainstream, the contours of our tech future have become clearer. We have a better idea of which players have the greatest influence over the shape of things to come. This winnowing seems to have inspired a new attitude among investors. These days, the market isn’t betting on everything. It’s not even betting on Apple. But it is making big bets on businesses that are themselves betting big.

Facebook Escapes Friendster’s Fate

Ironically, Facebook’s initial opportunity to define the future came because the company that got there first couldn’t follow through. Friendster launched in 2002, two years before Facebook, and it showed early signs of owning the concept of online “friending.” But Facebook’s superior execution, combined with Friendster’s missteps, allowed Mark Zuckerberg and his band of accidental billionaires to become the internet’s default social network.

Anyone who still doesn’t understand why Zuckerberg decided to spend $19 billion — about one-tenth of Facebook’s total value — to purchase WhatsApp should remember the cautionary example of Friendster. In four short years, Facebook amassed as many registered users as Friendster — about 115 million. After its first four years, WhatsApp has surpassed 450 million. Though that’s still a long way from Facebook’s current audience — 1.2 billion — WhatsApp is adding about a million new users each day.

But user numbers alone aren’t the only reason Facebook had to fear WhatsApp. Much like Facebook compared to Friendster, WhatsApp does much of what Facebook does but potentially better. Like Facebook, WhatsApp lets you update your status, share photos and videos, send messages, and reveal your location. In short, it lets you network socially. And arguably, it lets you connect with more granular control and less distraction than Facebook. Plus, there are no ads.

Instead of fearing or ignoring this rivalry, however, Zuckerberg co-opted it. Though WhatsApp was little-known in the U.S. before it was acquired, Facebook anticipated it — and the entire messaging medium it represents — as an existential threat. In the clichéd jargon of Silicon Valley, such a decision might be described as visionary. But that connotes some kind of mysticism or magical divination. In the case of Facebook’s WhatsApp acquisition, there’s no mystery: This is a hard business calculation based on user numbers, precedent, and profit potential that comes with a future that could include billions of users.

And Wall Street is rewarding the company’s decisiveness. On Monday, just days after the WhatsApp acquisition, investors pushed Facebook’s stock price to $70.78, 30 percent than it was just a month ago. You could say the market is responding to Facebook’s panache. Paying $19 billion for anything takes a kind of self-assurance that few possess. But they also see that this type of forward-looking acquisition can pay off.

“When Google bought YouTube for about a billion-and-a-half dollars years ago, people laughed,” Carlyle Group co-CEO and co-founder David Rubenstein told Bloomberg TV. “How could you pay a billion-and-a-half dollars for a company that has no revenue? It has nothing. And yet today that seems like a cheap price.”

Google Joins the Real World

Google might been thinking of its YouTube acquisition when it paid about twice as much for Nest, the internet-of-things startup known for its networked thermostats and smoke alarms. With the purchase, Google acquired not just those products but a platform on which to build a whole world of physical stuff infused with digital intelligence. For Google, which still makes most of its money from desktop advertising, it’s an effort to harness the momentum of a fast-approaching future before it outruns the search giant.

For some people, this is an ominous thing. Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry), said as much in a recent interview with The New York Times. “We’ve been perfectly happy to let Google be the benevolent dictator of our web experience. It has made the web pleasant and usable as well as navigable, making things like malware and pornography less obvious. We should be happy with Google becoming the operating system of our phones as well. But now it is striving to become the operating system of our lives,” he said. “It is interested in tracking, monitoring and monetizing everything we do, online and offline, with our cars and eyeglasses and thermostats. Are you surprised a lot of people are resisting that vision? It’s a tremendous amount of control by one company.”

But that’s not a worry for Wall Street. For investors, the Nest deal looks like the promise of more profits. Whatever you think of Google’s grip on so much of the world’s information, the company shows no sign of loosening its hold. Along with its purchase of Nest, Google’s well-publicized recent forays into self-driving cars and robotics show a company eager to engage in the world beyond our screens. If Google can figure out how to organize and monetize the world’s physical data like it has the web’s, its value could grow even greater than the nearly $410 billion market cap the company reached yesterday, when investors pushed Google’s stock price to $1,220 per share.

An Energy Company That Also Makes Cars

Among all the celebrity startup founders in Silicon Valley, the ambitions of Tesla CEO Elon Musk are the most cartoonishly simple. A first-grader might doze off before you finish explaining Google or Facebook’s ad businesses. But not Musk’s. Spaceships. Electric sports cars. And the things that power those cars: giant batteries.

It’s this last product that caught the attention of Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, who recently more than doubled the investment bank’s target price for shares in Telsa, Musk’s electric car company. “Tesla’s quest to disrupt a trillion-dollar car industry offers an adjacent opportunity to disrupt a trillion-dollar electric utility industry,” Jonas wrote in a note to investors. “If it can be a leader in commercializing battery packs, investors may never look at Tesla the same way again.”

Optimism about Tesla’s future, which grew after the company reported better-than-expected quarterly results last week, picked up even more momentum after the Jonas’s note, sending the company’s shares up nearly 14 percent yesterday to close at a record $248. The excitement centers around Tesla’s “Gigafactory.” In its earnings press release, the company says its new plant will make its battery packs much cheaper and “accelerate the pace of battery innovation.” This will make not only electric cars cheaper, the company says, but will also allow it to supply the “massive volume of stationary battery packs” needed by the solar industry.

Such an arrangement would work out well for Musk, who is also the chairman of solar energy startup SolarCity. But beyond the short-term business advantages, it’s hard to resist the appeal of that a car company that could double as a producer of renewable energy sources rather than a consumer of non-renewables.

There’s no consensus on whether the company’s audaciousness is worth billions. After all, Tesla was trading as low as $34 within the past year. Unlike highly profitable Google and Facebook, Tesla still maturing. The company delivers only a few thousand cars every quarter. What’s more, its battery idea could easily come to little. Battery technology has so far been one of the most stubborn bottlenecks in the advancement of mobile technology. That said, the company that breaks this bottleneck will be richly rewarded. And Musk’s follow-through on at least some of his crazier plans makes him an easy pick for Wall Street.

Apple Plays It Safe

In the midst of all this investor excitement about the future, one very significant company is missing. Apple is still worth much more than any of the other companies listed here (though Google is catching up fast). And it still makes more money. But its share price has stagnated since peaking about a year-and-a-half ago.

Last week, Apple took another hit on Wall Street when Barclays analysts downgraded their rating on its stock. In a note to investors, the firm said it expected Apple to slow down in much the same way Microsoft did after the height of its success around the turn of the century. The potential for big new growth just isn’t there, Barclays said. Even rumors of new Apple products to come, such as wearables and TVs, weren’t enough to convince the wary analysts.

“Frankly, we just couldn’t quite bring ourselves to use smart watches or TVs as reasons to raise numbers–nor were we fully convinced that these products could move the needle like new categories did in the old days,” the firm said.

What’s so shocking about this change in attitude is how quickly investors have gone from seeing Apple as the most innovative company in the world to one that plays it a little too safe. Most recently, instead of releasing new products or buying new companies, Apple was undertaking a massive stock buyback program. In a way, such a conservative move is in keeping with Apple’s culture. As a company, Apple works in deep secrecy, often for years, to design and build products that enter the world more fully realized than any other hardware in history. It’s not about to rush something to market. A bad product, after all, would probably hurt its share price more than no product.

But risk aversion is clearly not a trait the market values these days. Big flags planted on the fresh ground of the near future are what Wall Street wants to see. Back in the dot-com bubble days, those banners flew with the logos of such short-lived pretenders as and Webvan. But out of that cacophony have emerged a few forgers of the future that have inexorably changed how much of the world operates. And for now, at least, investors have decided to put their billions behind the ones who are moving most aggressively to try to change it again.

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