Gadgettes 188: The Mega-Segment Farewell Episode (podcast)

I hope you are sitting, and not standing. For this is in fact the final episode of Gadgettes. Yes, it sucks. But the show will always live on in the archives. Before you start re-listening to every single past episode, enjoy our final sendoff where we (appropriately) cover nearly all of the segments from the show.

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Why Apple is the master craftsman

Whatever you may think about Apple, there is no denying that it continues to set new standards for its craft. Craft? Yes, that seemingly old-fashioned word that many confine to quilting, scrap-booking, and other pursuits often disparagingly categorized as women's activities. My alma mater, the California College of the Arts, dropped the word craft from its name years ago, feeling that it was dragging the image of the school down. But craft as a concept has made something of a comeback in recent years, and no company in the mass-production realm is doing it better than Apple.

That's … Read more

Don't interrupt, disrupt! Be viral without viral marketing

As we're inundated with hero shots of the iPad every day, on every billboard and the back of every magazine cover, it appears to be a good time to rethink the relationship between advertising and product, between marketing and innovation. It's not that Apple doesn't spend any money on advertising--no, it was pouring a whopping $500 million into its launch campaign for the iPad. But what is different is that Apple's marketing doesn't have to be clever or utterly creative. In fact, it is stunningly not so. No major social media campaign needed to be sparked, no user-generated content contest needed to be held. And while the ongoing tongue-in-cheek anti-Microsoft ads are undeniably cute, they are not really an advertising revelation. Gone are the days of the bold "1984" campaigns. Today, Apple earns enough attention to forgo any ostentatious marketing, in fact, so much that a cleverly orchestrated campaign would distract from the brand rather than boosting it. The company simply displays its products--that's all it takes. Apple's products are viral without any viral marketing.… Read more

Brazilian designer shows VW how 'retro' is done (concept car Friday)

For this week's concept car Friday, we're taking a step back from the supercars and luxury sports sedans that we normally feature and take a look at the People's Car of the future. It's no secret that Volkswagen's New Beetle is at the end of its life cycle and that a major redesign is just around the corner. But what will this Newer Beetle look like? We hope not nearly as bland as the new Jetta, but VW isn't talking.

Meanwhile in Brazil, where the classic VW Beetle (or VW Fusca, as it is … Read more

Designers attempt to build a better Bugatti (concept car Friday)

The Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 sits as a halo car among halo cars, but the 5-year-old aesthetic of the 1,001-horsepower supercar is starting to look a bit long in the tooth. But with the exception of the awkwardly styled 16C Galibier concept, Bugatti seems content to trot out variants and special editions of the same Veyron for the last few car show seasons, leaving the rest of us to speculate as to the nature of the hypercar of the next decade.

Enter Racer X Design. This independent auto design team has taken the major design cues of the … Read more

Take better photos and hop across busy streets: iPhone apps of the week

As the World Wide Developers Conference winds to a close here in San Francisco, we hope developers who attended the many sessions and labs have been given plenty of inspiration to keep making great apps. Just like at every WWDC, Apple has announced the winners of the Apple Design Award. According to Apple, this year's Design Awards focused on "iPhone OS applications that demonstrate technical excellence, innovation, superior technology adoption, high performance, and outstanding design." They have some great picks in there, so be sure to check it out.

Notably absent from this year's offerings are … Read more

Sexiest Volvo that never was (concept car Friday)

If you ever though that a Volvo couldn't be sexy, prepare to be surprised. Nouphone J. Bansasine designed this slick 2015 Volvo S90 concept during his internship at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center--birthplace of the XC90, S80, S60, and the Safety Concept Car that would become the current Volvo C30--and it's probably the sweetest looking Volvo that we've ever seen.

The S90 has the four-door coupe profile that is so very popular with automakers these days, but it has what appear to be rear suicide doors, a la Mazda RX-8 or Mini Clubman. At the … Read more

Researchers hope to build autonomous 'Batmobile'

If you think the Batmobile is just something from the movies or comic books, researchers at MIT and Harvard University want to change your mind.

As part of a long-term project, the researchers are working on developing a computer that they hope could one day mimic the visualization systems of the human brain. And while there could be many practical applications for such research, one of the sexiest is a potential autonomous vehicle that could use its visualization acumen to navigate roadside dangers or impassable terrain.

According to Nicolas Pinto, a Ph.D. student specializing in brain visualization research at … Read more

Sweet ride in Coke and Mentos-powered rocket car

You've surely seen the Diet Coke and Mentos rockets that have been all over the Interwubs for the last couple of years. For those who haven't, a pair of intrepid scienticians demonstrated that dropping Mentos mints into diet cola causes a chemical reaction that shoots the foamy concoction out of the coke bottles in a fountain-like manner.

The same pair, who've been making the rounds at Maker Faires and other DIY events, this week posted this video of a custom tricycle-type vehicle that works along the same principle. It uses a piston drive to harness the power … Read more

Pedal-powered Porsche is world's lightest, slowest

The Ferdinand GT3 RS currently on display at Austria's Museum of Modern Art Linz is the lightest Porsche ever. It's also the greenest, the shiniest, and, well, probably the goofiest.

Built using a cardboard and PVC tube frame with an aluminium foil skin, the Ferdinand GT3 RS weighs a scant 220 pounds. The vehicle features skinny, low-rolling resistance bicycle wheels and tires that are driven, not by an exotic flat six-cylinder or a hybrid drivetrain, but by pedal power supplied by the driver's legs. Not only is the Ferdinand GT3 RS the lightest Porsche ever; it's … Read more