Vintage Rebecka and Modern Day Bob

Terry Watts Radar tracker at London Airport. Shared by Mirrorpix Archives

We have a couple–actually now 3!– duplicate names in our office: Rebekkah/Rebecka, Alex/Alex, and Max/Max, which sometimes gets confusing. One nickname that has stuck is “Vintage Rebecka,” for Rebecka Mustajarvi, our Office Manager in London and resident time traveler. The consensus is that you won’t ever see Rebecka dressed out of 1930’s or 1940’s vintage period clothing. While we spend so much time with sepia toned photos of the day at Historypin, she is the constant and joyful reminder that the world of the early twentieth century was most certainly in color.

However, our San Francisco and London offices are in frequent communications via the tools of the modern day, usually via Google Hangout and Skype. This kind of teleportation causes a serious problem for time travelers like Rebecka, as the use of a modern day Plantronics-type headset completely throws off the dynamics.  It seemed to me that we needed to turn to period communication devices to complete the picture.  With that in mind, we picked up a vintage WWII era headset on eBay and I quickly got to work in replacing the guts of the device with a USB headset.

Like usual, I bit off more than I could chew and before I could even heat up the soldering iron, I realized I needed help.  But who could help? Telephone repair shop? TV repair shop? iPhone repair shop?  The first two are very rare to come by, and the latter laughed me out of the store.

Bob Maring at work on the delicate operation

I am lucky enough to have parents that live in a retirement community in Michigan, and these places, if you don’t know, are treasure troves of wisdom and knowledge.  My folks connected me with Bob Maring, a retired electrical engineer who volunteered to help me out. Over the course of a few days, Bob put at least 5 or so hours of work into sorting out the old wiring and troubleshooting our USB replacements.  We both learned a bit about USB circuitry and as a bonus, I got to learn a little bit about his life and adventures as well (though he stayed pretty focused on the task at hand).

Bob with the finished headset.

Needless to say, when we sent the headset over to London, Rebecka was thrilled.  Granted, the heavy plastic, metal and glass unit weighs about 2 pounds, but life wasn’t easy back then!  Thanks again Bob, some choice biscuits coming your way!

Rebecka in action. Picture credit goes to Rebekkah with the sneak paparazzi approach!

Historypin + Science

The June UK edition of Wired Magazine features an amazing photo spread on a unique nonprofit collaboration we’re involved with, which includes photographers, scientists and cartographers working to document the changes in glaciers around the world.

We’re working with the team to develop the MELT App and website (Mass Engagement and Listing Technology) that will be based on the Historypin platform.  The apps will assist in the collection of images over time and enable the public to help scientists track the glaciers on an ongoing basis.  This is just one of several unique applications we’re involved with that pairs historical photographs with scientific research and conservation, and is indicative of some of the exciting work stemming from increasingly open cultural heritage collections.