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The U.S. took the lead on cellular technology today when the Federal Communications Commission approved a plan making massive swaths of spectrum available for the next generation of wireless service, called 5G. Pushing the limits of physics, the promise of 5G is huge: data speeds from 10 to 100 times faster than what 4G offers (well over one gigabit per second for 5G) with virtually no lag, known as latency.
There will be some latency getting that technology into your hands, however, with some estimating that it could take up to 2020 just to settle on the standard, and then more time to get the technology into products. You sure won’t see 5G in the iPhone 7, expected in September. Think more about the iPhone 10, at best.
Think also about connected cars, refrigerators, drones—pretty much anything that has a battery or plug. The negligible latency might even enable a doctor in one location to operate on a patient in another location via Internet-connected robotic instruments. “If anyone tells you they know the details of what 5G will deliver, walk the other way,” said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in a speech on June 20.
Also be wary of what cellular companies promise. Verizon has announced plans to offer 5G in 2017. South Korean carriers are aiming to have service in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. These will probably be limited, preliminary services that come out well before the technical standards have even been set.
What the FCC did today is open up an electromagnetic frontier of frequencies. Now it’s up to wireless companies to homestead the territory. The U.S. will be the epicenter for 5G, because it’s the first place in the world to open up the ultra-high frequencies that will make these data speeds possible: a massive swath of microwaves between 27.5GHz and 71 GHz. This is fundamentally different spectrum than what’s been used before, a range from around 600MHz to 3GHz. The FCC also just announced the intention to make another 18 GHz of spectrum available for 5G in the future.
These high frequencies were essentially considered garbage spectrum due to the technical challenges of making them useful. Today’s announcement by the U.S. about plans for 5G is a bit like its announcement in 1962 about plans to go the Moon. We know it’s technologically possible—once we invent the technology.
The benefit of these high frequencies is that their short wavelengths (a few millimeters) can squeeze in a huge amount of data. The downside is that they can’t carry it very far—as little as a few hundred feet, vs. miles for today’s 4G networks. These waves don’t go through walls nearly as well, either, making use in cities a potential nightmare.
But something has changed since the first cellular networks with their long-wavelength transmitters went up: The Internet is everywhere. It’s no longer far-fetched to imagine cellular transmitters on every block and even every floor of an office building. Wi-Fi already works that way in many places. And antenna technology is advanced enough to focus and direct the beams very precisely, possibly even to get them around obstacles.
Still, it’s going to take a while to build a meaningful amount of micro cells, as well as necessary backhaul: the high-speed wired (generally fiber optic) networks that connects them all to the Internet. Everyone may not be happy about these transmitters popping up all over the place. “Not in my backyard” protests might have to be expanded to include front yard and side yard. As part of its 5G plan, Wheeler said that, “the Commission has streamlined our environmental and historic preservation rules, and tightened our ‘shot clock’ for siting application reviews.” Environmental and historic preservation advocates may not be as sanguine.
For rural areas, where it’s uneconomical to put a cell on every block (if there even are blocks), the FCC is opening up low and midrange frequencies with very wide channels of at least 200 MHz to push through more data at once. Unlike previous cellular technologies that are assigned to fairly narrow ranges of frequencies, 5G is literally all over the spectrum.
The variety of frequencies that make 5G possible poses a final challenge: figuring out how everyone will use them. Some of that spectrum will be licensed. Companies will pay a fee for exclusive use of it, and auctioning off spectrum rights takes time. Other frequencies will be shared; companies will have to negotiate agreements to make that work. A big chunk will be unlicensed, meaning it’s continually up for grabs. That’s how Wi-Fi works; and as anyone trying to get online at a big event knows, it works terribly. Carriers will have to figure out much smarter ways for networks and devices to coordinate in order to avoid electromagnetic traffic jams. (Coincidentally, the US military’s DARPA is sponsoring a competition to develop better technologies for sharing the airways.)
In short, 5G is a very good thing, but good things take time.
Yesterday, a week after the girlfriend of Philando Castile broadcast the aftermath of his shooting by a police officer on Facebook Live, another live stream showing yet more violence began spreading on Facebook. A young black man listening to music with two friends in a car in Norfolk, Virginia, was broadcasting on Facebook Live when he and his cohorts were shot in a flurry of bullets. Unlike the first video, which was briefly taken off Facebook due to a “technical glitch,” the second video remained on the man’s Facebook page.
But as an increasing torrent of violent content is popping up in live streams, platforms like Facebook and Periscope are asking themselves what role they should have in choosing what their users see, and how exactly their teams of moderators will do that.
To the second question at least, platforms have one emerging idea: artificial intelligence.
“Being able to bounce porn inside livestreams or inside pre-recorded videos is already within the grasp of all the major tech companies,” says David Luan, founder of Dextro, a New York-based company that uses machine learning to make sense of video. Software like his is already being used to monitor video that’s both pre-recorded and live-streamed on services like Periscope, YouTube, and Facebook—all of which prohibit sexually explicit content. Luan says AI may be one reason why your feeds on those platforms feature little to no porn.
“We can already pick out when guns are present or when there’s a protest going on,” says Luan. And it can do it quickly. Luan says it takes his technology 300 milliseconds to determine what’s in a video once it hits their servers. That speed would be crucial for a platform like Facebook, with its 1.65 billion users, where live videos can quickly command an enormous audience.
In general, Luan says, image recognition has come a long way in the last two years. Companies like his use models and algorithms to identify concepts in streams as a way to help companies and users find the best content, or the section of a video they’re looking for. As such, artificial intelligence is becoming adept at perceiving objects in both images and video. Twitter’s AI team, known as Cortex, is using a large simulated neural network to determine what is happening in Periscope feeds in real time, in order to better recommend content to users.
“One thing that is interesting is that today we have more offensive photos being reported by AI algorithms than by people,” Facebook’s director of engineering for applied machine learning, Joaquin Candela, told TechCrunch in March. “The higher we push that to 100%, the fewer offensive photos have actually been seen by a human.”
AI can even attach sentiment or overarching descriptions to images like “happiness” or “anger.” Clarifai, another company that uses machine learning to analyze video, can recognize 11,000 different concepts, which includes both objects and scene descriptions. Matthew Zeiler, the company’s founder and CEO, says that AI can detect fighting by homing in on, say, clenched fists in a physical fight. But focusing on weaponry can be more predictive, he says, “because we could see these weapons before they’re used.” Once artificial intelligence knows what it’s looking for, it can set off an action—like shutting down a stream, or alerting a moderator—if these elements arise.
While researchers have made significant progress in “teaching” computers to see things in still images, processing live video is much harder. At Twitter, the AI team effectively built a custom supercomputer made entirely of heavy-duty graphics processing units (GPUs) to perform the video classification.
AI is also hampered in understanding the context of a situation, Luan says. “You have things that are very contextual, like someone being heckled in a way that’s really inappropriate, but that depends upon understanding some key characteristics about the scene.”
For example, an algorithm would not understand the racial undertones of a black man breaking a stained glass window depicting slaves picking cotton at one at the nation’s most prestigious universities. Artificial intelligence also wouldn’t be able to understand the nuanced hate speech in the heated argument between a group of white teenagers and a man with tan skin that erupted on a tram in Manchester after the U.K. announced its planned exit from the European Union. That requires cultural and historical context that artificial intelligence isn’t capable of capturing, at least not yet.
But an algorithm would be able to spot the police officer’s gun pointed at Philando Castile bleeding out in the driver’s seat of his car in Diamond Reynolds’s Facebook Live broadcast. What a human moderator with that information would do next is less clear.
The extent to which Facebook uses AI to weed out bad content is unknown, but the moderation system is still mostly human. Once a user flags a widely viewed live stream or video, it’s sent to one of the company’s four moderation operations, in Menlo Park, Austin, Dublin, and Hyderabad, India. There, moderators are told to stop any live stream that’s in violation of Facebook’s community standards, which forbids threats, self-harm, “dangerous organizations,” bullying, criminal activity, “regulated goods,” nudity, hate speech, and glorified violence.
Among the live videos Facebook has stopped this year was one from Paris showed an ISIS sympathizer streaming threats after allegedly murdering a police commander and his partner, and a video from Milwaukee of three teenagers who filmed themselves having sex. Another stream, filmed by a man as he was murdered in daylight on a Chicago street, remains on the site.
Part of the reason human moderators are still necessary—and widely used—in moderation systems is because of what artificial intelligence can’t understand. While AI may be faster at finding indications of violence, humans can understand more complicated scenarios like the altercation between that tram passenger and those angry Manchester teens.
That may be changing. “The pace of development in AI as a whole is super exponential,” says Luan. Gesture recognition is rapidly improving, he says, and while artificial intelligence can’t see concealed weapons, by the end of the year it may be able to.
While the kinds of things that AI is able to turn up and moderate against is getting more refined, that doesn’t mean we’ll be able to do away with human filters altogether. At the end of the day content flagging by human users is a crucial component of any platform, because in aggregate those flags say a lot about the kind of content users want to see as a whole. Furthermore, human moderators provide a crucial role in determining what content has public interest value (“raises awareness” in Facebook’s words) and which doesn’t.
But Facebook isn’t always so clear about why it deems a video permissible or unacceptable. Perhaps as artificial intelligence moderation tools are able to take on more of the burden of moderation and their accuracy inspires a greater degree of confidence, it will give platforms like Facebook and Periscope the opportunity to be more thoughtful and transparent about their decision to take down a video or keep it up.
These days, bespoke fashion is the epitome of luxury. Think London’s Savile Row, where people pay thousands for made-to-measure suits, or ateliers in Milan or Paris, where a predominantly female clientele commission one-of-a-kind handmade gowns.
Founders of 1Atelier
A hundred years ago, though, customized clothing was the norm. Manhattan was sprinkled with little shops where middle-class families could have trousers sewn from scratch or bags hand-stitched by expert artisans. It wasn’t until clothing companies moved toward more efficient and less expensive mass-manufacturing models that these workshops began to disappear.
And now, a Manhattan-based startup called 1Atelier is redefining bespoke fashion for the digital age, combining old-fashioned craftsmanship and modern technology in ways that could signal the future of customization.
When you walk into 1Atelier’s studio in the Garment District, tables are strewn with large bolts of premium leather, from full-grain cowhide to more exotic varieties of snake and crocodile. You can watch a master craftsman put the finishing touches on satchels, clutches, and hobos, each designed to the exact specifications of the customer. One saddle bag is made of champagne-colored python skin with a contrasting pink trim; a colorful tote comes in fuchsia, orange, and blue. There’s a little machine that stamps the owner’s name in gold lettering onto a label inside the bag.
In the past, a client would need to visit a workshop to order a customized bag, but at 1Atelier, she can do everything online. The company’s website allows customers to pick a style, then play with different colors and textures until they’ve dreamed up their perfect sack. The end product costs between $295 and $8,400, which puts the brand at the lower end of the luxury bag spectrum. But unlike Chanel or Céline, which requires six months or longer to ship a bespoke order, 1Atelier products are delivered to the customer in 21 days.
That’s all thanks to technology, from the snazzy customization tool on 1Atelier’s website to the company’s backend systems that make the supply chain and manufacturing models of efficiency. “Technology is the lever that allows us to transform the entire luxury experience,” says CEO Stephanie Sarka. Even the brand’s logo reflects how deeply 1Atelier’s mission is intertwined with tech: the number one surrounded by a circle resembles the power-on symbol.
Sarka, who has spent her career in fashion, e-commerce, and angel investing, cofounded 1Atelier last year with two other veterans of the fashion industry, Frank Zambrelli and Anthony Luciano. She believes that there’s a massive market opportunity to bring customization to the luxury accessories sector, which is worth $47 billion worldwide. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal from last year, 56% of luxury consumers say customization is increasingly important to them—an uptick that reflects a broader trend in consumer behavior. Deloitte research revealed that 36% of people want personalized goods and services in their everyday shopping experiences. “This makes sense,” says Zambrelli, who worked at Chanel, Coach, and Judith Leiber before cofounding 1Atelier and becoming its creative director. “We’re now surrounded by a culture in which we are encouraged to customize everything from our Facebook profile to the color of our smartphone. It was inevitable that this mind-set would enter the luxury industry.”
Major design houses have taken note. You can now monogram your Louis Vuitton bag or add your own combination of graphics—bees, tigers, flowers—to your Gucci bag, jacket, or shoes. You can choose the heel, color, and fabric on Manolo Blahnik’s classic BB stiletto. Jimmy Choo offers a collection of clip-ons and buttons to adorn your heels or clutch. For the 35th anniversary of Ferragamo’s iconic Vara and Varina shoes, you could customize these styles to your taste. And at the Opening Ceremony SoHo location, there’s an embroidery station where you can add the imprint of your choice to a shirt or jacket.
But as Zambrelli points out, these are personalized details on a few products from a collection. “These are condiments on an entrée, rather than a handcrafted meal,” he says.
Offering a more complete customization experience, where the customer has a hand in the entire design process, presents a logistical challenge for big brands, whose supply chain and manufacturing networks usually span multiple countries. In 2011, for instance, Burberry offered a bespoke service that allowed customers to alter every aspect of its iconic trench coat, from the cut to the fabric to the color, for between $1,800 and $8,800. But when the service failed to be profitable, Burberry quietly shut it down in 2015 and launched a simpler alternative, the Scarf Bar, where shoppers can monogram their initials onto scarves for $475 to $995.
Sarka and Zambrelli kept these case studies in mind when they built 1Atelier. “It’s hard to customize at scale unless you’re uniquely dedicated to it,” Sarka says. “We’ve been building our systems and infrastructure, thinking about how we can scale everything from the production to the user experience.”
Hence, the crucial role of technology.
In their research, the founders discovered that many women feel intimidated by too much choice. So they reasoned that the key to creating a website that clients would enjoy was to offer them ample options without overwhelming them.
Shoppers start by selecting one of nine silhouettes that Zambrelli designed based on classic handbag shapes. Then they select the leather, color, piping, and hardware. To guide them through the customization process, the site gives examples of fully designed bags, which I found useful when I was playing around on the site. I was drawn to bags with muted color palettes, full of blushes and celadons, but I quickly identified things I wanted to tweak: gold rather than silver hardware, no side pocket, more contrast on the piping. In the end, the bag I designed was totally different from the one I began with. And the vast majority of customers do get a one-of-a-kind product. “Of all the bags that we have sold, there’s only been one instance of the same design, a black python clutch,” Sarka says. “And even then, one of them had a chain.”
Once you’ve placed your order and your bag is being assembled, 1Atelier keeps you involved as best it can, sending emails every few days with photos showing, for instance, leather being cut or your name being stamped onto the label. “We think that this ongoing conversation with the consumer is ultimately what building a brand is all about,” Sarka says.
On the backend, Sarka is gathering plenty of user data, including consumer demographics, popular bag silhouettes, and average time to design a bag. While the company is barely a year old, it’s already using this information to improve the user experience. “We’re thinking about how to look algorithmically at decisions that the customer has made so we can provide suggestions along the way,” Zambrelli says. “For instance, we might discover that a customer who chooses white python subsequently goes on to choose one of four materials. We can use this to offer guidance as they design their bags.”
On the production side of the equation, 1Atelier uses logistical software to streamline the process. When orders come in, the team knows exactly what raw materials they will need and how many hours it will take to make each bag. Rather than stocking the workshop with hundreds of leathers that would require a hefty capital investment, the company orders skins from Italy and France to cover only the needs for each individual order. Over the course of Zambrelli’s career in the luxury bag industry, he’s built deep relationships with tanneries in Europe that can send products in 48 hours. Orders are also bundled together to make the workflow more efficient: If two customers want to use black tumbled leather, for example, the craftsman will cut the skins at the same time.
So who is buying these handbags? A very particular consumer—one who enjoys luxury products, has a disposable income, and is comfortable paying a high price for a product that doesn’t have the name recognition of an Hermès or a Louis Vuitton. “These are women who have already bought Chanel purses and no longer want their handbag to be a billboard for a brand,” Sarka says. This might seem like an idiosyncratic mix, but Sarka explains that Facebook and Google allow 1Atelier to target users based on psychographic profiles. And the approach has worked so far. In just under a year, the company has sold several hundred bags; a quarter of the purchasers have bought more than one.
That’s a promising beginning, but the business wouldn’t be sustainable if 1Atelier couldn’t keep the costs low by making the bags in New York. While other luxury brands have managed overhead by consolidating manufacturing in big factories, 1Atelier makes the bags onsite in a relatively small urban workshop. Zambrelli says this allows them to charge 30% less than comparable styles from other luxury brands. “It’s innately sustainable,” Zambrelli says. “There’s no warehouse of materials or finished stock that we have to dispose of if they are not sold. It’s remarkably efficient; there’s no waste and there’s nothing we’re throwing into a landfill.” Even if 1Atelier outgrows its current studio, the founders say they are committed to staying in Manhattan.
As word about 1Atelier spreads, Sarka hopes that people will begin to associate the brand with high-quality materials and craftsmanship. Zambrelli has included subtle touches to make a 1Atelier bag identifiable: a logo on the front or the side, wide piping, unique hardware engraved with a tiny logo. Eventually, if the brand does take off, women familiar with luxury products will be able to spot these characteristics in the way they immediately recognize the iconic Chanel 2.55 bag or the Hermès Birkin bag. “A couple of our repeat customers have asked us whether we can increase the size of our logo on the bag,” Sarka says. “We take that as a sign that we’re doing something right.”
It’s 9:30 on a drizzly morning in San Francisco’s SOMA district, and the day is just getting going at Seventh Son Tattoo. As I sit on a leather couch at the front of the studio with tattoo artist David Robinson, staffers are coming in, coffee is being brewed, and floors are being swept.
One of the other artists is working with an early client; I can hear them talking quietly in the back, along with the sound of a tattoo machine. (They don’t call them “guns” or “pens” anymore.) Robinson is showing me some of his recent tattoo designs, but he has no paper sketches or Polaroids. Everything is on his iPad Pro.
Tattoo artists are making a gradual conversion to digital, and the iPad Pro is proving to be a catalyst for an industry that so far has only reluctantly let go of ink pens and sketch paper. Pen and paper, after all, has been where the art in tattoo art has originated. The iPad Pro, with the help of the Apple Pencil stylus and some advanced image processing software, may be the first affordable technology that feels authentic enough to move artists away from the familiarity of pen and paper.
Robinson has been using the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil combo since December, and it’s gradually become a game changer—or, more accurately, a job changer.
“When it first came out I thought it would be cool to draw on, but I don’t think I realized until I started using it how much more I could use it for,” he said. He’s using the device to both design tattoos and help clients visualize how the tattoos will look on their bodies.
Part of the iPad Pro’s appeal to tattoo artists is simple: The larger version of the device has a huge 12.9-inch touch-screen display—about the size of a magazine—so there’s room to stretch out and do more detailed designs. (There’s also a model in the iPad’s traditional 9.7-inch size.) The design software has gotten better, too. Robinson uses a made-for-iPad app called Procreate, which, while not as feature-rich as Photoshop, contains many of the same basic attributes like layering and a wide variety of pens and brushes. Autodesk’s Sketchbook app is also widely used.
For Robinson and others in the tattoo trade, the iPad has become a central workspace for the artist and the client. Artists use it to rough out designs both during and after the first in-person meeting with the client.
“[The iPad] has allowed me to draw my sketches directly onto an image of the body part that would be tattooed upon,” says Delaware-based artist Fred Giovannitti. Robinson says that base body image is sometimes emailed from the client, and sometimes taken by the artist in the studio at the first meeting.
The image is then typically loaded into the iPad where it occupies a layer in the image-processing app (like Procreate). The artist can then sketch tattoo ideas on another layer over the body image. Or, as Giovannitti points out, the client will often have sample images of the desired design, which can also be imported into a layer and used as a guide for the design.
For some clients, there may be more than one of these “anchor images.” A “sleeve” tattoo, for example, may comprise three distinct images, each to be placed on a different part of the arm and each occupying a different layer in Procreate.
Tattoo artist Fred Giovannitti sketches a tattoo design with his iPad Pro.
From here, Giovannitti uses the Pencil in Procreate to tie the images together in a cohesive way. “I will use a brush or pencil tool to figure out how I will use an organic flow to tie all the images together into on composition tailored for a three-dimensional canvas,” he explains.
Judging by the popularity of laser tattoo removal, it’s clear that many, many people end up regretting their tattoos. Cutting down on this “tattoo remorse” might be one of the iPad’s biggest values to both artist and client. Clients naturally have some anxiety about the final result of the work; after all, a tattoo is more or less permanent. The iPad lets the client see both the aesthetic and the placement of the tattoo in the context on the affected body part before any ink flows.
Robinson said this is particularly important to people getting tattoos that cover large areas of the body, or to people who already have lots of tattoos. “Where you have a person who wants to fit a tattoo in between two tattoos that are already there, you can just take a picture of that empty space and have it fit in there exactly,” he told me. Visualizing a new tattoo on the iPad allows him to make quick sizing and positioning tweaks to make the design fit better.
Other clients come to Robinson hoping to carefully cover over an old tattoo that’s been lasered off. Even after a laser treatment, the faint outlines of the old tattoo are often still visible, and the coloration of the skin in the area is different. So the new tattoo’s lines and coloration must be perfectly placed to cover over the old tattoo.
The image of the tattoo design is superimposed over a photograph of the appropriate body part to give the client a clear idea of the result. The tattoo has been carefully placed to harmonize with an existing tattoo.
After Giovannetti has sat with a client, he instantly stores his consultation notes and sketches to the iPad. “Post-consultation, the digital process allows me more time to elaborate on the artwork [and] create a more complete and detailed version of the sketch that I can instantly email to my client for further approval,” he says. “This all helps to build the client’s anticipation and enthusiasm towards the project.”
Robinson usually meets with the client in person only once before they come in for the tattoo. In the meantime he works on his sketches of the tattoo on the iPad. He says he doesn’t like to send the client too many previews of the design, because it often leads to the client overthinking the idea or collecting too many opinions from other people.
For Robinson, the iPad sketching goes on up until the very last step in the design process. But he, like others, returns to the paper medium for the last steps before applying the tattoo.
“What I feel [the iPad] is used best for is getting the concept down—all your sketching, the layout of the tattoo, placement, and all that kind of stuff,” Robinson says. “Get that all dialed in, and do your final crisp line drawing on paper.”
Then, on the day of the tattoo, he reviews the final line drawing with the client. Any last-minute changes can be made on the iPad then and there.
When a stencil is needed to apply a complex design to the skin, Giovannitti traces out the lines of each layer of the design in Procreate. In the end, this creates a final, two-dimensional line drawing. But before the line drawing can be sent out to a thermal printer, it must first make a stop at his laptop, where he uses Photoshop to get the sizing of the stencil drawing just right.
“This has to be done because I have yet to find a drawing app with ruler guides to size my image to the very specific size it needs to be,” Giovannitti says. “For example, if the the face design has to be exactly 4.5 inches from forehead to chin, the only way to do it is in an app with real-time rulers that will translate to the printer.”
The thermal printout is fed into a special machine that makes the stencil drawing, which then transfers the line drawing to the body part being tattooed. Once transferred to the skin, the lines provide the map Giovannitti follows with the tattoo machines. He may also free-form draw some additional lines to the skin with a marker.
So the iPad Pro doesn’t entirely digitize the art of giving tattoos—paper is still used in some crucial parts of the process. But the device does provide an important focal point for collaboration between the artist and the client, which creates more transparency and may cut down on tattoo remorse later on.
Robinson says it took him a little while to get used to sketching on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. Unlike paper (and unlike the screens of other tablets he’s tried) the iPad’s screen is a large piece of glass with no texture—it’s completely smooth. So the tip of the Pencil moves more freely over the iPad surface than a real pen moves over paper.
But as he did it more, Robinson says it began to feel more natural. “It looks like a sketch, and it feels like you’re sketching.” Apple says when the iPad Pro senses the Pencil, it scans the stylus’s signal at a rate of 240 times per second—twice as fast as it scans a finger touching the screen. This eliminates almost all the delay between the touch of the Pencil to the screen and the appearance of the line it’s drawing.
Robinson says the pressure sensitivity of the Pencil further contributes to the “natural” feeling of drawing. When the user presses down hard on the screen, the Pencil makes a hard, dark line; when he exerts very little pressure it produces a light line. Procreate allows users to control the range of light to dark as it relates to the range of pressure that can be applied.
The Pencil weighs about three quarters of an ounce. “It’s actually heavier than a lot of the pens we use, but I kind of like it,” Robinson says.
Savage Interactive, which makes Procreate, says all of the 128 brushes in its app now take advantage of the Apple Pencil’s pressure and tilt, which creates shading like the side of a pencil.
For many tattoo artists, the iPad represents the first time much of their work has been digitized.
In general, the introduction of the iPad in the tattoo process eliminates a lot of paper. “We’re not running to the copy machine so much,” Robinson said. “If we want to flip a drawing or invert it, we just tap a button and we can do it on [the iPad], instead of trying to print it out and resize it.”
Having everything stored on the iPad or in the cloud also reduces the amount of stuff tattoo artists have to carry when they travel. This is a big deal for Giovannitti, who travels from his Delaware home to Las Vegas every month to ink.
Same for Robinson, who just spent a week working in San Diego. “All I had to bring was my iPad and all my reference materials were in there—everything I needed was either on the iPad or on a Google Drive account,” he says. “Before, I would have to bring my tracing paper, sketchbooks, masking tape, all the books I would need.” Robinson said. “My backpack would just be loaded.”
A purist might say the iPad removes some of the art from tattooing. Robinson and Giovannitti would tell you there’s just as much art in the process as ever, it’s just moved to a different medium.
And the iPad Pro certainly isn’t the only option on the market for tattoo artists. Some artists opt for a (more expensive) Wacom tablet. The Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 (with pen stylus) costs $2,500. Wacom tablets run various kinds of design software, such as one of the Clip Studio products from the Japanese graphics software company Celsys.
The 12-inch iPad Pro, on the other hand, starts at $799 for a model with 32 GB of storage and Wi-Fi and ranges up to $1,299 for one with 256 GB of storage and both cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity. The Pencil stylus is $99. Procreate costs $6 at the App Store.
The iPad Pro’s (relatively) low price point might let many artists reap the rewards of digitization for the first time—without losing too much of the artistic feel traditionally associated with pen and paper.
Change is afoot in the United Kingdom, which last month voted to break with the European Union amid a wave of working-class frustration and renewed nationalism, sending stocks tumbling and forcing Prime Minister David Cameron to resign.
After weeks of alliance forming and intrigue, leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May has taken over from Cameron.
By Parliament’s standards, she is a moderate. But in a sign of the times, May has aligned herself with pro-labor reforms that would raise eyebrows in conservative U.S. political circles. Most notably, earlier this week she came out in favor of installing employees on corporate boards, a practice called “codetermination” that is already required in countries such as France and Sweden.
“It is not anti-business to suggest that big business needs to change,” May said on Monday, as she outlined the proposal as part of a campaign speech. “If I’m prime minister . . . we’re going to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but workers as well.”
Minutes later, Andrea Leadsom, her last remaining rival for the job, conceded the contest.
May did not elaborate on her proposal, and many analysts have dismissed her reference to consumers as imprecise and unenforceable. But corporate governance models involving employee representation have gained momentum in Europe, with the idea that such boards are more likely to curb executive pay and respond to workers’ demands.
Whether that idea holds water depends on what you read. The Times of London was quick to note that C-suite pay has “spiralled to new heights” in Germany, which requires a two-tier board structure involving employees at large companies. CNN, in contrast, points to the model as the reason for Germany’s manufacturing growth.
Business leaders in Britain sounded a cautious note following May’s remarks. “These items would not be at the top of businesses’ wish lists right now,” Tim Thomas, director of employment and skills policy at a manufacturing trade association, told the Financial Times.
“It sounds fair, if worryingly European, but can backfire badly,” Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, wrote in the Telegraph, pointing to scandal-plagued Volkswagen as an example.
You just got the call you’ve been waiting for. After several rounds of interviews for a job you really want, it’s finally time to get down to discussing the offer.
If you’re relatively new to the workforce—and especially if you’re about to negotiate your very first job offer—there are some common pitfalls you may not know to avoid. Here are four of the most common ways early-career professionals tend to get out-negotiated by employers, and tactics you can use to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
1. You Break The Silence Too Soon
Silence is a negotiating tool that many employers use during salary negotiations. Don’t let them. Silence is designed to make you feel like the employer is losing enthusiasm for your candidacy during the course of negotiating an offer.
Once you state your salary requirements, many employers will fall silent or not react to your request. This uncomfortable moment often prompts candidates to volunteer information they shouldn’t—like, “If that’s too high, though, I can always consider a few thousand dollars less.” Resist that urge to backpedal. Just ride out the silence, calmly return the interviewer’s gaze (or wait out their silence if you’re speaking by phone), and force the person on the other side to speak next.
It doesn’t have to be standoffish, either. If you’re presented with a salary that’s lower than you’d hoped for, use that silence in your favor. Let them see that you haven’t been wowed by their offer. This can open the opportunity to ask for more money in the course of the discussion, because your interviewer won’t want to lose you and start the process over again—all over a couple of thousand dollars.
2. You Ask For A Salary That Reflects Your Lifestyle, Not Facts
Lifestyle salary requests are based on a candidate’s cash needs to support their current style of living. And indeed, it’s hard to blame less experienced job candidates for thinking along the lines of, “In order to pay my student loans and live on my own, I need to earn around $40,000 a year.” Unfortunately, though, your lifestyle has no place in a salary negotiation.
To your employer, your living needs are your concern, not theirs. Most employers work within salary guidelines set by the company for entry-level positions. If you bring any mention of your lifestyle into the salary negotiation, the company can quickly shut that down by pointing to its compensation protocol.
However, if you present your salary requirements based on average salaries listed on Glassdoor, Indeed, and other job sites for jobs similar to the one you’re being considered for, you can now get on the same page—using facts that are pertinent to the employer, not just you. And once you do that, your chance of landing a better starting salary dramatically increases.
3. You Accept A Low Salary Without Negotiating
Many early-career job candidates are grateful to be in the position to be offered a job with a company they really want to work for, so they accept an offer that’s below market value. The candidate’s thinking often is that they just want to get into the company at any cost, and they’ll worry about the money later.
But the truth is that if you do that, you’ll likely be underpaid as long as you stay at that company. That means the only way to get your salary up to industry standards is to leave, and you may not want to. Remember, there’s almost always room for negotiation in any salary discussion, even at the entry level.
The best way to handle a situation like this is to ask for a little more, not a lot more (where you might actually risk losing the job). Usually there’s no harm in asking for 4% to 6% more than what’s initially offered. This way you’ll walk away feeling that you’re being fairly compensated. Every company has a little more to pay you if they really want you.
4. You’re An Uncreative Negotiator
Most entry-level candidates look at salary negotiation as a black and white thing. Maybe a $38,000 starting salary has been presented to you as a final offer, so you feel like there are only two choices: Either accept it or reject it—and take your chances on finding a higher-paying job.
But rather than rejecting the offer, what if you were to ask for a six-month review and a salary adjustment based on your performance? That’s actually pretty common. Many employers will agree to this, understanding that they can keep their entry-level salary structure intact while at the same time giving you an incentive for strong performance during your first six months on the job. It’s a win-win situation for both of you—just as long as you think to ask about it.
It’s a question many of us ask ourselves and have trouble answering. Because what is success, anyway? Is it writing a book and selling a million copies? Winning awards? Or just feeling satisfied with your work? We’re often told that success is in the eye of the beholder—that we need to define it for ourselves, on terms that are meaningful to us.
Which is true. But it doesn’t tell us how to do it, and try as we might, many of our achievements still wind up fitting a mold that suits somebody else—like our employers or society—at least as much as, if not more than, it suits us personally. And we still find ourselves left unsatisfied or unhappy, wishing we had something more or something else, no matter how “successful” we’ve been.
Here’s a look at one of the most likely reasons why.
As someone who’s studied and written about the psychology of happiness, I’ve discovered there roughly are three types of success. The trick—first—is to remember that you can’t have them all at once, and then to figure out which one you’re aiming at. It looks something like this:
1. Sales success is about getting people to buy something you’ve created or put on offer: Your book is a commercial hit! Everybody’s reading it, everybody’s talking about it, you’re on TV. You sell hundreds, then thousands, then even millions of copies. Dump trucks beep while backing into your garage to pour out endless royalty payments. (Most book authors can tell you the publishing business doesn’t work anything like this except for a lucky handful, but you get the idea.)
2. Social success means you’re widely recognized among your peers—people you respect. You’ve earned critical success. Industry renown. To extend the book author example, the New York Times reviews your latest novel. You’re short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and the top tastemakers are all talking about you and your work (whether or not it’s a commercial hit).
3. Self success is in your head. It’s invisible. Only you know if you have it, because it corresponds to internal measures you’ve established on your own. Self success means you’ve achieved what you wanted to achieve. For yourself. You’re deeply proud of and satisfied with your work.
These three categories are broad and therefore approximate, but that’s why they’re so useful: Chances are good that any major achievement you reach will fall more clearly into one than another. They apply to pretty much all industries, professions, and aspects of life. The point is that success is not one-dimensional. In order to be truly happy with your successes, you first need to decide what kind of success you want.
Are you in marketing? Sales success means your product flew off the shelves and your numbers blew away forecasts. Social success means you were written up in prestigious magazines as a result, nominated for an award, or recognized by your company’s CEO. Self success? That’s always the same no matter who you are or what you’ve achieved: How do you feel about your accomplishments?
Are you a teacher? Sales success means you’re offered promotions based on your work in the classroom, which your superiors want to magnify and implement more widely. You’re asked if you’re interested in becoming an administrator. Social success means well-regarded educators invite you to present at conferences, mentor new teachers, and the principal or school district administrators recognize you for your work. Self success? Again: How do you feel about your accomplishments?
Here’s the catch, though: However they may overlap, it’s impossible to experience all three successes at once.
Picture the triangle above like one of those wobbly exercise planks at an old-school gym. If you push down on two sides, the third side springs into the air. In our lives and work, it’s rare that any given thing we do—any single success we achieve, no matter how great—can satisfy ourselves and others in equal measure. Aspiring to that, if you ask me, is a mistake.
Sales success, for instance, can block self success. That’s what happened to me as a writer when I got hooked on best-seller lists. Personal goals took a backseat to more tangible commercial ones. “Make hay while the sun shines,” the saying goes, even if you feel like going to bed—but this is the artist who sells out. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with chasing commercial success. But you can see how it can block your personal goals sometimes—those that can’t be tracked on a retailer’s weekly sales rankings.
However they may overlap, it’s impossible to experience all three successes at once.
Personal achievements don’t necessarily have a marketable strategy—so no sales or social success may follow from them. That goes for the stunning birthday cake you bake for your daughter. Or the incredible lesson you, a teacher, put your heart into for weeks. The backyard deck you built with your bare hands. You wouldn’t expect royalty payments or critical reviews from those endeavors. You’re not trying to sell cakes, great teaching, or decks. You could! But that wasn’t your goal.
Finally, it’s worth noting that critical darlings rarely sell—which means that social success can sometimes block sales success. One of my favorite movies a last year was Spotlight. Tense, dramatic—I was glued to the screen. The movie won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, a high honor. But its total domestic box office last year was $45 million.
Furious 7 made $353 million.
If you were a filmmaker, which one would you have rather made?
Know which of the three kinds of success you want. Pick one, aim, and then fire.
Turns out large numbers of Nest security camera users point their devices through a window toward the outside, so the company took the clue and built the Nest Cam Outdoor. The new camera is basically a Nest Cam wrapped in a stylish weatherproof container. It sells for the same $199 price as the Nest Cam Indoor, as the company now calls it. It is the company’s first product in a year, a turbulent period that saw the recent departure of its charismatic founder Tony Fadell, who was replaced by former Motorola Home executive Marwan Fawaz.
Like the Nest Cam, the outdoor version also gives a wide 130-degree view and can stream 1080p HD video. A Night Vision mode illuminates the whole scene with eight LED lights. Nest Cam Outdoor has both a microphone and a speaker, making it a sort of intercom system when paired with a smartphone running the Nest app.
With the new camera comes a new software feature called Person Alerts, which uses computer vision technology to detect people in the camera’s field of view. In the demo video, a suspicious person ventures up onto a user’s porch, looks around, and checks the front door. The owner’s voice is then heard issuing from the camera’s speaker, saying, “Hey what do you want?” causing the stranger to turn and leave in a hurry. In another scene a postman shows up in the camera’s view, looks into the lens and says, “Hi, I have a package for you.” The owner, talking through the camera’s speaker, tells the postman to leave the package in the back of the house.
The owner was alerted to those unexpected visitors (one potentially dangerous and one not) when the Nest Cam sent an alert through the app. Person Alerts, Nest says, will become available in September, and then only to users with Nest Aware cloud video archiving subscriptions.
By the sound of things, the Person Alerts feature is just the start of Nest’s plans for computer vision. “Person Alerts are the first of a new generation of intelligent alerts from Nest that leverage Google’s expertise in machine learning and powerful algorithms to deliver deeper insights to customers about what’s happening at home,” says the company, which was acquired by Google in 2014 and is now an Alphabet company.
The Nest Cam Outdoor comes with an extra-long 25-foot power cable that can extend to a nearby outdoor power outlet. The cable can be painted to match the wall siding. The camera itself can attach to an outside metal surface (like a rain gutter) with a powerful magnetic base (included).
Nest Cam Outdoor will hit store shelves this fall in the U.S. and Canada. A two-pack will be available later for $348. The Nest Aware subscriptions cost $10 for a 10-day subscription or $30 for a 30-day subscription. Additional cameras cost extra.
Sometimes a company has an “oh no” moment that can cause it to fall by the wayside. How it responds speaks volumes about the organization’s potential longevity, as well as its leadership. For Avid Life Media, the company behind the infamous dating site Ashley Madison, that time is now.
After a huge public crisis that led to one of the biggest digital security breaches in history, the company is now trying to rise from the ashes. Last week it announced new leadership, this week it rebranded; “Avid Life Media” is now “ruby.” The question is: Is this enough to regain the trust of its users?
Ashley Madison, the storied dating site for people looking to cheat, has been in the spotlight for the last year when a hacking group claimed it had breached its system. The saga culminated in the attackers posting a database of every user on the website and the company spending months to figure out how best to regroup.
But changing a parent company name does not a new organization make. And when a website known for bucking social mores falls even further from public grace, it’s more than an uphill climb to become solid brand again. The two new executives at the helm believe they know what to do, and they explained the new “ruby” plan to me.
Rob Segal and James Millership[Photo: courtesy of Avid Life Media]
Last week the company announced that Rob Segal would be the company’s new CEO and James Millership would take the helm as president. Both men have worked with large companies and helped facilitate big turnarounds or rebrands. And, after talking with them about their plans for Ashley Madison and the like, it seems they both relish the challenge of repositioning an embattled company.
This project will be no easy feat. Indeed, the company has been in disarray for months, with users being outed and revelations that many accounts on the site were robots, or “fembots,” which were computer programs coded to chat with lonely men. A site like Ashley Madison is built on a strange form of digital anonymity and trust that was unceremoniously yanked last year.
Last year the company decided to regroup, and probably the most important part of that equation was finding new leadership to steer the way. Both Segal and Millership were approached by ALM and spent months considering whether or not they would take the plunge. According to Millership, the two worked together performing due diligence to figure out if and how they could save the company. “We didn’t take the decision lightly,” he said. Ultimately the two figured there was an opportunity to be had and accepted the roles.
Following their appointments, this rebrand is the first important move the company makes to try and reclaim its territory. Now, “ruby” needs to reprove itself. Segal believes that what originally differentiated Ashley Madison from other sites could actually help rebuild the company. As he sees it, these sites have the “ability to operate at a level that most other dating sites can’t.” Sure, Ashley Madison was considered vulgar because of the kind of activity it facilitated, but he believes it looked at relationships in a markedly different way than every other dating platform out there. During our conversation Segal waxed philosophic about how human sexuality in 2016 is very different from even ten years ago. As Millership put it, he saw an opportunity to market to even more of Ashley Madison’s “adventurous clientele.”
What’s most interesting is that Avid Life Media is rebranding itself and not the infamous Ashley Madison name. This, says Segal, is because the site is a “huge brand.” The opportunity isn’t starting from scratch, but making something better from what is already there, he says. For one, the site will be “a lot more female-friendly.” Moreover, there will be a new emphasis on being both “tasteful” and “respectful.” The whole rebrand, says Segal, is to make now-ruby “a little more elegant.” The focus won’t be on cheating, per se, but on those excited moments that exist outside of monogamy and everyday monotony. Segal described that moment you first see someone that excites you; “you get butterflies,” he said. One ad in the company’s new campaign shows a woman in a boring job and tired relationship, and then seeing an attractive mystery man at a hotel counter. The new emphasis, from what I understand, is on facilitating that moment.
Also, the company says it is learning from past mistakes. It is take security more seriously than ever, say the two new leaders. They say the plan is to rebuild the technology and bring on new names to the roster. Ruby is “investing into new technologies,” says Millership, adding that it’s also looking for new brands and potential acquisitions. They are also trying to show how much they care about security and privacy—indeed, there’s a very prominent link on its home page to a section titled just that.
Rebrands are hard, and crisis public relations is even harder. The company remained silent for almost a year, ousted its CEO, and began trying to figure out a new path. It seems after months of boardroom discussions and leadership searches, it has crafted a new plan. The rebrand is part of it, along with a slew of new advertising like the one described perviously. The two executives also referred heavily to its global user base.
This is all in line with how companies believe they should respond in times of crisis. The Avid Life Media brand was significantly marred when news hit of the breach. It needed to craft a plan and create a congruous positive message post-crisis it could disseminate to the world. Most importantly, If the company is to survive, the one thing it would have to do is regain the trust of its users while maintaining the individuality that it had.
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Crisis PR experts heavilyrefer to the strong “ties” and “relationships” organizations have with their customers. If that relationship is diminished, all bets are off. Companies have been able to do this in the past. For instance, 23andMe was in the spotlight three years ago for potentially giving erroneous information from the home DNA tests it offers. After months of bad press and fallout with the FDA, the company shifted slightly to still offer tests but focus more on the raw data provided, as well as ancestry information. The company is now back in good graces.
Of course a health-tech DNA testing company is a far cry from a website for people to cheat on their spouses. But Ashley Madison did have a fallout with its clientele and is trying to shift in a somewhat similar way. The rebrand and new focus on being “tasteful” is a way to offer a carrot to those who were scared off by the site before. Perhaps even those who don’t want to technically cheat; another ad shows a tired couple becoming excited about the addition of a possible third. Of course, the company isn’t swearing off the kind of services it offers. Instead, say Segal and Millership, ruby wants to show people that it wants to listen and be more amenable to what its customers want.
Photo: courtesy of Avid Life Media
As Segal describes it to me, ruby’s new intent is to build dating sites “that people relate to.” The ads feature women prominently, and tell stories of people in known relationship quandaries (tired of their partner, bored, etc). Part of that is changing the inherent culture of the site, he says, and being more inclusive. Before, Ashley Madison was perceived as an outlet for disgruntled men to find affairs, now the hope is to include more people in the mix. “Ruby is reflective of where we want to take the company: feminine, multifaceted, sensual.” This refocus mixed with the new ads is a way the executives hope to bring in a more diverse user base. The company says it’s trying to make the ratio of men to women (and not men to robots) more even.
In short, Ashley Madison isn’t changing what it does, but is trying to show its customers that it cares about them by reframing its services, focusing on more global customers, and pledging to be more secure.
The next year will show us whether or not the rebrand works and customers once again trust the site. For Segal and Millership it’s about explaining to people that they listened to their concerns and changed they handle things. At the same time, they feel they have to “stay true to the edginess of the product itself.”
For Ashley Madison, it’s not a new name. Instead, says Segal, “we just feel that she can be repositioned.”