Wild Thoughts With Ivy Ross

“Good design is not just subjective. Nor is beauty. Some people think it’s arbitrary, but it’s not,” says Ivy Ross, the Head of Design for Google Hardware. It’s a Friday afternoon and Ross is working from her home, a modernist house with an almighty view of Mount Tam in Marin County. Lily Lin, a Google communications director, peers at us through a laptop camera positioned on the coffee table while Ross and I sit on an architectural sofa by Antonio Citterio. Lin’s video-link presence might feel Big Brotherish if she weren’t so good-humored and sisterly.

Ross is a “Greygler” as they call Google employees who are over forty, but she pulls off Current Elliott coated jeans and Converse Allstars customized with black studs as if she were a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology (her alma mater). An enthusiastic interviewee, Ross is quick to draw on all aspects of her unusual curriculum vitae. Initially an award-winning jeweler, she went on to work in fashion companies like Calvin Klein, Coach and Gap as well as toy companies such as Disney and Mattel. From a deep understanding of product design in a range of materials (metal, textiles, plastics), she moved on to senior responsibilities in global brand marketing. She also spearheaded many initiatives to foster the productive use of intuition and imagination among her companies’ employees. As her current boss Rick Osterloh, Google’s SVP Hardware, explains, “Dorothy Parker once said, ‘Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.’ That, in a nutshell, is Ivy.”

The mandate of design in the tech sector has changed dramatically. A little over a decade ago, it meant black boxes and gray gadgets. Now industrial design is only part of a puzzle in which “user experience design” takes precedence. Why? Tech is not much use if people can’t figure out how to use it. Ross oversees a team of approximately 100 people, who focus on the industrial and user-experience design for phones (their new Pixel), voice-activated assistants (Google Home), tablets, virtual reality products, and all sorts of top-secret special projects. They also deal with research and packaging. “We are excited to develop a complete design language,” says Ross. “The simplest things are the hardest to design because you don’t have a lot of places to hide.” As Head of Design, Ross’s gift for obtaining a sense of the big picture and the microscopic details is essential. “Ivy is a magical blend of broad experiences,” says Tony Fadell, a highflying entrepreneur who had the pleasure of “creating the future” with Ivy when he ran Google Glass. “She can deftly speak about fabrics, fashion trends, electronics, user interaction, marketing, sales, even ethnography. She’s a businessperson’s designer and a designer’s businessperson.”

When I ask about Google Glass, Ross turns to her laptop screen and raises her voice, “Yeah. So. Miss Lily?” Her communications director replies, “The project still exists, but we’re not announcing anything new at this point.” I press for a comment. “Glass was ahead of its time. To have a computer that small is incredible,” says Ross. “It was brave of us to put out a prototype. It was an honest entry—maybe served up innocently in a way that didn’t quite serve its purpose. Your average consumer doesn’t understand the concept of a prototype.” Google Glass is currently part of Google’s wearables division, which embraces products focused on virtual, augmented and annotated reality.

First Look at Josh Brolin as Cable in ‘Deadpool 2’ Revealed

Deadpool

He’s no Keira Knightley, but Josh Brolin does look plenty proud as Cable in the upcoming Deadpool 2.

Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool marketing machine extraordinaire, posted two first looks at a heavily scarred and cybernetically enhanced Josh Brolin as Cable on his Twitter. And true to form, he threw in a “premium Cable” joke too.

Just like Reynolds’ previous posts of Zazie Beetz as Domino last week, the Deadpool actor dropped a whopping two photos of Brolin’s Cable: one close-up of Brolin holding a finger up to his mouth and shushing the audience as his cyborg eye glows yellow, the second a full body shot where we can see Cable’s machine arm and machine gun, as well as a beat up teddy bear he carries on his person.

“We all have that one, grumpy, heavily armed Uncle from the future,” Reynolds wrote in the caption for the close-up shot.

Brolin has been beefing up for the role of Cable in 2018’s Deadpool 2, the sequel to 2016’s surprise hit Deadpool, which starred Reynolds as Wade Wilson, a foul-mouthed, self-aware superhero. In the closing credits of Deadpool, Wade promised that Deadpool’s infamous buddy Cable would appear in the sequel and be played by Keira Knightley, in a riff off on the after-credits bumper in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Knightley was busy I guess, and Brolin got cast in the part instead. Since then, he has expressed excitement for the role, posting several pictures of himself working out for the part — and promoting active wear. Hey, he can multitask!

In the comics, Cable is a fellow mercenary descended from Scott Summers and a Jean Grey clone, but his backstory may change for the film. Brolin’s Cable is a time traveling soldier described as being “in many ways the opposite of Deadpool.” In other words, he could be the stoic foil Reynolds’ wisecracking superhero demands.

Cable is an adversary-turned-buddy to Deadpool, first crossing paths with the Merc with a Mouth when Deadpool was tasked with assassinating him. Cable and Deadpool were soon paired together in an extremely popular comic book series and eventually became members of the X-Force, a strike team of mutants with a harsher edge than the regular X-Men.

Reynolds has promised that Deadpool 2 will lay the groundwork for an X-Force movie, and with essential members like Cable and Domino already a part of the Deadpool sequel, it seems like we’re not long for it.

Kelela’s Philosophy of Love

hen I sit down to talk with Kelela in July, there’s 6,000 miles between us—she’s in balmy Los Angeles, I’m in wintery Argentina—so we speak through our screens. In this case, though, breaking bread across the chasm-like gulf of physical distance by way of Skype feels fitting. Kelela’s sensuous electronic music is all about the interplay between soulfulness and technology, as her wistful, siren-like vocals float over surreally digitized soundscapes.

The singer’s forthcoming debut album, Take Me Apart, is a musical treatise on how passion sometimes gets in the way of life, with spacious tracks that illuminate the way we grow into, and around, the people we choose to love, like vines. The difficult work we have to do in leaving a relationship, or in making one work, is to disentangle ourselves and deconstruct the good and bad choices we’ve made along the way—we essentially have to take ourselves apart.

The record may be the 34-year-old’s first full-length, but it’s been a long time coming. A second-generation Ethiopian-American, Kelela was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in the suburbs of Gaithersburg, Maryland. She grew up on a diverse musical diet that included jazz icon Sarah Vaughan, Ethiopian singer Aster Aweke, and TLC. After aborted educational stints at Montgomery College and American University, where she studied sociology with interest in sustainable development in Africa, she relocated to Los Angeles in 2010.

In L.A., she flirted with jazz and prog metal before settling into a more idiosyncratic lane, teaming up with alternative club label Fade to Mind to release her startling 2013 mixtape, Cut 4 Me, which garnered co-signs from the likes of Björk and the Knowles sisters. She migrated to Warp Records for her 2015 EP follow-up, Hallucinogen, and continued to pair up with intrepid soundscapers like Arca and Clams Casino. More recently, she has popped up on albums by Gorillaz, Danny Brown, and Solange, while her winning, no-fucks stage persona has made her a perennial music festival favorite.

Kelela leans heavily on the “black girl pop” universe that Janet Jackson, working with producers Jam and Lewis, galvanized in the mid 1980s. Janet, in turn, paved a lane for lithe ’90s vocalists including Aaliyah and Kelis, who paired with adventurous Pro Tools wizards like Timbaland, the Neptunes, and Missy Elliott in order to redefine soulful pop as whimsical headphone psychedelia inspired as much by Jodeci’s mechanized R&B as UK trip-hop acts like Massive Attack and Portishead. It’s this weird world of breathy, compressed soprano vocals, turbulent beats, and warped synthesizers that remains Kelela’s happy place.

The Brainstorming and Planning Phase

Brainstorming and Planning might seem like obviously steps to take when going from idea to launch. Unfortunately, many people skip over these steps because:

  • They’re too anxious and have to start
  • They feel like they’re behind schedule
  • They don’t want to face the fact that they have no idea how they’re going to turn their idea into reality

The reasons why people skip over these steps should clearly reveal just how important they are.

Being anxious or feeling like you’re behind schedule is only going to result in sub-par work.

And not wanting to face the fact that you have no idea how you’re going to turn your idea into reality is simply insane: at this phase, you’re not supposed to know!

That’s exactly why this phase exists: so you can write out the steps you need to take and the milestones you need to hit in order to accomplish your goal.

3 Steps to getting your plan started

There are 3 steps to successfully completing the Brainstorming portion of this phase, and those are:

  1. Writing out what you already know
  2. Doing research
  3. Asking others who have already done what you want to do

 

Once you’ve completed your Brainstorming, it’s time to take the information you’ve gathered and put it into a plan. This means specific steps – in order – with due dates in place.

Be sure to tune into this episode to get details on each of these steps, along with other critical tips for successfully completing the Brainstorming and Planning phase of your journey from idea to launch!

The 9 Most In-Demand Programming Languages of 2016

Glassdoor recently published a report on the top 25 lucrative, in-demand jobs. More than half of the jobs listed are in tech and require programming skills. If you’re interested in a fast-growing and lucrative career, you might want to make learning to code next on your checklist!

Next, comes the hard part – deciding on the best programming language to learn.

To help narrow things down, we compiled data from Indeed.com (database including current computer programmer jobs). While this isn’t an extensive list, it does provide insight into the most in-demand programming languages sought after by employers.

Breakdown of the 9 Most In-Demand Programming Languages

1. SQL
It’s no surprise SQL (pronounced ‘sequel’) tops the job list since it can be found far and wide in various flavors. Database technologies such as MySQL, PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Server power big businesses, small businesses, hospitals, banks, universities. Indeed, just about every computer and person with access to technology eventually touches something SQL. For instance, all Android phones and iPhones have access to a SQL database called SQLite and many mobile apps developed Google, Skype and DropBox use it directly.

2. Java
The tech community recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of Java. It’s one of the most widely adopted programming languages, used by some 9 million developers and running on 7 billion devices worldwide. It’s also the programming language used to develop all native Android apps. Java’s popularity with developers is due to the fact that the language is grounded in readability and simplicity. Java has staying power since it has long-term compatibility, which makes sure older applications continue to work now into the future. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon and is used to power company websites like LinkedIn.com, Netflix.com and Amazon.com. For more info behind Java’s popularity, see our beginner’s guide to Java.

3. JavaScript
JavaScript – not to be confused with Java or mean stack development – is another one of the world’s most popular and powerful programming languages, and is used to spice up web pages by making them interactive. For example, JavaScript can be used to add effects to web pages, display pop-up messages or to create games with basic functionality. It’s also worth noting that JavaScript is the scripting language of the World Wide Web and is built right into all major web browsers including Internet Explorer, FireFox and Safari. Almost every website incorporates some element of JavaScript to add to the user experience, adding to the demand for JavaScript developers. In recent years JavaScript has also gained use as the foundation of Node.js, a server technology that among other things enables real-time communication.

4. C#
Dating from 2000, C# (pronounced C-sharp) is a relatively new programming language designed by Microsoft for a wide range of enterprise applications that run on the .NET Framework. An evolution of C and C++, the C# language is simple, modern, type safe and object oriented.

5. C++
C++ (pronounced C-plus-plus) is a general purpose object-oriented programming language based on the earlier ‘C’ language. Developed by Bjarne Stroustrup at Bell Labs, C++ was first released in 1983. Stroustrup keeps an extensive list of applications written in C++. The list includes Adobe and Microsoft applications, MongoDB databases, large portions of Mac OS/X and is the best language to learn for performance-critical applications such as “twitch” game development or audio/video processing.

6. Python
Python is a general purpose programming language that was named after the Monty Python (so you know it’s fun to work with)! Python is simple and incredibly readable since it closely resembles the English language. It’s a great language for beginners, all the way up to seasoned professionals. Python recently bumped Java as the language of choice in introductory programming courses with eight of the top 10 computer science departments now using Python to teach coding, as well as 27 of the top 39 schools. Because of Python’s use in the educational realm, there are a lot of libraries created for Python related to mathematics, physics and natural processing. PBS, NASA and Reddit use Python for their websites.

7. PHP
Created by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, PHP was never actually intended to be a new programming language. Instead, it was created to be a set of tools to help Rasmus maintain his Personal Home Page (PHP). Today, PHP (Hypertext Pre-Processor) is a scripting language, running on the server, which can be used to create web pages written in HTML. PHP tends to be a popular languages since its easy-to use by new programmers, but also offers tons of advanced features for more experienced programmers.

8. Ruby on Rails
Like Java or the C language, Ruby is a general purpose programming language, though it is best known for its use in web programming, and Rails serves as a framework for the Ruby Language. Ruby on Rails has many positive qualities including rapid development, you don’t need as much code, and there are a wide variety of 3rd party libraries available. It’s used from companies ranging from small start-ups to large enterprises and everything in-between. Hulu, Twitter, Github and Living Social are using Ruby on Rails for at least one of their web applications.

9. iOS/Swift
In 2014, Apple decided to invent their own programming language. The result was iOS Swift – a new programming language for iOS and OS X developers to create their next killer app. Developers will find that many parts of Swift are familiar from their experience of developing in C++ and Objective-C. Companies including American Airlines, LinkedIn, and Duolingo have been quick to adopt Swift, and we’ll see this language on the rise in the coming years.

Any great craftsman has a belt full of tools, each a perfect choice for certain situations. Similarly, there will never be just a single programming language, and each language will evolve and improve over time to keep pace with innovation.