Bryan Kennedy

Ideate, Innovate, Launch

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Stealing is the future of retail

I stole something from the Apple Store today.

Or rather, it felt a lot like stealing. I walked in, found what I wanted, opened the “Apple Store” app, scanned the barcode, and walked out. It seemed so much like stealing, I felt a little awkward leaving the store. Doesn’t someone want to check my receipt or something? I literally interacted with zero people and the entire process lasted no more than 3 minutes. It was exhilarating.

I’m the kind of guy who buys his toilet paper online. Online shopping offers huge household efficiency over retail, especially for consumables. When I want something right now though, or I’m not sure exactly what I need, there’s nothing better than heading to the nearest store.

But most stores just don’t get it. I don’t want to buy something. I just want to walk in, grab the item, and walk out. Standing in line,...

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Milk Run

At 3pm everyone got up and drove to the store to buy a jug of milk.

City planners never anticipated a day when millions of people would decide to drive to the store simultaneously, so naturally this caused quite the scene on highways and grocery stores across the nation.

The evening news reports hypothesized an extreme case of coincidence brought on by a persuasive nationwide advertising campaign. But I have theory.

It’s nicknamed “the angel". Implanted in the frontal cortex of a rat, it allows a human controller to twitch the rat’s tail on command by releasing a cocktail of hormones and targeted electrical pulses. The question always was: What did the rat experience whilst twitching its tail? Was it something akin to an involuntary twitch? Or did it feel like a decision forged by free will? No one knew for sure until they implanted it in a human.

The best way I can...

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It’s just wood

A few months back, I decided to start a vegetable garden. I have fond memories of gardening with my folks when I was a young boy, and I figured a garden would be a good outlet from my day to day life in tech.

Looking up and down the aisles at Lowes and not finding a raised garden bed that met my needs, I inquired with a staff member:

“Sorry, we don’t carry anything like that.”

“Darn. Ok, I’ll try another store then,” I sighed with resignation.

“You know,” he said to me, “it’s just wood.”

It took me a moment to realize how liberating this statement was. To him, woodworking held no mystery at all - it was just a thing you did. If he wanted a garden bed, there’d be no question in his mind that he’d make it himself. Why spend more on something suboptimal when you can build exactly what you want?

So I did exactly...

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Musings on the future of the iPhone

When Steve Jobs died, the rumor was that he left a playbook of sorts for Future Apple to follow.

With the release of the 64-bit ARM7 in the iPhone 5S, I’ve started to ponder if this hints at one of those far-future milestones that Jobs would have laid out: that the notion of laptops and desktops will one day simply cease to exist.

Granted, credit must be given to Ubuntu Edge for demonstrating how close that world truly is, but in hindsight, this next iteration of computing just seems so obvious. Why lug around two computing devices, when in the near future, our iPhones will be as powerful as the laptops we currently carry in our backpacks, and the desktops that used to populate the space below our desks?

Going 64-bit doesn’t seem like it will improve performance in any meaningful way in the short term, but it’s an important step in the march towards making the iPhone...

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The importance of privacy

In this day and age where web apps can be built in a day and released to millions, it’s vitally important that we leave time to consider the implications our products have on the world. I’m thankful that the folks at Outside Lands took notice and cared enough about their fans’ privacy to review and improve their Lost & Found web site when I wrote a blog post voicing my concerns that it exposed too much information

Anyone who has worked with me knows that I’m a proponent of rapid iteration. The best way to learn if a product is something people want is to actually get a simple version of the idea out the door for them to use. In fact, Hackathons themselves can be thought of as applied product brainstorming - the group doesn’t know which ideas will work best, but after 24 hours, you all have a pretty good idea which products will survive in the real...

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If you lost your wallet at Outside Lands, your information is now public

Update: Much has changed since I wrote this blog post! I’ve written a follow-up here and I encourage you to read that first.

If you were one of were one of the many thousands that attended the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco over the weekend and were unfortunate enough to drop your wallet - your full name and private information are now available for public consumption.

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Traditionally, Lost and Found is facilitated via the exchange of information; the loser of sunglasses identifies said sunglasses with enough detail to ascertain their ownership. This safeguard exists to prevent someone from stealing items that don’t belong to them.

The organizers of Outside Lands listed all the items in their Lost and Found inventory on their web site. With good intentions no doubt, they also added photos and detailed descriptions of those items. This is rather pointless, but it...

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Memories in the cloud

My wonderful grandmother Mary passed away last week. She was a beautiful person, filled with so much love for all.

My sister and I are putting together a slideshow to play during the memorial service, filled with pictures of her and my grandfather’s life together. It’s really wonderful how easy Dropbox has made it to compile photos from various family members.

Photos are one thing, but it’s amazing how quickly you forget everyday things about someone who has died, like the sound of my grandmother’s voice. Video is still rather difficult to share and keep readily accessible, and frankly, we just don’t have much video of her.

A wonderful surprise came when I realized that because I’ve been using Google Voice for several years, I have archives of every voicemail that my grandmother ever left me. It was such a treat to hear her voice again, and be...

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Welcome to the interview; please sit down and choose a color

A superstar engineer with a bad attitude can place more drag on your engineering org than they put in, which is why I like to focus my interviews on attitude and culture. Naturally, the candidate is on their best behavior, so how do you break down these barriers and see what they’re really like?

Let’s play a board game!

A lot of us at Sincerely enjoy playing board games. If you visit us during lunch, you’ll often catch us playing Chess, Blokus, Settlers, Carcassonne, or Acquire; lately we’ve come to enjoy playing a turn a day of the Game of Thrones board game (it’s a 6-7 hour game!). Through these sessions, I’ve come to realize how much game playing styles mirror how people interact with their coworkers away from the game table. One day when we had an engineering candidate on site, I got to wondering if we should invite them to the table.

How much...

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Marriage finances for the modern era: a proposal

My wife and I got married 2 years ago today. It’s been a wonderful ride! Looking back, one decision that’s worked out well for us is how we manage our finances. As I think it’s a model that could work well for most couples, improving both happiness and financial health, I wanted to tell you about it.

I subscribe to the notion that marriage is a partnership. It isn’t about merging two into one - it’s about two individuals planning the rest of their lives together.

At first we considered the traditional “share everything” approach to marriage finances: funnel everything into and out of a single joint account. While still the most socially acceptable choice, for two upwardly mobile professionals with individual wants and needs, it seemed to lack flexibility. On the flip side, keeping everything independent as we did prior to marriage...

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The mathematics of team productivity

When it comes to growing the productivity of a software engineering team, I believe there are four basic types of engineers: Adders, Subtracters, Multipliers, and Dividers. I find this framework helpful during hiring as well as determining when to let someone go.

Adders are your standard, talented engineers. They learn and grow over time, striving to improve themselves and their code. They add to your team’s productivity by being team players and strivers of excellence.

Subtracters are your below average performers. They complete what is assigned to them, and perhaps even do good work from time to time, but they subtract from the overall productivity of the team. Subtracters write code that must be refactored later, don’t stay current, and generally aren’t passionate about software development. Subtracters can become adders given time and a culture of code reviews or...

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