Can Every Transaction Be Like Starbucks?


Next time, you are at a restaurant, I want you notice how long it takes you from finishing your meal and everyone deciding it’s time to go to actually leaving the restaurant. It might not seem like a ton of time. But, make an observation about it. You don’t have to get your stop watch out, just watch the process.

The Problem

I was just at a restaurant last week. The service was lovely and the whole experience was great. But, then we went to leave. We had to flag down a member of the staff because we wanted the check. Then we had to wait to get our credit card back. We left a tip on the little slip and we were good to go.

This is a process that has irked me. We have many card-free transactions now with Android and Apple Pay. We even have the Starbucks app, which is one of the largest active mobile payment systems.

I have been thinking of ways we could solve this problem. This is one of those things that is so highly inefficient, but is still something that people haven’t come close to solving.

Now, we have a ton of payment options. I can send friends money in a number of ways using PayPal, Google Wallet, Square Cash, and Vimeo just to name a few.

Payment Options

But, in the real world, this is a much less common practice.  Square Cash does have business accounts, but I don’t know where they are being used. Also, PayPal has business setup in Home Depot, but those things haven’t taken off as much as they could.

These systems could plug into existing POS systems. But, this is a topic that I know nothing about.

What Can We Do?

Just image for a moment that you are sitting in a restaurant and you get your bill on the Square app. You can pay with using an Apple ID and, with just a simple button, add a tip and a note.

A lot of restaurants are very small business and hardware costs are going to be the problem. The solution will have to be something that they can integrate quickly and cheaply.


The New Wallet

A long time ago, I read a news article about a startup, Circle, that was handing out some money for to sign up for their bitcoin wallet. Then, almost year later, I started to really get into bitcoin and the technology behind it.

There are some companies that are doing some interesting things in the space to make using and buying bitcoins really easy. The technology is becoming easier to use as more people start to use it, so software companies start forming to streamline this process.

Coinbase, Bitpay, and Circle have all done amazing jobs at making really easy to use consumer products. They are three apps that I have now used for multiple different reasons. Bitpay has a wonderful new debit card product which you can load with your bitcoins. Coinbase is an exchange service and wallet where you can store or trade your bitcoin. Circle is a cool way to send money between people. As I started to get going in the world of bitcoin, there were a few things that worried me and a few things that I learned along the way.


First thing you should do if you sign up for any app that involves money is use two factor authentication.  You should really use it for any app that supports it. But, with any of these bitcoin apps, just turn it on. It will be worth it for the peace of mind.

When I signed up for Coinbase, I didn’t add much money into my account and I kind of forgot about it. But, when I started to really get into and start using it, I noticed something. Coinbase has a nice account page that lets you see what apps are authorized on the account. I had about 15 attempts on my account from European countries. It did spook me a little, but I was glad that I made sure that I had two step on for every type of transaction.

Different Exchange Rates

The three apps that I used for my bitcoin experiments all value bitcoin at a different amount. Say I buy bitcoin and use the wallet to load my Bitpay debit card. There could be a change in that value and the wallet might have to debt more. It was something that was confusing at first until I understood that they have different values.

I even made an Android app to get the value of a bitcoin. The value is different than what Coinbase and the other use. It is something to keep in mind when you have to send money between apps and wallets.


Written By Google

This is going to be a short post. I’m trying to write with Google Now voice dictation. I wanted to test voice accuracy of this and to see if this would be a viable option to try to get some things down.

In the future, I think we will move more and more towards voice driving a lot of our actions and computing. Our voices allow us to have a different kind of interaction with devices and the real world.

I wanted to see if I could use my voice to dictate my thoughts and see if there was anything that I noticed about the quality of the words and how much we have to edit.

I really like the kind of concept of having something that is so easy to dictate to. It might be a cool tool to help bridge the gap for some new writers or help break through an idea you are stuck on.

I think it’s an interesting concept to be able to have something in your car that could take voicemails and texts differently, but I think with these devices coming into our homes with Alexa and Google Now, Google Assistant, whatever they’re calling it, now you have the technology.

I can’t see myself Starbucks talking to my phone, but I think it’s kind of a nice thing even just sitting in your car.


Have I wasted too much time?

I’m trying to figure out what I’m good at, what the things I should be working on, what things can I do to help me build a business, and what things should I be spending all of my time on. It gets tiring after a while

I think that the best advice that I’ve ever received was to just start doing anything. In the beginning, experiment because after a while you know all this soul-searching, all the books, all the courses, and all of the different tools are out there are trying to help you find your passion. You won’t really know unless you start doing something.

I started to get depressed because I was failing. I wasn’t doing the things other people were doing. My blog posts last week got six views. I was following all these people that were doing these incredible things, people that were achieving more, people that were doing more. These were people I admired, people that I strove to be like, and their general advice was just to work hard.

“You’ll find your passion and do what you love and that’s going to take time.”

We should have a culture that allows people to experiment more and be willing to try new things.

If you want to be a photographer, there’s a $10 book on how to take a good photo. If you want to learn about 100 years ago, there’s a 10-minute course. You already know how to draw a stick figure.

If you go by the things people put on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, you’re just going these people and you want that freedom you, that chance to have that. It’s going to be different for everyone. I was looking for that silver bullet for so long and became really depressed for a while.

Some might think, “Oh, well, I need to be the world’s greatest coder before I can make an app.” But the best thing is to start doing it. If there’s people like that who you see and follow, people that you’ve read, unsubscribe. Stop reading them.  

I always wanted to be a writer. I’ve always tried to write and enjoyed writing, but I’m never going to be the best writer. I know that. I know my shortcomings, but this is something that I enjoy doing. Am I going to make a living off it? Maybe not, but I’m okay with that.  It’s going to be something that I keep as part of my life and something that I’m going to keep trying to work on. Maybe that’s as far as that goes and maybe I just keep writing code for most of my life. Maybe I am never going to have that start-up that allows me to have employees and allows me to have the mastiff in a company that I dreamed about. That’s okay. But, you need some goals. You need something special.

We need to share more and talk about the failures we have all experienced. Be honest about it.


Prototyping with React

I am the type of person who needs to do something over and over again to learn. React is one of those frameworks that I really want to get into my day to day workflow. There are just too many things that are happening in the space, which makes it something that I cannot avoid.

I have been looking at things such as React Native and React Native Desktop. I started writing an app in React Native and have been trying to write random Codepens once a week

Setting Up

My goal was to have something with a few frameworks that I could start tweaking. I wanted to have something in React that I could just move some components around. I want to make something really simple and quick just to get a feel of what I might be able to do.


Frameworks are great at getting things up and off the ground quick. Foundation is one of those frameworks that I can go to that can get my project off the ground and quickly.

I wanted to have a few components of some common elements that I could move around and fill with some sample data. The goal was to then have some quick mock ups that I could present as ideas. I wanted to have something like a Nav, Hero, Footer, Content, and a few other building blocks that most sites would need.

This is something that I would love to explore more. I think this could be a cool way to build prototypes and demos.


Why Did Microsoft Buy LinkedIn?

After LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft last week, I, like many others, was wondering how this would fit into their core product line. I literally use zero Microsoft products now except for Outlook at work.

Lately, Microsoft has been doing some interesting things. They have been acquiring top notch startups like Sunrise and Wunderlist. They also have a division called “The Garage,” which releases neat experimental apps for both iOS and Android.

Microsoft is starting to get cool again. There was a time when I just didn’t want to use their products. Now that they have given up on making Windows Mobile work and are becoming a cloud services company. Microsoft is making a lot of interesting moves.

I kept thinking about interesting ways to bring LinkedIn into their productivity suite.


There is a chrome extension called Rapportive ( that would be a natural way to extend LinkedIn inside Outlook. You can pull the LinkedIn data into your calendar app and emails to help you remember who you are meeting with and who you are talking to.  


I spent some time using Cortona over the last few days on a Windows 10 machine. I hadn’t used it for more than a few seconds before. I live in the Google ecosystem, but I wanted to see if there were any major differences between Cortona and Google Now.

It is sometimes really awkward to talk to your computer unless you are alone. But, it would be cool to be able to post an update to LinkedIn directly from Cortona or make a draft of a post from some voice notes. It would also be nice to incorporate some data for upcoming calendar events. “You are meeting with Jane Smith, CEO of Intense, Inc.”

26 Billion

LinkedIn is a huge acquisition and Microsoft must have some big strategic moves ready. I just hope that they do some upgrades to the product because lately it has been a pain in the ass to use. The notifications never end.


How One App Changed My Writing

I have found that I must love the tools I am working with in order to really become great at anything. Once I started writing all my code in Sublime Text, it took my code to the next level.

I think the same can be said for writing. There are a number of different ways to write. Some people still like to use pen and paper, and there are about 45 different web, desktop, and mobile apps that you can use to complete your projects.

The key with writing is all about habit and setup. If you don’t like the workspace and the tools, it will be hard to work with.

I wanted to make sure that I found that zone where I did work that I was proud of and was worth sharing. I went on a search for my perfect writing solution.


For a while, I experimented with writing with just a pen and a paper. It seems like an almost silly sentence to type out, but there was something great about sitting with a notebook and just writing. There was no way to get distracted or start noticing other things. It’s the ultimate moment of singularity because you can’t just go to the next tab and start looking at Twitter. I even tried to use an app to OCR my text, but that didn’t turn out well. But, the thing about writing longhand was it was always hard for me to go back and look at the old text. Handwriting was just too hard to consume and keep in a safe space.

Google Docs

Google Docs is something that I have used for a number of years. It is the default word processor that I know how to use. There are a number of great features and if you are collaborating with someone to help you edit or work on a document, the experience is second to none. But, the thing about Google Docs was that it is browser based and everything was too close to me. I was distracted and I kept switching tabs. There was something about it that never really stuck with me during the process. Google Docs was the best for storage, sharing, and editing, but I need something else for crafting.


Markdown is a plain text syntax that can easily be compiled into HTML. I have played around with Markdown at my job because I had to compile a ton of Word docs into HTML. I was able to convert them really quickly by converting them into Markdown and then bringing them back into HTML.  This allowed me to get up to speed with the syntax very quickly. There is something about the syntax that just clicked with me. I found myself starting to write most of my text in this manner, even emails.


Ulysses was one of those Mac apps that always seems to get featured and written about. The app was pricey, but I loved the look of it as it reminded of a Sublime Text for writing. I bit the bullet and I immediately fell in love with it. The layout is a three panel system where you can expand and collapse what you need. There is also iCloud sync built in, which is something that I never trust, but you can open a folder on your dropbox and work in there. There are also plenty of syntax highlight options for your markdown and plain text.

Getting Comfortable

I found a tool that made me comfortable and that worked well for my style. That is the key for me. Some people can kill it in Google Docs, but I like the options offered in Markdown and being able to make an app full screen. Workflows and tools need to be tested and discovered. If you are trying to develop a writing habit and can’t seem to get it off the ground, play around with some different tools.


One Second, I Have A Notification

My phone has become an extension of me. For better or for worse, there are not many activities I do without it. But, lately I have been in a creative rut. My writing has been not of a quality that I have liked and my consumption has increased.

How often do we go, “Oh, today sucked. Let me go and watch ten hours of Netflix and sit on Twitter for those hours as well”? Excessive consumption can make you almost depressed, watching all this content and all these different social channels.

How many have had the problem where you sit down to watch a quick episode of something on Netflix and next thing you know, the night is gone. It will also steal away any creativity you might have been feeling that day. Sit on a coach for eight hours and then tell me that you are ready and excited to work on your novel.

I am going to propose something for anyone who wants to be making creative work: Let’s take an internet break. Start small and do it for an hour a week. If your work requires the Internet in some way, block the sites that are distractions. If you have been wanting to get something done and have been putting it off, this hour for you will be your time. Find a time that works for you and get your environment set up beforehand. Then, get to work. That is going to be your hour each week.


A Quick Guide to Making a VR App

Google is going to release a proper VR operating system later this year with their release of Android N. It is going to have VR at the core of its OS. You can see below an early build of Android VR as it has already hit the Play Store and YouTube.

Google Cardboard has been around for a while now, and while it is not the most amazing VR experience, it is still the perfect device to start experimenting and playing with some interactions and small prototypes of VR.  Plus, you can get a Cardboard Kit for under $20. Just a word of warning, don’t spend a lot of time inside of the apps. I found myself getting sick.

There is a proposal for a WebVR standard. You can read about all the little details over here at

I wanted to find something that I could get into quickly and just start messing around with. I wanted to get something in front of my eyes, so I went searching for frameworks, naturally.

A-Frame was the most straightforward framework I could find and it would allow us to jump inside a few code pens and start playing around with some demos. They also had an extensive examples section with a few different types of use cases for VR. Below is one of the most basic examples. The framework is maintained by the Mozilla VR team.

See the Pen Attempt at VR by John Siwicki (@siwicki) on CodePen.

If you take a look at the markup below, A-Frame has their own tag system.

<a-scene fog="type: linear; color: #F0F0F0">
    <a-sphere position="0 1.25 -1" radius="1.25" color="#EF2D5E"></a-sphere>
    <a-cube position="-1 0.5 1" rotation="0 45 0" width="1" height="1" depth="1" color="#4CC3D9"></a-cube>
    <a-cylinder position="1 0.75 1" radius="0.5" height="21.5" color="#FFC65D"></a-cylinder>
    <a-plane rotation="-90 0 0" width="44" height="4" color="#7BC8A4"></a-plane>
    <a-sky color="#ECECEC"></a-sky>

A-Frame is a really simple framework to get started making some simple VR apps. There are many different modes to make different types of apps like panoramic photos or 360 video. I was able to use Googles Cardboard Camera on android to get some interesting shots to make some interesting scenes to stitch together for a VR experience.


Hosting Static Sites With Blackblaze

One of my most hated things is dealing with hosting and all the shit that is wrapped up in that world. I wish I could host everything on GitHub Pages. Their system and workflow are perfect for my brain.

There has been countless articles on hosting static sites on Amazon s3. But there was something that kept me away from that. I don’t know why, I never had a bad experience. But I never set up any of my static sites there.

Blackblaze has long been in the backup game. They would allow you to back up your data with a desktop app and they claim that they will allow unlimited backups. Again this was another service that I never used.

Blackblaze announced a new cloud service that would trivialize Amazon’s s3. Blackblaze’s biggest selling point is they have a much lower cost per gigabyte than Amazon. They also provide ten gigs free and a certain amount of bandwidth each day.

Blackblaze has some application support for accessing your files. Cyberduck and Dropshare are just a few of the applications you can use for managing your files.

It seemed like a perfect spot to try and host some of my static sites and get a perfect workflow to go along with it.


Blackblaze ask you to create a bucket for your files. They are basically like folders. Then inside those buckets you can add in your files.


As you can see above, if you upload an html file you can get a direct link to that file. The same would work for any other types of static assets. Blackblaze generates a long URL and if you wanted to use it to fully host a static site you could just update your cname record to go to your long url to get it live.

I used B2 storage multiple times recently to show off work in progress sites. I also started moving some of my single pages sites over to being hosted here. It was fast and easy to navigate and easy to make sure things were backed up.