The Hot Iron

A journal on business, technology and occasional diversions by Mike Maddaloni

Business

Friday, March 07, 2014

What I Learned This Week For March 7 2014

photo of Mardi Gras mask

Rather than showing a scribbled sticky note with my learned knowledge for the week, I decided to show my decoration for Mardi Gras.

  • A color photo of a new air filter for my car is not going to compel me any further to have it replaced when all I wanted today is an oil change.
  • Watching the Stadium Series game played at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the home of football’s Bears, between hockey’s Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins was a lot of fun, even as I was watching it on TV. With the snow falling, it gave me a déjà vu moment to a few years ago when Boston University played Boston College at Fenway Park a week after the pro-hockey game there. In this case, I was there in stands at Fenway for this amazing experience.
  • If you find yourself in New York City and need a good laugh, check out my friend Andrew Cornelius’ Web site to see when he is next performing.
  • In the process of troubleshooting a technical problem with my podcast app on my mobile device, I unsubscribed to all 6 of the podcasts I had in my queue. Rather than resubscribe at once, I decided to subscribe as I had time to listen to something new. First I subscribed to No Agenda and after several weeks I finally subscribed to another, The Voicemail. Not sure when I’ll get back to 6 or what my number will be.
  • I almost snorted my coffee out of my nose the other morning when reading my favorite Web comic, Questionable Content when Angus called out Faye for saying ‘wicked.’ The comic takes place in Northampton, MA, not far from where I grew up and a tell-tale sign of a “Masshole” is if they say wicked a lot.
  • Life won’t be the same in my house after the DVD for the movie Frozen comes out on March 18.
  • Not a meeting goes by where someone is saying they are looking at something from their ‘perspective’ or that of their team or function. But who is looking at the big picture?
  • Not a day goes by when I am not telling someone about the blog Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell. Each day he posts extremely usable prose on leadership, all under 300 words. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t subscribe to it by email or RSS. Special thanks to Dr. Dietmar Schloesser for being the source of knowledge on this great blog.
  • Tickets are now for sale for the Spring Benefit for Chicago’s South Loop Elementary School on Friday, May 16 at 6pm at the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile. This year marks the silver anniversary of the school, and the red carpet will be rolled out for all who wish to have a great time while supporting this great community school.
  • In preparation for their activities at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas which starts today, my friends a Name.com wanted to show how they will promote small businesses at the conference, so they used me as an example. Jared, their social media director, is an amazing actor and video producer as well as keenly in tune with the needs of their community and made this awesome video which is embedded below or you can watch on the Name.com channel on YouTube. And when I say friends, I mean it – it is because of a personal connection that I learned about Name.com over 6 years ago and their team applies the personal touch, plus strong business and technical acumen, to all they do. And I am not just saying this because Jared pronounced Maddaloni correctly.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/07/14 at 01:00 AM
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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

CentUp Offers A Unique Profit Model For Writers

How much would you pay to read this blog post?

CentUp logo

Ok, I hope you are still with me and not rolling on the floor in laughter. In all seriousness, I am asking the question – how much would you pay to read this blog post, or any blog post for that matter, here on The Hot Iron? No, I am not going to put up a paywall and start charging people to read here as I don’t believe in such a thing.

As it takes time to come up with ideas, write them, edit them, come up with some original visual to go with them and post them to the site, that time is some value to me. That being said, I do not do this for direct financial gain. Where I do enjoy doing so, getting a little something in return can’t hurt. And for good measure, how about help a charity in the process?

What I just described in the last few sentences is the idea behind CentUp, a service which has been around for almost a year, which provides a button – similar to a social sharing button – where you can contribute a few cents to a few dollars to a content writer directly on their site. If you scroll to the bottom of this post at The Hot Iron you will see a CentUp button below the row of social media sharing buttons, so I can speak to CentUp with first-hand experience.

Click a Button, Help a Writer and a Charity

The end-user experience of CentUp is very straightforward, and its elegance comes from its simplicity, as you can see in the embedded Vine video above. If you cannot see the video, you can view the video of me pressing the CentUp button at Vine. You simply click on the CentUp button on a Web page or blog post that you would like to give to (or pay to or contribute to or whatever term you deem appropriate). Half of whatever amount you choose will go to the publisher, and half goes to a charity selected by the publisher from a list of charities affiliated with CentUp.

To use the button, you need an account with CentUp. If you click on the button and don’t have an account, you can sign-up on their Web site, put funds in your account, then log in and contribute. As I have the button on my site, I have an account with CentUp, and whenever I see the button and providing I liked what I read, I will give at least 10 cents to a publisher. If you’re thinking, “not another account to setup,” read on as you’ll learn more of the value a CentUp account delivers.

All clicks of the CentUp button on The Hot Iron are shared between myself and the Women With Drive Foundation, a great organization who provides women with transportation means to get to their jobs. I truly did not do them justice with that boiled-down description and I encourage you to visit their Web site for more information. There are a number of charities that content publishers can choose from and this list has expanded over the last year I have used CentUp.

The Point Is Not Early Retirement

By so far earning under a dollar per blog post, I am not considering CentUp part of my overall retirement strategy. But that is not why I use CentUp. First and foremost, I believe there is plenty of content out there on the Internet that is of value. This includes blogs, news sites, and Web sites in general. That being said, I or anyone else is not going to go through the process of registering for every site out there and paying some amount of money for content of what quality I really don’t know until I explore and read it.

In other words, if I read something and find value in it, I can offer payment for it, a true value-for-value model.

CentUp offers a one-stop payment method for Web content. I don’t need all of those accounts and logins and passwords, and sharing my credit card information all over the place. I also don’t need large sums of money to register for varying content. If I like something, I can give them a little bit of money. If it is good content, many people will do that. Right next to the button is how much money has been given so far, which is a transparent way to see how potentially popular and relevant the content may be. CentUp is a simple model that makes sense, and one I have embraced.

There is no fee to join, and adding the button to your blog or site is technically straightforward. You can tag an entire site or individual pages or posts on a blog. Again I am not doing CentUp the best justice they deserve, and I encourage you to explore the CentUp site for more information and if you have any questions on it conceptually or technically.

Unique Community of Content

There are several dozen sites now using CentUp and that number grows whenever I check back on the site. CentUp has taken advantage of this collection of content and has built a community of writers and publishers, including a newsletter of curated content on a regular basis. I have now started to subscribe to many of their RSS feeds of these blogs and sites to read their content directly. They recently added a reader app to their site within your account, but I still prefer my RSS reader for aggregating all of my content.

Do you use CentUp? Have I piqued your interest in it? Would you avoid it like I avoid Facebook? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to ask any questions you may have about CentUp as I may be able to help, or someone from CentUp may even respond themselves as they are readers as well.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/05/14 at 11:54 PM
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Friday, February 28, 2014

What I Learned This Week For February 28 2014

photo of a CFL bulb with an install date on itI literally took a page out of my blogging notebook – a blank one – to log what I learned and observed for this the last week of February.

  • It almost seemed like for a while I was replacing CFL bulbs almost monthly, like they just weren’t lasting anywhere as long as they were supposed to. As this was a hypothesis, I decided to record the date on them that I I actually changed them, and this past week the first of them went out. Maybe I need to write install dates on a lot more things I own?
  • This past week Jim Lange, known best as the host of The Dating Game, left this mortal coil at the age of 81. Interestingly, most of his peers – game show hosts from the 70’s and 80’s – are still alive and kicking, including Wink Martindale.
  • Three words – beer pretzel caramels! This past week my lovely wife and I stopped by The Nosh at Block 37 and she saw someone she knows from our old church who now has her own confections business, selling at such events and online. The only problem with these caramels is they seem to disappear pretty quickly.
  • Amtrak announced this past week that it was starting a residency for writers to write aboard train trips. I think this is genius, as I personally have written many of the posts here at The Hot Iron aboard the Hiawatha train between Chicago and Milwaukee, and I once took the Metroliner from Boston to Washington, DC and got a ton of reading and work done. The seats they will be offering probably would have gone otherwise unused, so what is the added cost, compared to the benefit, for having someone aboard ideally plugging the fact they are on an Amtrak train. This would also extend nicely to my friend Arie’s HugTrain as well as what my friend Leyla did when she took the train west for vacation.

photo of Goldfish cracker ingredients

  • The first ingredient listed for Goldfish crackers is smiles. Can your product make a claim like that?
  • I find myself making product buying decisions based on whether they have Box Tops for Education on them or not.
  • After several months of driving by it while it was under construction, I was eager to see the inside of The Godfrey Hotel here in Chicago and we visited it last weekend. It is a beautiful space with an amazing indoor/outdoor patio with an amazing skyline view, a great restaurant with cocktails that are made in the kitchen, and after a great meal we asked for a tour of the hotel room and got to see some of the very stylish rooms. I am looking forward to a staycation getaway there some weekend.
  • Puffs Plus Lotion facial tissues are just right. Puffs Plus Lotion with the scent of Vicks is way too much.
  • Words that came up in conversations pronouncedly this past week include eminence and polymath – something I am hoping to achieve high levels of both.
  • Seeing is believing, and I learned that when I saw first-hand the craft of Gentry Design Company which makes handcrafted gemstone jewelry. It is run by a colleague’s wife, and when he told me about it I was like, “ok, she makes jewelry” until I saw some of the pieces she has made and I was extremely impressed Of course what I wrote here doesn’t do the same justice as seeing the photos for yourself on her site.
  • GiveForward is a Web service based here in Chicago where you can contribute to the medical expenses of people. It can be compared to a KickStarter or IndieGoGo but for quality of life. I met someone who works there and as I don’t know anyone who has a fundraiser on the site I did a quick search on “liver” and saw many real stories of people’s medical needs. If you are looking to make a donation to truly affect someone’s life, I recommend visiting this site.
  • I have been trying to write at least 2 blog posts a week – my “what I learned” posts as this one is plus one other. This past week I did write one on the Web service CentUp which offers a unique revenue model for bloggers, writers and publishers while also helping charities. The only problem was the first draft was dry as a bone, and would not do justice to this amazing Chicago-based start-up. Especially one which would make a great video as they did for their IndieGoGo launch last year. So I will work on the blog post for next week and in the meantime you can watch it embedded below or watch the CentUp video on Vimeo.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/28/14 at 09:20 PM
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Friday, February 21, 2014

What I Learned This Week For February 21 2014

photo of frost heave damage to a Chicago sidewalk

As taken down on a piece of paper from my daughter’s bedazzled notepad...

  • Now that the temperatures in Chicago actually reached above the freezing mark for a “significant” period of time (2 days) and some of the snow has melted, I have noticed a by-product of the frigid temperatures – frost heaves. Very few sidewalks have not been affected by it, and there are many uneven paths around the city. This is on top of the potholed-ridden streets. My guess is these sidewalks will either not be properly fixed or will just be ground down to make then somewhat even.
  • My friends at the amazing design studio Visible Logic are conducting a Web Design Survey. It is open to anyone, and I am sure they would love to hear from people who are not in the Web design and development business, and that means you! You can take their survey here; it is short, to the point, and if you give them your email they will send you the results of the survey. While you are on their site check out the great work they have done for their clients.
  • Your idea, no matter how well thought-out and articulated, always sounds better when it is said by someone more senior than you, and is sold as their idea.
  • I heard about something called the 5 Love Languages where ideally each person in a relationship takes the survey and compares what they want and how they say it. It’s free and doesn’t take long to complete.
  • The idea of the media “spoiler”, though it is annoying when you hear of something you haven’t watched yet, is an increasing reality that we will have to deal with. Unfortunately I have seen details of the second season of House of Cards on Twitter and results of Olympics competitions on screens in building elevators before they were broadcast in the US. With more and more real-time information abound and distributed media channels, this will only increase, and we will have to come up with ways to manage it.
  • This week I had a flashback to the time I designed a QA lab for a company I worked for years ago. It was a very comprehensive lab consisting of computers and operating system versions to cover all of our customers realistic scenarios. I also remembered the pushback I received from some of my colleagues, which was later taken back as the lab helped troubleshoot and prevent many errors. It was only a flashback, and unfortunately not a déjà vu moment.
  • It’s been a while since I have been out at a tech networking event, and thanks to the people at Tech in Motion for hosting a great event in Chicago this past week. I met some great people including the entire team behind Dryv.
  • I need to get out and see friends more often. By accident this week I found out my friend Elliott Bambrough is not the full-time co-host of the TV show Chicago’s Best on WGN-TV. Elliott is not only extremely talented but a great person as well. You can see him in action in this segment from a recent episode of Chicago’s Best and I have also embedded it below.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/21/14 at 08:51 AM
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dryv Dry Cleaning And Laundry Delivery Service Is What I’ve Needed

photo of Dryv garment bagYou could call the recently-launched Dryv dry cleaning and laundry on-demand pickup and delivery service disruptive to the market. You could call it a game-changer or any analogy to a new business in an established market. For me and my lifestyle, it simply makes sense.

Read on – if you think it’s worth a try, at the end of this post is a discount code for Dryv.

Over New Year’s I heard some chatter on Twitter about Dryv, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. If it was all that it sold itself as, then it would work perfectly for me. What I heard was it is an on-demand service which, when requested through its mobile app, will come and pickup your dry cleaning and when it’s ready, you can request again through the app to have it delivered to you.

Living in downtown Chicago there are many advantages and as well many compromises that I have had to make over the years. Being so close to Millennium and Grant Park is awesome, yet for years we did not have a decent supermarket nearby until Mariano’s opened a couple of years ago. For dry cleaning, or more often simply laundering and pressing of dress shirts for work (something I have never mastered), I have been on a continual quest for a decent dry cleaner close-by. The ones I had gone to were usually in the basement of an office building, with limited hours that I would often miss and as a result have my clean clothes locked away. As my residence building doesn’t have a doorman or common areas, the notion of any other delivery service wouldn’t work for me.

A Service I Don’t Want To Think About

When it comes to dry cleaning or laundry service, I really don’t want to think about it. Since I have lived in Chicago I have had to. Before I moved here and lived in the suburbs of Boston, I had one local dry cleaner, literally at the end of my street. My schedule allowed me to get to them without any problems and their service was good. It was a service I didn’t need to think about. With the minor inconvenience in dry cleaning for me, if I were to go with a replacement, I would want that level of “comfort” of not having to think – or worry – about it.

Before I tried Dryv, I checked out their Web site and contacted them on answers that weren’t there. They promise to come on-demand within an hour of a request for drop-off and pickup. They use commercial dry cleaners who serve hotels and restaurants in Chicago. Their prices are comparable to other dry cleaners I have used. And last but not least, they will take back my unused wire coat hangers – I never use them and have always brought them back with my next order! This gave me the confidence to try them.

Simple User Experience With Mobile Email and Humans

After getting the app installed on my phone, I set-up my profile, home address and credit card for payment, then requested a pickup by creating a new order. The app itself is very simple – you place the order through it, and in combination with text messages your order is confirmed and you are alerted when the Dryver – the person who picks up your order – is on their way. When you meet them, you give them your clothes and any instructions for cleaning. Later when your order is processed you will receive an email confirming the order and the cost. When your clothes are clean and ready to be delivered – promised within 36 hours – you will get another text message. At that point you then go into the app to request a delivery. The app allows you to store multiple addresses, so you could, say, have pickup at your office and delivery to your home.

When your clothes are returned to you, they are in a nice Dryv reusable garment bag as pictured in above in this post, and inside the clothes are covered in traditional plastic bags you would get from any dry cleaner. You can then use the garment bag for future orders to give the clothes to the Dryver, plus hangers if that is your thing.

It really was that simple and easy, and after the first order I have now used them a total of 4 times, which is a volume normal for how often I get cleaning done. My orders are mostly shirts, occasional pants, and nothing too complex.

A Growing Service And A Few Thoughts

My original order number was under 100 and my latest one is in the 300’s so Dryv is definitely growing. Where originally they only offered traditional dry cleaning and wash and press service, they are now offering a laundry service by the pound. They have had a few updates to their app since they have started, plus they have added an FAQ and other details to their Web site. Not bad for a service that has only been around a couple of months.

Though they are still new, I would be remiss if I didn’t share any thoughts and suggestions on the service and their technology. Currently the app is only available for iOS, and adding an Android and Windows Phone option would be beneficial to them. As for the features of the app, it would be great to be able to not only request the pickup but enter into the app what you are dropping off as well as any instructions. I typically put a piece of paper with what I have and how I like my shirts done, but using the app for this would be key. And when my order is ready, if the icon on the app had an “alert number” as a reminder that would also be helpful, as sometimes the text message gets buried by the other text messages and alerts I receive. I would also suggest them to expand more into the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago.

Try Dryv For Yourself Chicago And Save $20

As you can guess, I recommend Dryv, especially as they have been picking up and delivering with no problems in the horrible weather we have had in Chicago the past few months. As I am customer, they offer a unique referral program, where if you use the code 6H1A you can get $20 off your initial order. Note I would also get a similar savings if you use that code, just so that I am being completely transparent. I don’t have any other tie to Dryv, I am only a happy customer.

I welcome your thoughts in the comments of this post on Dryv and if you have used it or are not sure if you would use it.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/19/14 at 01:00 PM
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Sunday, February 09, 2014

What I Learned This Week For February 7 2014

photo of Halls cough drops

Now 2 days late, but hopefully still of some value to some of you, as most were to me. These were scrawled on the back of an envelope for a credit card offer, adding some real value to this junk mail.

  • Boundaries are not always bad, and when people tend to be pushing them, sometimes they are simply asking for them to be defined to them.
  • Halls cough drops have little motivational phrases on the wrappers. Not a bad idea for if you are buying cough drops, you are probably not at the peak place in your life.
  • There is a distinct difference between MOO MiniCards and Mini Moo’s.
  • Perform a Web search on any word or phrase, followed by the word “coloring” and you can find a plethora of coloring sheets for kids to color on.
  • There was little coverage outside of the tech world on the theft and compromise of the Twitter account @N by a social hacker. If you are not familiar with the term social hacker, look up anything on Kevin Mitnick. This article on The Verge about the @N theft and how the owner’s GoDaddy and PayPal accounts were compromised also includes a link to the Twitter account’s owner’s own story.
  • Where that famous groundhog in Pennsylvania saw its shadow and predicted a longer winter, my forecast has always been with Dunkirk Dave who hails from the same Western New York State city that I was born in. And it has nothing to do with him not seeing his shadow, and thus predicting an early spring.
  • I began taking an online course on “unprocrastination” and one of its tasks is to create a habit and commit to it. So I decided to come up with a new blog topic every day (not write it, just the topic) and I am also sharing it with the world. Look on Twitter for the hashtag #28d28bt for my topics. More on the course itself as I get into it.
  • A documentary on learning how to be a pit trader in the famous Chicago markets was just released this week, though it was filmed in 1996. Pit Trading 101 was released only online, and for US$2.99 you can see a training course on how those people who are yelling, screaming and flailing their arms are actually conducting business. It was released by Chicagoan and former trader Jonathan Hoenig who is also in the documentary. I haven’t watched it yet but want to, not only to understand how the heck that process works but also to seeing a piece of this city’s history. Below is an embed of the movie’s trailer or you can watch it on the documentary’s Web site.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/09/14 at 06:56 PM
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Thursday, February 06, 2014

3 Things New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Must Do To Win At #Mobile

photo of Nokia Lumia 925 running Windows PhoneEarlier this week global software giant Microsoft named Satya Nadella as it’s 3rd-ever CEO, succeeding Steve Ballmer, who succeeded Bill Gates. Where the position is highly regarded, and the opportunity is immense, Nadella will have the challenge of defining what Microsoft will be going forward and especially what they won’t be. Some say the company is too big, rooted in its traditional PC and server operating system and software business while trying to be a consumer business with video game consoles and mobile devices.

Where there are many opinions on where the company should be overall, one area I will be watching closely is how it moves forward with mobile technology. Its Windows Phone platform is a distant third after industry leading iOS from Apple and Android from Google. Even a close tie with former mobile industry leader Nokia didn’t prove to be a winning combination, which will be taken to the next level with Microsoft buying Nokia’s mobile division outright.

Can Microsoft be successful at mobile? I believe it can, and if it were up to me, I would follow these 3 major activities to not only succeed at mobile but to thrive and be a contender for the industry lead. Seriously! But as I am not in that role, I will share my ideas here, and Mr. Nadella is free to take them if he chooses. If you’re familiar with the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, these 3 journeys are similar to those of Scrooge, dealing with the past, present and future.

First Reconnect With Your Corporate Roots

Where many know Microsoft as the people who built DOS and Windows for their PCs, the majority of their business is in running corporate computers and servers, and the additional software and consulting services that go with them. Where in 2014 many companies run Linux servers, for many years CIOs shied away from the open-source platform, relying on the operating systems from Microsoft, warts and all.

As Nadella previously led the cloud computing business at Microsoft, he knows how many corporate clients are moving much of their infrastructure to the cloud. He must also know that for as much as companies are looking to save shedding physical servers, they are now spending some of that on mobile devices, providing smart phones to their staff to keep them in contact and productive wherever they may be.

But have these mobile devices been Windows Phone devices? Some may have been, but there are probably still more BlackBerry devices in the hands of corporate users. And that number is probably dwindling, swinging towards iPhones and Android devices, which can integrate well with corporate email and are also popular platforms for the development of corporate apps, not to mention personal apps and Angry Birds.

In reconnecting with the corporate customers, mobile must be leading the conversation. What exactly is said depends on the following 2 activities in my plan.

Next Throw Money At Mobile Today

Yes, I said throw. Microsoft is well-known for its cash reserves in the billions. Where some of it is held for fighting legal challenges, some has been used for acquisitions, including Nokia’s mobile business. Where I don’t know exactly how much they have as of writing this post, I have heard it is anywhere around $50 to $60 Billion dollars.

So when I say throw, Microsoft needs to use its reserves to spend and better position itself right now in the mobile world, and fast. Over the past few years I witnessed Google do this with Android, going from nowhere to it being the second-largest mobile platform. They spent money on advertising, promotion, and on developers to build apps for Android devices. All of this for what is technically an “open-source” platform as well!

Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system has a unique interface and personally I feel it is more robust than screens full of icons in iOS. Couple this with solid engineering and technology it acquired from Nokia, including it’s high-quality Zeiss lenses for its cameras, and you have a solid device that can be used by anyone. But do they know about it?

For Windows Phone to be successful it needs both marketing and buzz. There are plenty of agencies out there would love the opportunity to really sell the “experience” of Windows Phone, just as or even better than Apple has with the iPhone. For buzz, people need to hear about the features from their friends and family, and here Microsoft can tap into the agency that did this well for Nokia for years, 1000heads, as they are the leaders of word-of-mouth marketing and would love to bring back the raving fans they cultivated for Nokia in the past for Microsoft.

At the end of the day, it is really about what you can do with the mobile device, and what most people use is apps. Here’s an area where Windows Phone is way behind. Most app development is done either just for iOS or for Android, and in some cases is done just for iOS. Windows Phone is usually a distant third, if at all. This is an area where a large chunk of that Microsoft reserve money can come in handy. Both consumer and corporate apps are needed for the platform to thrive. Here is the tie in with the corporate relationships – give money, tools, support, consultants, devices… whatever is needed for corporate clients to build apps for the platform. Help them leverage technology like PhoneGap where they can build apps “once” and port them to each platform (I am streamlining a lot of technical detail, but that is the 50,000 foot view of it).With corporate apps, plus seamless integration with Microsoft Exchange mail servers, you have an employees empowered with a sleek device and all the tools they need to log their hours or whatever it is they need to do.

I did not gloss over consumer apps, as these are direly needed. When it was announced the social photo app Instagram was coming to Windows Phone, it was over a year and a half after it came out for Android. Looking at some of the top apps I use – Starbucks, Hailo taxi, the Weather Channel and MapMyRide for bike ride tracking, only the Weather Channel app is available for Windows Phone. The fact the Starbucks app is not on it is almost shocking, seeing the headquarters of Starbucks is only about 16 miles from the headquarters of Microsoft! And if the large corporate players are not building apps for Windows Phone, neither are the small start-ups. Here Microsoft needs to do what Google did before them and what I am suggesting they do for corporate clients – throw money at it, pay key app developers to port their apps to Windows Phone, hold developer conferences, buy developers free food and beer, give them free devices… all what they need to help bolster the Windows Phone Store so you won’t have to think about what apps are available for the platform, at all and never again.

Define The Future Of Mobile

What will mobile devices look and feel like a few years from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now? Whatever the answer to the question is, Microsoft should be looking to be the one to answer it, and set the bar high for the rest of the industry to follow.

Hopefully among all of the chaos with Nokia over the last few years they have some of the brilliant hardware and software designers joining them as part of the acquisition to help define this. Where everything Nokia did was not always a top-selling device, they did create some interesting form factors, from fly-out keyboards to round devices to the small thin candy bar device. Today, with the lead from Apple and the close following from everyone else, including Nokia, everything looks like a black slab, and I know personally myself – and many others in the industry – are tired of black slabs! This is an area where Microsoft is not completely known for – amazing user experiences – but they have a start with Windows Phone, have some advances in their gaming devices and – with the right innovative leaders – create what is next, while not forgetting where it came from, as Nadella said in his first remarks as CEO.

No Time Like The Present

Right now is a good time to make moves in the mobile area for Microsoft. Apple is still feeling the loss of Steve Jobs and trying to define its next versions of devices and operating systems, with the last round not receiving the glowing praise it usually does. Google just unloaded Motorola to Lenovo and may be taking a different direction with hardware. Samsung keeps making bigger and bigger and bigger black slabs. And don’t forget BlackBerry, as they are still hanging on and trying to define what their future is while everyone else is digging their grave.

I wish Satya Nadella much luck and good fortune as he takes the helm at Microsoft. Having Bill Gates step down as Chairman and simply being an advisor was a great first move by Nadella. There is a lot to sort out and a lot to prioritize, but I personally see great opportunity with mobile, and Redmond taking the reins from Cupertino is not completely out of the question.

Go ahead – let me know what you think in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/06/14 at 11:24 PM
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Saturday, February 01, 2014

What I Learned This Week For January 31 2014

screenshot of Chicago Grid

Though a day late, hopefully you will find useful at least 1 thing I learned this past week, as collected on the back of a flyer for VHS to DVD media conversion.

  • Though every media outlet and their grandmother in the Windy City reported on the demise of Chicago Grid by Wrapports, the publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, nobody has noticed the Grid Web site is still up-and-running, at least in part. I only found this out as I was still subscribed to their RSS feed, and after several days a daily summary was again appearing. Though I shared this several times this past week with media outlets in the city via Twitter, nobody else seems to be talking about the ghost RSS feed or seems to care.
  • If you read any book, especially children’s stories, through the lens of the late Dr. Sigmund Freud, you will never read one the same way again, or may not want to read one at all.
  • When you use a service on a daily basis and never even think twice about its quality or reliability, that is not a good thing, that is a great thing. It also probably explains why I haven’t blogged about my great experience with Phone.com over the almost year I have been with them for my home phone service. I need to do something about that.
  • Beverly Hills, California got its name from Beverly, Massachusetts, namely its Beverly Farms section. Now I have been to both communities, and I couldn’t think of any 2 places that could be further opposites of each other.
  • When I tell people I am from Massachusetts, the next thing they say is that I don’t have a Boston accent. When I go onto explain to them my roots are in the western part of the state, where they use all 26 letters of the alphabet and put them in the right place. For as many times as I state that, it really doesn’t resonate with people, so I thought I’d let the good Dr. Westchesterson explain it better than I possibly could with his video Western Mass. – it is embedded below or watch it on YouTube. I can’t think of a better way to end one month and begin another!


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/01/14 at 11:11 AM
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Finally Ordered Personal MOO MiniCards

So I got me some of those MOO MiniCards.

photo of my MOO MiniCards

When it comes to business cards, some people always carry and offer them, others feel it’s 2014 so we should just digitally connect only, and probably the majority of the people out there are indifferent to them. As someone who is of the first group, I try to always carry cards with me, as you never know who you will connect with and where.

As the name goes, they are business cards, and those cards are all, well, business. It has my business title, phone, email, etc. It doesn’t list my blog, my Twitter account, or have other identifying information about me, personally. So if I meet someone personally and want them to reach me personally – or the converse for business – shouldn’t I have separate cards for that?

That was my thinking when I ordered MOO MiniCards. Now these slim cards – which measure 2.75” x 1.10” (or 70mm x 28mm) – are nothing new, and I began getting them from people as far back as 2008, and maybe even earlier. I felt these cards would be perfect to share the basic info I want to offer to someone, as well as the best identifying information about me, my face. Someone doesn’t need my home address when they first meet me, and if they want to send me a Christmas card, they have my email address to ask me for it. I also thought it would be a good idea to get MOO cards before I turned 50.

In the past I used to carry personal business cards, even before the days of free business cards from the likes of VistaPrint came along. But that was also in the 1990’s, when texting someone your contact information was not an option, for most likely the person you met didn’t have a cellular phone.

For full-color, good stock cards MOO MiniCards are affordable. You can get 200 cards, full-color and double-sided printing, for under US$40. I also chose the optional rounded corners. You design and order the cards through their easy-to-use Web site at moo.com. Of course you can find an online coupon code or get on their email list for specials. They sent me a coupon code with my order – 2RB2CK – for 15% off. I don’t get anything if you order, that is unless you give me one of your cards.

So did I convince you to also get MOO MiniCards? Do you already have them? Do you think they are not worth it, or are you indifferent? I welcome your thoughts in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 01/30/14 at 07:26 PM
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Friday, January 24, 2014

What I Learned This Week For January 24 2014

cover of PhotoMedia magazine from Spring 2006This week a piece of Syracuse University notepad paper hosted the eclectic list of things I learned throughout the last 7 days. Special thanks to my cousin Fedora for the notepad, and away we go.

  • Clearly I am not the only one having problems with the Cardmunch app from LinkedIn. This is evident from blog posts like this one and numerous threads in their support forum.
  • Though Ron May may no longer be of this mortal coil, his eponymous Chicago tech news site The May Report lives on, now under the guidance of his brother Paul. And they have an RSS feed.
  • Last week I mentioned about Jason Jacobsohn’s Chicagoland Entrepreneur Events newsletter, which is a bonus for signing up for his main newsletter. Follow the preceding link and you can subscribe to it directly, though you really will want to read both of them.
  • Living in Chicago made it hard to not hear about the story of Vivian Mayer, whose amazing talent for photography was only found after she defaulted on payments for a storage unit and her subsequent death. That being said, I had never really experienced her work up until that past weekend when I saw an exhibit on her at the Chicago History Museum - simply amazing.
  • There are a number of blogs who could benefit from having a CentUp button on their site. And when I say benefit, I mean earn money from readers.
  • Though past performance may be the best indicator of future performance, there is certainly no guarantee of it. This I learned the hard way when my New England Patriots lost the AFC Championship game and will not be going to the Super Bowl next week. Thanks for an awesome season, though.
  • I was talking with a colleague about hard drive storage and the accompanying picture of a magazine cover from PhotoMedia Magazine from Spring, 2006 came to mind. As she hadn’t heard about it, I searched it down – I did not recall the name of the publication only the photo itself – and found it, and thought someone may have missed it too.
  • Sears is closing its State Street, Chicago store. As someone who lives so close to it, the store was not a regular shopping trip, but we made many household purchases there, had some awesome photos taken of our kids before the portrait studio was shuddered, and bought the outfits my kids wore home from the hospital after they were born. Sears was also upfront on Twitter when I tweeted about the closing, kudos on this.
  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts – my home state – blocked the sale of Apple stock to its residents when they went public. I learned this from Jonathan Hoenig when I included him on a tweet thread about crowdfunding and risk with Len and Griffin.
  • If the windshield of your 2013 Honda Odyssey is covered with snow, make sure to close the driver’s side door before you turn on the wipers.
  • In keeping with a new closing video theme… I learned that as many times as you see the Too Hot To Handel concert it never gets old, and this past weekend was my 7th time. What is it? Watch this video on YouTube or watch it embedded below.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 01/24/14 at 01:00 AM
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The Hot Iron strives to present unique content and perspective on business, technology and other topics by Mike Maddaloni, a Web and business strategist based in Chicago.

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