The Hot Iron

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


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Serph to Help Manage Your Online Identity

Serph logoWouldn’t it be nice to find out what people are saying about you right now? Or your business or competitors? Using Serph along with other services like Google Alerts can help you keep track of who is saying what and where.

I was recently clued into Serph by Justin at Menuism. You can create a free account to manage your searches, or simply enter a search query and see what is being mentioned about that search phrase on blogs and social bookmark sites. You can also get an RSS feed of that search phrase, and Serph will deliver any new entries to your feed reader as they are found.

Like any of these services, they won’t find everything about every phrase. If you are a new business or new to publishing online, you may not get results right away. As I have been publishing The Hot Iron and promoting Dunkirk Systems for a while, I get frequent hits of their mentions in blogs and on other Web sites.

This post alone should send me alerts, as well as to Justin.

Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/14/07 at 10:23 AM
BusinessTechnology • (1) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Confusing New Law on Domain Names in New York State

New York State sealA new law signed on August 1 in New York State will surely lead to much confusion, and much profiting by the attorneys who have to spend their clients’ money to understand and see if this law holds up.

Note that I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on YouTube. Please read the text of the law on the State Of New York’s Web site and search on bill S3814-B. More information is available from the Web site of New York State Senator Betty Little who sponsored the legislation, and the news report the bill is now law.

As I have talked about before, there is a process for registering and disputing the ownership of domain names. There is cybersquatting, where a person registers a domain name of a person, business or entity with the intent to profit from it. Then there are people who buy domain names comprised of generic terms that are descriptive of a product or service, and could apply to an entire industry segment. As a domain name has value and if a registrant decides to sell it, who is to say they cannot?

The New York law appears to offer an avenue around the ICANN process for disputing domain name ownership. This also imposes cash penalties of $1,000.00 a day! But where the law is confusing is in its opening language:

“Relates to cyber piracy protections and the unlawful registration of domain names; prohibits the registration of a domain name that consists of the name of another living person, or a name substantially and confusingly similar thereto, without that person's consent, with the specific intent to profit from such name by selling the domain name for financial gain to that person or any third party; provides for injunctive relief and other civil remedies.”

What defines intent to profit? What if I hold a domain name and do not sell it, or develop a Web site around it or simply park it – who is to determine intent?

Here’s a potential example – say I buy every possible domain name around my name, including misspellings. I may decide to sell some of them, perhaps some of the less desirable top-level domains like .ws. If there is another person with the same name as myself, can they then sue me under this law? And can they sue for the .com name and not the .ws I want to sell? Yes, there are other people out there named Mike Maddaloni, and I am sure Betty Little as well.

It is also murky as to jurisdiction of this law. What if the registrant and domain name registrar are not based in New York? Needless to say, I have warned my clients and colleagues in New York State about the potential issues with this law.

Again, I am not a lawyer, and with all legal matters you should consult one. If you don’t have one – get one. Especially if you are worried about New Yorkers suing you within a few months.

Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/12/07 at 06:24 PM
BusinessDomain Names • (1) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Silicon Prairie Social on September 20

Tim Courtney has emailed me and invited myself and all of you to attend the very first Silicon Prairie Social, to be held on Thursday, September 20 at Mullen’s Bar and Grill in Lisle, IL. This is being billed as a suburban tech networking event, as Lisle is about 30 minutes west of Chicago. That is, 30 minutes without the occasional traffic tie-ups on the Chicagoland roads.

And to answer your next question, yes, there will be free drinks. They have an impressive list of sponsors on their Web site already. I am glad to hear about and share information on such events. At events in Chicago proper, many people come in from the ‘burbs to attend, and I hope some folks from the city venture west. You may want to head out earlier and do some shopping, as the tax is less outside of the city!

Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/12/07 at 05:37 PM
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Friday, August 10, 2007

Business Network Chicago

Business Network Chicago logoI just got off the phone with David Carman, and he told me the Breakfast Network Club is now Business Network Chicago, and has relaunched its Web site. The name change is a good one, especially as they don’t hold too many morning meetings anymore, and the new name is better focused on their goals and intent.

BNC has many special interest groups, including venture capital, healthcare and IT, which focus on these particular industries, as well as larger networking events. Their newsletter is a good source for job positions and leads. I have made many great contacts through the BNC, and have been proud to sponsor their meeting nametags.

BNC is kicking off its new branding and the fall with Fall n-Counter, to be held on Wednesday, September 19 at the W Chicago City Center hotel on Adams in the Loop. More information and registration is available on their Web site. This will surely bring out a large attendance at such a great venue.

Good luck to David, the president of the BNC, and all of its SIG chairs on the rebranding and ongoing work to bring the Chicago business community together.

Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/10/07 at 09:09 AM
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Next likemind on Friday August 17

likemind.chi logoThe next likemind will be next Friday, August 17 in dozens of cities around the world. In Chicago, it will be back at Intelligentsia Coffee,, 53 E. Randolph, at the corner of Wabash.

What is likemind? I call it a gathering of creative-minded people, from various disciplines. For my friends and readers in Boston, they are looking for someone to organize it, which just means paying for coffee and getting reimbursed, and being somewhat awake at that hour.

Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/10/07 at 06:02 AM
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Way to Work for Google

Google logoI saw this item posted on, a site that usually just lists discounted items available on various eCommerce Web sites. But never jobs. I guess everyone will make an exception for Google.

The search giant is seeking Business Referral Representatives. These are people who will canvass their neighborhood or local businesses to get their information into presumably their local search directory. More information is available on their FAQ including a link to apply.

Recently when adding some clients into Google Local, they already had listings. Some of them were correct, some were not, and some lacked details like hours of operations, logos and fax numbers. Some already had photos of the businesses! I was then able to submit revisions to the information, which required an automated callback from Google to verify it.

Where these representatives will take these few hours of work from my business, this marks a concerted effort for Google to encroach even more so on local print directories – how hard would it be to print information it already has?

Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/08/07 at 06:06 PM
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Monday, August 06, 2007

Article on eCommerce featuring Mike Maddaloni

I would like to pass along an article entitled, Applying Retail Concepts to the Web, which I was interviewed for. Its author is Lisa Rummler and is published on the Web site for Certification Magazine, a periodical on technical certifications that features both the nuts and bolts of technology and the business concepts that drive the use of technology. The article is in their “CRM and e-Commerce” community. Lisa is a great interviewer and it shows in the final product.

As the article states, Dunkirk Systems has brought many companies to the Internet, both traditional brick and mortar and solely online businesses. It’s what I enjoy doing! I hope this article helps demystify the Internet for those who are either exploring eCommerce or re-evaluating what they have. And of course I welcome the opportunity to see how we may be able to help them achieve their goals.

Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/06/07 at 07:51 PM
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Saturday, August 04, 2007

My Take-Aways from the The 4-Hour Workweek

The 4-Hour Workweek coverThe title alone enticed me to read it – The 4-Hour Workweek. Who doesn’t want to work just one-tenth of the standard work week? Not knowing anything more about it, other than it being mentioned on numerous blogs and podcasts, I picked up a copy and read a great book that both reaffirmed and inspired.

Tim Ferriss wrote this book based on his life. He was a typical office worker who was frustrated with his situation. He then took a look at his life, what he wanted to do, and built a business of selling supplements where all company functions were outsourced and he only needed a few hours a week – thus the title – to operate his business. With the rest of his time he travels the world, learned martial arts and to dance, and now is an author and speaker.

You don’t have to want to be an entrepreneur to read this book. It gives a unique perspective to how people spend their time, and how they could be spending their time. Even if you like what you do for a living – like myself – there is plenty to enjoy about this book.

My biggest takeaway from 4-Hour is quantifying your goals and dreams. Many people want to do something but think they can’t do it for many reasons, namely they can’t afford to. He talks through scenarios in his own life and even offers planning tools on his Web site to help you objectively determine if you can really do what you want to. In most cases you probably can, and seeing it in black and white will help you move towards your dreams.

Ferriss also professes something I have mastered owning my own business, working remotely. Many companies are moving towards telecommuting, but many do not allow people to work from home, or wherever they are connecting to the Internet. I once worked for a company that would not allow this as the director of my department liked seeing people in their cubicles! He walks the reader through how to approach it and once approved, how to manage it. With voice-over IP technology today, you could be calling a vendor from Denmark without them even knowing you’re outside of the US... not that I have done that myself!

Outsourcing is a key to how Ferriss has been successful. Some may not familiar with outsourcing overseas or the thought of someone in India balancing your US checkbook may be hard to grasp. The old adage that someone who earns $100 an hour should not be doing a task that can be done by someone who earns $10 an hour is a simplification of this concept, and taking a hard look at your life will probably show some of these tasks that can be done by others.

I recommend this book for anyone, whether you are an entrepreneur or are well into your career in a company. It is a high-energy and positive read and give many examples of services you can use to help you reach your goals, even if you just want to stay working under 40 hours a week.

Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/04/07 at 10:31 AM
Book Take-AwaysBusinessDiversions • (1) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, August 03, 2007

Nametags Essential for Networking

Mike's nametagThis year I have gone to several networking events, and the bad ones sometimes stick out more than the good ones. Of those that were not a successful event to me, they all had one thing missing – nametags.

Nametags are essential for any form of networking event. They are a huge icebreaker and can bring down barriers for people to introduce themselves to others. For a networking event where many people may not know each other, it is a great way to make an introduction to the person or their organization. If you are ever attending an event where you may think you know someone, the nametag is the great way to verify who the person is. A personal example was when I met Jason Jacobsohn in person at Tech Cocktail 4 – we had emailed back and forth and posted on each other’s blog, but had not met in person, and our nametags made that introduction easier.

For a membership organization, nametags are vital. Several years ago I was president of the Boston Jaycees, part of a worldwide membership organization of young people 21 to 40. Members of the board of directors, including myself, had hard-plastic nametags with our names and titles. Members of the organization would receive a nametag with a red border when they signed in, and guests or prospective members would receive a nametag with a blue border. We also added nametags with gold borders for special guests or speakers.

The variety of nametags was a win-win for all. For the board, we were able to identify who was a member (sometimes I would forget from our 75+ members) and who was a guest. For members, they were able to identify with other members and talk to guests about joining. For guests, they were able to identify chapter officers if they had a question. Overall, people felt more at ease, welcomed, and we received much positive feedback on having such a nametag system.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Scott Ginsberg, who has been wearing a nametag for almost 7 years straight, and has made a business around it.

Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/03/07 at 05:38 PM
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Macy’s Could Learn From Syms

Marshall Field's logo"An educated consumer is out best customer..." I can still hear those words from the monotone voice on the commercials for Syms, a New Jersey-based "off-price" clothing store chain with locations in 13 states including Massachusetts and Illinois. It is not just in their commercials – it is on their signs and at the top of their Web site as well. It is something they believe in strongly, and something I believe in strongly myself in business in general. The more a customer knows about the vendor and its services, the better informed they will be in their commerce decisions. As old as the statement is, it is ever fresh.

I just finished reading Macy’s reaction to a story on CBS2 about their slumping sales and perception in Chicagoland since they acquired and renamed all Marshall Field’s to Macy’s. Once again, Macy’s is on the defensive, and this time its from a person other than CEO Terry Lundgren; it’s Ralph Hughes, who apparently worked for Field’s and now gets his paychecks from Macy’s. And once again, I had to laugh. Hughes said he was "stunned" and "bothered" by reactions of the growing population of former shoppers of the State Street store and others in the area. "I heard one person say the we had attitude" is another quote, and he later says, "If we had it to do over again we would do what we're doing today, which is recognizing that some people are going to be very angry with this." The attitude is there, alive and well in your statements Mr. Hughes.

Prior to Macy’s acquisition of Field’s parent May Company, there were no Macy’s stores in Chicagoland. So from the get-go, they replaced an extremely well-rooted and known store with one some only know about for their Thanksgiving parade sponsorship in New York City. They repeatedly stated it was a business decision as they were creating a national brand of stores. There was also the promise of a fresh foods market and returning Frango production to Chicago.

So what do you do when business sucks, blame your customers or clients? People with knowledge of the Windy City can tell you about the meaning of Field’s here, and you don’t have to go much farther to get hard data to back it up. About all Macy’s did was change the signs and awnings, mail out a few coupons and expect everything to be the same the next day. Almost a year later it is not. There has been no effort to reach out to customers and introduce Macy’s to the area. No media campaign, no human element, nothing. Frango mints are still not made here, and there is no market, which after the recent bug infestation of the food court may not be a bad thing. Even Chase Bank hired Mayor Daley’s brother and former Commerce secretary Bill as the head of the Midwest operations when it took over Chicago-based Bank One.

Buying a $300 sweater or handbag is not a business decision, rather it is one made by humans with real emotions involved throughout. Macy’s may not be back to square one, maybe square two, and they will go no further without changing their attitude and embracing and educating former Field’s customers.

Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/01/07 at 05:10 PM
Business • (1) CommentsPermalink

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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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