Bike Rental in Germany

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, October 06, 2007 at 04:00 AM with 2 comments

photo of DB Call A BikeChicagoans were excited to hear that on a recent visit to France its mayor Richard Daley was going to check out bicycle rental, namely the Velib service for on-demand bike rental. This system relies on renting bikes from and returning them to a “service point.” On a recent visit to Germany, I saw examples of bike rental where the bikes stand alone.

In Berlin it was not uncommon to see red and silver bikes with a “DB” logo, part of the Call A Bike service. The service is summarized on this English-language page on their Web site, and it is a straightforward service where you establish an account, and when you want a bike you call a phone number, enter the code on the bike, then enter an access code on the bike and you’re on your way. This picture was taken at the Potsdamer Platz train station with several bikes available. Many times I saw just one bike, all alone, waiting to be rented. The bikes have a unique design and even a carrier with a cable for carrying packages. Click on the photo for a larger view.

I also found DB bikes around Frankfurt, as well as bikes from another vendor available for rental in a similar manner. By being able to rent and leave them wherever your destination is, the service is extremely convenient. When you are done with the bike, you lock it to a sign post and call in the location and it is picked up.

By the way, DB stands for Deutsche Bahn, the German national railroad. Now that is an integrated transportation system!

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I’ve Added My LinkedIn Photo

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, October 02, 2007 at 07:15 PM with 5 comments

View Mike Maddaloni's profile on LinkedInHave you updated your LinkedIn profile to include a photo? What you say, you didn’t know that you could do it? I only heard about it from a blog post last week that it was available as of last Friday – sorry I forget which one, as I was on vacation – and just remembered to do it today.

While I was at it, I also added the photo to the right sidebar of The Hot Iron. I have been meaning to add it, as many bloggers have pointed out that I haven’t had it there.

I’m surprised it took this long for LinkedIn to offer this. And in a limiting fashion that is all too familiar with the social networking site, you can only upload one photo, and it is limited to the size of a postage stamp. You must also be logged into LinkedIn to see one as well. Photos have been available out of the gate from the large networking sites like Facebook and MySpace – and don’t forget forums too! Now if LinkedIn can provide users the option to link to anyone else within the overall network so I don’t have to keep forwarding requests along… well, one can only dream.

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Stop Making Locked Phones

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, October 01, 2007 at 03:13 PM with 2 comments

Dear Palm,
Please make unlocked versions of your smart phones.

Last week Palm introduced the Centro, the latest addition to their Treo line of smartphones. This model is only $99, and has features of many of the pricier models. However, this model is only available to Sprint customers in the US.

When a phone of any model only works with a certain network, it is considered a “locked” device. This is nothing new, and has been the case in the US for years. In Europe, most phones are unlocked, where you can use them no matter who you get your service from. So if you change service providers, you don’t have to buy a new phone. Sure, in the US you can get some version of a free phone if you switch, but why bother if the old one only ends up in a landfill?

It has taken the Apple iPhone to raise the issue of locked phones. The iPhone is only available to AT&T customers, so if you want to use the new phone, you have to switch. This prompted people around the globe to work to unlock the phones, much to the dismay of Apple. Their response was cool, only saying software upgrades will render an unlocked phone useless, and more electronics to the landfill.

A locked phone does that – it locks you to a network. As mobile phone service seems to be a commodity these days in the US at least – I’d say the exception is T-Mobile, whom I have – a locked phone and a cancellation is the only way providers retain customers, not on the quality of their service. But if your phone will work elsewhere, it is not only allowing you to choose the best service, but the best phone for you as well. This fact has not resonated with the mobile companies in the US, which would also explain why they still call themselves “wireless” and “cellular” and not mobile.

There are plenty of reviews out there on the Centro, and I won’t be able to contribute to the discussion as I won’t be able to buy one. I still own and like my Treo 680, which unfortunately is the only unlocked model sold by Palm. But the insanity must stop, and unlocked phones must become the standard, as it’s well documented we are running out of landfill space.

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Next likemind on Friday September 21

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, September 14, 2007 at 10:15 AM with 0 comments

likemind.chi logoThe next likemind coffee will be next Friday, September 21 in dozens of cities around the world. In Chicago, it will be at Intelligentsia Coffee, 53 E. Randolph, at the corner of Wabash.

I call likemind it a gathering of creative-minded people, from various disciplines including Internet, advertising, art, et. al. Coffee is free, provided by your gracious host Clay on behalf of Anomaly.

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People Leave

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, September 06, 2007 at 06:08 AM with 0 comments

What seems like many moons ago now, as I was preparing to take on my first role where I had the word “manager” in the title, I sought advice from my good friend RJ. He had been a manager for several years at that point. I asked him for one piece of advice to give me, and he said, “people leave.”

What? “People leave?” Is that it? What sounded oversimplified would resonate with me for years.

After I challenged him on this 2-word statement, he proceeded to detail to me what was behind it. People leave – they quit for whatever reason. In the short-term, it will have some impact on the organization, team, group, etc. (I’ll use “group” from here forward). But in the long-term, it should not, and that’s where the role of a manager comes into play to ensure the continuity of the group.

The more I thought about this, the more sense it made to me. Everything a manager does not only ensures the success of a group, but also prepares for when there changes in its members. From hiring people into it, to managing people and process to understanding what people do, the manager is the central figure that should understand what is going on all the time. How the manager executes can vary, and that’s a whole other topic for another time.

When people leave a group or want to leave a group, in my opinion it is too late to try to keep them. Many times managers spend too much time trying to keep someone and may even make a counteroffer, all in the name of keeping the group as it is. What they don’t realize is the very fact that a person wants to leave has already changed the group dynamic and trying to keep them may do more harm than good. If a person’s decision to leave is final, asking for a long period of time before they actually walk out the door also is not in the group’s best interest. The age-old “2-week notice” is not law, and should not be, and Jim Carlini says it better than I can.

Many managers oversee what work is done and don’t spend a lot of time on managing people. When a person is hired, you are not just bringing in a skillset, but a living, breathing human being with emotions and a life outside of the office. Keeping this in mind, and spending time on getting to know the person and keeping their best interests in mind, will lead to a more successful execution of their skillset. Or at least that is my first-hand experience over the years!

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See you at DOMAINfest in January in Hollywood

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 at 04:29 PM with 0 comments

DOMAINfest logoI just got in on the early bird registration for DOMAINfest, a conference for the domain name industry. It will be January 21-23 in Hollywood, CA. Many companies, consultants and individuals (commonly referred to as “domainers”) will be there.

As you may have read from my past posts on domain names, this is an area I have great interest in and spend much time working with clients in selecting and managing their domain names. I hope from the tracks and presentations to gain a greater insight into the industry, and meet many of the people in person who write the blogs I read on a regular basis.

And did I say it is in January in southern California? Not that it will be much different in temperature from Chicago!

Please let me know if you or anyone you know are going to DOMAINfest. Early bird registration ends at the end of the week.

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The Rain Made Me Think It

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, August 24, 2007 at 06:33 AM with 1 comments

If you haven’t heard, we have had some rain here in the US Midwest. As well as some flooding, downed power lines and everything that goes with it. And as wet as the last few weeks have been, there is more to come.

Woven into just about news account of the storms are interviews with people who are almost always surprised at the high water levels and damage, many saying they have never seen anything like it in their life. Fortunately these people and everybody else has lived through this as the loss of life has been minimal to none. Going forward, hopefully these experiences will help us prepare for similar future events.

In addition to reviewing my disaster recovery plan, a couple of new thoughts came to mind as a result of the storm that I hadn’t considered before:

Infrastructure – Part of I-94 north of Chicago (known locally as the Edens Expressway) was closed due to flooding caused by a power outage at a pumping station alongside the highway. Outdoor highways have pumping stations?

Transportation – Commuter trains were stopped due to debris and power lines on the train tracks. Other trains had to go extremely slow due to crossing gates being blown off by high winds. Whenever storms come, I have always thought trains were the safest and most reliable way to go.

Communications – Last night I was to attend the monthly meeting of Chicago networking group Circle of Progress. I did not go due to the weather, and I was going to help the organizer as he was dealing with weather issues at home. Ideally canceling the meeting would be the way to go, but the meeting is managed using, and nowhere in a Meetup user’s account is a field to store a phone number or emergency/last minute contact method.

Much of the things in our lives are defined as a reaction to something, whether they are laws or designs. Now I have a few more things to think about and plan for.

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Happy First Anniversary to The UPS Store on Clark in Chicago’s Loop

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 at 08:30 AM with 0 comments

The UPS Store logoCongratulations to my friends at The UPS Store at 230 S. Clark Street in Chicago’s Loop on their first anniversary of business today. Where many may think a first anniversary for a business isn’t something to celebrate, I believe every year of a business should be recognized.

The UPS Store franchises provide many services, namely mailbox and shipping services, as well as printing and copying. I started working with them in the fall of last year shortly after they opened, after my frustrations with the lack of service from the US Postal Service, including blatant damage to my mail – I guess “do not bend or fold” doesn’t mean what it used to, but I digress.

Shortly afterwards I moved the mailing address of Dunkirk Systems to The UPS Store where it is today. The staff has gone out of their way to help me, from calling me when certain mail and packages arrive to advice on shipping to actual shipping services. I feel they are looking out for my best interest, and there’s nothing more an entrepreneur can ask for!

If you are in downtown Chicago today, stop by to wish them well and tell them I sent you.

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Serph to Help Manage Your Online Identity

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 10:23 AM with 1 comments

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.

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