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.
Regards,
Mike

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 Meetup.com, 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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Confusing New Law on Domain Names in New York State

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, August 12, 2007 at 06:24 PM with 1 comments

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.

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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!

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Business Network Chicago

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, August 10, 2007 at 09:09 AM with 1 comments

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.

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