What I Learned This Week For June 20 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, June 23, 2014 at 10:08 PM with 3 comments

photo of the back of a Lands’ End catalog

As the original Disney classic Cinderella plays in the background, allowing me a few minutes to post my learnings and thoughts from the week…

  • Clearly whomever schedules Lands’ End catalogs is the only person in the world who doesn’t know that the Sears store in downtown Chicago closed over a month ago now.
  • After a search for a mobile phone that would be good for my Aunt who is, let’s just say, a few years older than me, I came across the Doro PhoneEasy 618. When I looked to see where they sell them, of course the closest location listed was the above-mentioned closed Sears store. But as others are still open nearby, I will investigate it to see if it will work for my Aunt, and also won’t lock me to a particular network carrier.
  • Speaking of mobile devices, Web retail behemoth Amazon announced its forthcoming Amazon Fire Phone. It runs the Android operating system, has a 13 megapixel camera, has something called Dynamic Perspective for 3D effects, and you can buy it with or without a phone contract, or as it is known as unlocked. Oh, and it makes it easy for you to buy other things from Amazon. I like the phone. The only thing I am curious about is why the Amazon logo is only on the back of the device and not on the front.
  • The Web browser Firefox, the direct descendent of the original NCSA Mosaic Web browser, has something called “safe mode” and apparently you can get stuck in it, as I was this week. The only thing is I don’t know if I am completely out of it, and cannot disable annoying but surely ignorable browser plug-ins. Ah, to remember the day when the Web browser just did what it needed to.
  • Last weekend was the annual Chicago Blues Fest, held in Grant Park by Lake Michigan. For several years after we first moved to Chicago, the festivals in the park were truly “open” where you could come and go as you wanted, and providing you didn’t break the law, you could set up a tent, flags and have a great time. Shortly after Chicago started bidding for the 2016 Summer Olympics, events like the Blues Fest were “locked down” with large fences and entrypoints put around what were still events with no cost to attend. As my lovely wife and I were walking towards the lakefront we passed the Blues Fest and decided to check it out for a little while. That is, until I saw people with “security” shirts patting people down who were entering the area. Really? Why? Because the number of murders from the previous 2 years doubled… to zero? I was appalled, and simply walked away.
  • A few hours prior to the Blues Fest dismay I started my day on a high point, participating in the annual Liver Life Walk in Chicago to benefit the American Liver Foundation. We exceeded our team goal and raised over $2,000 to this worthy cause, who also spends almost 90% of monies raised on programs, research and advocacy for liver diseases and the people affected by them. As many of the first contributors to the team found the link here on The Hot Iron, a special thank you in advance of a formal thank you to arrive in your post mailbox soon.
  • There is nothing like a new battery for your notebook PC.
  • In a previous lessons learned I had mentioned my daughter’s school pictures were taken in front of a green screen and using chroma key technology I could choose the background. This past week we put up her picture, along with my other daughter’s picture, which was taken the old-fashioned way with a backdrop. Where her picture is beautiful, it just doesn’t have the “warmth” of her sister’s. When school resumes I will be requesting they give the option to have a standard backdrop.
  • My good friend Pete finally… FINALLY had his business’ Web site redesigned. Check out the new Web site for Foresight Childproofing. If you are in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota area and have kids, call Pete to have him make your home safe for the little ones. With the redesign he also took my advice and had my good friend Emily Brackett and her studio Visible Logic not only build a great site that looks great on a standard computer or mobile device, but she also made some nice changes to the Foresight logo. Wherever you are, Emily and her team can do wonders for you and your business with its presence, from print to Web.
  • I lost count of the number of emails I received with approved job offers from Apple and Facebook. Where I laud the creativity and timeliness of spammers, they may just want to throw a few slices of spam rather than a few cases if they want to better deceive people.
  • I finally ordered something from Freshii, a chain of fresh food restaurants. I say finally here as I tried to order from them twice before with no luck. The first time I went into one store and, realizing there was a process to ordering, followed everyone else and grabbed a clipboard and paper to place an order. As I didn’t have my reading glasses with me I couldn’t read the microtext on the sheet. The second time Freshii was the offering of the day from Fooda in my office and the service was wicked slow, with a huge queue of people. This time I went to a new store around the corner from me. Where I didn’t see any clipboards, I did see video screens with small text, but this time I had my reading glasses. Several customers who came in at the same time clearly did not know where to go as we were standing in line at the part of the counter where you didn’t order. Clearly the employees couldn’t read the confused faces as they didn’t offer any real help, only to take our order. I chose a salad, and other around me got other things. The salad was good – not the greatest salad I ever ate, but it was good. As I was finishing my salad a woman who was in line with me before was leaving and said to me, “well, we figured it out!” I will probably go back, but the next time I will explore the options more.
  • My how time flies. 2014 marks the 28th anniversary of the Marketing over Coffee Awards. Where I don’t have strong memories of this from my high school days, what I do remember well is the movie Ghostbusters, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. With the anniversary has been a lot of talk about the title theme song of the movie by Ray Parker, Jr. and how it came into being, and the article linked here goes into its detail. The video itself was unique in many ways, not to mention the set not bursting into flames from all of the hairspray worn by the people in it. I embedded the video below but if you don’t see it you can follow this link to YouTube to view the video for who you gonna call.


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


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What I Learned This Week For May 30 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 09:25 PM with 1 comments

photo of safety pins

Without further ado…

  • Over the last 5 plus months of using Dryv, the Chicago start-up who offers on-demand pickup and delivery of your dry cleaning and laundry, not only has my life been made a tad bit simpler, but I have amassed a collection of safety pins. The pins hold the tags on the garments and for some reason I have been saving them. I have yet to actually use one, yet I hold onto them. If anyone reading wants some (or all), feel free to contact me. Otherwise, the container will continue to fill. If you want to collect your own safety pins and save $20 off your first order, follow this link to Dryv, enter code 6H1A and request a pickup on the Web or your iPhone.
  • Tech media reports about a compromise of eBay logins surfaced almost a week before I received an email from eBay recommending I change my password. You would have thought some companies would have learned from other recent network breaches.
  • A primatologist is someone who studies apes and monkeys and wants to teach them to communicate with humans.
  • Over the weekend my lovely wife and I stayed at the Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It was completely remodeled last year and it is an awesome hotel with great style and amenities. But I have to admit, when I saw the name “Best Western” I wasn’t immediately drawn to this hotel. It could easily be rebranded as a Marriott or Sheraton as it was on par or even ahead of some hotels with those brands I have stayed at. I wonder if others have thought the same?
  • The reason we stayed at that hotel in Oshkosh was that it was our 12th wedding anniversary. I still seem to be learning about not only keeping but thriving in our relationship on a daily basis, but it is lessons well learned!
  • I received an email from LinkedIn inviting me to their long form post program where essentially I can write and post full articles similar to what I post here at The Hot Iron. Where this will be an option made available eventually to everyone who uses LinkedIn, I will pass on it for now. There are 2 compelling reasons why I am not clamoring to post something there. The first is in the “rights and responsibilities” of the offering where it indicates I could have posts disabled or lose my LinkedIn account entirely based on what I write, if it is found to be to salesy or in violation of their user agreement. The second is the track record LinkedIn has of terminating services within its property, such as network activity RSS feeds, their Answers section and its acquired CardMunch apps and service. By sticking with my own platform I will retain full editorial control of my content as well as the continuous availability of it.
  • It is better to communicate bad news directly rather than let people hear about it indirectly.
  • When I saw all of the news on the self-driving cars from Google, all I could think of was the Johnny Cab, a robotic-controlled cab service from the movie Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The link is to a clip of the movie where the Johnny Cab is featured. It is not necessarily “safe” for work, and of course that always depends on where you work.
  • I’ve just started watching some of the videos from the Lumia Stories project, where 100 people, born every year over the last 100 years, gets a Nokia Lumia mobile device and records part of their personal story. The campaign was created by 1000heads, the amazing word-of-mouth agency I have had the pleasure to get to know over the years from my involvement with other work they did with Nokia. It has me thinking about recording more of my history and getting history from my family members. I do count what I write here as being part of that.
  • When changing my eBay password I reviewed my list of logins and passwords and saw one for “something” called BugMe. I didn’t recall it, and upon further review I still don’t know what it was, but now it is an app productivity tool for tracking tasks with virtual sticky notes. I started using it on my iPhone for both personal and work tasks and so far so good. I plan on using it for this week’s learnings tracking.
  • This past week Steve Perry, the former lead singer of the band Journey, performed a few songs from his former band during an encore after a performance by the band Eels in St. Paul, Minnesota. Apparently Perry and members of Eels have become good friends. What’s interesting is that Perry hasn’t performed on stage in over 20 years. As songs from Journey played over and over on the radio from the late 70’s to the 80’s to today, it was great to see and hear him perform. Though his hair is a little shorter today, he still has it with his unique singing voice. You can watch the video embedded below, or follow this link to watch it on YouTube.


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


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What I Learned This Week For May 23 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 09:57 PM with 2 comments

photo of a Caronarita

I grabbed one of the last pieces of paper on one of those pads that has a magnet on the back and you stick on a refrigerator – before my kids got to it for their various art projects – to carry with me and log what I learned.

  • I had my first, and most likely my last, Coronarita. Pictures here, it is a margarita with a mini Carona Beer bottle, called a Caronita, inverted in it with a special plastic holder. I like margaritas, but not with beer in them.
  • When I was a kid, you never paid for anything at school except for lunch. You got all of your school supplies and went on field trips at no extra cost. Clearly that is not the case today, as I find myself sticking an envelope in my daughter’s backpack almost weekly with money in it. It would be great if I just paid a lump amount at the beginning of the school year for everything, and if it went under, then the school gets the balance. Like one of those Popeil “set it and forget it” ovens, or maybe that’s a bad analogy?
  • Comfort comes at a cost.
  • Speaking of comfort and cost, after I learned the previous statement, I got a glaring example with platinum passes for Lollapalooza, the massive 3-day concert in Chicago’s Grant Park this summer. The pass gives you everything from golf-cart rides around the grounds to air-conditioned bathrooms to food and drink, all for the bargain price of US$3,600.00. Nice to know, but I’ll take the grunge of Riot Fest over this any day.
  • I have never been a fan of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, and thought it was way too much to spend for such a tool. The Dyson hand dryers you find in public bathrooms are ok, but not everyone can bend their wrist that way. Now if Dyson wants to really have a coup, they should make a car vacuum cleaner that actually works. Now that is something I’d pay money for. Needless to say, I am on my third car vacuum in a year and I don’t see this one lasting either.
  • The authenticity of kids toys is amazing today, including something I took a double-take on at my kids daycare – a wooden toy Keurig machine.
  • Just as I finished ordering for my kids first visit to a Chipotle Mexican restaurant this past week for Taco Tuesday, and tried to articulate their choices to the antsy staff, one of the staff said, “we do have a kids menu.” Who knew? And why isn’t it on the sign anywhere?
  • Put to the test this past week was my new bike lights, which are LED and rechargeable with a USB adapter. The Blackburn Flea 2.0 Front Headlight and Rear Light Combo worked great as I got an evening bike ride in along Lake Michigan. Now if I weren’t one of the few people along the lake trail with lights it would even be more beneficial.
  • The blog post I wrote yesterday about the great service GiveBackBox was written with my voice, using the Siri function on my iPhone and the Notes app. I did it over the weekend during downtime, and for this first attempt it worked well. After I “wrote” it, I emailed it to myself, and edited it on my PC. It was a fairly straightforward story so it worked well. I have already started another post, which I am sure will need much more editing.
  • Though I still do not have a TV, I couldn’t not hear about the “drum-off” between Chad Smith, the drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and actor Will Farrell, which occurred last night on the Tonight Show. I’ve seen the Chili Peppers several times over the years, and once ran into Smith – literally – as I was coming out of the men’s room and he was walking in after their show at the University of Albany in 1990.Years later I met Farrell after he ran the Boston Marathon and I was a volunteer there, though this only involved a handshake and not almost being knocked over. The drum-off made for more than good TV – you can click the previous link to view it or the video is embedded below.


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


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What I Learned This Week For May 16 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, May 16, 2014 at 12:05 AM with 2 comments

photo of gravity tank with Swedish flag painted on it in Andersonville, Chicago

Not everything we learn in the course of a week is a life lesson or something which jumps out at you completely. But even though I never hear a lot of feedback or get a lot of comments on these posts, for me, it is a good way to end the week and look back.

  • The water gravity tank that was atop the Swedish American Museum in the Andersonville section of Chicago still exists. It now sits in a parking lot, as pictured above. Reports are it may cost upwards of US$200,000 to repair and replace, and a fundraising effort is underway. Perhaps there may be a cheaper way to restore the structure, and one which does not collect water, as when it was removed it was full of ice.
  • Prior to taking the picture of the gravity tank, I attended a performance of Barrel of Monkeys. They are a group of teachers and performers who work with public school students and teach them about creative writing, then stories are selected and a sketch is created by the actors. I know I did not do this description justice, so visit their Web site and look for when their next performance is, and thank me later.
  • Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, was born in Chicago, and lived here until he was 2 years old.
  • I got a new work PC this week, and it has a touch screen and is running Windows 8.1. I really didn’t need a new computer, but the lease was up on my “old” Windows 7 PC, which I really liked. I have only used the basics of touch on it, as my big hands don’t work well with the small text in menus, etc. Looking forward to trying out new apps designed for Windows 8.1, and in the meantime I will use it just like I did my Windows 7 PC.
  • The NFL’s New England Patriots have created a jersey guarantee offers someone who purchased a jersey for a player, and then if that player is no longer under contract with the team, a 25% discount on a new jersey. This is of course built upon the team’s previously successful exchange program for the jersey of Aaron Hernandez, which I feel is even more genius on the part of the Patriots, especially with the cost of jerseys today.
  • Tickets went on sale and the line-up of bands was announced for Riot Fest, a 3-day outdoor concert in Chicago, as well as Denver and Toronto, which encompasses many stages with bands and acts performing simultaneously, not to mention a carnival and midway of rides. Of all the bands performing, include The Cure, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Social Distortion (a few of my favorite bands from the 80’s), is Jane’s Addiction. What’s interesting about them is their lead singer, Perry Farrell, is the creator and still involved in another similar and larger concert in Chicago, Lollapalooza. I’ll be at the Chicago shows at Humboldt Park on September 12-14, will you?
  • This past week I got an off email from photo-sharing service Shutterfly that was a little odd. I rarely use the service, and the message seemed to be in response to the fact that I was pregnant, which despite wild rumors is the furthest from the truth. I then got another email from them, with an apology from their Chief Marketing Officer John Boris saying they were “truly sorry” for the email. When I got the email, I tweeted about it and got a few snarky comments from friends, and that was it. But as the topic of pregnancy can be extremely sensitive, I am sure it pissed someone off.
  • Workers began installing the letters “TRUMP” on the Trump Hotel and Towers in Chicago. The 20-foot high letters will be facing the Chicago River side of the tower, which means when I walk out my front door every morning I will see them. So far they have the letter “T” installed and had it lit up at night. Where it may appear a little tacky, I am in favor of any building having branding on it, as that brand is the reason why the building is there – or in other words, they built it.
  • There have been a lot of attacks on human resource departments in technology publications, which has resulted in very defensive responses from the HR community. I think one thing that some people who are not in favor of HR departments, namely employees, fail to remember is that at the end of the day, the HR department serves the company, not the employee.
  • May 15 is Fluevog Day, where large discounts and events occur at John Fluevog shoe stores around the world. I learned that it is also the birthday of the eponymous owner. I only own 2 pairs of shoes and they are both Fluevogs – the Will and Bodden styles. At 5:15 pm local time in each store, a “class photo” is taken of staff and customers, and it will be sent to each person pictured, personally autographed by John himself. Where these activities may seem unusual, they are in-line with the social outreach and great attitude of the brand over the decades, even long before social media was on the scene.
  • In an interview in Time magazine, actor Colin Firth discussed speaking Italian and used Italian swears. As someone who is Italian-American, and sadly does not speak Italian, I of course know some of those swears he spoke of, and more that he didn’t. Firth’s wife is Italian and she taught him, which I think is awesome. You can see the video embedded below or click the article link above to watch it.


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


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What I Learned This Week For May 9 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 08:21 AM with 0 comments

photo of a what I learned written on a withdrawal slip

With ATMs that accept cash and check deposits without an envelope and mobile apps which take a picture of a check to deposit, the end of the deposit slip, along with its sibling the withdrawal slip, is coming soon. Fortunately the back of these are blank and a withdrawal slip made for a nice way to track what I learned throughout the week.

  • I finally “tuned” into Double J, the new all-digital radio station launched in Australia and the sibling of Triple J, Down Under’s nationwide terrestrial and digital alternative music radio station. I have only listened once but liked its eclectic mix and hope to tune in more.
  • When my family traveled out to Eau Claire, Wisconsin last week for my wife’s Aunt’s funeral, we learned about JAMF Software, a company who makes enterprise management software for Apple computers and devices. For those who don’t know what enterprise management software is, it basically makes it easy to keep track of a bunch of computers. The company, which started in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is moving “back” to the hometown of the founder in Eau Claire, and making quite a splash in its new headquarters and even buying an old hotel and making it into a boutique hotel. A friend who lives there is a teacher and had the founder as a student, and she is proud of his accomplishment. As for what JAMF stands for, see it here, but note there are some asterisks and other symbols making the works safe for work!
  • Where one Eau Claire hotel is making a comeback, another declined and is now gone, and we were wondering why it wasn’t coming up as having occupancy for when we were there.
  • Where some hotels in Wisconsin come and others go, yet another lingers on. Along I-94 in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, across the highway from an outlet mall is an odd looking place called the Gobbler. It is the restaurant of what was a futuristic hotel built back over 50 years ago. Where the hotel portion is now gone, the abandoned restaurant remains. The link above has some decent pictures and all you need to do is search on the Gobbler for more stories about this unique landmark.
  • The Spanish word for panties is “calzones” and I will never think of the Italian food the same way again.
  • It appears the OtterBox Armor line of mobile device cases has been discontinued by the manufacturer. I got a hint to it over the holidays when I saw the cases for around US$25, about a quarter of their original sale price. The idea behind the Armor line was you could drop the phone on a hard surface or in the water and no damage. Granted the case doubled the thickness and weight of the mobile device. But when my 3-year old launches my iPhone across the room, I am rest-assured I can still pick it up and play Angry Birds.
  • I bought some Dasani Sparking water in cans this week. The Dasani brand is owned by Coca-Cola, and this appears to be the first “national” seltzer brand, as many are regional such as La Croix and Polar, the latter which is my longtime favorite from central Massachusetts. One thing I noticed on the can of Dasani Sparkling with lemon flavor is that it contains natural flavoring with zero calories like other brands, but it also contains 25 mg of sodium, where other brands are sodium free. Not sure what Coke put in the formula that needs to contain salt, but others seem to be able to flavor it without it.
  • The hammer finally fell on CardMunch as its owner LinkedIn finally announced it was shutting down the business card scanning app and service. CardMunch has had issues for a long time yet LinkedIn has been surprisingly mum and slow to respond to the outcry for what was a decent service. They are partnering with Evernote to offer a similar service, but I have already moved on with CamCard.
  • When you notice a change in the email name from “Tech Support” to “Customer Service” be expecting a dumb-downed level of support, as I have sorely noticed from one vendor of mine.
  • Whenever I checkout from a Walgreen’s store I see flashed on the pay station a screen where I can press a button to get my receipt emailed to me. As my cat-like reflexes have waned in recent years, I have not been able to catch the split-second display of the option. However the other day luck came my way and I was able to press it in time, and did get my receipt emailed to me. I am not sure why it works that way, but I am not going to raise it with the drugstore behemoth – every time I raise an issue with them on social media, namely Twitter, they tell me they created a ticket for me, but then never respond and whenever I follow-up with them, they never respond.
  • As I have been remiss in writing about my favorite self-cloud service ownCloud, I thought I would share this great video they recently released and I finally watched this week. It’s from their commercial side, but ownCloud is an open-source, free application. It is just over a minute and explains well part of the power of this self-hosted service. View it embedded below or view the ownCloud video on Vimeo.


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


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What I Learned This Week For April 25 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, April 25, 2014 at 10:10 PM with 0 comments

The back of one of my tax receipts, which I had long digitized and set to my accountant, served as the log of my learnings for this week. Where I didn’t learn anything from the receipt, I wondered why we still have paper receipts for taxes, or why we don’t have a flat tax and just fill out a postcard like Steve Forbes suggested. But I digress.

  • photo of the Chicago Athletic Association buildingWith new or refurbished windows covered in plastic in place, plus the lack of noise pollution from building materials being dumped down a metal chute subsided, it is my presumption the rehab of the former Chicago Athletic Association into a boutique hotel has now begun. The yet-named hotel, to be owned by a member of the Pritzker family, who know a thing or 2 about hotels, will be a welcome addition to the Loop neighborhood of Chicago. So is the ceasing of almost 9 months of the dumping of building materials down the metal chute! I look forward to the opening of the hotel and neighborhood room discounts.
  • The colder than normal spring here in the Midwest, including a snowstorm the Thursday before Easter, timed just right for me to experience first-hand the process of converting maple tree sap into maple syrup. From trees tapped to boiling down of over 200 gallons of the clear liquid to make only about 5 gallons of syrup, for this guy who grew up in New England and has roots in Vermont it was the first time I really saw it first-hand. Click on the links above to see Vine videos of the sugaring process. Special thanks to Brent of Heikkinen Farms for the grand tour!
  • Bourbon is the new bacon.
  • The very people who could benefit from crowd-sourced fundraising, and have some of the most compelling stories which would warrant the contributions, are probably the least likely to be aware of it or know how to go about the process.
  • Motorola Mobility debuted its new headquarters in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart this past week. But as its staff has shrunk under the ownership of Google, and with it being sold to China’s tech giant Lenovo, how many people will really end up working there? Only time will tell.
  • Simple video editing, such as what I did with last week’s Trump game video, was a chore on the PC. I did not want to learn a full video editing suite as I did not need all of that capability. After trying literally 6 different tools, I found something decent with Any Video Converter. What I learned here is simple: I need a Mac!
  • In thinking about team cohesiveness and collaboration I recalled a great sports analogy - 25 players, 25 cabs, which was a term applied to Boston Red Sox teams of old, ones which never won a World Series. When you bond and spend time together above and beyond just the task at hand, you gain a greater understanding of each other, and this makes your bond as a team stronger. Not to mention winning 3 World Series trophies in the last decade.
  • I continue to be reminded of a phrase once told me by a wise man, that it’s easier to get someone to quit than it is to fire them.
  • This past week cereal giant General Mills changed its privacy policy on its Web site to attempt to bind customers who interact with them online to arbitration in the event they attempt to sue them. No sooner did this come out did the Internet flurry with comments on how impractical (aka dumb) this truly was, and they later backed down from it and reverted to their previous privacy policy. I could go on about this but reading this analysis on General Mills’ move by Shel Holtz says pretty much what I would have said myself.
  • Now that I have a way of doing simple video editing, namely splicing and cropping, here’s another gem from my past that I discovered from one of my old VHS tapes. Here I am interviewed by a local TV station in April, 1989 for a softball marathon at my alma mater. In watching this I observed a few things, namely that I had a lot of hair back then, and you don’t see reporting like this anymore today. You can watch my TV interview on YouTube or it is embedded below.


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


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What I Learned This Week For April 11 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, April 11, 2014 at 09:14 AM with 0 comments

photo of jewelry store sign

With the warmer temperatures here in Chicago, I may have been distracted a bit, so I am not sure if I missed anything this week as I was trying to smell the few flowers that were out there. Still there was things I learned that were beneficial to me, and they may be the same for you too.

  • Just because it is your line of work or industry doesn’t mean you can spell it properly – see the photo above. Maybe that is why there are so many acronyms in technology?
  • If you require me to create a login and password in order to leave a comment on your blog, forget it. Most of the blogs I read are either small enough where they can moderate the few posts they receive or are large enough where they can have someone to manage comments. It’s too easy to throw up a login, and surely there will always be comment spam, but spammers can create a login too.
  • Politicians in Chicago are still moving forward with a plastic grocery bag ban as apparently they are the dominant content of litter throughout the city, and there’s also environmental concerns as these bags are made from petroleum. For myself, this will not be a good thing, as I use these bags as trash bags in the home and in the car. So once they are banned, I will then need to buy small plastic garbage bags.
  • While I was making the odiogo logo more prominent on The Hot Iron as I mentioned in my last post, I also did a little clean-up and made room to add a Crafted in Chicago button to the site. Created by one of the minds behind CentUp I thought I would show my solidarity to my community.
  • Continuing on the Chicago thread, I saw this site proposing a potential redesign of Chicago’s transit system. Where some routes make sense, with shifts in working from home more prevalent, it would be interesting to see if it makes more sense to “wire” the city with Internet access rather than transit routes.
  • My lovely wife went to Minneapolis over the weekend and all I could think of was the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore show as covered by Husker Du back in the 80’s. In the video embedded below, or linked to here on YouTube, the opening of it is the band crossing the street and the same spot where Mary throws her hat up in the air. Granted many of those reading this have no idea what I am talking about, but watch one episode of the show then this video and it will make complete sense.


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


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Odiogo Reads The Hot Iron To You

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, April 08, 2014 at 09:09 PM with 0 comments

odiogo logoWhere most of you reading this post from The Hot Iron blog are looking at the text on various computing devices, and a few of you may be using screen reading software to convert the words on the screen to speech, did you know anyone reading could have this and every other post read to you?

For years, going back as far as the earliest posts, the ability to listen to my blog posts has existed, but for some reason I didn’t promote is much as I should have. As there’s no time like the present, allow me to introduce to you The Hot Iron read to you by odiogo.

Odiogo is a service that converts text to speech into an audio file and distributes the files in MP3 format. You can bookmark this page and listen to the audio for the last 10 posts. There is also an RSS feed which you can subscribe to in your favorite RSS feed reader and podcast player.

Odiogo started as a free service, changing to a paid service model last year with an exception to non-commericial blogs. As I have yet to be able to retire to the Cayman Islands from the money I (don’t) make here, I have been able to keep the transcription of these posts, as everything else here, free.

Odiogo uses a digital voice to read posts. One major reason why I added it was because it was able to convert “Maddaloni” very well! Typically an audio version of a podcast is available within an hour or so of when it was posted to the site.

Along with writing this post, I have made the link to the odiogo page much more prominent in the sidebar of the site. I also invite you to listen to one of the audio transcriptions and let me know what you think of it. Have you already added it to your podcast app? Will you never listen to it again? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below.


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


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What I Learned This Week For March 28 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 11:58 AM with 0 comments

photo of art from India

This past week was the first time that I learned something new in the presence of someone and they asked me if it would make my next blog post of what I learned. Sometimes it’s nice when the real world collides with the virtual world.

  • A colleague from India gave me the box pictured above. It could be used as a pencil holder or a even a phone cradle, but I plan on putting nothing into it and admiring it for its own beauty. Thanks Sanam!
  • Earlier this week the conductor a Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line subway train fell asleep at the controls as it pulled into the O’Hare Airport stop and the train plowed past the end of the recessed track and went up the stairs of the station. Yet the media calls it a derailment. Watch the video of the accident in the link to the article, or view (and save!) the animated GIF of it and determine for yourself if it is merely a derailment.
  • After finally completing 4 consecutive weeks of Intro to Yoga classes at Tejas Yoga, I feel I have learned enough to take on the “foundation” level of yoga classes. Thanks to my instructor Zach for leading me on the start of my yoga journey. Namaste.
  • After less than a week owning the Frozen DVD, it has already been used as a disciplinary consequence for poor behavior exhibited by my little ones. The soundtrack to the movie was also bundled with this. Early indicators have shown it to be reasonably successful.
  • Tickets for Lollapalooza went on sale this week, but I decided to pass on it and am planning to attend Riot Fest instead.
  • A couple of weeks and a couple of updates later, the Starbucks mobile app is still offering what I consider an awkward user experience for its much-touted tipping feature. Rather than setting an automatic amount to tip after a purchase, or make it work much seamless, several seconds after you have your app scanned, you are prompted to add a tip to the purchase. This several seconds seems like an eternity and, as has happened with me a couple of times already, I have already put my phone away by that point and did not tip my barista. Plus the “shake to pay” feature doesn’t seem to bring up my barcode to scan every time. I hope these will be fixed soon.
  • I have been noodling on something I am calling “cultural experience,” or CX, when it comes to technology and not only the experience of using it, but how the use of it is influenced by the culture of the community and vice versa. Chances are I am not the only one thinking about this, and there may be others out there thinking and writing on it, and I need to start putting some of this down in Word and go somewhere with it.
  • My thougths go out to my fellow NFL AFC East brethren in western New York, as this has been a rough week for Buffalo Bills fans. First, original owner Ralph Wilson passed away. Wilson was adamant at keeping the team in the Buffalo area, and the team is contractually tied to its stadium, named after Wilson, for at least the next decade. It was also announced that former quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was supposed to undergo surgery for oral cancer, then it was decided to treat it rather than operate. Kelly was a phenominal athlete, and I have vivid memories of seeing him kick the Patriots’ butt up and down the field for years. In later years he was a businessman and philanthropist, and has achieved probably as much off the field as well.
  • I learned how to articulate the difference between writing and editing, as I taught it to my 5-year old as she has been working on writing her first book. In Kindergarten.
  • In the course of researching the service Visual.ly I was looking at examples of the creative videos and infographics they have produced and found this great video example of 29 Ways to Stay Creative. I have embedded the video below or you can follow the previous link to watch it in a browser. My favorite way is the very last one – it is worth the less than 2 minutes to watch this.


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


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Why I Registered A .UNO Domain Name

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 03:11 PM with 0 comments

photo of Pizzeria Uno signSo I got me a dotUNO domain name. And some of you, reading that sentence, are probably wondering what I am talking about. I mentioned in a previous post I was going to be writing about generic top-level domain names – and I will – but in the meantime I felt it more important to talk about this new addition to my digital identity.

The domain name is maddaloni.uno.

The .UNO domain name extension, commonly referred to as a generic top-level domain or gTLD, was just recently released as part of a mass expansion of extensions to join the likes of .COM, .N ET, .ORG and others. As the word “uno” means “one” in Spanish, Italian and other languages, it is targeted towards to businesses and entities – including individuals – to use for a unique domain name for their presence and branding on the Internet targeting those who speak those languages.

So why did I register maddaloni.uno? The reasons are many, and I’ll start with the base which are more qualifying for the gTLD.

  • I am a second-generation Italian-American and my ancestry is 100% Italian
  • My surname, Maddaloni, is Italian
  • I have had these qualities for all of my life, which has at least gone for 40 years.
  • My wife and children also have this same surname, carrying it along for another generation
  • I do know some Italian, and especially know when I am being insulted in Italian

Though I did not have to apply or provide these qualifications, I am proud to present them here. Where all of this is well and good, what am I going to do with the domain name you may ask? Where I am still developing the high-level and detailed personal branding plan, in general I will be using it for identifying me on the Web. As an interim step, I am pointing the domain name to this very blog.

Size Matters

There are many gTLDs on the marketplace today, and this list from Name.com shows many of the gTLDs. If you look at this list, you will see extensions of varying sizes. What I like about .UNO is that it is short – only 3 letters – and easy to spell. As .UNO will be competing primarily with the “Big 3” of .COM, .NET and .ORG primarily, it is unique enough and should not bring confusion like, for example, a .CO domain name (known as a country-code TLD or ccTLD as it is for Columbia) as many may add an “M” to a .CO.

This is not to say that nobody will register or use a longer domain name, but many have been out there for years, like .MUSEUM, .AERO and .JOBS. How many of these have you ever seen or typed? I have probably seen 3 or 4 uses of a .JOBS domain name – one that comes to mind is hyatt.jobs for the eponymous hotel chain. In general I am bearish on the widespread usage of some of the longer gTLDs, but only time will tell how successful they will be.

Congrats on the Launch of .UNO

With the launch of .UNO I am proud to say congratulations to Shaul Jolles, the CEO of Dot Latin, LLC, the company behind .UNO. He is also the co-founder and co-owner of OfficePort, the facility that I worked from for many years and continue to use as my workspace away from home. His hard work and leadership has paid off in his firm being awarded the opportunity to launch .UNO, and though I registered the domain name like everyone else, I am thrilled for his success. #FFL

Capise?

Does .UNO or what I talked about here make sense to you? Do you think maddaloni.uno will be unique and successful as part of my personal brand on the Internet? I welcome your thoughts and questions 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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