My Worst Managers Never Took Me To Lunch

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, December 22, 2014 at 12:02 AM with 0 comments

photo of menu at Starbucks in Gold Coast, Chicago

When I look back across my career at the variety of managers I have had, there is a broad spectrum of them from amazing to horrible and everything in between. As I was recently thinking of those I considered the “worst” – those whom I had a poor experience working with – a common denominator came to light that I feel is central to why things did not work out well.

They never took me to lunch.

More Than A Meal

Don’t get me wrong, I am not just looking for a free meal, nor do I think these people are cheap in any way. Frugality with a corporate spending account has come up in dealings with past managers, and for me it is near the bottom of the list.

The fact these managers did not take me to lunch goes well beyond the meal itself and its cost. It has to do with the overall action itself – getting out of the office, a 1-on-1 meeting in a different setting and the discovery and insight about each other that comes with the conversation over the meal. Or in short – the manager getting to know me better, and me getting to know the manager better. This deeper knowledge about a person is important for a working relationship, going beyond the surface and skillsets to truly get the most of that person, and ensure they are happy and satisfied in the work environment.

Meals Alone Don’t Make A Manager

Where I feel that the invitation and act of taking someone to lunch is important in a working relationship, it is not the defining moment for a manager if they do so. In all honesty, most all of the managers I have had in all my years have broken bread with me, some at least once and others on a regular basis. And those managers would be represented across the above-mentioned spectrum. Even those whom I would rank along the lower end of that spectrum, I feel by having had a meal with them, and getting to know them as more than what was written on their business card, outranks those few who did not take this time or see it as important.

My Own Experience With Meal Invites

Where I have been talking about being on the receiving end of a meal invite from a manager, in my own role as a manager over the years I have taken many people to breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, snack or food in some capacity outside of the office and away from the grind to have a conversation. Call it the Italian-American in me, or just call it effective, but this opportunity to further connect with a team member or colleague is a very important part of how I have been successful throughout my career.

Here’s a couple of ways I have integrated lunch and my teams.

Re-energizing After Being Dazed And Confused

It was one of those meeting where you sit there and wonder, with all of this brain power, could we possibly cure cancer? But alas in the end really nothing was accomplished other than puzzled looks on everyone's faces and bad tastes in everyone's mouths.

I was asked to come to an "emergency" meeting and to bring my developers and even my graphic designer. As the manager of the front-end design and development team part of my job was to be the conduit between my team and senior leadership, who called the meeting and the people who did the great things to make our application a reality. In short, I would shield them from the insanity of such meetings. However the requesters pulled rank - literally - and demanded all of us in the meeting.

To make a long story - and long meeting - short, we all didn't need all of the king’s horses and all of the kings subjects to be in the meeting, and after an hour or so we all staggered out of the meeting room with the above mentioned looks and tastes.

Once we all collected in the lobby I decided the team needed to be rewarded for enduring this, so I told them that I would be taking them to lunch. The meal would be on the company, but only if we did not talk about work; if anyone brought up work they would have to pay for their own meal. Needless to say everyone agreed. As we walked back from the restaurant, I realize that we had bonded even deeper as a team than we had before and learned a lot about each other's backgrounds and beliefs, and I feel it had a great impact on our teamwork going forward.

Not When But When I Want To

After joining a start-up company and signing my life away (and possibly my future first born) I was then given our business plan our operating guides, policies and procedures. Reading through all of it I noticed there was no mention about specific business expenses, namely meals. I raised this with our HR director who told me to talk with our CFO, and my conversation with him went something like this:

Me: “Hi Homer (not his real name), what is the policy on expensing meals?”
CFO: “Um, who are you taking to lunch?”
Me: “Members of my team, and others in the company?”
CFO: “Um, when?”
Me: “Whenever I want to!”
CFO: “Um…”

At that point I talked with the company president, whom I had interviewed and talked with extensively during the onboarding process to the company, and he knew my leadership philosophy and told me to take whomever, whenever, and to expense it. These meals, sometimes, at the local mall food court, sometimes at a sit-down restaurant, were integral to me getting to know the team I inherited at the start-up, who they were, what motivated them, and importantly issues they had within the company. Although I was only with the start-up for 6 months and 5 days (a story for another time!), it was a productive time and I got some great things out of our team.

More Than A Skillset

If you read other posts here at The Hot Iron you will see I talk quite a bit about managing and leading people, and it involves a deeper knowledge of who they are, in addition to what they do. Frankly, it just works for me – always has, and I believe it will in the future. Some have labeled my approach as “touchy-feely” and so be it – we all have our styles, and in the end it’s up to the person as to whom they want to work for. Needless to say, I am not looking to work again with those past managers who didn’t take me to lunch.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on my approach in the comments to this post. Has meetings over meals worked for you or not? Do you see it as a way to deepen a working relationship, or just fill your belly?


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


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML Feed  Subscribe to The Hot Iron by Email


BuildBusinessStrategizeWeb Development • (0) CommentsPermalink

The Work Project I Never Politically Worked On

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, October 10, 2014 at 08:52 PM with 0 comments

Ah, company politics. They can be anything from mildly amusing to wrenchingly painful. In any case, they are at a minimum something you shake your head at. Unfortunately there are politics of some form in every work place and it really depends on the people involved as to how bad the politics can be.

The following story is one of company politics that to this day I still shake my head and laugh at. However at the time I admit I was pretty pissed off about it. It is a true story – one that I went through myself about a dozen years ago. The names of people in the company of all been changed to protect the innocent or feeble.

I was working in internal IT for a software company supporting the software and hardware for its public Web site and Intranet. Along came a major project where the company was going to implement PeopleSoft, an enterprise resource management or ERM system. As a result, everyone in IT was supposed to be working on the PeopleSoft project and not on anything else, including the work I was doing on our Web site and Intranet. Of course reality is always something different, as there was nobody else to technically support either of those projects, and I continued to support both.

One day I got a call about a major project the company was undertaking. It was going to go through a significant rebranding effort, keeping the same logo but rebranding all products and services including a new Web site. Although we had plenty of technical people in the company, I was the person to work on the new Web site as I knew it best, from the marketing team to the infrastructure to code behind it. The call had come from the marketing manager whom I had worked with since I've been there supporting the Web site. I then told her what the new “situation” was in IT, where I was not supposed to be supporting the current Web site, let alone build a new one. Needless to say this didn't make any sense to her, but she understood well how the company politics was, especially in IT.

Next up for her was to raise the “situation” up through her management, which then brought it up to the IT management and then came back down to me. I got a call from my manager who told me that after all I was supposed to work on the new Web site. But there was only one stipulation: I wasn't politically supposed to be working on this project therefore I wasn't supposed to tell anyone about it. So technically I was wasn’t working on the project, even though it was going to take most all of my time for the next several months.

Makes perfect sense right? I didn't think so.

Despite the insanity of the “situation” I had a job to do. A lot of work went into building the Web site, but it was something enjoyed doing very much and it didn't seem like a job at all. I was working very closely with our marketing manager, where I was located in Boston and she was in Vermont. Throughout the entire project we never actually saw each other, but despite that we were extremely successful at what we built.

In addition to building the Web site, I was also responsible for registering and acquiring new domain names for our rebranded products and services. As this was a publicly traded company, the rebranding was very secretive and very few people knew what the new product names were to be. But I was one of them. So that's a lot of faith and confidence in the guy that's not officially working on the project.

Overall the project was a success and we launched the new Web site on the day the company launched the rebranding. A lot of hard work and long hours went into it, and where we were very relieved when it was over, there was a lot of pride in the work we did. About a week after the rebranding, an email came out from the president of the company thanking individually all the people who worked on the rebranding. That is, all except for me. Of course this made complete sense because the president wasn't told I worked on the project because for political reasons I wasn't working on the project as nobody from IT was supposed to be working on anything else but the PeopleSoft project.

No sooner did the email come out from the president, I got a call from the marketing manager who was completely shocked that I was left off the list. I have to admit I was slightly irate I didn't get official recognition, but I knew the “situation” and took it for what it was. At least my immediate colleagues knew I worked on the project and I got kudos from them. Where I did not get credit from the president, I knew what I did and was just as proud as I was before the email came out.

Several weeks later we had an all-hands meeting for the IT organization. As I wasn't really in the mood for going to listen to this meeting in person, I decided just to dial into it from my desk. At the conclusion of the meeting the chief information officer, or CIO, brought up the rebranding project and even singled me out for the work that I did on it. What? Public recognition from the guy who had decided I technically didn't work on the project and made sure that I didn't get credit for it from the president of the company? Needless to say I was mildly irate and may have even made a gesture at the phone as I was listening to this. Interestingly, the CIO himself never personally thanked me for the work that I did on the Web site, and knowing how he operated even his public acknowledgment was very halfhearted.

It's one thing going into a consulting project or a contract knowing that for proprietary reasons you can't reference you worked on a project. When it comes to political reasons for not working on a project, they typically make absolutely no sense and are more to cover for someone than anything else. This was the case here, in a company with plenty of resources and a “leader” who would not acknowledge a significant company effort in order to keep to his marching orders that all-hands would be working on the ERM initiative. Of course by that statement alone there is no leadership shown.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? How would you have reacted if it was you? 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.


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML Feed  Subscribe to The Hot Iron by Email


BuildBusinessTechnologyThriveWeb Development • (0) CommentsPermalink

LinkedIn Shutting Down Network RSS Feed On December 19, 2013 To My Dismay

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 09:56 PM with 5 comments

For as many great major and incremental changes LinkedIn has made the business social networking service, they have eliminated a few services which I found resource rich and grew dependent on. One was LinkedIn Answers, a robust business question and answer section of the service which was shut down and disappeared earlier this year. Add to the list the RSS feed of network updates, which a few days ago I was informed it is going away as of the end of this week on December 19.

The following is an image of the email message I received from LinkedIn.

screenshot of LinkedIn Network RSS feed email

The following is the text of the email message I received from LinkedIn.

Dear Mike,

At LinkedIn, we strive to provide a simple and efficient experience for members so we continually evaluate how our current products and features are being used.

This sometimes means we remove a feature so we can focus our resources on building the best products.

We'll be retiring the LinkedIn Network RSS Feed on Dec. 19th. All of your LinkedIn updates and content can still be viewed on LinkedIn, or through the LinkedIn mobile app.

Please visit the Help Center for more information about the LinkedIn Network RSS Feed retirement.

Thank you,
LinkedIn

For some time now I have been subscribed to the RSS feed of my network updates. If you use LinkedIn, this is the information on its home page, which shows updates to your connection’s profiles as well as articles they have shared, groups they have joined, if they have a new connection, etc. This would allow me to see each and every update in my growing network, which was valuable to see where people were moving and information they were sharing. It was also much easier to read, as I could scan the headlines of these changes and posts, and click on anything I wanted more information on.

In other words, the network RSS feed was simple and efficient. But wait, isn’t that the same reason why LinkedIn gave for killing it?

If you couldn’t guess I love RSS!

It goes without saying that I love RSS as it is the primary way I keep informed. RSS is not just for blogs, as I get it for news, weather, sports, events, and networking information. Of course the networking information will decrease as a result of LinkedIn eliminating the network RSS feed.

Using my RSS reader of choice, Fever, I am able to aggregate all of the above information and then some. In the case of LinkedIn, I feel because of the RSS feed I am visiting their site more often, and in the process viewing the banner ads they are selling, not to mention good old-fashioned networking. Did I mention I am viewing the banner ads more often as a result of RSS?

Business decisions for business networking

My guess is I am one of a small minority of people who actually subscribe to the RSS feed, and as a result they are simply turning off the functionality. LinkedIn promoted the RSS feed, complete with the orange RSS icon, at the top of the network updates list. I can’t remember the last time I have seen this. As I have seen little uproar from others about the cancelling of this service, maybe that minority is, as I’d say in Boston, wicked small?

In addition, by controlling the display of network updates, they have the ability to offer more information and services, such as sponsored updates. I have noticed these on the site but not in my RSS feed. Of course to add these to the feed would cost money and resources, and from their message, this is something the new-publicly traded business does not want to do.

RSS is still not dead, #VIVARSS

In the end, after the dust settles from the nuclear winters, it will be just the cockroaches and RSS. Why? Well, as for RSS, it is open and distributed, does not rely on a continuous network connection to work, and is very simple to read and process. After Google killed its Reader RSS aggregator, many wondered if RSS was dead technology. Where it may not be the shiny new object on the Internet that it was, it is a core service that can easily be adopted and utilized, and that in itself makes it valuable.

Did the LinkedIn Network RSS feed shutdown impact you? Did you even know it existed? Share your thoughts in the comments of this post.


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


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML Feed  Subscribe to The Hot Iron by Email


BuildBusinessTechnologyWeb Development • (5) CommentsPermalink

Follow-up On Divvy Bikes And Helmets – Boston Debuts Helmet Vending Machine

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 10:01 PM with 2 comments

About a month ago I wrote here on The Hot Iron about how Divvy, the extremely popular bike sharing program in Chicago, did not offer helmets. I also discussed several options for them to offer helmets to their riding customers, including people selling them to the idea of a helmet vending machine.

Little did I know such a helmet vending machine had been developed, and last week was introduced in Boston for its bike sharing program. HelmetHub is a vending machine which was born out of MIT, and offers to either sell or rent a helmet. The vending machines have a style similar to the bike rental stations in Boston and Chicago (which are run by the same company) and will fit in well with those stations.

You can read more about HelmetHub on their Web site and see pictures and options for the vending machines.

screenshot of HelmetHub Web site

It’s great to see such a service offered, and nice to know I was not the only one thinking along this line.

Would you buy a helmet from a vending machine? I welcome your thoughts in the comments of this post.


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


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML Feed  Subscribe to The Hot Iron by Email


BuildBusinessTechnologyStrategize • (2) CommentsPermalink

How I Took An Idea And Made It A Reality

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 10:46 PM with 0 comments

image of The State of Their Web SiteWith all the ideas and events swirling through the Windy City during the recent Chicago Ideas Week, one of those thoughts was what I would like to share here, how I took an idea I had and made it a reality. Though this story took place a few years back, it is still very vivid in my mind.

My idea was to create a piece of marketing collateral for my Web consulting business. In this case, I could leave it would a prospect client, allow it to be downloaded from the Web and simply put it out there in printed format, the last 2 cases would be for anyone who wanted it. Depending on where the prospect was, it could server anywhere from a calling card, functional tool or a call to action to contact me.

Origin of the Idea

In my Web consulting business there were 2 categories for prospects – those who did not have a Web site and those who had one and were looking to possibly redesign and/or rebuild it. Where there were many common elements between the 2 for the sales process, when talking with someone who already had a Web site there was always a level of ambiguity to what exactly they needed or wanted to do and to what extent.

To try to streamline this process in a non-intimidating way, I thought of a form of checklist, where someone could read off the list to see if they had any or all of the items incorporated into their Web site, or at least to pose the questions in the event they didn’t know. In my mind’s eye I had a partial vision of the checklist. I saw it as paper-based, as likely someone would read a question from it then look on their Web site on their computer’s monitor for the answer. I wasn’t sure if there should be a score of some form or not. I was very sure I did not want it to be too technical and I did want it targeted to the business owner.

As for what would be in the checklist I had some ideas, but this was something I wanted to put time into over a period of time, then organize them into the checklist.

Like Rodney Dangerfield’s Joke Bag

The process of collecting the items for the checklist had me recalling a story I once heard about the late-great comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Before he got into comedy, he was a salesman and would write jokes on pieces of paper and put them into a duffle bag. When the bag was full, he had the material he would use on stage.

My approach was similar, yet different, as my duffle bag was digital – consisting of folders on my hard drive and in my email program. The ideas I captured varied from text files to links to other Web sites to email newsletters, where some of these items were direct ideas and others either categories or thoughts. I let this collection come together over a period time (exactly how long I do not remember). Then one day I decided to start the process to build the checklist.

Molding the Ideas into the Finished Product

As the collection process had elapsed some time and I didn’t remember everything I had put together, I decided I would go through them, one-by-one and begin curating a list. This was facilitated with the help of my whiteboard. As I read an item, I checked if it I already had it on the board, and if not I added it in some semblance of order. When all was done, this is what my whiteboard looked like:

photo of the whiteboard creative process

At first glance, it is a mess. But it was the first pass at the organization of the items and ideas. Needless to say it was worthy of a picture!

From here, I started typing up the ideas, and in some cases I would combine like or similar ones. As I typed them up, I erased them from the whiteboard. At the end of this process hundreds of files and emails were in a clean list, just as clean as the whiteboard now was.

The next step was to boil the list down to a manageable, 1-page list, with the top, most important items on it. This was done over several days, as I would look at the list for a while, then revisit it later with a fresh brain. In the end, I finalized a list of 34 items and broke them down into 3 categories – business, content and design. I also came up with some copy to describe the checklist to put on the reverse side of it. At this point I felt really good about the checklist. Well, except for the name of it.

(Queen’s) Landing on the Right Name

photo of Queen’s Landing

The original name I had for the check was, and get ready for it:

The Web Site Redesign Self-Assessment Checklist

Yes, it sucked. Here I spent all of this time and produced what I felt was a quality product, yet the name would surely be a turn-off, and in some cases scare off people. I decided to put the completed checklist aside as I needed some more quality time to get the name right.

On a Friday evening after work, I went for a walk along Lake Michigan. Armed with a good cigar, I just needed to clear my head after a busy week and stretch my legs. As I was strolling by Belmont Harbor, the topic of the checklist name came front in center in my head. I recall shaking said head and saying to myself, “why don’t I have a better title for this” and the gears in my head started to crank.

As I headed south along the lakefront path, I started decomposing the goal of the checklist. The thought process went something like, “it’s where your Web site is now… it’s a point in time… it’s the current state your Web site is in… wait, that’s it – it’s the State of your Web Site!”

I stopped where I was, at a place along the lake called Queen’s Landing and called my office line and left myself a voicemail message on the name so I wouldn’t forget my inspiration. When I got back from my walk I edited the Word document with the name and then registered the domain name for it.

The State of the State Then and Now

Upon completing the checklist I setup a download page for it and promoted it here on The Hot Iron and elsewhere. I printed copies of it to give people in person and to bring to events as a leave-behind. Although the list never was mentioned on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, it would get a handful of downloads each week and I got good feedback on it from prospect clients and current clients as well.

Now almost 3 years after I created the checklist, it needs to be updated a bit, which would come probably after a new brainstorming session on it. That being said, there are many core concepts on the checklist that are still very relevant today as-is.

See for yourself – download a copy of The State of Your Web Site here right now!

Ideas, Visited

Ideas are just that, intangible thoughts. Without any action, they will remain in that state, floating out there. I know, as The Hot Iron is full of ideas I have had over the years. Where I have acted on many of ideas over the years, I am very proud of the creative process I have just shared here.

Your thoughts – and ideas – on the checklist and the process which led to it are welcome in the comments.


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


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML Feed  Subscribe to The Hot Iron by Email


BuildBusinessTechnologyStrategizeThe State of Your Web SiteThriveWeb DesignWeb Development • (0) CommentsPermalink

Nokia Lumia 925 Unboxing and First Impressions

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 09:12 PM with 0 comments

It’s been a while since I have evaluated a mobile device. As a matter of fact, it has been just over 2 years since I had a loaner Nokia E6 from Nokia Connects. My, how times have changed! Today Nokia’s mobile division is all about Windows Phone, and not to forget soon will be part of Microsoft. So I felt it was time to reconnect with the Nokia crew and they have lent me a Nokia Lumia 925 to evaluate.

View the unboxing of the Nokia Lumia 925 below or on YouTube directly.

As you may have noticed, I am new to the Windows Phone ecosystem, and what is the first thing I do? I deleted an icon! Hopefully my experience will get better as I learn my way around the device over the next couple of weeks, especially using the Carl Zeiss lens on the PureView camera.

Let me know if there’s anything in particular you would like me to try on the 925, as well as any other thoughts on it, and you can add them to the comments to this post.


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


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML Feed  Subscribe to The Hot Iron by Email


BuildTechnologyMobile Technology • (0) CommentsPermalink

Goodbye To The Locals Park In Chicago

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, December 28, 2012 at 02:00 PM with 1 comments

They say all good things must come to an end. Even if that thing is to be replaced by something else, often is the case the sentiment and meaning of the old thing is never truly brought back. This is how I feel with the recent closing of Daley Bicentennial Plaza in Chicago.

Daley Bicentennial Plaza was created in 1976 on top of a parking garage and named after late mayor Richard J. Daley. It consisted of a park district fieldhouse where classes and events were held, as well as tennis courts, walking paths, picnic areas, an ice rink and a playground. Located at the northeast corner of Grant Park, it paled in comparison to its newer sibling across the street, Millennium Park. And though it was connected to it by the Frank Gehry-designed BP Bridge, Daley Bicentennial Plaza was never overly crowded and not a major tourist attraction in itself. Its simplicity may not have drawn visitors, but it served the residents of the area perfectly.

This is why I always called it the Locals Park.

photo of Daley Bicentennial Plaza Playlot sign

It was reported there was major water leaking from the park into the parking garage below it. The only way to repair the leak is to put a new membrane on top of the garage. In order to do this, the entire park has to be removed, destroying hundreds of trees and removing everything on top of it. What stood for over 35 years was to be obliterated. This I actually understood as a similar project occurred in Boston in the 1990’s when the parking garage under the Boston Common was leaking, however in this case only grass was removed as that was all that was on top of the garage.

Once the roof of the garage is repaired, a new park will be rebuilt on top of it. It will be named Maggie Daley Park after the late wife of former mayor Richard M. Daley, and the daughter-in-law of the previous namesake. From pictures and plans I have seen, it will be a beautiful park, complete with a rock-climbing area, new playgrounds, ponds and a skating ribbon. The new park is scheduled to open in about 2 years.

Short-Term Loss

photo of Daley Bicentennial Plaza playground

While the work is being done to repair the garage roof, there will be a major loss to the residents of the community, especially for those with kids. The playground – or playlot as it was called – was the center piece of the park for myself and my family, as well as many families that live downtown in the Loop. Surrounded by plenty of tall shade trees and with great views of the city skyline, it was an ideal location with a great set of equipment for kids to play and explore and get tired out on. Several times a week my kids would be climbing around and running on the rubberized surface, whether it was hot and sunny or cold and snowy out. When you live in a high-rise and you simply can’t open your backdoor to let the kids run around in the backyard, this was their backyard.

As my wife and I are raising “city kids” they have grown up on this playground and park, and we have the pictures to prove it! From infancy to today over the almost last 5 years we have images and video of our kids literally growing up in the park. Our oldest daughter’s first “friends” birthday party was held in the fieldhouse, and she used to attend play programs there until she started in school. The first time our oldest was on ice skates was on the rink in the park, which was nearly empty as compared to the rink over at Millennium Park. Seeing the kids at various ages using the same equipment in these pictures will always bring back fond memories for us. And not to forget times we spent in the park before the kids were born, whether it was walking in the untouched new-fallen snow or watching fireworks or just getting away from the sounds of the city. When the park was about to close my wife and I pondered the idea of taking “last” pictures of the park, but I decided not to, as we already have hundreds if not thousands of pictures of it already.

Moving Forward

Clearing the old park has already begun. As seen in the photo below, on the left is what this pathway from Randolph Street into the park from the west used to look like, and on the right is what it looked like about a few weeks ago.

photo of before and after ar Daley Bicentennial Plaza

I was also amazed at how trees were being removed. The video below shows a tree being removed by a piece of heavy machinery which first grabs the tree, then cuts it close to the stump. From there, the stumps are ground up and the tree is gone. If you can’t see the video below you can view the video at YouTube.

Though this video is a sad image, it will be the furthest from my mind when I reflect back on the time I and my family spent in Daley Bicentennial Plaza over the past years. Of course the replacement will be a great addition to the city, but it just won’t be the same, and even though the new park will be progress for the city, fond memories of what once was will always remain. The new park will be a great park, but I am not sure if it will be a Locals Park after all.


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


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML Feed  Subscribe to The Hot Iron by Email


BuildDiversions • (1) CommentsPermalink

Quick Poll - Do You Encrypt Your Computer Or Mobile Device?

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, March 05, 2012 at 04:00 AM with 2 comments

You are invited to participate in the following quick poll - do you encrypt your computer or mobile device?

Please make your selection below - if you cannot see the poll question please answer the poll here.

Why am I asking this question? I will follow up with my reason plus the results in a week or so, depending on the volume of responses. Thanks for participating, and please pass along to friends and colleagues. Also, feel free to add any additional thoughts in the comments of this post.


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML Feed  Subscribe to The Hot Iron by Email


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni, Founder and President of Web consulting firm Dunkirk Systems, LLC.


BuildTechnologyMobile Technology • (2) CommentsPermalink

SpinVox Through uReach A Suitable Replacement For Ribbit Mobile

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, March 01, 2012 at 09:59 AM with 5 comments

The blue skies and green pastures of Ribbit Mobile are no longer, but if you can’t live without mobile voicemail to text, you can get it from SpinVox through uReach.

screenshot of Ribbit Mobile home page in grayscale

(Note the above image of the Ribbit Mobile home page was changed to grayscale by me)

Ribbit Mobile was a service for translating voicemail messages to text and delivering that text message with an audio file of the voicemail message, and those messages would be delivered by email and SMS. For myself, I have used similar services for over 4 years, and having the luxury of reading the text of a voicemail when you don’t have the opportunity to dial in to listen (e.g. when you’re in a meeting), not to mention the ready-access archive of messages, was priceless.

And that was just the case with Ribbit Mobile – they were not charging for “beta” this service for the 2+ years I used it. Near the end of last year I recall getting a survey from them on how much I would be willing to pay for the service. Then in January of this year I got an email saying Ribbit Mobile would be shutting down altogether the end of January, and there was no alternative. Ribbit itself as a company would still be around as they offer other services, like an Android app for voicemail and an add-on to Salesforce.com. The service was still running for a couple of weeks after the announced date, and went down altogether on February 16.

As I said, this was a type of service you could get used to. I also have a similar voicemail to text service through Vonage which I use for my business phone. Prior to Ribbit Mobile I was part of the SpinVox consumer beta program which I talked about previously here at The Hot Iron. Interestingly, around the time SpinVox announced they were dropping their B to C service (they power Vonage’s voicemail to text) Ribbit Mobile came on the scene, and I was able to switch over with very little time without this type of service.

In between SpinVox and Ribbit Mobile I briefly used SpinVox through uReach, a company offering virtual voice, email and office solutions used by many small businesses. When Ribbit Mobile went away, I looked into see if it was still offered, and it took a call to uReach to find the “hidden” URL for the service (they offer it, but it’s not linked from their main Web site), and by visiting ureach.com/spinvox one can sign up for the voicemail to text service for $9.99/month plus usage fees for large volumes of voicemail. The uReach offering is not as robust as Ribbit’s, and for some reason breaks up voicemails when sent by SMS into several messages of 30 second lengths. But you can still get an email with the message text and audio file attached.

Am I the only one who will miss Ribbit Mobile? Am I the only one who uses voicemail to text? Please let me know in this post’s comments, as I know nobody else personally who uses, and loves, this type of service.


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML Feed  Subscribe to The Hot Iron by Email


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni, Founder and President of Web consulting firm Dunkirk Systems, LLC.


BuildBusinessTechnologyMobile Technology • (5) CommentsPermalink

Google Reader Wants Your Favicon To Brand Your Blog

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, December 19, 2011 at 07:04 AM with 0 comments

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But can something that is barely a quarter of an inch square make the difference in whether people read the words of your blog?

Among the recent changes to the user interfaces and experience of Google applications over the past few weeks, favicons are now showing up next to the titles of blogs in their feed reader, Google Reader. Favicons, as I have talked about here on The Hot Iron before, are a 16 pixel square icon that is displayed in the address bar and bookmarks of most all PC/Mac and mobile Web browsers. Their real value is when scanning bookmarks or scrolling thru the history in the address bar as they provide visual cues to which site is which, providing enhanced differentiation from plain text Web URLs. For years I have always added favicons to sites I build in my Web consulting business and I continue to evangelized about them.

Google Reader blog list screen shotWith the addition of the favicon to Google Reader, not only a reader can leverage this visual cue convenience, but brands of all form – personal and business – can gain by adding a visual where previously there has been just text in the list of blogs available to be read. Pictured here is a screen shot of my own Google Reader, where you can see a selection of blogs I read, along with their favicons. For most of these, the favicon extends their branding very well, such as with this blog and Active Travels, which is a client. One example here that does not leverage any branding is ChicagoBusiness.com from Crain’s. Where the Web site itself has a favicon, the RSS feed, which is aggregated with others in Google Reader, does not. I cannot say why specifically, but it must be related to how its Web server and RSS feed is configured. I did nothing unique or specific to add the favicon to The Hot Iron's RSS feed.

Another observation I made is that some blog feeds had the “default” favicon for the Web server or Web hosting provider. Many blogs – and I will spare them embarrassment buy not mentioning them by name – have a 3 by 3 grid of squares, which is the favicon for Web host BlueHost. If you don’t change the default favicon that is in a root folder on the Web server, then whatever is there will be “discovered” and used.

Favicons are a small but mighty file that can go miles to extend your brand. Does your Web site have a favicon? Let myself and other readers know by commenting on this post, as well as any questions you may have on favicons.


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML Feed  Subscribe to The Hot Iron by Email


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni, Founder and President of Web consulting firm Dunkirk Systems, LLC.


BuildSocial MediaWeb DesignWeb Development • (0) CommentsPermalink


Page 2 of 5 pages  <  1 2 3 4 >  Last »