Announcing dMorning Tech Creative Networking In Northeast Wisconsin

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, November 05, 2017 at 08:24 PM with 0 comments

screenshot of dMorning Web site

With great anticipation I am pleased to announce a networking event for people who work in the tech and creative fields in Northeast Wisconsin. Introducing dMorning.

So what is dMorning?

The idea behind dMorning is relatively simple - informal networking before the busy workday starts, with no set rules and no agenda. Since I moved to the Fox Valley of Wisconsin this past summer, I have been looking for something like this, as I work in the Web and I am looking to meet people who work in similar fields in my new home area.

In the past I have hosted a variety of meetups where I used to live in Chicago – some specific and some general – and I have found the latter to be more interesting. A casual gathering of people to talk about what they are working on, sharing stories and bouncing ideas off each other… this is something I have wanted to restart for a while, and why not here? My plan is for this to be a monthly event.

The first dMorning will be on Friday, November 17 at 7:30 am at All Seasons Coffeehouse in Appleton, which is conveniently located off I-41 at Wisconsin Avenue. I only say it goes until 9:30 am as that is likely as long as I will be there. There is no cost for dMorning, you only have to pay for any beverages or food you purchase from this locally-owned business.

What’s in a name?

You may be wondering about the name, dMorning. As I sought out a name for this, I didn’t want to pick something limiting. On the Web site at dMorning.com there are some ideas of what the “d” could stand for.

Hope to see you there!


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


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Expand Your Twitter Followers In 3 Steps

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 10:47 PM with 0 comments

screenshot of Twitter follow button

Whether you are new to Twitter or have been using it for years, having a list of followers has always been, and continues to be, important to the social network. Where all public tweets are readable by all, most people engage with those who they follow and who follow them. This engagement makes using Twitter worthwhile.

Like with anything, quality engagement is better than quantity engagement. This is measured directly by likes and retweets of what you post, as well as replies and conversations with others. Indirectly, it can be measured in traffic to your Web site and offline in, for example, new customers or increased sales.

People often asked me, how do you get followers? “Getting” followers – real human beings, that is – is a process, as ideally you want people to want to follow you. In some cases though, people may simply not be aware of who you are. This is why I present these 3 steps to expand your base of followers. Of course, there are no guarantees your list of followers will balloon overnight, but these are geared towards getting people’s attention to you.

1. Decide who you would like to follow you – This offline strategizing is you thinking about who you would like to follow you. For people who have businesses or are in business, they will relate to this as it is similar to who their target audience or customer or other demographic information is. For some, that is a great place to start, and for others it can be who you would like to read your blog or those who work in the same industry as you.

Write this down – your target followers. Keep this by you as you go through the following steps.

2. Follow those who you want to follow you – Now that you have defined who, look for them, and follow them. Many times when people think of social media engagement, they purely look at it from their own vantage point. However, take a 360-degree approach – would the people who you want to follow you actually want to?

By following them, you are expressing interest in them, and in most cases, letting them know who you are. The hope is they will see you following them, look at your profile and what you have tweeted, and then follow you back.

So how do you find them? By searching – either for specific people or terms, words hashtags – for whatever ways you can think of to find people, businesses, organizations, whomever that you want to follow, and to follow you back.

3. Follow those who follow those you want to follow you – Apologies for the mouthful there… as you are targeting people to follow, why not check out who they follow as well as who follows them? This is a great wat to expand the scope beyond merely searching, as many times potential targets for your following may not come up in a search for a variety of reasons, including their profile not matching what you have been searching on.

Everything in moderation

One consideration to make when you follow people is there are limits imposed by Twitter to the number of people you can follow, and you can read more on these limits on Twitter’s help site. To start, you can follow up to 5,000 people. After that, you need to have more followers in order to follow more that that number. There is a ratio to this, though Twitter does not specifically disclose it. Of course if you hit the limit but want to follow others, you can always unfollow accounts to make room.

Deconstructing Twitter Followers

Wouldn’t it be great to have tons of Twitter followers? But if you think of it from the point-of-view of real life, it’s a similar approach to friends in real life – they are relationships you establish and maintain. Sometimes you are the one initiating it, and this is where following others you want to follow you comes into play.


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


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GoPats.com Announces Its Retirement As Patriots Fan Web Site

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 at 05:50 PM with 0 comments

the GoPats.com logo

After 21 seasons of serving the fans of the NFL’s New England Patriots, GoPats.com announces its retirement, according to its co-founders Mike Maddaloni and Clint Mills.

At the time of its launch in the mid-1990’s, GoPats.com was one of only a handful of Patriots fan sites worldwide. In these early days of the Web, with copyright laws still murky for online content, the site, originally called Patriots Unofficial, focused on original content, including its flagship column, Clint’s Corner. Even when the NFL and the Patriots encouraged fair-use of its logo and branding, the site remained true to its origins, even with the number of fan sites increasing.

The site first launched in “beta” in the fall of 1995, when Mike created one of his first Web sites as a way of learning the emerging Web technologies. Upon showing the Patriots page to Clint – whom he met at work and they became fast friends over the team, as Clint was a second-generation season ticket holder and Mike was a new one – he expressed his dismay that it was not worthy of the team.

Miffed at this, Mike told Clint to put his money where his mouth was and provide content to the site. An extremely loyal and knowledgeable fan of the Pats and all of football, Clint wrote an off-season article on March 13, 1996, and this date is considered the official launch of the site. The eponymous domain name was added in 1997 at Clint’s insistence, trailblazing in the trend of personal Web sites being branded with their own domain name.

From its humble beginnings just prior to the Pats second Super Bowl appearance – and loss – to winning its first in New Orleans in 2002, Clint’s Corner was published in 129 editions. Additionally, guest contributors including Frank Moore, Ralph Ingrassia and others made their mark on the site, all with original content. This made GoPats.com the go-to destination for reporting and opinion on the team long before the term “dynasty” was even considered. The site and his involvement was cited when Clint won the 1998 Patriots Fan of the Year Joseph Mastrangelo Trophy, which was presented to him by team owner Robert Kraft.

A bonus, if you will, of running one of the original fan Web sites to serve Patriots Nation was the engagement with fans, across New England and around the world. This included Pats fans and fans of other teams, and where the occasional exchange out of bounds, most all connections were positive. Sporting GoPats.com t-shirts and a large banner during tailgating and other events, including New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, helped Clint and Mike engage with fans from all corners of the globe.

From a technology point of view, GoPats.com was a groundbreaking media platform. It was a content management system (CMS) and blogging platform long before those terms became mainstream. The site could be updated from home or the parking lot right after the game. Its integrated email list informed hundreds of fans of new content to the site and incorporated leading-edge design and functional features to remain a current platform and offer the ultimate user experience for Patriots Nation.

clipping of Mike and Clint with the Pat Van

That was then, and this is now. As time went on and as Mike and Clint went from single guys with plenty of disposable time to family men, it impacted the frequency of publishing and overall updates. A short-lived news blog, Out In The Loop, was added in the mid-2000’s but it didn’t keep up with the fandom landscape, which evolved ahead with more advanced Web sites, mobile apps, social media as well as cross-media business ventures. In recent years the site design was updated to keep it as an archive site, but the demand for knowledge on Bill Parcells “buying the groceries” during the 1996 season waned. Even the above-shown tailgating van is no longer in service, however one of its “PAT VAN” license plates is on display at the official Patriots Hall of Fame at Gillette Stadium.

In its retirement, the domain name GoPats.com will redirect to the very post you are reading now, which lives on Mike’s blog, The Hot Iron, which itself has been publishing for over a decade. Could GoPats.com ever come out of retirement or serve another purpose? Any reasonable offers starting at 7-figures will certainly be considered!


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


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Hello Appleton And The Fox Valley Of Wisconsin

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, August 06, 2017 at 12:29 PM with 2 comments

photo of welcome to Appleton Wisconsin sign

It is with much enthusiasm that I announce my family and I have relocated to Appleton, Wisconsin. After the last few months of logistical planning, packing, purging, running back and forth with a minivan and U-Hauls and the overall stress that goes with a move, we have finally arrived in northeast Wisconsin in the area known as the Fox Valley.

Some of you are probably asking, why? Why is a Patriots fan moving into the heart of Packerland? Interestingly visiting teams who play in Green Bay stay in Appleton, as I have educated my kids when I pointed out the hotel, telling them, “Tom Brady slept here,” but I digress.

The short answer to why the move? Family, more space and less noise.

With any move, the next logical question is, where are you working? This is an easy question to answer, as I am not changing jobs. Thanks to the magic of working remotely, I am able to do the same job I have had for the last 2 years. Special thanks to the people at this great place to work, including my CTO, Director and colleagues.

As I get settled into my new surroundings, I am planning to get back out there and connect with the local tech community. This aspect of working in technology is something I have always done, and where I may not see people on the job on a day-to-day basis, I hope to make up for it with meeting new friendly faces and learning from others.

When You Move To You Also Move From

As I say hello to Appleton I am also saying goodbye to Chicago, a city I have called home for the last 13 years. The time there was a whirlwind of many highs and lows, where I went from newly married and launching a business to a husband and Dad of 2 amazing kids and working for a well-established and acclaimed organization. The friends and relationships I made over those years in the Windy City are and will remain important to me. Plus, I am still a Cook County taxpayer there as a property owner, so I still have some skin in that game. There are many things I will not miss about Chicago, and that will be the topic of future writing.

An important part of this transition is the focus of my social media engagement. As I still don’t have cable TV or an antenna, the Web and Twitter are still vital sources of news. I have been unfollowing many media outlets and sources of information for Chicago and Illinois as I subscribe to the same for Appleton and Wisconsin. Where I am cutting ties with publications and media outlets in Chicago I am still following many journalists and columnists whose opinion and what they share are of value to me. Again, it’s all about the people.

For now, I will get back to work… both to my job and to unpacking.


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


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Digital Spring Cleaning

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, May 01, 2017 at 11:20 AM with 0 comments

screenshot of an empty trash can message

Call it a rite of passage or a subconscious impulse, but there is just something about the weather getting warmer and wanting to get rid of excess possessions. Though Spring is only a few weeks in as I write this, perhaps it was the warmer weather in Chicago (hello, a cookout in February?) that got me started with this sooner.

Personally, as I have purged much of the excess tangible things I have acquired over the past years, my spring cleaning this time was more virtual – specifically, digital. I have been carrying around some digital baggage for a while that was beginning to wear on me, let alone cost me money.

So I exchanged my broom and dustpan for my fingers and a physical trash can for one on my desktop and did the following.

Archive Excess Files Off My Computer – When I bought my Macbook I purposely got the maximum available memory and a smaller hard drive. Why? I don’t want to carry around a lot of unnecessary files. So I scoured my hard drive for what I truly didn’t need to carry around and 1) deleted what I didn’t need to own at all, and 2) archived what I needed to keep.

This activity freed up a lot of space on my hard drive, making searches more efficient, and mitigated the need to buy more online backup space, what I use it as part of my digital backup strategy.

Shuttered Old, Inactive Web Sites – As someone who, among other technology skills, builds Web sites, I still had out there a few sites that, though I had high hopes and intent for, had languished due to lack of time as well as changes in my personal priorities. So I closed them – backing up all of the code and databases – and in most cases redirected the domain names to my blog at TheHotIron.com (link) where you are likely reading this.

I would be remiss to say some of those sites still had some sentimental meaning to me, but in the end, it save me some emotional baggage, and led to the next cleaning task going a lot smoother.

Consolidated Web Hosting Accounts – All these Web sites and services have to live somewhere, and for me they were with multiple companies. My goal was to consolidate the 4 of them into 1. However, as I got into it, I decided to leave it to 2 for reasons that, if this isn’t boring enough for some of you reading it, would certainly put you to sleep!

Where this task saved some money, it also allowed me to isolate and think about what I need for Web hosting, leading to an even better way to manage it, and save even more money. This is a work in process as a result, but one that has already deliver gains.

Dropping Domain Names – As someone who has worked a lot with domain names, from advising to managing domain name portfolios for individuals to publicly-traded firms to everyone in between, it’s probably needless to say I have registered a number of domain names for myself over the years. Just like a financial portfolio, a domain name portfolio has to be reviewed, evaluated and changed periodically. In this case, that included dropping domain name.

For this task, similar to dropping domain names, there were a few emotions I needed to put aside. In other cases, I just realized having the .com for a domain was enough and the .biz and .info were not needed. The savings from this cleanup will pay over time as some domain names don’t renew right away.

Antialiasing, or Deleting Email Addresses – Over the years I have employed various strategies to manage email. Where some have worked great, like managing my inbox to zero (LINK), others proved to be more work that saved. This was the case with setting up email aliases or forwarders, which were separate email addresses that forwarded to my main email address. I set them up to use for specific purposes, like eCommerce (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), noting xyz.com is not my email domain!) and mailing lists (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), etc. Et. Al., yada-yada, henceforth… you get the picture.

As you might guess, I had a lot – over a dozen aliases when I stopped counting – and though they were not being actively used, they were the destination for most of my spam email. So I deleted them, or “antialiased” as I like to call it. I now have 1 email address, and a heck of a lot less spam.

Canceled My Yahoo Accounts – As Spring rolled around, so did the word that Yahoo had yet another major password breach. I have had Yahoo accounts for over 20 years, namely using them as backup email addresses and tying them to Flickr accounts when they acquired the photo sharing service. As time went on, I never used the Yahoo portion of the accounts, as well uploading photos to Flickr went out of vogue for me.

So it was with less emotion that I canceled my Yahoo accounts. Nobody was emailing me at those addresses, and there was little traffic to my Flickr photos. Granted all of those photos will disappear from the Web, but if anyone really needs to see pictures of me sitting on the visitors dugout bench at Wrigley Field, contact me directly.

Deconstructing Digital Spring Cleaning

Digital Spring cleaning is similar to eliminating tangible items, but is more for peace of mind, not to mention possibly cost savings. This peace of mind gave me the same relief I get by packing up a box of stuff and shipping it to GiveBackBox or dropping it off at Goodwill. It is also something I will plan doing every year along with getting rid of physical crap.

Have you done digital Spring cleaning yourself? Or have you even thought of it before? I welcome your thoughts on it 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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My Takeaways From the Novel Post Office By Charles Bukowski

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, March 24, 2017 at 07:16 PM with 2 comments

photo of Post Office back cover

People learn about books and authors from a variety of sources – friends, social media, browsing airport stores, the New York Times Bestseller list... just to name a few. I first learned about writer and poet Charles Bukowski in a much different way – a bar.

The Bukowski Tavern is a quaint place tucked into the corner of a parking garage complex that also houses a high-end bowling alley and seafood restaurant in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The long, narrow joint serves a great selection of beers and has a kitchen, the latter which made “The Buk” a favorite lunch spot for me when I worked nearby several years ago. That, and the fact my co-workers didn’t like it, made me a frequent patron as a getaway from my daily grind.

On the walls of Bukowski Tavern are paintings of the image of its namesake as well as quotes from his books. One would think by being immersed in such a locale would drive me to want to read his collection of books and poems. One would think, but that was then when curling up with a good book meant sticking my nose in a technical manual. That was then, this is now, and I have finally begun reading Bukowski’s work.

Post Office was his first novel, written later in his life after publishing numerous short stories and poems and, as you might guess, working for the U.S. Postal Service. It is a gritty, real-life tale, yet written in a compelling way to hold the reader through the hard-drinking life and times of a mail carrier. As I read and absorbed this piece, the following takeaways came to mind.

The topic can be mundane – Working, drinking, bad relations... these don’t necessarily jump out at you as topics you want to read about. As I made it through the pages of Post Office, the vivid story presented in front of me became as if I was watching it, and made for an entertaining use of my time. It fulfills the expression that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

Read something different – A short perusal of the other book takeaways I have written here at The Hot Iron shows a variety of books, but few of them are fiction. This is not to dismiss the gripping and compelling business books I tend to gravitate to, but as I read Post Office it reminded me I need to mix it up more.

Write, right now – Post Office was written and published when Bukowski was 49. I am 49. Granted he had written many, many poems and short stories for many years. Where I won’t equate my own little blog as an equivalent, as I have written the 800+ posts here over the last decade, I have gained a great appreciation and love of writing, and it’s time to get those books out of my head and into a more tangible format.

As you might guess, Post Office is far from a children’s novel. I highly recommend it for anyone who is not easily offended by language, and loves a good, real story. I gave this book to a friend who is a huge reader but has never read Charles Bukowski himself. It was easier to hand the book over to him than to fly him out to Boston to the bar, though the latter would be much more fun.

If you have read Post Office or any of Bukowski’s other works, I’d welcome your thoughts in the comments to this post. I am now ordering his second book, Factotum.


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


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7 Tips For Giving Your Younger Kids An Old iPhone

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 08:08 PM with 0 comments

photo of my kids holding an iPhone

A common situation in my household and others is when parents upgrade their mobile phones they then give the old one to their kids. With more and more apps tailored to kids, their desire to take pictures as well as shorter device upgrade cycles, it is a logical scenario. Not to mention kids know how to use them better than most adults and, frankly, they make for the occasional babysitter, but I digress.

As good as they are, and as much as they can be used for educational purposes, simply handing over your old device without restrictions when you get a new one is not the best approach.

For the iPhone and Beyond

Here I will be specifically talking about the Apple iPhone, as it is what I use and know best. Where some or all of these tips may apply to other mobile devices, such as an Android, I don’t know them as well, so I will only vouch for what I know and lessons I have learned.

Where there are some features for managing the use of them by the kids, and apps are continuously coming onto the market to address this, there is already some features and settings out of the box built-into iOS – the iPhone’s operating system – you can leverage, along with good old-fashioned common sense.

As someone who first did this years ago, and has learned a few things along the way, I’d like to share with you some tips I learned – some the hard way – for giving a kid an iPhone. Note many these apply to whether or not the iPhone you give has a SIM card in it or not, and I indicate which ones apply to specifically to having one or not.

1. Wipe It Clean – Once you have activated your new iPhone, synced all of your photos, contacts, calendar, music, apps, etc. to the new device and did one final backup of it, have your kid start with a “fresh” iPhone by wiping it clean, or doing a hard reset. This article from Lifewire takes you through doing a hard reset on various versions of the iPhone. This way, your kid will not see any of your old information, apps, texts, notes, email… or something you may have forgotten was on it.

2. Use Your Own Apple Account – By using your own apple account for the kid’s iPhone, they won’t be able to install any apps on their own, and it will require you to enter your own password to have any added to the device. Any photos they take will also appear in your Photo Stream, as another way of monitoring their activity. And when you enter your password, make sure nobody else sees it!

3. Use a unique passcode, different from your own – Their iPhone should be locked with a passcode… just like yours is, right? You should know their passcode, and tell them not to change it (they will likely find where to do so), and if they do and don’t tell you what it is, you will have no choice but to wipe it clean again.

4. Turn Off Cellular Data For Apps – Streaming Pandora and watching all of the Angry Birds app videos is certainly fun, and can add up if they are eating at cellular data. If your device has a live SIM card in it, make sure to turn off the settings to use cellular data, which will force them to use WiFi for such app features. Even with recently launched “unlimited” data plans, the more data you use, the slower the connection can be.

5. Turn Off Notifications In Apps – It’s one thing if they use the iPhone, it’s another if it keeps beeping and vibrating for whatever random notifications. Turn off these notifications so they have less reasons to keep it in their hands… any more than they are now. Where you can do it for already installed apps through the Settings, you can also be with them when they first launch a new app, and when prompted to show notifications, you can always decline them.

6. Do not give them a charger – If they don’t have a charger and need their iPhone recharged, they need to give it to you. Granted many households have chargers everywhere (mine included) but one place should not be in their possession. Most likely the battery on your older iPhone is not too strong and draining quickly, so it this adds an additional control mechanism on the device.

7. Do not “give” the iPhone – You’re probably reading this and saying, Mike, so far you have been talking about giving them a device, now you’re saying not to? What the… Ok, ok, let me explain! The kiddos can use the device – customize the icon locations and wallpapers, get a case for it… but it is still your iPhone and their use of it is a privilege! A privilege can be revoked if abused or as a consequence of not getting out of bed in the morning or whatever other challenge you have with them as a parent.

Take a few steps before you simply hand over the old iPhone, and you’ll be glad you did.

Demystifying Giving Your Kid An iPhone

Parents are faced today with challenges they themselves and their parents didn’t have to deal with, one being mobile technology. Where it is impossible to watch the kids constantly and how they use the devices, taking some preventative steps will go a long way to instilling responsibility in using the technology.


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


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My Takeaways From The Ultimate Female Fan Guide to Pro Football

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, February 04, 2017 at 05:19 PM with 0 comments

photo of The Ultimate Female Fan Guide to Pro Football cover

The Super Bowl is a game you prepare for mentally, physically or both – depending on your level of fandom, and what you are watching it for. It is unique among sports as even non-fans watch, for the commercials, because they are at parties, for curiosity sake, et. al.

If you are a football fan, you realize the complexity of the rules of the game – realize in that you understand them all, none of them, or as many are, somewhere in between. How much you may know is most likely influenced by if you played football, was taught by a parent or someone else close to you or you learned on your own… he latter being the case for myself. Football for me wasn’t my first love of sports, but has become it. I grew up a baseball fan, which came from my Mom’s love of the Boston Red Sox. While I was growing up, the New England Patriots were horrible, and the bottom rung of the sports ladder in New England, way behind the Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins.

So when I decided on a whim to get season tickets for the Patriots back in the early 90’s, before they became the multiple Super Bowl winning team they are now, where I had some knowledge of the game, I had much to learn. As I was in my mid-20’s at that time, I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t know more of the game, and sought out a way to learn it. I found a book that not only helped me then, but over 20 years later as well.

I found the book The Ultimate Female Fan Guide to Pro Football at the Patriots Pro Shop, which was adjacent to the team’s former home field, Foxboro Stadium. Flipping through it, I realized it was exactly what I needed to learn the game. Two decades later I found it among some things, and I dusted it off and re-read it. My takeaways, as follow, come from my recollection of my initial read as well as this recent unearthing of it.

Structured Learning Is Sometimes Better Than On-The-Task Learning – As most of my training and learning over my career has been on-the-job or just-in-time and supplemented by some training, depending on the topic structured learning is the better way, as it was for me with football. Simply sitting down and watching 60 minutes of plays over 3 hours may not even cover everything, and taking a methodical approach supplemented with watching the game helped me learn it well.

Anecdotal Information Provides Greater Context To Formal Knowledge – Learning the formal rules of football, like any other topic, is important to learning about what you are watching. But for a game like football which has evolved over close to 100 years, having familiarity of the evolution and events which led to where the game is today is great to the deep understanding of the game. Betsy Berns mixes helpful hints and fun facts throughout the pages of The Ultimate Female Fan Guide to Pro Football, all of which provide greater context to the main information presented.

What Taught Me Helps Teach Others - When I found the book, I wanted to go through it again as I am teaching my daughter the rules of football. As I am writing this I am sitting down with her and we are going through it together, and I am helping her understand both the rules for and my love for the game, which I hope will lead to her own appreciation and affection for it too.

As my copy of The Ultimate Female Fan Guide to Pro Football came out over 20 years ago, what I have is now out of print and is now known simply as The Female Fan Guide to Pro Football by the same author. Where I haven’t read the newer version specifically, I can only imagine it is better (not to mention more up to date) than my version. I recommend it to any fan of any reading age – and gender – as a great way to learn this great game.


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


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7 Lessons Learned From Blogging For 10 Years

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, December 30, 2016 at 02:58 PM with 1 comments

photo of Bulleit Bourbon bottle label

On Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 1:56 pm Central US Time, I published my very first blog post here at The Hot Iron. If you didn’t click on the link to read it, it would have taken longer to read this sentence than to read that post. Now ten years and 822 posts later, I am entering my second decade of blogging.

Where every year on my “blogversary” I have written a post to acknowledge it (some more robust than others), rather than simply patting myself on the back again, I’d like to share some of the lessons I have learned over the years of writing.

1. You never know who is reading – Despite knowing the Internet is Earth-wide, I still get amazed as to the reach of what I have written. Whether it’s companies inviting me to dinner or to travel the world, to the one time when someone quoted to me something I wrote myself, the true exposure is something I need to remind myself before I click the publish button each time.

2. Answer a question with a blog post – As the genesis of this blog was out of my former Web consulting firm, I found it useful to use The Hot Iron as not only a means of promoting my business but to create “reusable” content. Whenever someone asked me a question that I believed someone else may ask me, I would create a blog post on it and send them the link in response to their query. It not only answered their question, but made me look smarter as I wrote something on it, and made answering the question the next time all the easier. I still do that to this day.

3. Blogging can help you be a better writer – Before I started blogging, most of my writing was emails and technical specifications and documentation. Over time, I not only honed my writing but found myself greatly enjoying it. Many people have told me that they find it hard to get into a groove on writing, and if you look at my first few posts to those I write today, you will see quite a progression. More on the writing process later.

4. Simply placing ads on your blog won’t make you rich – Some of you may be surprised by this statement, and others of you are surely smirking at it, as you learned this the hard way yourself. From banner ads, Amazon product links to payment services like the former CentUp or soon-to-be former Google Contribute, ads may bring in a little loose change, but it takes a concentrated effort and plan to make real income from your blog.

5. Allow people to subscribe by RSS or email – Many of my most faithful readers are ones who receive my blog posts in their inbox or in their RSS feed reader. Even though Google killed off its Reader product years ago, people still aggregate content by RSS feeds in their Web browser or other services such as Fever. Making it easy for people to read what you write will keep readers reading.

6. Control your blog platform – Over years I have seen people post loyally on a variety of public platforms, from Geocities to Posterous, only to see those services shut down and their content vanish, especially as they never had a backup of their own writing! I am in the business of helping people get their message out on the Web, and I sill profess the best way is to do so is to have control of your Web publishing platform. Your own domain name coupled with any one of the number of content management systems (CMS) out there will give you the ability to manage your message as well as move it if necessary.

7. Blog posts don’t write themselves – Doing the math, I have written and published about 1.5 posts a week. On the surface this looks good, but looking back on early posts – especially those before the social media boom which would have probably been tweets rather than blog posts – there was irregularity and long periods where posts were published and where they were not. It takes a commitment to writing – focusing on actually finishing writing, editing and publishing something. I also like to add original photos to posts, which will take me on a hunt to find the right shot (like the one above at a liquor store – there are worst places to go) and more time. But as I do enjoy writing, it’s also a hunt to find time when I am caffeinated and have thoughts pouring out of my head, as I am as I write this.

Deconstructing Ten Years of Blogging

There are very few things in our lives that we can measure in terms of decades, and I can now count this blog as one of them. For as much work that goes into writing what I share here at The Hot Iron, it is truly something I enjoy doing. This makes the time I have devoted to this labor of love all the more worth it. Feedback from readers rounds out the overall experience, and for that I am also grateful. Now on to post 823.


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


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7 iPhone Apps I Am Thankful For

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 at 04:25 PM with 0 comments

screenshot of icons for 7 iPhone apps I am thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow Americans and everyone else celebrating the US holiday! As we gather with friends and family, I am certain we will all have our mobile devices close at hand, as the perfect diversion from political debates and to catch the latest sports scores.

Where I will try to keep mine at bay for much of the long weekend, there are some apps on my iPhone that I consistently count on, dare I say I am thankful for. I will now share them with you, in the order they are on my iPhone, across several screens.

ParkChicago – Several years ago the bill to outsource parking meters in Chicago, rammed through the City Council with barely a glance by former mayor Richard M. Daley, has been considered one of the greatest municipal outsourcing blunders of all time. And only a few years into the 99-year deal, its cost to drivers and the city is growing with no end in sight in our lifetimes. Fortunately, the app that is provided by the outsourcing firm to pay for parking helps paying the fees easier, if that makes any sense. It’s fast, efficient, and you can extend parking right from the app, whether in a bar or a Broadway musical. The app, available to visitors and residents, takes a little edge off the sharp pain of parking in the Windy City.

DRYV – My on-going quest since living in Chicago to find a dry cleaner with convenient hours and great customer service ended when I installed this app. DRYV is like the GrubHub for laundry and dry cleaning, partnering with cleaners in Chicago and now Detroit and Los Angeles to pickup and deliver dry cleaning as well as wash and fold laundry and alterations. Their customer service is top notch and their prices are also on par with other cleaners. As one of their first customers, I have also been able to watch this service evolve and improve, and win out over other competitors. And if you use code THEHOTIRON you can get $10 off your first order (and I get $10 too as part of their referral program).

BugMe – I stumbled upon this app when I found a login for an old Web service that evolved into this app. It allows you to create digital Post-It notes you can write on and set alarms for them. I use this all the time, whether it’s an idea or to remind myself to do something. Being able to scribble with my finger on the note is also handy when the idea comes up when riding on the train and it’s easier than typing… providing I can read my writing at a later time.

Headspace – I am trying meditation. I don’t do it every day but I wish I did. And when I do, I use the Headspace app. It was recommended to me by many people who meditate, and where it has a monthly fee, so far it has been worth it. You can also have it send you motivational quotes on meditation throughout the day, which sometimes make you think and other times make you smile. You can try the app at no charge, and if you are considering meditation I highly recommend it.

W Hotels – I don’t stay in W Hotels as often as I would like to, but this app can give the ambience of the hotels to any space you are in, even a Motel 6 (though you may have to close your eyes too!). The app, which allows you to view their properties and reserve hotel rooms, features music from various genres you would here in a W – from chill to poolside to dance. If I want an escape from the reality I am in, or need some music to write to, this app provides the soundtrack.

Xfinity My Account – Calling Comcast, now Xfinity, customer service has always sucked. Then one employee took to Twitter and revolutionized their support, albeit for a short period of time. The next iteration of their support is this app. When I think my Internet service may be out, I can simple open up the app to confirm it, along with an estimated fix time it that’s the case. It also allows me to pay my monthly service bill in fewer steps than it takes with their Web site. Though I don’t use this app all the time, it excels for me when I need it.

Keeper – Whether on my Mac, in a Web browser or on my iPhone I use Keeper on an almost daily basis, several times a day. It secures and manages my myriad of logins and passwords for apps and Web services, as well as key information and images I need on occasion. I have used this secure app and service for years and they continuously improve its features and user interface. Keeper comes with an annual fee but you can use its basic services for free. Of all my apps, it’s ROI is probably the highest. And by listing it last is no indication that it’s my least favorite app – I am not disclosing what screen I have it on!

Deconstructing Apps I Am Thankful For

The more reliant we are on mobile technology, the more we seek out and find apps that are vital to us on an almost daily basis. Of all of these, I did not say email or messaging, as those are core or “plumbing” apps. Rather the apps I have presented here are all third-party, non-Apple apps that improve the productivity of using their hardware. And for that, I am thankful.


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


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