The Hot Iron

A journal on business, technology and occasional diversions by Mike Maddaloni

Technology

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Odiogo Reads The Hot Iron To You

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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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/08/14 at 09:09 PM
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What I Learned This Week For March 21 2014

Last week was a productive and fact-finding week, and as transcribed from an index card of all things, here’s what I have added to my learned knowledge.

  • image of B2B Marketing Confessions Audible coverMy good friend and fellow former Boston Jaycees board member John J. Wall has released an audiobook version of his runaway best-selling marketing book, B2B Marketing Confessions, which you can get through Amazon, iTunes or Audible. John reads the book himself, and if you’re wondering what he sounds like you can hear him weekly on his marketing podcast, Marketing Over Coffee. Though I am long overdue on writing about this great book, it is a tactical trailbook for not only marketing but overall business.
  • Speaking of Amazon, they are raising the price for their Amazon Prime service, which includes everything from free 2-day shipping of most items to free movies on demand, from US$79 to US$99. Knowing that I have spent that much extra for some crappy drinks at crappy bars in Chicago over the years, it’s a no-brainer I am sticking with it.
  • I got together with an old friend and colleague whom I worked with early on in my career, for me it was 1 year after college and it was right after for her. In thinking back on catching up, sharing stories about consulting projects and the people we worked with, I realized how “foundational” that experience was for me, both in my growth as a professional and as a person. And to imagine it was a time before everyone had cellphones and email.
  • Needing to demo a mobile app to remote users, I learned from colleagues about Reflector, software you can run on a PC or Mac where you can “mirror” your iPhone on the computer using the built-in AirPlay service. Note I had to run this from home as I ran into issues with my work wireless network and n`ot being able to launch AirPlay, but otherwise it was a great way to get the iPhone on my PC screen, then use remote meeting software to present it.
  • It’s one thing to survey customers, it’s very much another to bring them into the same room with you and talk with them in person. I know I need to do much more of the latter.
  • As I was going through my storage unit, I realized I would rather have a picture of me with a famous person than to have their autograph.
  • I finally saw the movie Frozen when the DVD arrives at our home, much to the delight of my daughters. It is a nice story with some amazing animation, though I have to admit I am more of a Tangled fan.
  • A video on Chicago from the 1940’s surfaced at an estate sale in the city and the lucky buyer digitized it and uploaded it to his Vimeo account for all to watch and where you can see it if you can’t see the embedded video below.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/25/14 at 10:27 PM
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Friday, March 21, 2014

What I Learned This Week For March 14 2014

screenshot of the CentUp newsletter

Though today is March 21, 2014, I am finally publishing what I learned for the previous week. Just as I was about to pass on the list from last week and focus on this week to be current, I get the latest newsletter from CentUp, which featured several items from the last few What I Learned posts! Needless to say this piqued my interest in finally typing up last week’s list. And the ego stroke wasn’t bad either.

  • The Pringles brand of potato “crisps” is now owned by cereal giant Kellogg’s and has been since 2012. Is it only a matter of time when the Pringles breakfast cereal comes out?
  • I pre-ordered a domain name with one of the new global top-level domain names (gTLD). I won’t say what it is as I don’t want to jinx it in case others registered it. But if I get it, it will be put to major use.
  • I don’t know who Victoria Carpenter is, but I have no idea why or how she is liking my Facebook status as being “so cute” over and over and over again, especially as I quit Facebook over a year ago. Yes, I realize it is spam, and it’s clearly not working.
  • A new app was announced to pay for parking meters in Chicago. Where it will offer the convenience of adding more time to your parking from the app remotely (aka not running back to the car), I can only imagine the problems that will come from this. Currently in Chicago you buy a paper receipt to put on your dashboard for your time to park. Even with this “foolproof” system, many parking tickets are issued to people who have paid for parking – I know some personally. The only way to fight it is to go to court. I have no idea what the app or software that the meter checkers will use, but I can only see more headaches for parkers.
  • Most people do not know how to take a screenshot or screen capture from an iPhone, let alone a PC or a Mac.
  • Despite what Dr. Seuss wrote in his first children’s book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” Bliss Street does not intersect with Mulberry. I know, as I used to live near THE Mulberry Street in Springfield, MA.
  • The domain name digital.com is up for auction. It’s last major use was as the primary domain name for Digital Electronics Corporation, or DEC for short, the former mini-computer and PC manufacturer based in Maynard, MA. As someone whose first mini-computer was a DEC PDP/11 and grew up knowing many people who worked for DEC, it is sad to see it for sale. At an opening bid of US$100,000 I am not sad enough to buy it myself.
  • I have been asked to be part of a career-mentoring group for a trade organization in Chicago. The group is one of several “pillars” the group is building to work with young people starting in their careers. I am excited to get started with it and will surely report more on it soon.
  • The week before I mentioned my good friend Andrew Cornelius who is a talented actor, comedian and improviser. He has created a new demo reel of his work, and present it for your viewing pleasure. I would have included it in the last installment, but it was trumped by the Name.com video featuring me. There’s that ego again.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/21/14 at 07:50 AM
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Friday, March 07, 2014

What I Learned This Week For March 7 2014

photo of Mardi Gras mask

Rather than showing a scribbled sticky note with my learned knowledge for the week, I decided to show my decoration for Mardi Gras.

  • A color photo of a new air filter for my car is not going to compel me any further to have it replaced when all I wanted today is an oil change.
  • Watching the Stadium Series game played at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the home of football’s Bears, between hockey’s Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins was a lot of fun, even as I was watching it on TV. With the snow falling, it gave me a déjà vu moment to a few years ago when Boston University played Boston College at Fenway Park a week after the pro-hockey game there. In this case, I was there in stands at Fenway for this amazing experience.
  • If you find yourself in New York City and need a good laugh, check out my friend Andrew Cornelius’ Web site to see when he is next performing.
  • In the process of troubleshooting a technical problem with my podcast app on my mobile device, I unsubscribed to all 6 of the podcasts I had in my queue. Rather than resubscribe at once, I decided to subscribe as I had time to listen to something new. First I subscribed to No Agenda and after several weeks I finally subscribed to another, The Voicemail. Not sure when I’ll get back to 6 or what my number will be.
  • I almost snorted my coffee out of my nose the other morning when reading my favorite Web comic, Questionable Content when Angus called out Faye for saying ‘wicked.’ The comic takes place in Northampton, MA, not far from where I grew up and a tell-tale sign of a “Masshole” is if they say wicked a lot.
  • Life won’t be the same in my house after the DVD for the movie Frozen comes out on March 18.
  • Not a meeting goes by where someone is saying they are looking at something from their ‘perspective’ or that of their team or function. But who is looking at the big picture?
  • Not a day goes by when I am not telling someone about the blog Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell. Each day he posts extremely usable prose on leadership, all under 300 words. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t subscribe to it by email or RSS. Special thanks to Dr. Dietmar Schloesser for being the source of knowledge on this great blog.
  • Tickets are now for sale for the Spring Benefit for Chicago’s South Loop Elementary School on Friday, May 16 at 6pm at the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile. This year marks the silver anniversary of the school, and the red carpet will be rolled out for all who wish to have a great time while supporting this great community school.
  • In preparation for their activities at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas which starts today, my friends a Name.com wanted to show how they will promote small businesses at the conference, so they used me as an example. Jared, their social media director, is an amazing actor and video producer as well as keenly in tune with the needs of their community and made this awesome video which is embedded below or you can watch on the Name.com channel on YouTube. And when I say friends, I mean it – it is because of a personal connection that I learned about Name.com over 6 years ago and their team applies the personal touch, plus strong business and technical acumen, to all they do. And I am not just saying this because Jared pronounced Maddaloni correctly.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/07/14 at 01:00 AM
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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

CentUp Offers A Unique Profit Model For Writers

How much would you pay to read this blog post?

CentUp logo

Ok, I hope you are still with me and not rolling on the floor in laughter. In all seriousness, I am asking the question – how much would you pay to read this blog post, or any blog post for that matter, here on The Hot Iron? No, I am not going to put up a paywall and start charging people to read here as I don’t believe in such a thing.

As it takes time to come up with ideas, write them, edit them, come up with some original visual to go with them and post them to the site, that time is some value to me. That being said, I do not do this for direct financial gain. Where I do enjoy doing so, getting a little something in return can’t hurt. And for good measure, how about help a charity in the process?

What I just described in the last few sentences is the idea behind CentUp, a service which has been around for almost a year, which provides a button – similar to a social sharing button – where you can contribute a few cents to a few dollars to a content writer directly on their site. If you scroll to the bottom of this post at The Hot Iron you will see a CentUp button below the row of social media sharing buttons, so I can speak to CentUp with first-hand experience.

Click a Button, Help a Writer and a Charity

The end-user experience of CentUp is very straightforward, and its elegance comes from its simplicity, as you can see in the embedded Vine video above. If you cannot see the video, you can view the video of me pressing the CentUp button at Vine. You simply click on the CentUp button on a Web page or blog post that you would like to give to (or pay to or contribute to or whatever term you deem appropriate). Half of whatever amount you choose will go to the publisher, and half goes to a charity selected by the publisher from a list of charities affiliated with CentUp.

To use the button, you need an account with CentUp. If you click on the button and don’t have an account, you can sign-up on their Web site, put funds in your account, then log in and contribute. As I have the button on my site, I have an account with CentUp, and whenever I see the button and providing I liked what I read, I will give at least 10 cents to a publisher. If you’re thinking, “not another account to setup,” read on as you’ll learn more of the value a CentUp account delivers.

All clicks of the CentUp button on The Hot Iron are shared between myself and the Women With Drive Foundation, a great organization who provides women with transportation means to get to their jobs. I truly did not do them justice with that boiled-down description and I encourage you to visit their Web site for more information. There are a number of charities that content publishers can choose from and this list has expanded over the last year I have used CentUp.

The Point Is Not Early Retirement

By so far earning under a dollar per blog post, I am not considering CentUp part of my overall retirement strategy. But that is not why I use CentUp. First and foremost, I believe there is plenty of content out there on the Internet that is of value. This includes blogs, news sites, and Web sites in general. That being said, I or anyone else is not going to go through the process of registering for every site out there and paying some amount of money for content of what quality I really don’t know until I explore and read it.

In other words, if I read something and find value in it, I can offer payment for it, a true value-for-value model.

CentUp offers a one-stop payment method for Web content. I don’t need all of those accounts and logins and passwords, and sharing my credit card information all over the place. I also don’t need large sums of money to register for varying content. If I like something, I can give them a little bit of money. If it is good content, many people will do that. Right next to the button is how much money has been given so far, which is a transparent way to see how potentially popular and relevant the content may be. CentUp is a simple model that makes sense, and one I have embraced.

There is no fee to join, and adding the button to your blog or site is technically straightforward. You can tag an entire site or individual pages or posts on a blog. Again I am not doing CentUp the best justice they deserve, and I encourage you to explore the CentUp site for more information and if you have any questions on it conceptually or technically.

Unique Community of Content

There are several dozen sites now using CentUp and that number grows whenever I check back on the site. CentUp has taken advantage of this collection of content and has built a community of writers and publishers, including a newsletter of curated content on a regular basis. I have now started to subscribe to many of their RSS feeds of these blogs and sites to read their content directly. They recently added a reader app to their site within your account, but I still prefer my RSS reader for aggregating all of my content.

Do you use CentUp? Have I piqued your interest in it? Would you avoid it like I avoid Facebook? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to ask any questions you may have about CentUp as I may be able to help, or someone from CentUp may even respond themselves as they are readers as well.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/05/14 at 11:54 PM
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Friday, February 21, 2014

What I Learned This Week For February 21 2014

photo of frost heave damage to a Chicago sidewalk

As taken down on a piece of paper from my daughter’s bedazzled notepad...

  • Now that the temperatures in Chicago actually reached above the freezing mark for a “significant” period of time (2 days) and some of the snow has melted, I have noticed a by-product of the frigid temperatures – frost heaves. Very few sidewalks have not been affected by it, and there are many uneven paths around the city. This is on top of the potholed-ridden streets. My guess is these sidewalks will either not be properly fixed or will just be ground down to make then somewhat even.
  • My friends at the amazing design studio Visible Logic are conducting a Web Design Survey. It is open to anyone, and I am sure they would love to hear from people who are not in the Web design and development business, and that means you! You can take their survey here; it is short, to the point, and if you give them your email they will send you the results of the survey. While you are on their site check out the great work they have done for their clients.
  • Your idea, no matter how well thought-out and articulated, always sounds better when it is said by someone more senior than you, and is sold as their idea.
  • I heard about something called the 5 Love Languages where ideally each person in a relationship takes the survey and compares what they want and how they say it. It’s free and doesn’t take long to complete.
  • The idea of the media “spoiler”, though it is annoying when you hear of something you haven’t watched yet, is an increasing reality that we will have to deal with. Unfortunately I have seen details of the second season of House of Cards on Twitter and results of Olympics competitions on screens in building elevators before they were broadcast in the US. With more and more real-time information abound and distributed media channels, this will only increase, and we will have to come up with ways to manage it.
  • This week I had a flashback to the time I designed a QA lab for a company I worked for years ago. It was a very comprehensive lab consisting of computers and operating system versions to cover all of our customers realistic scenarios. I also remembered the pushback I received from some of my colleagues, which was later taken back as the lab helped troubleshoot and prevent many errors. It was only a flashback, and unfortunately not a déjà vu moment.
  • It’s been a while since I have been out at a tech networking event, and thanks to the people at Tech in Motion for hosting a great event in Chicago this past week. I met some great people including the entire team behind Dryv.
  • I need to get out and see friends more often. By accident this week I found out my friend Elliott Bambrough is not the full-time co-host of the TV show Chicago’s Best on WGN-TV. Elliott is not only extremely talented but a great person as well. You can see him in action in this segment from a recent episode of Chicago’s Best and I have also embedded it below.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/21/14 at 08:51 AM
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dryv Dry Cleaning And Laundry Delivery Service Is What I’ve Needed

photo of Dryv garment bagYou could call the recently-launched Dryv dry cleaning and laundry on-demand pickup and delivery service disruptive to the market. You could call it a game-changer or any analogy to a new business in an established market. For me and my lifestyle, it simply makes sense.

Read on – if you think it’s worth a try, at the end of this post is a discount code for Dryv.

Over New Year’s I heard some chatter on Twitter about Dryv, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. If it was all that it sold itself as, then it would work perfectly for me. What I heard was it is an on-demand service which, when requested through its mobile app, will come and pickup your dry cleaning and when it’s ready, you can request again through the app to have it delivered to you.

Living in downtown Chicago there are many advantages and as well many compromises that I have had to make over the years. Being so close to Millennium and Grant Park is awesome, yet for years we did not have a decent supermarket nearby until Mariano’s opened a couple of years ago. For dry cleaning, or more often simply laundering and pressing of dress shirts for work (something I have never mastered), I have been on a continual quest for a decent dry cleaner close-by. The ones I had gone to were usually in the basement of an office building, with limited hours that I would often miss and as a result have my clean clothes locked away. As my residence building doesn’t have a doorman or common areas, the notion of any other delivery service wouldn’t work for me.

A Service I Don’t Want To Think About

When it comes to dry cleaning or laundry service, I really don’t want to think about it. Since I have lived in Chicago I have had to. Before I moved here and lived in the suburbs of Boston, I had one local dry cleaner, literally at the end of my street. My schedule allowed me to get to them without any problems and their service was good. It was a service I didn’t need to think about. With the minor inconvenience in dry cleaning for me, if I were to go with a replacement, I would want that level of “comfort” of not having to think – or worry – about it.

Before I tried Dryv, I checked out their Web site and contacted them on answers that weren’t there. They promise to come on-demand within an hour of a request for drop-off and pickup. They use commercial dry cleaners who serve hotels and restaurants in Chicago. Their prices are comparable to other dry cleaners I have used. And last but not least, they will take back my unused wire coat hangers – I never use them and have always brought them back with my next order! This gave me the confidence to try them.

Simple User Experience With Mobile Email and Humans

After getting the app installed on my phone, I set-up my profile, home address and credit card for payment, then requested a pickup by creating a new order. The app itself is very simple – you place the order through it, and in combination with text messages your order is confirmed and you are alerted when the Dryver – the person who picks up your order – is on their way. When you meet them, you give them your clothes and any instructions for cleaning. Later when your order is processed you will receive an email confirming the order and the cost. When your clothes are clean and ready to be delivered – promised within 36 hours – you will get another text message. At that point you then go into the app to request a delivery. The app allows you to store multiple addresses, so you could, say, have pickup at your office and delivery to your home.

When your clothes are returned to you, they are in a nice Dryv reusable garment bag as pictured in above in this post, and inside the clothes are covered in traditional plastic bags you would get from any dry cleaner. You can then use the garment bag for future orders to give the clothes to the Dryver, plus hangers if that is your thing.

It really was that simple and easy, and after the first order I have now used them a total of 4 times, which is a volume normal for how often I get cleaning done. My orders are mostly shirts, occasional pants, and nothing too complex.

A Growing Service And A Few Thoughts

My original order number was under 100 and my latest one is in the 300’s so Dryv is definitely growing. Where originally they only offered traditional dry cleaning and wash and press service, they are now offering a laundry service by the pound. They have had a few updates to their app since they have started, plus they have added an FAQ and other details to their Web site. Not bad for a service that has only been around a couple of months.

Though they are still new, I would be remiss if I didn’t share any thoughts and suggestions on the service and their technology. Currently the app is only available for iOS, and adding an Android and Windows Phone option would be beneficial to them. As for the features of the app, it would be great to be able to not only request the pickup but enter into the app what you are dropping off as well as any instructions. I typically put a piece of paper with what I have and how I like my shirts done, but using the app for this would be key. And when my order is ready, if the icon on the app had an “alert number” as a reminder that would also be helpful, as sometimes the text message gets buried by the other text messages and alerts I receive. I would also suggest them to expand more into the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago.

Try Dryv For Yourself Chicago And Save $20

As you can guess, I recommend Dryv, especially as they have been picking up and delivering with no problems in the horrible weather we have had in Chicago the past few months. As I am customer, they offer a unique referral program, where if you use the code 6H1A you can get $20 off your initial order. Note I would also get a similar savings if you use that code, just so that I am being completely transparent. I don’t have any other tie to Dryv, I am only a happy customer.

I welcome your thoughts in the comments of this post on Dryv and if you have used it or are not sure if you would use it.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/19/14 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, February 17, 2014

What I Learned This Week For February 14 2014

photo of Discover card with cassette tape design

Last week was an off week for me, with this cough getting the best of me. It is getting better, but my mind was not always aware of things, so my list is not as extensive as last week, but ever unique. I used the back of an envelope for a bill I always pay online to capture my learnings.

  • After almost a year of carrying it, someone finally recognized the design on my Discover card is a cassette tape. The guy was my age, and the guy with him had no idea what we were talking about.
  • Not everyone knows that a general term for Safari, Firefox or Chrome is “browser” - seriously.
  • I learned about trisodium phosphate as an effective cleaner for painted walls. I also learned it is an approved food attitive in the EU.
  • Taxi-hailing app Hailo is beta testing a “black car” option for hailing a sedan instead of a standard taxi in its app. I learned this first hand as I was presented with the option last week when hailing a taxi with the app. In the beta period the sedan fare is the same or similar as a taxi. Though it was a short ride, it was a very quiet, comfortable ride, and I am looking forward to this feature going full-out live.
  • This study on mobile platforms in South Africa by Deloitte Digital shows the Symbian OS in second place with 26% of the installed base. Not bad for a “burning platform!” Check out the study and see the other numbers which overall are much different than in the US.
  • My 2-year old thought February 14 was Halloween, which clearly means she got way too much candy with her Valentine cards.
  • When I was living in the Boston area barely a year would go by when I would miss the Hometown Throwdown, a concert series around the holidays by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. They considered it a gift to their fans and hometown, and it was always an awesome show. Now that I am a thousand-plus miles away, I haven’t caught a Throwdown in years, but I did catch this video from this year’s show at the House of Blues in Boston (which wasn’t even there when I last lived there) and some scenes from an event they held at this little old ball field across the street. Check out the video embedded below or view it on YouTube. It made me laugh, it made me dance, and it made me cry a little.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/17/14 at 09:44 PM
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Sunday, February 09, 2014

What I Learned This Week For February 7 2014

photo of Halls cough drops

Now 2 days late, but hopefully still of some value to some of you, as most were to me. These were scrawled on the back of an envelope for a credit card offer, adding some real value to this junk mail.

  • Boundaries are not always bad, and when people tend to be pushing them, sometimes they are simply asking for them to be defined to them.
  • Halls cough drops have little motivational phrases on the wrappers. Not a bad idea for if you are buying cough drops, you are probably not at the peak place in your life.
  • There is a distinct difference between MOO MiniCards and Mini Moo’s.
  • Perform a Web search on any word or phrase, followed by the word “coloring” and you can find a plethora of coloring sheets for kids to color on.
  • There was little coverage outside of the tech world on the theft and compromise of the Twitter account @N by a social hacker. If you are not familiar with the term social hacker, look up anything on Kevin Mitnick. This article on The Verge about the @N theft and how the owner’s GoDaddy and PayPal accounts were compromised also includes a link to the Twitter account’s owner’s own story.
  • Where that famous groundhog in Pennsylvania saw its shadow and predicted a longer winter, my forecast has always been with Dunkirk Dave who hails from the same Western New York State city that I was born in. And it has nothing to do with him not seeing his shadow, and thus predicting an early spring.
  • I began taking an online course on “unprocrastination” and one of its tasks is to create a habit and commit to it. So I decided to come up with a new blog topic every day (not write it, just the topic) and I am also sharing it with the world. Look on Twitter for the hashtag #28d28bt for my topics. More on the course itself as I get into it.
  • A documentary on learning how to be a pit trader in the famous Chicago markets was just released this week, though it was filmed in 1996. Pit Trading 101 was released only online, and for US$2.99 you can see a training course on how those people who are yelling, screaming and flailing their arms are actually conducting business. It was released by Chicagoan and former trader Jonathan Hoenig who is also in the documentary. I haven’t watched it yet but want to, not only to understand how the heck that process works but also to seeing a piece of this city’s history. Below is an embed of the movie’s trailer or you can watch it on the documentary’s Web site.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/09/14 at 06:56 PM
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Thursday, February 06, 2014

3 Things New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Must Do To Win At #Mobile

photo of Nokia Lumia 925 running Windows PhoneEarlier this week global software giant Microsoft named Satya Nadella as it’s 3rd-ever CEO, succeeding Steve Ballmer, who succeeded Bill Gates. Where the position is highly regarded, and the opportunity is immense, Nadella will have the challenge of defining what Microsoft will be going forward and especially what they won’t be. Some say the company is too big, rooted in its traditional PC and server operating system and software business while trying to be a consumer business with video game consoles and mobile devices.

Where there are many opinions on where the company should be overall, one area I will be watching closely is how it moves forward with mobile technology. Its Windows Phone platform is a distant third after industry leading iOS from Apple and Android from Google. Even a close tie with former mobile industry leader Nokia didn’t prove to be a winning combination, which will be taken to the next level with Microsoft buying Nokia’s mobile division outright.

Can Microsoft be successful at mobile? I believe it can, and if it were up to me, I would follow these 3 major activities to not only succeed at mobile but to thrive and be a contender for the industry lead. Seriously! But as I am not in that role, I will share my ideas here, and Mr. Nadella is free to take them if he chooses. If you’re familiar with the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, these 3 journeys are similar to those of Scrooge, dealing with the past, present and future.

First Reconnect With Your Corporate Roots

Where many know Microsoft as the people who built DOS and Windows for their PCs, the majority of their business is in running corporate computers and servers, and the additional software and consulting services that go with them. Where in 2014 many companies run Linux servers, for many years CIOs shied away from the open-source platform, relying on the operating systems from Microsoft, warts and all.

As Nadella previously led the cloud computing business at Microsoft, he knows how many corporate clients are moving much of their infrastructure to the cloud. He must also know that for as much as companies are looking to save shedding physical servers, they are now spending some of that on mobile devices, providing smart phones to their staff to keep them in contact and productive wherever they may be.

But have these mobile devices been Windows Phone devices? Some may have been, but there are probably still more BlackBerry devices in the hands of corporate users. And that number is probably dwindling, swinging towards iPhones and Android devices, which can integrate well with corporate email and are also popular platforms for the development of corporate apps, not to mention personal apps and Angry Birds.

In reconnecting with the corporate customers, mobile must be leading the conversation. What exactly is said depends on the following 2 activities in my plan.

Next Throw Money At Mobile Today

Yes, I said throw. Microsoft is well-known for its cash reserves in the billions. Where some of it is held for fighting legal challenges, some has been used for acquisitions, including Nokia’s mobile business. Where I don’t know exactly how much they have as of writing this post, I have heard it is anywhere around $50 to $60 Billion dollars.

So when I say throw, Microsoft needs to use its reserves to spend and better position itself right now in the mobile world, and fast. Over the past few years I witnessed Google do this with Android, going from nowhere to it being the second-largest mobile platform. They spent money on advertising, promotion, and on developers to build apps for Android devices. All of this for what is technically an “open-source” platform as well!

Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system has a unique interface and personally I feel it is more robust than screens full of icons in iOS. Couple this with solid engineering and technology it acquired from Nokia, including it’s high-quality Zeiss lenses for its cameras, and you have a solid device that can be used by anyone. But do they know about it?

For Windows Phone to be successful it needs both marketing and buzz. There are plenty of agencies out there would love the opportunity to really sell the “experience” of Windows Phone, just as or even better than Apple has with the iPhone. For buzz, people need to hear about the features from their friends and family, and here Microsoft can tap into the agency that did this well for Nokia for years, 1000heads, as they are the leaders of word-of-mouth marketing and would love to bring back the raving fans they cultivated for Nokia in the past for Microsoft.

At the end of the day, it is really about what you can do with the mobile device, and what most people use is apps. Here’s an area where Windows Phone is way behind. Most app development is done either just for iOS or for Android, and in some cases is done just for iOS. Windows Phone is usually a distant third, if at all. This is an area where a large chunk of that Microsoft reserve money can come in handy. Both consumer and corporate apps are needed for the platform to thrive. Here is the tie in with the corporate relationships – give money, tools, support, consultants, devices… whatever is needed for corporate clients to build apps for the platform. Help them leverage technology like PhoneGap where they can build apps “once” and port them to each platform (I am streamlining a lot of technical detail, but that is the 50,000 foot view of it).With corporate apps, plus seamless integration with Microsoft Exchange mail servers, you have an employees empowered with a sleek device and all the tools they need to log their hours or whatever it is they need to do.

I did not gloss over consumer apps, as these are direly needed. When it was announced the social photo app Instagram was coming to Windows Phone, it was over a year and a half after it came out for Android. Looking at some of the top apps I use – Starbucks, Hailo taxi, the Weather Channel and MapMyRide for bike ride tracking, only the Weather Channel app is available for Windows Phone. The fact the Starbucks app is not on it is almost shocking, seeing the headquarters of Starbucks is only about 16 miles from the headquarters of Microsoft! And if the large corporate players are not building apps for Windows Phone, neither are the small start-ups. Here Microsoft needs to do what Google did before them and what I am suggesting they do for corporate clients – throw money at it, pay key app developers to port their apps to Windows Phone, hold developer conferences, buy developers free food and beer, give them free devices… all what they need to help bolster the Windows Phone Store so you won’t have to think about what apps are available for the platform, at all and never again.

Define The Future Of Mobile

What will mobile devices look and feel like a few years from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now? Whatever the answer to the question is, Microsoft should be looking to be the one to answer it, and set the bar high for the rest of the industry to follow.

Hopefully among all of the chaos with Nokia over the last few years they have some of the brilliant hardware and software designers joining them as part of the acquisition to help define this. Where everything Nokia did was not always a top-selling device, they did create some interesting form factors, from fly-out keyboards to round devices to the small thin candy bar device. Today, with the lead from Apple and the close following from everyone else, including Nokia, everything looks like a black slab, and I know personally myself – and many others in the industry – are tired of black slabs! This is an area where Microsoft is not completely known for – amazing user experiences – but they have a start with Windows Phone, have some advances in their gaming devices and – with the right innovative leaders – create what is next, while not forgetting where it came from, as Nadella said in his first remarks as CEO.

No Time Like The Present

Right now is a good time to make moves in the mobile area for Microsoft. Apple is still feeling the loss of Steve Jobs and trying to define its next versions of devices and operating systems, with the last round not receiving the glowing praise it usually does. Google just unloaded Motorola to Lenovo and may be taking a different direction with hardware. Samsung keeps making bigger and bigger and bigger black slabs. And don’t forget BlackBerry, as they are still hanging on and trying to define what their future is while everyone else is digging their grave.

I wish Satya Nadella much luck and good fortune as he takes the helm at Microsoft. Having Bill Gates step down as Chairman and simply being an advisor was a great first move by Nadella. There is a lot to sort out and a lot to prioritize, but I personally see great opportunity with mobile, and Redmond taking the reins from Cupertino is not completely out of the question.

Go ahead – let me know what you think 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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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/06/14 at 11:24 PM
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The Hot Iron strives to present unique content and perspective on business, technology and other topics by Mike Maddaloni, a Web and business strategist based in Chicago.

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