The Hot Iron

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

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Thursday, August 07, 2014

What I Learned This Week For August 1 2014

photo of Neiman Marcus window in Chicago promoting pre-fall

Writing a catchy opening to the presentation of what really resonated with me over the last week isn’t always as rewarding as the things I learn, so this time I won’t dwell on it.

  • It’s one thing to accuse Hallmark or other greeting card makers of creating holidays to sell more cards, but I never thought retailers would go to the depths of segmenting seasons. Granted the cooler temperatures here in the Windy City may cause some to think about what to wear in a couple of months, but I am not one of them.
  • Feedback is a dish best served hot and fresh, right out of the over, and not several months later, as it sits on the counter, covered with something but allowed to rot and not satisfy anybody.
  • A while back ago I registered the domain name SayMyNameRight.com, with the idea of having a Web site where people could post videos of themselves saying their name. If I recall correctly, it was after having lunch with my good friend Tom Ordonez that the idea came to mind. If you click the link it’s clear I didn’t do anything with the domain name other than point it right back to this very blog. Yet for some reason over the past several weeks it has been getting a noticeable amount of traffic. Maybe now is the time to act?
  • I was reminded not everybody knows what a “hashtag” is.
  • Where the bidding wars over the potential mergers of “dollar” stores is going on, one thing piqued my attention, that the “activist investor” Carl Ichan was involved. Personally, I don’t get the guy. Granted, I am no student of finance or investment wiz, but is someone who buys a ton of stock in a company and tries to get them to merge really an activist, as in the same term that can be prefaced with the phrase “civil rights?”
  • Keeper Security, the Chicago-based app for secure password storage, just announced file storage. It is being pitched as a way to store images of a driver’s license or passport in case it is lost or stolen, or any other important personal files. As a current user I can get 5 free file uploads and then pay an annual fee from $10 a year and up, depending on the space used. I need to think about this, and where to best spend money on “cloud” services, or on my own server.
  • In my quest to try new restaurants I finally went to Protein Bar, a Chicago-based chain of healthy quick-serve food. And I have to say, upon my first visit I have become a fan. I was impressed with the store, the menu selections and most importantly the taste. The price is comparable to even Subway and other restaurants in the city. They also have locations in the Washington DC area and in Colorado.
  • For as many times as I have referred family, friends and complete strangers to get from point A to B with my friend Rashid, Chicago’s premier cabbie and expert on customer service, who goes by the trademarked name of ChicaGoCabbie™, for reasons that I don’t quite know for sure, I have never ridden in his cab. Granted, because of his work with cab-hailing service Hailo I am a loyal customer. Perhaps it is timing, I am not quite sure. But he has delivered both pizza and cupcakes to me in his chariot!
  • This past week Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester was traded to the Oakland A’s. For several weeks leading up to it, my sports mobile app was buzzing non-stop with alerts on rumors and speculation around the trade. It got so bad I almost turned off the alerts altogether. Unfortunately that is the business of sports today. When I was a kid, I had no idea what any of the players on the Red Sox made, nor did I care.
  • One of my favorite blogs is Brand New which features logo, design and branding, especially changes to brands. They recently featured a YouTube video interview of the creator of the Hartford Whalers logo. For those not familiar, the New England Whalers hockey team moved from Boston to the capital city of Connecticut in the 1970’s, then moved to North Carolina in the late 1990’s and became the Carolina Hurricanes. They played not too far from where I grew up, so I was familiar with the team and got to go to many games. Though the team is long gone, the defunct team’s logo is almost a cultural icon and is being worn by trendy celebrities. The interview on Hartford’s Channel 3 is embedded below or follow the link above to watch it. Note the mention about who really owns the logo, which is something that I wouldn’t be surprised would end up in court someday.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/07/14 at 10:20 PM
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What I Learned This Week For July 18 and 25 2014

photo of household to-do list

Typically a 2 fer 1 offer is something people look forward to. I am now finally getting around to posting this almost a week late and for 2 weeks, which means if I keep this up, I will most likely lose readers, especially if this is all I ever post. But I digress…

  • July 18 marked 6 years of being a Dad. And talk about learning!
  • I sat down and made a list of all of the small things that needed tweaking, tightening or fixing around the condo. My, what a long list – you would think the place was falling apart. It took a couple of days to get through them all, but it felt really good to get them done.
  • Have you ever had a Rainier Cherry? I hadn’t until last week – they look like tiny Macintosh apples and are very sweet. My guess is they are also not a GMO fruit. Thanks to my colleague Mike G. for the proper introduction.
  • Whenever I hear about food deserts why is it grocery delivery services like Peapod or food trucks are never considered as a solution? I guess that isn’t something I learned, but more an observation I learned from repeated exposure to it recently.
  • Yet again, I was reminded not everybody knows what a “browser” is, especially when related to the Internet.
  • I got a check in the mail from CentUp for a US$15.84, which was my earnings thus far. How did I earn it? People clicked the little CentUp icon at the bottom of my blog posts, and I earned whatever pennies they sent my way. It’s a form of micropayment which I think can be quite successful, but many more people need to get on board – both readers and publishers!
  • Now everyone around the world can be as stylish as a member of the European Union Parliament with your own EU Parliament sash. For only 146.95 euros, you can show your true colors, either in the chamber or on the street. Who knows, maybe these will next show up in the Chicago City Council chamber.
  • If you are using Microsoft Lync for a conference call that was scheduled in Microsoft Outlook, and while you are in the call you decide to cancel the meeting series altogether in Outlook, not only will it delete all meetings in Outlook but it will throw you out of the meeting you are currently in, with no way of getting back in.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago has a mobile app to digitally store your membership card. That’s one less thing I need to stuff in my wallet, and I usually have my mobile device within reach at all times, which comes in handy for getting into special exhibits in the storied museum as you have to show your card to get in them as well as the front entrance.
  • A while back I was thinking of a lot of the DJs I used to listen to in Boston back in the 1990’s, and started searching for them online. One of them, Nik Carter, I wasn’t able to find. But low and behold, he is hosting VH1 Classic On Tap, a segment highlighting bands from back when he was on the air on WFNX and WBCN. I tweeted him and he responded back in the style I was expecting from him, self-deprecating and hilarious. I’m catching up on On Tap segments whenever I can.
  • A few bus shelters in Chicago were turned into Coca-Cola advertisements, playing on their latest campaign where you can get bottles of the carbonated beverage with your name on them. Of course they don’t have every name, so this shelter had a large touchscreen where you could spell out your name and take a picture of yourself with it. When I saw the first one, I had to “test” it and tried a few choice words that would never end up on a soda bottle. As I typed them, the letters turned to stars like I was typing a password, then I got a message that the name was not in the database – a safe message I was expecting from the global drink giant. Fortunately my Goddaughter’s name was allowed, so I got a picture for her as she was not expecting to see it on an actual bottle.
  • YouTube has been running ads all over the place in Chicago, promoting certain content creators. For as many of these ads I see, I am still not compelled to watch any of the videos, especially when someone who is supposed to be Al Capone looks more like Mark Cuban.
  • Clearly nobody at Foursquare heard the famous phrase by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, “less is more.” The once popular social media check-in service has lost much of its luster not to mention purpose of hopes for a revenue model over the years. Last week they formally split into 2 apps – Swarm, which is for checking-in, and the old app will be more Yelp-like with reviews and suggestions. Even seeing this spelled out doesn’t make it any clearer to me why they did it, and I have yet to find anyone to explain how this will make the service – or services – even better.
  • I’ve had some déjà vu moments recently on a project I have been working on at work which is an animated promotion for a mobile app. The flashback is back to the mid 2000’s when I produced one for a client. Where the steps we went through were very similar to today, the style and length of it are 2 things that stand out as being much different, not to mention it was the “splash” page for the Web site, a concept that fortunately has all but vanished. Years later I had the animation converted to a video and we uploaded it to YouTube, and you can view the animation for Boston Village Auto Body on the YouTube site or view it embedded 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 07/30/14 at 08:51 PM
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

What I Learned This Week For July 11 2014

photo of a hole in clouds letting in the sun in Chicago

As the sun rises over a city that a few hours ago had a tornado and flash flood warning…

  • They (whoever they are) say that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. I found an exception – when the line goes through some not-so-nice neighborhoods in Chicago. Though I did debate actually writing this altogether, let alone as the first one on my list, it is a reality many have shared with me over the years.
  • The above statement being said, the above photo was taken at a stop light on the journey which prompted that statement, proving there is hope everywhere. The photo was taken in color but made it greyscale by accident, and decided to stick with it.
  • I was a witness to a colleague, visiting from India, having his very first tater tot. We sometimes forget things around us are new to many people.
  • I read this sad story about a young boy in Toronto who was starved to death by his grandparents. To add insult to injury, DC Comics, the mega-publishing giant of comics and related merchandising, would not allow a statue being created to honor the boy to sport the Superman “S” logo. The boy was a huge Superman fan, but DC Comics “didn’t want the character connected in any way to child abuse.” Sure, in life it was ok for the boy to have money spent on him, but in his death he can’t be memorialized because of how he died?
  • Troubleshooting a technical problem sometimes means you need to work with the right person who knows why something may or may not be working, though finding that person may not always be obvious.
  • In the course of a conversation with a very wise person, they mentioned the term “find the cracks.” I perked up when I heard this, as I feel this is an even better way of describing looking for niche markets. Only if I heard this term years ago, but that will be covered in that book I am slowly piecing together.
  • Solid state hard drives are the only way to go <- they are small, wicked fast and don’t come with all of the moving parts of a standard hard drive. Though they come with a price tag much higher than said standard hard drives.
  • I was thrilled to learn my favorite beer brewery Harpoon became an employee-owned company this week. With the retirement of one of the founders and the sale of 48% of the company stock to an employee stock ownership plan, the future of Harpoon has been set. With many smaller craft breweries, like Chicago’s Goose Island, being sold to mega-brewers in order to grow and compete, this is a great sign that Harpoon will remain independent and brewing the awesome beers they do.
  • This week a public video was released on YouTube for something called Business Chemistry, a method for identifying patterns in personalities in the business world. Granted that description is in no way the best way to describe it, that is why I was happy to see the video to be released. It came from my employer, and I myself have taken the personality test, and have been identified as a “pioneer” with alignment to an “integrator” – traits I identify and embrace. So from my own point-of-view, I think this process is spot-on. Check out the video embedded below or view it on the YouTube link above, and contact them if you want to bring this unique program into your business.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 07/13/14 at 07:16 AM
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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

What I Learned This Week For July 4 2014

photo of Independence Day color guard in Munster Indiana

With the sound of sirens wailing in the background on this late evening in downtown Chicago, as I go thru my notes and tweets of the holiday week of previous, I don’t have as much noted, but here goes…

  • Once again I reinforced my love of small town US Independence Day celebrations, as my family and I spent the holiday in Munster, Indiana. From fireworks the night before to a bicycle parade for kids the next morning, it was great to be around great friends and great conversation, much of it around our country today.
  • Speaking of fireworks, where we saw the official city-sponsored fireworks, we saw probably 10 times as many displays put on by individuals, as fireworks sales in Indiana are legal. Some of what we saw came close to rivaling anything I have seen launched in big cities as well. That Krazy Kaplan is not so crazy after all.
  • I now have a better understanding why the term “PTO”, for paid time-off, is used instead of the traditional term “vacation.”
  • Where you can learn how to do just about anything online these days, formally or informally, learning from others provides the needed context and paints the complete picture of something.
  • After gaining bits and pieces of his latest idea, I was pleased to see my friend and fellow Chicagoan Len Kendall launch a Kickstarter for Cartegram, an adventure game that involves tagging – literally and online – sites as you travel and logging them in a paper notebook as well as online. I am looking forward to the formal launch of this simple yet elegant idea, and as of the writing of this post there is still time to get in on the fun!
  • In a previous post I had mentioned about Chicago’s app for paying for on-street parking, ParkChicago. I finally got the opportunity to use it one day and it came in extremely handy, as I was parking during a torrential downpour and never had to get out of my car to go to the meter box and buy a ticket. The app user experience is very nice as well. Where parking on the mean streets of Chicago is certainly not cheap, it is a little more convenient.
  • In my ever quest to simplify my life, I have found merely finishing something goes along way to achieving this simplicity.
  • Over the winter I was asked to give a video testimonial on my daughters’ daycare center. Last week I learned part of what I said was selected for the video, which you can watch embedded below or watch on YouTube directly. After watching it over and over and over several times, I wished I was smiling more, but overall I think I did a very good job. I’d love to hear what you think about it, and feel free to send them in the comments section of 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 07/09/14 at 10:51 PM
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

What I Learned This Week For June 27 2014

photo of a warning message on a waterski

With the Pandora Smooth Jazz channel playing, and though I am confused at some of the music they are classifying as “smooth jazz” I am nonetheless liking it as I collect my learnings for the week…

  • I learned 2 things along with the above photo. Presumably if you are putting on a water ski, it is probably too late at that point to read the warning fine print. Also, this modern ski was not sufficient for my lovely wife, as she strapped on wooden skis she used when she was a kid to be pulled behind a boat for the first time in at least a decade, and with great success – go you!
  • Sometimes, spontaneous fun has to be scheduled.
  • Facilitating the listening to the earlier-mentioned Pandora channel are my iHip Patriots lanyard headphones. I have had these for a while and am surprised I have never talked about them as I love them! Most of the cord is wrapped in lanyard material sporting the Pats logo, which means they don’t tangle just by looking at them. And for under ten dollars, they are a great deal. Where mine have the logo of the greatest NFL football team ever, they are offered in other team logos, including the local team the Chicago Bears.
  • Where I didn’t need headphones was last Monday when I saw Bob Mould perform at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. I have mentioned him and his original band Husker Du many times before, and this was the third time I saw him over the years. In short, he rocked, both in his new music, songs he has recorded as a solo artist over the years, and even a few songs from Husker Du days, including Hardly Getting Over It, Flip Your Wig and Makes No Sense at All.
  • Building on my original blog post on Managing Your Email Inbox To Zero from 5 years ago, a great way to get your inbox down is to sort by recipient – it’s a great way to clear out notifications, newsletters, junk mail and other spam. It is also a good way to action on a group of emails pretty quickly.
  • The Boston Market restaurant in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago closed abruptly on the June 15 and I found out about it when I went to take the family there for dinner, and we found out from the attendant at the free parking lot next to it that they shut down. As someone who had been to the original Boston Chicken before renamed and franchised, which itself closed years ago, it’s sad this decent meal option for the family becoming more scarce.
  • I am not a therapist nor do I play one on TV, but if I was a PhD and I wanted to prescribe certain medications I now could in Illinois, after taking over 2 years of additional education, based on a new psychologist prescription bill that has become law. Even in this hypothetical situation, to have a PhD then take more education, especially in this uncertain time in healthcare worldwide, I would rather refer them to a true MD who would buy me a beer for every referral. Again, in this hypothetical situation I would.
  • While the City of Chicago has been thrust into turmoil over the addition of the name TRUMP to the eponymous skyscraper and winning the future George Lucas museum, what has been hardly talked about is the installation of sensors to monitor, among other things, sounds and mobile device activity. They are due to be installed along Michigan Avenue and the Loop starting later this year. Of course they won’t look as ominous as they sound as they will be concealed with a decorative shield. As expected, they are being proclaimed not in the name of Big Brother and Big Data, but for our safety. Looks like I will be placing my phone in Chicago Mode (similar to airplane mode) as I walk around the city.
  • When you say you don’t know, chances are you probably do.
  • Version 7 of ownCloud is now in beta. The suite of tools which you can use – just as I do – to replace Google Docs, Calendar, Address Book and similar “cloud” services from others has been an invaluable tool for me, and I haven’t even yet installed version 6 yet, which is out and has been given high marks.
  • Where the next book from my good friend John J. Wall may not be coming out anytime soon, I have finally taken the first baby steps towards writing my own first book. Note the term baby steps, so don’t expect my book signing bus tour to commence anytime soon.
  • I ran across Musicless Music Videos almost by accident, where popular music videos are stripped of the music and you hear what could have been the sound when the video was shot. Below I have embedded the video for Dancing in the Streets by Mick Jagger and David Bowie with this treatment – follow the link if you can’t see the video below, and follow this link to the original video, including music.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 06/29/14 at 03:03 PM
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Monday, June 16, 2014

What I Learned This Week For June 13 2014

photo of the complete 1,004 Portrait sculpture at Millennium Park, Chicago

After waiting all total about 30 minutes for Windows 7 to patch itself, and a few other lame excuses for this being posted late…

  • The installation of the 1,004 Portraits at Chicago’s Millennium Park, which I mentioned in last week’s post, is complete. This is what it looks like at around 7:30 am Central time with the sun’s reflection off of buildings on Michigan Avenue.
  • Speaking of the last blog post here on The Hot Iron – it was my 750th post. After the last several years of not blogging much, it is good to hit a milestone like that.
  • Morrissey, who came to fame in the 80’s as the lead singer of The Smiths and since has had a prolific solo career, canceled the remaining dates on his US tour as he caught some form of virus in Miami, including tonite’s show. The fact that I had great seats for that show makes me sad, but I hope he gets better and books yet a third show in the city, which hopefully be the charm to see him here.
  • I did get my fix of 80’s music last Friday night as I “heard” Foreigner and Styx. They were performing at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, an outdoor ampitheatre that sits where the former Meigs Field airport was. If you look at this aerial map of the venue, you may see water around it. That water is Lake Michigan and Burnham Harbor, where boats are docked or do dock by it for concerts there, where they can hear them extremely clearly, and for free. I know as I was on a boat in the harbor singing along with Foreigner, who’s 45 rpm single “Urgent” was the first record I ever bought in the late 70’s. It was wicked awesome, and thanks to Kristy and Edi for having us aboard.
  • People are more inclined to give to a specific cause or item rather than just to a general fund. For example, ask people to contribute any amount to a charity, and you will not get the response like asking someone to donate to purchase a specific piece of equipment for a charity that has a fixed cost. It also works better if you repeatedly go back to those same people and ask for another specific item.
  • Just recently Hailo, my choice for taxi hailing app, added black car service. So rather than riding in a standard taxi cab, you can choose a black car – a leather-lined sedan or SUV or even a limo – for just a little more than the cost of a standard taxi. This new option is so easy to choose, and it could become addictive.
  • This past week I learned the terms information foraging and information scent. Though I had just learned these terms, I was very familiar with the concepts and have used them in Web design and content development for years. For those of you that are not technical, follow the link above and read the article and let me know if it makes sense to you, and if you have experienced this yourself.
  • I don’t need someone pimping out their new biography to make it “Ideas Week” – for me, every week is ideas week.
  • Upon catching up on podcasts this week, I got to listen to the 100th episode of The Voicemail. It is a weekly, around 30-minute podcast on mobile technology hosted by 2 very smart and witty guys, James Whatley and Stefan Constantinescu. If you are interested at all in the mobile device industry you must listen, and thank me later.
  • My good friend and colleague Tom Ordonez is launching Miami Startup School. Being billed as a “3-month bootcamp that teaches you the right way to create a business. Sales, marketing, legal, tech. Everything you need to do it the right “lean startup” way and stop wasting time and money” I am sure it will be a success for those who attend and for Tom. He is a serial entrepreneur and takes a no-nonsense approach to building thriving businesses.
  • I was amused by the story of how ad agency Cramer-Krasselt parted ways with Panera Bread. Where I personally don’t have an opinion either way about their advertising, they certainly need a creative touch in the presentation of their in-store menus. Most of the time when I am in there, only to buy a loaf of their fresh bread, I am behind people who can’t make heads or tails of their menu. With numerous colors and fonts, it is not a quick read by any stretch.
  • Though it originally aired over a year ago on national TV in the US, I was just made aware of this dialogue in the CBS-TV show “Mike and Molly” which interestingly takes place in Chicago. The exchange is between 2 older men, an Italian-American, and the other who is apparently a farmer or lives in a rural area. Their exchange is full of stereotypes, making references to life on the farm and being Italian. Where comments about an Italian man’s mother’s moustache is one thing, calling him a WOP is another. The term is a racial slur against Italians, and is clearly not an apples-for-apples comparison to the insults the Italian said to the farmer, yet it somehow cleared for broadcast? You can view the excerpt from the Mike and Molly episode on YouTube at this link and I have embedded it below. Where I usually end my weekly lessons learned on a high note with a video, this one is surely a low point. Seeing this only reinforces why I don’t have cable TV or an antenna.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 06/16/14 at 07:18 PM
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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Government Breakdown On A Small Level In Chicago

News about the latest government scandal, no matter when, seems to consume the mainstream media… at least until the buzz or outrage dies down or another story takes its place. As it is hard to get any attention for anything smaller or doesn’t make the cut for a 23-minute newscast, people like myself take on telling these stories, in hopes they are heard, spread and people can hopefully can avoid it happening to them.

This story is about something that happened to me, and is still in process. It may not sound like such a big deal, but it highlights how a breakdown across government agencies can happen at any level, from the parks department in Chicago to the US Veterans Administration.

A not-so-special events parking ticket

photo of parking sign on South State Street in Chicago

A few weeks back I parked my car along South State Street in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. There are several types of on-street parking spaces there – metered, resident, open with the exception of during an event at nearby Soldier Field, or some combination of these. Where I parked was a combination of the last 2. It was a Saturday afternoon, and in my mind there was no event going on at Soldier Field, the home of the NFL Chicago Bears, so I parked and went on my way. Little did I know there was a beer festival going on at the stadium, and upon return to my car I saw a parking attendant put a ticket on my car, a US$60 fine for a “special events restriction.”

Needless to say, I was a little upset about this, but clearly I was in the wrong. To reinforce this, had I simply followed the instructions on the street signs I could have avoided the fine and parked elsewhere. As shown in the photo above, the sign clearly tells parkers to check Soldier Field’s Web site or call 311, Chicago’s non-emergency information hotline, to see if there is an event going on a few blocks away. I would surely do this the next time, as I had 60 reasons to do so.

Next time a communication breakdown

Fast forward to this past Saturday and I am getting ready to drive down to the South Loop, and would be looking for on-street parking. Remembering my last experience, I decided to check if any “special events restrictions” were in play. Where the concept was easy enough and I had the places to check, I was unsuccessful in this cross-functional communication breakdown.

First I called 311, and the conversation went something like this:

311: (after about a minute on hold) Can I help you?
Mike: Is there any events going on at Soldier Field today?
311: Yes, there is a walk going on.
Mike: What time does it end?
311: It started at 9 and I don’t have when it is supposed to end.
Mike: Really?
311: Yes.

So much for that channel, and I decided to check the Soldier Field Web site at soldierfield.net, and I got the following:

screenshot of soldierfield.net

This was odd, as I know I had the right URL for the site, so I tried searching for the site and linking to it that way, and I got the same result. I had been to the Soldier Field Web site before, and I had no idea what was wrong or where it was. Where is the Web site? Is it temporarily down for maintenance or is there a bigger problem.

I then took to Twitter, first clicking on the link on their profile to the Web site and got the same error. Then I sent a tweet to @soldierfield and then checked the time and had some place to go, so I left and found on-street meter parking not far from my destination and paid a few dollars and all was good.

Well, all was good except for the Soldier Field Web site. Now almost a week later, it is still down. In the course of that afternoon I got a reply to my tweet from @soldierfield on my mobile phone – I saw it on the lock screen of my iPhone as an alert from the Twitter app. It only showed the beginning of it, and it said something to the affect that “they were sorry for the inconvenience” – I don’t recall exactly what it said, and a few minutes later when I went back to check it, the tweet was gone. I certainly was not hallucinating or doing anything to cause me to dream about it. After checking the Twitter app, it was certainly gone, and they must have deleted it after they sent it to me.

Though it is not American football season, there are other events going on at Soldier Field, one being soccer with Mexico vs. Bosnia this past Tuesday night. Here it is Thursday and still no Web site or even an explanation where it is, and a tweet is a common way to get the word out.

Where 311 did not have all of the information, and Soldier Field’s Web site had none of it, I was not willing to risk it that the parking authority or the outsourced ticket attendants that roam the streets of the city were not there, as I was almost certain they would be. The workaround was paying to park for US$6 for 3 hours, and that was fine for me. Less hassle, namely from barking up the tree of various city agencies or the local alderman, as I didn’t have the time or interest to fight that battle, and my time, effort and frustration would certainly be worth more than 6 dollars.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 06/04/14 at 11:44 PM
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Friday, May 16, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 16 2014

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

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

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


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/16/14 at 12:05 AM
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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 2 2014

photo of a drawing of bugs

It’s a good thing I didn’t use the piece of paper shown above to keep my learned list for this past week, as them my little girl would not have been able to have drawn this picture of bugs. I thought the circular shape was an apple, but she wondered why I would even think of such a thing. Needless to say, she’s spending some time in art camp this summer.

  • This past week my wife’s Aunt Irene passed away too early at the age of 95. As of course I was fortunate to know her later in life, I never knew about her earlier life, such as she was born here in Chicago and she enlisted in the Army as a nurse the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They don’t make them like that anymore.
  • Speaking of history and Chicago natives, if you are on Twitter you should follow Michael Beschloss, a historian who tweets regularly some amazing historical pictures. Even if you are not a history buff you will surely find some of them interesting.
  • I have been a minivan owner for over a year now. It is such a damn functional vehicle. Special thanks to the fine folks at Silko Honda for making the buying experience so enjoyable!
  • Bob Mould will be performing at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion on June 23 as park of their Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays series. I missed seeing him at Riot Fest last year and can’t wait to catch his powerful performance in a few weeks.
  • My friend Lee is still going strong with his Market Outlook blog. If you are a financial type, you may get some value out of this, as it does run a bit too technical for my capacity.
  • I was a little surprised when I saw the proofs of my daughter’s school photos and they had a solid green background. It turns out that the photography studio is employing chroma key to then allow us to select a custom background for the photo. Where this is unique, sadly the choices of backgrounds left much to be desired.
  • It is possible in the SQL Server Management Studio to change the default of 200 rows for editing to an unlimited amount. This post explains how to easily change the number of rows from 200 Thanks to my good friend Alex for finding this and letting me know about it..
  • Whenever I think of Bob Mould and the band he was with in the 80’s, Husker Du, I can’t not think about their performance on NBC’s Today Show in the mid 80’s before they broke up. Why? Watch this video on YouTube of Bryant Gumbel interviewing Bob Mould and notice the puzzled look on Bob’s face to Gumbel’s questions – clearly he did no research on the band before he asked these questions! You can follow the link or watch the video embedded 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 05/07/14 at 06:00 PM
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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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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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