Support The A Team In The Chicago Liver Life Walk On SATURDAY June 14

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, May 08, 2014 at 09:00 AM with 0 comments

Liver Life Walk logo

Please support me in the Liver Life Walk on SATURDAY, June 14, 2014 in Chicago to support the American Liver Foundation (ALF). This great organization uses money raised to fund research and provide support services for patients and their loved ones who are affected by the many forms of liver disease.

Sadly, liver disease can affect people from newborn to the elderly. Yes, even babies can be born with a form of liver disease, with many being autoimmune and even acquired later in life. Some are curable and some are not, and that’s where the research comes into play. As well, many patients need a liver transplant as their only option. There are even some liver diseases that affect certain demographics, for example women only,

Why My Family And I Are Walking

I will be at the Liver Life Walk with my lovely wife and my little ones on SATURDAY, June 14 in the memory of my Mom, Adeline. It’s in her memory in spirit that we call our team The “A” Team and we will be walking.

photo of Mike and his Mom

My Mom was diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis, or PBC. PBC is an autoimmune liver disease that afflicts women. Earlier in her life she actually had been tested for some of the warning signs of PBC, but as liver tests are expensive and not routinely given to patients (not to mention needing to be justified to the nth degree for health insurance, but don’t get me started there!), it wasn’t until it was almost too late that she got the diagnosis. Her doctors did much to comfort her and cure the symptoms, but ultimately there wasn’t anything they could do to cure the PBC.

When she was diagnosed in Boston, the ALF chapter there was a great resource for us to learn about the disease. My family became active in the chapter there and my wife and I were proud to be asked to be the co-chairs for the Walk for Research (as it was called then) in Boston in 2004, which was shortly before we moved to Chicago. When we arrived here we were introduced to the local Illinois chapter and participated the the Walk here, and I was honored to have been chair for the 2005 Chicago Walk.

Join Us, Donate or Both!

We would be honored to have you be a part of The “A” Team by donating, not to mention joining us on SATURDAY, June 14 as we walk along Lake Michigan.

Donate to the Liver Life Walk

Any size donation is welcome, and your presence there as well will be a great support for the cause.

Thank you in advance for your support and Go Liver!

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

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What I Learned This Week For May 2 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, May 07, 2014 at 06:00 PM with 4 comments

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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What I Learned This Week For April 11 2014

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

photo of jewelry store sign

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

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

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

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What I Learned This Week For April 4 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, April 04, 2014 at 09:41 PM with 0 comments

photo of Chicago’s Gold Coast

As I was compiling and typing up my new wisdom for the week, the picture above was the view in front of me.

  • When you learn something in the presence of someone else who asks if it will be in your next blog post, it may be a good idea to actually include it. So a carryover from last week was how much more I learned about the Chicago Pedway, a series of tunnels that connect buildings in the Loop, and ways of accessing them that aren’t all that clear.
  • After calculating what I thought was the percentage increase of traffic to a Web app, and getting a value that looked completely wrong, I learned the proper way to calculate percentage of increase.
  • A “regular” yoga class goes at a much faster pace than an introductory course. And I am happy with that.
  • Has the selfie jumped the shark? After it was uncovered that David “Big Papi” Ortiz of the World Champion Boston Red Sox is a paid social media ambassador for mobile behemoth Samsung, and they were accused of staging the selfie Ortiz took with President Obama at the White House earlier this week, I couldn’t help but laugh. Granted I am a huge fan of Papi and the Sox, and thought of the irony of when Obama took a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. If you read the linked article here, it is from the Boston Globe, who is now owned by the majority owner of the Sox. Talk about a win-win situation.
  • I finally had a hamburger at Chicago’s Rockit Bar and Grill, who is famous for their burgers. I got the Locavore burger cooked medium rare, and it actually came medium rare. I usually get burgers medium rare as I like them medium and most places overcook them. Now that I have been to the summit, I now have to return.
  • I got an email from Apple about in-app purchases made by kids on iPhones and iPads without their parents’ knowledge, and it also mentioned parental controls available in the operating system iOS. For someone as technical as I am, and knowing many people who use and love the iPhone are not, these are not exactly intuitive. One thing missing is locking out the kids from use as exists with Windows for the Surface tablets.
  • I got a postcard from a local Chicago university conducting a study on kids and sleep, and it asked for kids to participate who did not sleep much or showed signs of “fatigue (feeling tired a lot).” I was surprised they needed to define what fatigue means, then again as they are researchers, I am sure it was included based on empirical experience.
  • The only video I saw this week that wasn’t work related was a sad story. It was a human interest news story of a Dad dying of cancer who walked his 11-year old daughter down the ‘aisle’ as most likely he wouldn’t live long enough to do it when she got married. The video is embedded below or you can watch it on the link above, and be forewarned, it will make you cry.

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

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What I Learned This Week For March 28 2014

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

photo of art from India

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

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

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

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What I Learned This Week For February 14 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 09:44 PM with 0 comments

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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Christmas Traditions

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, December 25, 2013 at 12:06 AM with 2 comments

To all my readers and friends who celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas!

photo of plastic illuminated Santa ClausI am writing this prior to completing the final touches on our Christmas for our 2 kids. Where they are excited for what Santa Claus will be bringing them on Christmas morning, I am also trying to carry on traditions for the holidays that were part of my own growing-up. In addition to many common ones – family gatherings, gift giving, the nativity, church, etc., here’s a few unique elements of my Christmas over the years that I am sharing with them, and I would like to share with you.

Zat You Santa Claus?

Pictured is a plastic illuminated Santa Claus that towers at 3 feet tall and is over 40 years old. It was always standing watch in our breezeway window in the house I grew up in through Christmas. But on Christmas day, Santa returned to his post in the basement, not to be illuminated until the following year. When my Mom moved from my childhood home, I took Santa in, and he has been with me now for almost 20 years.

An interesting story on the jolly old elf is when I moved to Chicago, I took Santa with me. Rather than putting himinto a moving box, he sat next to me on the drive from Boston to the Windy City, literally. Donning a baseball cap, he got his share of looks from passing cars and when I stopped along the way.

The Littlest Snowman

photo of The Littlest SnowmanHave you ever heard of the story The Littlest Snowman? If you said you didn’t I wouldn’t be surprised, as many people have not. Yet for some reason, this is the one story I remember the most from Christmases long ago. My own copy of the book is long gone, but thanks to the magic of eBay, I was able to get an original copy of the hardcover Golden Book.

The story is somewhat similar to that of the other famous snowman, Frosty. Then again, we’re talking about snowmen, so other than coming to life and melting, they are limited in what they can do. But it is a cute story I remembered, and now I have read to my own kids several times through the month. Despite this, I have a sneaking suspicion Frosty is still their favorite.


photo of pizzelles

It would not be a complete story on Christmas by an Italian if there were no mention of food. Where there are many culinary traditions for the holidays, one that brings the most memories and has taken on a new meaning for me is pizzelles.

Pizzelles are a flat Italian cookie made with an iron that resembles a waffle iron. Made with basic ingredients, they were a staple for all Christmas and Easter gatherings of family, as most everybody had their own pizzelle iron and their own variation on the recipe. They are commonly flavored with anise, but can also be made with vanilla or even maple syrup- the latter was due to my family growing up in Vermont. On occasion we would have chocolate pizzelles made with cocoa powder, but anise was always my favorite.

This year I decided to carry on the tradition and make pizzelles myself. I used my Mom’s recipe, and had bought a new electric iron as hers had long ago stopped working. As you can see from the photo above, they turned out pretty good. These were from my first batch, which did not last long due to their popularity with family and visiting friends. They are really simple to make and I also had my youngest kid help in the mixing, extending the tradition to yet another generation.

Buon Natale

Thank you for allowing me to share a few of my unique Christmas traditions with you. I would like to hear what you do to make the holidays unique and you are welcome to share them in the comments of this post.

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

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Send Your Box Tops For Education For My Kid’s School

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 04:00 AM with 0 comments

Have you seen this symbol?

picture of a Box Top for Education

If you have and you don't cut them out and just discard or recycle them, may I ask you to send them to me? Why? Your unused Box Tops for Education will benefit my kid's education.

Yes, really.

The Box Tops for Education program places these small symbols on various consumer goods and products, everything from Scott toilet paper to Cheerios. Each one is worth US$.10, and some products can have multiple symbols or even unique codes to redeem online. My kid, who now attends one of the finest schools in the universe (name purposely omitted) is collecting them to benefit that very school. And those little symbols can add up - last year the school raised nearly US$1,000, and I think they can do better than that, but we will need your help.

How to help

If you would like to offload these symbols to me, please email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). I will send you a postage-paid envelope for you to send them back to me. As well, if you have any products with codes to redeem online, you can send them to that email address as well.

Thank you

Special thanks in advance for sending me your Box Tops for Education, and my kid thanks you as well!

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

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My Thanksgiving Music Traditions

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 12:00 AM with 1 comments

For those of you in the US or abroad who honor the holiday, Happy Thanksgiving!

When people think of Thanksgiving – 4 things come to mind: family, friends, food and football. Sitting around the table with those closest to us, eating all kinds of turkey and the compliments, then parking ourselves in front of the TV to watch the traditional matchups against both Detroit and Dallas… that is what Thanksgiving is to many people. Whether you fully believe the story of the Pilgrims or not, taking time out to reflect, be thankful and celebrate a year of hard work with some relaxation is what many look forward to on the fourth Thursday every November.

I will take this opportunity to offer one more thing to the mix – music. Sorry it doesn’t begin with the letter F, but I digress. Going back to my days in college radio, where music became a big part of my life, I would always celebrate Thanksgiving with 2 particular songs. Though quirky and comical, they are the only Thanksgiving songs I know, and I have always played them every year since then to this date.

Thanksgiving Song by Adam Sandler

Originally performed as part of the Weekend Update news sketch on an episode of Saturday Night Live in 1992 by Adam Sandler, the song was recorded live a year later for his comedy album and that live version is what gets most radio airplay, as well as in my home.

Below I have embedded the original version from Saturday Night Live – watch it here or on YouTube.

Alice’s Restaurant Massacree by Arlo Guthrie

Though the formal name of the song has the word “Massacree” (note – not massacre) in the end, the album was called Alice’s Restaurant and folk singer Arlo Guthrie himself, at the beginning of the song, only refers to it as Alice’s Restaurant. There never was a restaurant named as such, though there was an Alice who lived in a former church. The song is a satirical take on a real event Guthrie was involved in on a Thanksgiving Day in the mid-1960’s. And it is over 18 minutes long!

Below I have embedded a performance of the song from Farm Aid in 2005 – watch it here or on YouTube.

I hope you have enjoyed these songs, and hopefully laughing on a full stomach didn’t hurt too much.

What untraditional Thanksgiving – or other holiday – traditions do you have? Please share them 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 Long-Lost Boston Radio Commercial Debut From The 1990’s

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 09:08 PM with 2 comments

photo of cassette tape for Fleet Bank Boston Red Sox commercial

When going through a junk box of stuff recently I found the above-pictured cassette tape. After pondering what was on it for a bit, I realized what it was.

It is my Boston radio commercial debut, dating back to the mid 1990’s.

The commercial is for Fleet Bank, and it was aired during radio broadcasts of the Boston Red Sox, throughout the Boston area as well as in other parts of New England. Thanks to a couple of friends I converted the audio to a YouTube video and you can watch the embedded video below, or listen to it directly from this link to YouTube.

So why was I in a radio commercial for a bank for my baseball team?

And Now For The Rest Of The Story

It was a summer night in Boston and I was going to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Prior to the game, as I would do for most games, I would have a pint or two of fresh-brewed beer at Boston Beer Works, a brewpub across from the ballpark. This night – and I forget the exact date or even the year – I recalled seeing some people with a digital audio tape recorder and a microphone. Being the former college DJ that I am (was?) I approached them and asked them what they were doing. They explained they were with an ad agency recording stories from fans for a series of radio commercials for the Sox for Fleet Bank, and then they asked me if I had a story. The story you heard in the commercial is what I told them, with a little editing I am sure.

After I recorded the story a couple of times for them, they asked me to sign a form with my name and address, indicating if they wanted to use it they would contact me. They gave me $10 for my time, and went on to talk to other people, as I went to the game. Several weeks went by, and one day I got a voicemail message from the ad agency, Arnold Fortuna Lane, saying they wanted to use my story and needed me to sign paperwork.

What? Me, on the radio? Cool! I called and confirmed my information, and they sent me a non-union talent contract to sign. They said in a few weeks the spots would run on the air and I would even get paid. What? Me get paid for being on the radio? Cool!

The next thing I knew, people were calling to tell me they heard me in the radio spot. I then made a point of listening to entire games on the radio, and there I was, telling people this story. My Mom, who was an avid listener of Red Sox games on the radio, would call me to tell me each time she heard me. Another friend said her Mom almost drove off the road when she heard me. The ad did not run every game, and as it aired later in the season it stopped its run in October. For my voice talent and my story, I got paid US$150.00 - surely not enough to retire on, but a nice bonus nonetheless. They also sent me the copy of the commercial on cassette tape.

That Was Then And This Is Now

I recall it was the mid 90’s as Fleet Bank had just bought another bank in Boston, Shawmut, and was making a big radio campaign with an end-goal of customer retention. Fleet later merged with BankBoston which was later acquired by Bank of America. The ad agency is now known as Arnold Communication. Unfortunately for me the phone did not ring seeking my golden voice endorsing other products, but I went on to a career in the Internet that has led to this recording being unearthed and released for all to hear once again. The Red Sox made some changes since then as well.

Special thanks to 2 distinguished gentlemen who helped me get this cassette to the Web. My good friend and DJ extraordinaire Eric Patel transferred the cassette audio to MP3 format, and veteran Chicago filmmaker and historian Floyd Webb took the audio and made it into a video.

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

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