More or Less Winter?

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, February 02, 2007 at 07:04 AM with 0 comments

Happy Groundhog Day! Today is the day when we find out whether we have six more weeks of winter or not – not in the sense of when spring starts, but what the weather will be like.

When most people think of today, they think of Punxsutawney Phil, of the town by the same name in Pennsylvania. But there are other groundhogs, and my choice of weather prognostication animal is Dunkirk Dave from the city in western New York that also inspired the name of my business.

This morning Phil did not see his shadow, meaning an early spring. Dave did see his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter. Maybe a split difference is in store? In either case, it would be nice to get some snow to go with the single-digit weather here in the Windy City.

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Go Bears!

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, January 29, 2007 at 07:56 AM with 4 comments

With the weather in the Windy City hovering around the single digits, thinking about temperatures seventy degrees warmer is always welcome, and Super Bowl XLI this coming Sunday makes it easier. As a Chicago resident and follower of the game, my support is behind the Chicago Bears. They are a hard-fighting team that takes a holistic approach to winning. What do I mean? As much as people think it’s about the quarterback leading the team, all of the players have risen to the occasion over the year to achieve a 13-3 regular season record and win the NFC Championship.

My decision to back the Bears was made easier when my team, the New England Patriots, lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. I am a New England native, a long-time follower of the Pats and remain a season ticket holder, making as many games as possible. Not to mention co-operating a Pats fan Web site, GoPats.com for the last decade. The Colts are a long-time rival of the Pats as they were once in the same conference division. The play of the Bears feels to me a lot like the play of the Patriots over the last several years, a level of production that won them three Super Bowl championships.

Coincidentally the last time the Bears were in the Super Bowl, 21 years ago, they beat the Patriots. The teams then couldn't have been further apart, as compared to the similarities of this year's teams. Though I will always bleed blue and silver, I will be wearing a different shade of blue with orange this coming Sunday. Go Bears!

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All I remember from Economics 101 – Opportunity Cost

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 11:17 AM with 0 comments

I'm sure it's no surprise I majored in computers in college. I got an IT degree – computer information systems – though I usually refer to it as management information systems, or MIS. I maintained a 3.0+ average in my major, and put most of my time into IT courses, and as a result not as much in those other courses that they made me take. As a business student, all was not lost, and some of the pearls of wisdom from those other classes still resonate today.

One is opportunity cost, which I learned in Economics 101. I have the link to Wikipedia so you can get a more formal definition than I am about to give. I remembered it because it loosely related to decision making in the tech world. If you make one decision, what is the cost, or loss, from making that decision over another one? The cost is not just in dollars, but in time or other "opportunities," thus the name.

Do you spend two hours to save one hour of time for a one-time decision? Do you spend money fixing something now that you know you will need to fix again, or just scrap it and buy something else that won't need to be fixed for a long time? A simpler example is using the Peapod grocery delivery service. Without boring you with the details of my life, we have determined that it is worthwhile to pick our food online and have it brought right to our door, rather than taking a large part of an afternoon to get the very same food. This is justified even with the delivery and sometimes higher costs on some items.

And paying a $1 service fee to buy stamps online from the postal service sure beats waiting in the hellish line in the Chicago Loop post office! So the next time you're doing something that you don't think is a good use of your time, maybe you're right.

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Community building is up to ALL of us

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, January 26, 2007 at 08:43 AM with 3 comments

Fresh off the TechCocktail networking event last night in Chicago, I have been pondering the state of the "tech community" here in Chicagoland. But as I was thinking in all kinds of direction on the topic, I slapped myself and came back to the reality that the online world, stripped of its technology, is very much like the offline world.

Do you know your neighbors? Think about it – people that may live in the next apartment, condo or house from you, do you know them, and if so to what degree? What about the person in the next office or cubicle? Or the person you greet every day when you get your coffee, dry cleaning or lunch?

If you don't know them, why is it? Did you try to initiate a relationship and they did not reciprocate? Or vice versa?

It is easy to dismiss the tech community as anti-social or people who would rather interact with avatars than people. Where there are some people like that, those people exist in society in general. There are social tech people, and they are organizing events, networking and starting sites like WindyBits to help foster the community.

I believe there is hope. Now I need to get back to sending emails and notes to people I met last night.

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It’s Scheduling Time, Not Making Time

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 07:08 AM with 2 comments

Yesterday my friend Chuck asked me how I have the time to write for my blog. I told him that doesn't take as long as it would appear, as I usually write and edit the first draft in my head before I type it.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with someone recently (sorry, I forget who) about the concept of making time. Unless you are a supreme being, super hero or maybe even Adam Sandler, we don’t have any control of time itself – it's what we do with the time that we have control of. Or as it appears to me and many people, we don't have control of.

I have found that it's about scheduling time, not making it. Open-ended appointments usually don't happen or do not go as well as they should, usually due to lack of preparation. I strive to schedule appointments, prepare for them, and execute on them efficiently. The fact that the appointment is written down also adds a level of accountability to the meeting or event.

This has worked well for me. Does anyone else have other ideas on scheduling time?

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Today’s Phrase

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, January 19, 2007 at 09:56 AM with 0 comments

I just got off the phone with a good friend, QA guru and fellow entrepreneur Eric Patel, and he used this phrase in our conversation, and it's one I have to share:

"It's not in the encouraging column..."

I'll make sure to use that to put a positive spin on my next not-so positive encounter.

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Daily Inspirations

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 06:55 AM with 2 comments

I don't receive as many email newsletters as I used to. Part of it is due to reading the same content in the author's RSS feed, part is due to an effort to reduce the volume of email newsletters I receive. Of course, I always welcome email from real people!

One newsletter I look forward to reading every morning is from Perfect Customers, a firm that offers training on how to attract and retain your best customers. With no disrespect, this is a touchy-feely, motivational email. It offers tips to give you a boost as you start your day. But it is welcome among the spam and the latest news on what Web 2.0 company has been sold.

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What would you do?

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 04:05 PM with 3 comments

The phone rings, and I glance at the Caller Id panel as I reach for my headset. But I pause, as it reads "TELEMARKETING" above an 800 number. So I put my headset back and I went about my work.

Would you answer it?

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