The Hot Iron

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

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Monday, November 17, 2014

What I Learned From Writing What I Learned This Past Year

photo of the last page of The Giving Tree

Earlier this year I decided to write weekly posts here at The Hot Iron about what I learned over the past 7 days. Over 8 months I wrote 32 posts sharing numerous things that I learned. I wrote the last one on August 29, 2014, which will be my last in this series.

Fun for me while it lasted

The catalyst for this topic thread was simple - I had too many things I learned and/or wanted to write about but not enough time to write the posts. As much as I would like to simply “bang out” my thoughts on the keyboard, for me the writing process is more elaborate than that, from the thought on the topic to writing, to editing, to an accompanying photo… it takes me time. That being said, writing is something I enjoy and is a great creative outlet for me.

Writing posts that were more of a collection of nuggets of information was a good idea at first and something that interested me. I was also hoping to write single-topic pieces as well. Over time though the thrill waned and then it got to where I was not writing one every week, then the most recent gap of a couple of months. As for those single-topic pieces, they were few and far between.

Back to where it began

I've decided to retire this thread and return to writing as I gave before - posts on single topics on business and technology and other occasional diversions. For those of you who are my loyal readers I thank you and I hope that you'll enjoy this change as well. As always, I will never fully promise any number of posts, but am hoping to at least write one a week.

Still learning

As I still get disappointed when a day goes by when I don't learn something, I am still logging those thoughts and will be sharing them on my Twitter account – you can follow me there at @thehotiron. Of course there may be more diversions than in the blog itself, as well as more conversations and other thoughts but I still share all the business and tech news with my unbiased opinion as much as possible.

I hope you won’t miss my “learned” posts – or will you? Please let me know either way 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 11/17/14 at 12:15 AM
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Saturday, August 30, 2014

What I Learned This Week For August 29 2014

photo of Friendly’s Black Raspberry ice cream

At an early hour with a full cup of coffee…

  • While browsing the aisles at the local Jewel supermarket, something caught my eye, and something I was not expecting to find in the Midwest – Friendly’s ice cream. Friendly’s is a predominately East-coast chain of restaurants which is headquartered near where I grew up. As I looked through the flavors, one caught my eye – black raspberry. Now note this is black raspberry ice cream and not sherbet – out East black raspberry ice cream is very common, but I have yet to see it in Chicagoland or Wisconsin. So of course I got some and had a small trip down memory lane. Now if they only had maple walnut, then I would have cried.
  • Speaking of crying, I did shed a few tears of joy and Dad pride as my oldest daughter rode her bike with 2 wheels and without training wheels for the first time this week. As we are now closer to a park that is kid-friendly, she has simply been able to ride her bike more, and was determined to do it.
  • Now that the Ventra system is the only way to pay for transit rides in Chicago, I am noticing more and more usability issues with it. One thing that bugs me is the auto-replenishment of your account, where you can enter credit card numbers online, and choose 1 to do the replenish. With the old Chicago Card system, it would send an email alert when it replenished your account, or if it was unable to. The new Ventra site does not do that, so the time you find out if your account is at zero is when trying to board a train or bus, or more likely a bus as there won’t be a replenishment kiosk there. I should probably keep a running list of the things I find for a separate blog post on it.
  • An esteemed colleague shared with me information about the Kuando Busylight, a device which you attach to your computer monitor and changes colors when you are on the phone or when you set your status to “busy” so people won’t disturb you in the office place. Where the idea is clever, in my opinion I see this more of a Band-Aid approach to the failings of the modern office setup… something else I could probably write a whole blog post on.
  • I received a “video bill” from Comcast this week. It used my first name, and told me my balance for the services I have and the due date. I thought this was extremely clever not to mention informative, even for a techie person like myself. The only problem with it? I cannot share or embed the video! The video is done using a service from a company called SundaySky. Not having this feature is something that could really make this service successful. Now I wonder if I will get a video bill every month?
  • If a vendor had a hard time getting to you and parking once, they will most likely do it again, so don’t even bother giving them a second chance.
  • This week I was browsing a few stores looking for a “temporary table” – something I could use for a short period of time before I bought (and first found) a permanent, nice table to use. As I looked around a thought came into my head from the wayback machine – you don’t find cardboard furniture anymore in stores. Back in the 70’s and 80’s I remember you could get cardboard tables or shelving or other furniture made from cardboard. So of course I looked online and I found vendors there. Granted today we have particle board furniture from IKEA, but there’s something about lighter, collapsible furniture that meets the need.
  • I am still offering my loft condo in the Chicago Loop for rent. The price has been reduced – act now!
  • Another esteemed colleague shared with me this timelapse video of 1,000 years of European borders changes. It is fascinating to watch, and the music is so appropriate to it. I have embedded it below or follow the previous link to watch it on YouTube.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/30/14 at 06:07 AM
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

What I Learned This Week For August 22 2014

photo of lights on the ceiling of The Maxwell in Chicago

Armed with a to-do list, and an item named “write blog post” has helped me get this relatively on-time out the door!

  • I visited “The Maxwell” this week. It is a retail complex in Chicago’s South Loop, whose name comes from the now-gone nearby Maxwell Street retail area. It combines street-level stores, upper level stores accessible through a lobby and parking. The lobby is nothing to look at, but its ceiling is, and is pictured here.
  • Did you know I am renting my Chicago Loop loft condo?
  • I had keys made this week at that big-box orange-logoed hardware chain. They had this machine that scanned the keys then cut them. Impressive, only that one of my keys did not work in one door. Then I went to the local Ace hardware store who had one of the “old-fashioned” key cutters where you manually trace the key to make a duplicate, and the key worked perfectly.
  • I had an extremely positive experience with Comcast customer service this past week, and an incredibly painful experience with their technical support a few days later.
  • The more I learn about mobile app development, the more I realize people don’t really know what their app is doing, such as what and when it is accessing something either on your device or over the Internet.
  • I have heard about IRS form 990, which a non-profit must file with its taxes. However, I have not ever really looked at one at depth or compared them against other organizations. I did so this week, for the group Barrel of Monkeys whose Board I have joined, as well as for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Just create an account at GuideStar and look away!
  • Strep – it’s not just for your throat, and you can get strep in your nose and other body parts I won’t mention.
  • You can stain concrete. It is similar to staining wood, in that you are enhancing the appearance of the texture.
  • My 10+ year old grocery cart finally came to an untimely collapse when one of the wheels snapped off and I wasn’t able to repair it. I am honestly surprised it lasted that long.
  • Amazon has a new feature called Amazon Smile where a non-profit organization you choose can earn a percentage of your purchases when you use the specific URL smile.amazon.com. It is unclear if the charity can earn money when you use the Amazon mobile app. I chose the Omayra Amaya Flamenco Dance Company Inc. to receive whatever pennies they can earn from my purchases. Omayra was a long-time client of my Web consulting business and she is an amazing dancer and performer. Check out her Web site and look for videos of her online to see, and choose her dance company to earn whatever you can send their way.
  • This blog was down for about 8 hours this past week – did you notice?
  • After my ordeal with Comcast I hooked up a new wireless router, a Cisco/Linksys EA3500. When I went to run the setup, I noticed something called “Smart Wi-Fi” which immediately caused me to shudder – this wasn’t the typical, very techie setup and router administration I was used to. First off, it wanted me to create an account to remotely administer my router. Really? Then, the setup failed, which never – ever – previously happened to me. After a little searching, I found similar people lamenting to this, and a solution to revert to the traditional, previous router administration Web interface. Not surprising, everything worked as expected.
  • Did I mention I am renting my loft condo in the Chicago Loop? Actually, I did blog about renting my condo.
  • This week someone closed an email with “be good to yourself!!!” This took me aback. First, this is nothing I have ever gotten in writing from someone. As I thought more about it, I was trying to think of the last time anyone ever said it to me. Then it dawned on me, it did happen, and way back in the day, by people I have never met in person. Yes, I am referring to the song Be Good To Yourself by Journey. Watch it on this link to YouTube or see it embedded below, and either way take a trip back in time… and be good to yourself!!!


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/23/14 at 11:26 AM
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chicago Loop Loft Condo For Rent As Of September 1

photo of 5 North Wabash Avenue Suite 1204 Chicago Loop Loft Condo For Rent

Available September 1, 2014 is a unique loft-style, 1 bedroom and a den condo for rent in the Chicago Loop with a storage unit on the same floor. This rental features high ceilings, modern kitchen, bath, Elfa shelving system in both of the walk-in bedroom and front closets, washer/dryer in unit, and a 6x9 storage unit perfect for storing bikes.

This rental condo is located at the corner of Wabash & Madison, at "L" stop for Brown, Orange, Green and Pink lines and main stop for CTA buses, and is around the corner from Millennium Park and short walk to Lake, Museums, shopping, dining and services. Heat, cooking gas and basic TV are included, and the tenant plays electric. Discounted parking for extra available at Grant Park North garage under Millennium Park.

For more information and photos, visit the Web site for this Chicago Loop loft condo at FiveNorthWabash.com. To schedule a showing, contact Ryan Newberry L'Heureux.

photo of 5 North Wabash Avenue Suite 1204 Chicago Loop Loft Condo For Rent 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 08/21/14 at 09:30 PM
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Friday, August 15, 2014

What I Learned This Week For August 8 and 15 2014

photo of a flyer for an Urgent Divorce Auction

As the last 2 weeks have been a whirlwind for me, it’s only fitting I post them together, on a Friday no less and on time for the second week. Yes, on time!

  • This flyer that came in my mailbox piqued my interest. Not only is it a divorce auction – which means there is such a dispute among assets that they have to be sold this way – but it is an urgent one as well. Why urgent?
  • This past week I was formally elected to the board of directors of Barrel of Monkeys, a Chicago non-profit organization that teaches inner-city kids creative writing skills, then takes what they write and creates sketch comedy which is not only performed for the kids themselves but in a weekly show called, That’s Weird Grandma. It is an amazing organization and I am thrilled to be involved. How I got involved with them was through a LinkedIn search for local people who were interested in being on a board, which was only heightened by my good friend Linsey being one of the performing company members. You will be hearing more about BOM in future installments I promise you!
  • My word for 2 weeks ago was lodgment. I was asked if this word was appropriate in describing when a mobile app was available in the app store. I admit I guessed the etymology of it, but still looked it up. I recommended simply saying it was available. Apparently lodgment is the preferred term in Australia.
  • My word for this week was steganography. It is the concealment of a message within something else, or hiding something in plain sight. There are a lot of ways to do it, and it is a fascinating concept, and one which many of us – including myself – may have done at some point without even realizing it.
  • Now that I am no longer building eCommerce sites with the technology, Miva Merchant is holding their next MivaCon conference in Chicago in September. As I would once again choose Miva Merchant if I were to build an eCommerce site, and it’s like fifty dollars to attend, I may still go. It would be an opportunity to meet some of the people I have talked with over the years, and I am sure I could score some cool schwag in the process.
  • As I got a new work PC I had to once again lookup how to send a Word document as an email message body within Word.
  • I found out a friend is a Dad by a random comment he mentioned on his podcast. Granted we aren’t all that close, but it was nice to hear. Got a picture of the little bundle of joy, and am overdue in replying to him. Why didn’t I hear? As much as my friend is on social media, he didn’t want to do that to his kid without their permission… something I do as well.
  • The movie The Wizard of Oz premiered 75 years ago. It seems like only yesterday that the Munchkins were causing me nightmares as a child after watching it on a black and white TV no less.
  • Tried the new Sofritas vegetarian option at Chipotle this week in a burrito, and I will definitely get it the next time.
  • This week’s video is far from one I have learned in the past few weeks. It is a Sesame Street video about brushing your teeth featuring Elmo and several celebrities. Somehow we found this, and the song is long enough for them to fully brush their teeth as recommended by dentists. Sometimes it takes the start of the video to get the kids into the bathroom and loading up their brushes. Though not new to me, perhaps it is something you can learn for this week 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 08/15/14 at 10:44 PM
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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.


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

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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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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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