Remembering Covering The Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion On College Radio

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 12:23 PM with 2 comments

AP news alert on the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger

When we think of major national and international events that occur in our lifetime, we also remember the impact of it on ourselves – where we were, what we were doing and how we felt as it unfolded. As today is the anniversary of the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, I would like to share my day after first hearing about it and how I remember it today.

Twenty-nine years ago I was in the production studio of my college radio station, WNEK-FM in Springfield, MA, preparing for my first newscast of the semester. Where our newscasts were far from anything that would win a local Emmy and could easily be called “rip-and-read” reports, we always did a professional (or as professional as we could) job at presenting world and local news on the air. I was sitting at the console board recording audio clips from a network audio feed we had to accompany the stories I had collected thus far from the Associated Press teletype printer, or commonly referred to as the AP machine.

I was well aware of the Space Shuttle Challenger launch, especially as the crew included Christa McAuliffe, a schoolteacher from the neighboring state of New Hampshire, around whom there was a lot of buzz for her being on board. I listened for the reports from the audio feed and there was to be one for the Challenger launch, so I was prepared to “cart it up,” or record it on a tape cartridge to play along with what I was to read from the AP machine story.

As I was listening and getting ready to record, the audio feed cut out. I recall calling out something like, “what the hell?” and then I heard the bells on the AP machine ringing as I had never heard them ring before. The AP machine, which was nothing more than a dot-matrix printer that printed on rolled paper, would sound bells when there was urgent news. In the few months on the college radio station I would hear bells ring, maybe once or twice, but not non-stop, or what it seemed. As I and others went to look at what was printing out, we saw initial stories about the launch of Challenger, then that “there appears to be a major problem after the launch of the shuttle ‘Challenger.’”, which was then followed with what is pictured above, “’NASA’ says the vehicle has exploded.’, which was then followed by messages about the successful launch of the shuttle, which apparently were written and sent before the explosion message.

My memory of this is amplified by the fact that for some reason I kept the initial news feeds that came off the AP machine on the explosion. Typically news stories are ripped, read and then discarded (thus, rip-and-read). I kept about 2 feet of the scrolled paper, which included the above alert, and the complete scanned images of the entire scroll are at the end of this post. Note the above alert went across 2 scanned images, thus I made this composite from both.

Following these alerts, there was a lot of activity in the radio station, which was located in our campus center. As there were no TVs in the campus center, we became the primary source for information on the explosion, and we even got the radio signal piped in over the campus center PA system. What was to become a 10-minute newscast at noontime engulfed more time from music programming and more people as well, as we were reporting on what was coming off the AP machine, as well as the network audio feed, which we had cut to directly, unedited, for a portion of time.

For most all of us, in our late teens to early 20’s, we had really never lived through a large national tragedy like this. Then add to it our role in broadcasting it. Where we tried to not be chaotic and somewhat organized about it, for most of us we were making up our approach as we went along. There was plenty of stepping on each other’s toes and voices and literally bumping into each other as we moved around our small studio space. The doors from the broadcast studio and lobby were all open – a major faux pas – as station members and students and faculty were coming and going to hear what was transpiring.

As the day went on, TVs were brought into the campus center, allowing all of us who had only heard about the explosion to actually see it. I remember being in awe as I saw the video played over and over and over and over. I also recall a mix of emotions, from tragedy and sadness, to thinking of all the school children who were watching this live, to why it happened after so many successful launches. The last loss of life for NASA happened before I was born, and after growing up seeing other launches, moon landings and successful returns to earth, this was something entirely new to think about.

Nearly three decades later, we know about O-rings, known engineering flaws, the loss of another shuttle vehicle and the remaining ones are now on their way to museums. Then President Ronald Reagan’s speech to the nation was perfect for the moment then and reflecting on it today, and you can view it here on YouTube. I share the images and memory of this as the these types of stories need to be told, not just the headlines but what happened behind and around them, as these show the complete fabric of our society.

AP news feed on Space Shuttle Challenger explosion

AP news feed on Space Shuttle Challenger explosion


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


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My Guest Post On The CorporateStays.com Blog

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 06:51 AM with 1 comments

CorporateStays.com logo

I was recently invited to write a guest post on the blog for CorporateStays.com, a service which matches luxury accommodations for travelers in select cities in the world like Montreal, Miami and Panama City. Digging into my experience with travel, I decided to write about tips for traveling in the winter months. My post, Travel Tips for Travelling to a Wintery Destination, is now live.

Where my typical writing is about business and technology, I file this under the “occasional diversion” I refer to in the description of The Hot Iron. The more I write, the more these come to mind, and the more these may be available to read by you and others.

Thanks to my good friend CT Moore and the staff at CorporateStays.com for the opportunity to write this.


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


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Mixing It Up In 2015 And The Hot Iron Turns 8

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, January 02, 2015 at 07:52 AM with 0 comments

photo of 1983 Boston Red Sox program

Happy 2015! As today, the second day of January, officially marks the first business day of the year, and by now most have recovered from the merriment of New Year’s Eve, I would like to wish you all a great new year.

Where rolling to a new calendar also comes with resolutions, mine is simply to mix it up in 2015. I started the new year off much differently than I did in past years: sans kids, just me and my lovely wife at a Spanish restaurant, where just about every year that I can remember has involved Chinese food (a Boston tradition) and the past several years have been with our kids, even if they were sleeping in the next room. This was a fun change, and a great way to ring in 2015.

So in mixing it up in 2015, I am not looking to make major strategy changes, but smaller, incremental changes that I see as adding up to something bigger and better. Maybe I take a different route to go someplace, or a different approach to reaching out to someone, or simply wear a different color socks on occasion – I am hoping to stop and think when I get into doing something routine or that comes too natural to me, and think how to change it in some way.

The Hot Iron at 8

December 30 marks the official anniversary of the launch of this little blog which is now 8 years old. It’s almost wild to think I have been at this, at varying degrees, this long. Writing is something I have enjoyed more and more over time, and it has been both a creative outlet as well as a way to vent some of my frustrations over business and technology – the overarching theme of this repository. Whether this is your first time reading or you are a long time subscriber – thank you!

I have written an anniversary post of mixed sorts over the years, and if you’re so inclined you can read them for the following anniversaries of The Hot Iron: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.


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


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Celebrating Christmas 2014 In A Traditional and Non-Traditional Way

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, December 25, 2014 at 12:00 AM with 0 comments

photo of my nativity scene

To all of my family, friends and readers who celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas! To everyone else, have a great Thursday!

As the origin of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, I share the above picture of my nativity scene. This was a gift from my Mom many years ago, as she gave myself and my sister identical nativities. I am proud to share it with my little ones.

So that is the traditional celebration of Christmas. Now for the non-traditional way.

I ran across this video the other day and I was speechless. It is a Star Wars Christmas special that aired on TV back in 1978. You can read the full story about it here if you’d like, or you can just view the show embedded below or by following this link to Vimeo.

Though I was a young lad back in 1978, I don’t remember this show that aired only once. After watching it – ok, even reading the premise of it – that is probably a good thing. If you are a die-hard Star Wars fan or just a casual one, you will find this amusing to say the least.

If you like it, then consider it my gift to you. If you don’t, then we can just forget about it.


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


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Join Me And Support Barrel Of Monkeys For Giving Tuesday 2014 #givingtuesday

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, December 02, 2014 at 09:57 AM with 0 comments

Barrel of Monkeys logo

After Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, if you have anything left, I welcome you to join me and support a great organization, Barrel of Monkeys, for Giving Tuesday.

Though I don’t know the story about how Giving Tuesday came to be, I know well the story of Barrel of Monkeys – what they do, how they do it, and the impact they have made on school kids in Chicago.

In short, Barrel of Monkeys teaches elementary school kids creative writing in several Chicago Public Schools and an after-school program. They learn how to create a story from beginning to end, journaling them in their notebooks. These stories are then adapted into sketch comedy by the Barrel of Monkeys company members and performed for the students in their schools. So not only do they learn how to write creatively, they also see their work come to life!

But that’s not where it ends – every week there is a performance by the Barrel of Monkeys company members, where several of these sketches are performed to audiences live. Each sketch is introduced and the student author is acknowledged, and the program given to each audience member has what the students actually wrote – sometimes it’s just a sentence, other times it’s several paragraphs and everywhere in between. The company members donate their time to perform, and all money raised goes back into the overall program.

The preceding gives only a synopsis of the great work Barrel of Monkeys does – you can read more on their Web site @ barrelofmonkeys.org or see for yourself their programs and some of their sketch comedy performances on their YouTube channel.

Below is a funny video promoting Giving Tuesday and Barrel of Monkeys, performed by Barrel of Monkeys company members and staff Elizabeth and Joseph – watch the embedded video below or you can view it directly on their YouTube channel.

Thank you for your support! And why would I be thanking you and promoting Barrel of Monkeys? I am proud a member of their Board of Directors.


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


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What I Learned From Writing What I Learned This Past Year

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, November 17, 2014 at 12:15 AM with 3 comments

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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What I Learned This Week For August 29 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 06:07 AM with 0 comments

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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What I Learned This Week For August 22 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 11:26 AM with 0 comments

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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Chicago Loop Loft Condo For Rent As Of September 1

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 09:30 PM with 0 comments

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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What I Learned This Week For August 8 and 15 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, August 15, 2014 at 10:44 PM with 0 comments

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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