What I Learned This Week For June 20 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, June 23, 2014 at 10:08 PM with 3 comments

photo of the back of a Lands’ End catalog

As the original Disney classic Cinderella plays in the background, allowing me a few minutes to post my learnings and thoughts from the week…

  • Clearly whomever schedules Lands’ End catalogs is the only person in the world who doesn’t know that the Sears store in downtown Chicago closed over a month ago now.
  • After a search for a mobile phone that would be good for my Aunt who is, let’s just say, a few years older than me, I came across the Doro PhoneEasy 618. When I looked to see where they sell them, of course the closest location listed was the above-mentioned closed Sears store. But as others are still open nearby, I will investigate it to see if it will work for my Aunt, and also won’t lock me to a particular network carrier.
  • Speaking of mobile devices, Web retail behemoth Amazon announced its forthcoming Amazon Fire Phone. It runs the Android operating system, has a 13 megapixel camera, has something called Dynamic Perspective for 3D effects, and you can buy it with or without a phone contract, or as it is known as unlocked. Oh, and it makes it easy for you to buy other things from Amazon. I like the phone. The only thing I am curious about is why the Amazon logo is only on the back of the device and not on the front.
  • The Web browser Firefox, the direct descendent of the original NCSA Mosaic Web browser, has something called “safe mode” and apparently you can get stuck in it, as I was this week. The only thing is I don’t know if I am completely out of it, and cannot disable annoying but surely ignorable browser plug-ins. Ah, to remember the day when the Web browser just did what it needed to.
  • Last weekend was the annual Chicago Blues Fest, held in Grant Park by Lake Michigan. For several years after we first moved to Chicago, the festivals in the park were truly “open” where you could come and go as you wanted, and providing you didn’t break the law, you could set up a tent, flags and have a great time. Shortly after Chicago started bidding for the 2016 Summer Olympics, events like the Blues Fest were “locked down” with large fences and entrypoints put around what were still events with no cost to attend. As my lovely wife and I were walking towards the lakefront we passed the Blues Fest and decided to check it out for a little while. That is, until I saw people with “security” shirts patting people down who were entering the area. Really? Why? Because the number of murders from the previous 2 years doubled… to zero? I was appalled, and simply walked away.
  • A few hours prior to the Blues Fest dismay I started my day on a high point, participating in the annual Liver Life Walk in Chicago to benefit the American Liver Foundation. We exceeded our team goal and raised over $2,000 to this worthy cause, who also spends almost 90% of monies raised on programs, research and advocacy for liver diseases and the people affected by them. As many of the first contributors to the team found the link here on The Hot Iron, a special thank you in advance of a formal thank you to arrive in your post mailbox soon.
  • There is nothing like a new battery for your notebook PC.
  • In a previous lessons learned I had mentioned my daughter’s school pictures were taken in front of a green screen and using chroma key technology I could choose the background. This past week we put up her picture, along with my other daughter’s picture, which was taken the old-fashioned way with a backdrop. Where her picture is beautiful, it just doesn’t have the “warmth” of her sister’s. When school resumes I will be requesting they give the option to have a standard backdrop.
  • My good friend Pete finally… FINALLY had his business’ Web site redesigned. Check out the new Web site for Foresight Childproofing. If you are in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota area and have kids, call Pete to have him make your home safe for the little ones. With the redesign he also took my advice and had my good friend Emily Brackett and her studio Visible Logic not only build a great site that looks great on a standard computer or mobile device, but she also made some nice changes to the Foresight logo. Wherever you are, Emily and her team can do wonders for you and your business with its presence, from print to Web.
  • I lost count of the number of emails I received with approved job offers from Apple and Facebook. Where I laud the creativity and timeliness of spammers, they may just want to throw a few slices of spam rather than a few cases if they want to better deceive people.
  • I finally ordered something from Freshii, a chain of fresh food restaurants. I say finally here as I tried to order from them twice before with no luck. The first time I went into one store and, realizing there was a process to ordering, followed everyone else and grabbed a clipboard and paper to place an order. As I didn’t have my reading glasses with me I couldn’t read the microtext on the sheet. The second time Freshii was the offering of the day from Fooda in my office and the service was wicked slow, with a huge queue of people. This time I went to a new store around the corner from me. Where I didn’t see any clipboards, I did see video screens with small text, but this time I had my reading glasses. Several customers who came in at the same time clearly did not know where to go as we were standing in line at the part of the counter where you didn’t order. Clearly the employees couldn’t read the confused faces as they didn’t offer any real help, only to take our order. I chose a salad, and other around me got other things. The salad was good – not the greatest salad I ever ate, but it was good. As I was finishing my salad a woman who was in line with me before was leaving and said to me, “well, we figured it out!” I will probably go back, but the next time I will explore the options more.
  • My how time flies. 2014 marks the 28th anniversary of the Marketing over Coffee Awards. Where I don’t have strong memories of this from my high school days, what I do remember well is the movie Ghostbusters, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. With the anniversary has been a lot of talk about the title theme song of the movie by Ray Parker, Jr. and how it came into being, and the article linked here goes into its detail. The video itself was unique in many ways, not to mention the set not bursting into flames from all of the hairspray worn by the people in it. I embedded the video below but if you don’t see it you can follow this link to YouTube to view the video for who you gonna call.


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 June 13 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, June 16, 2014 at 07:18 PM with 0 comments

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

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

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


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


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What I Learned This Week For May 30 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 09:25 PM with 1 comments

photo of safety pins

Without further ado…

  • Over the last 5 plus months of using Dryv, the Chicago start-up who offers on-demand pickup and delivery of your dry cleaning and laundry, not only has my life been made a tad bit simpler, but I have amassed a collection of safety pins. The pins hold the tags on the garments and for some reason I have been saving them. I have yet to actually use one, yet I hold onto them. If anyone reading wants some (or all), feel free to contact me. Otherwise, the container will continue to fill. If you want to collect your own safety pins and save $20 off your first order, follow this link to Dryv, enter code 6H1A and request a pickup on the Web or your iPhone.
  • Tech media reports about a compromise of eBay logins surfaced almost a week before I received an email from eBay recommending I change my password. You would have thought some companies would have learned from other recent network breaches.
  • A primatologist is someone who studies apes and monkeys and wants to teach them to communicate with humans.
  • Over the weekend my lovely wife and I stayed at the Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It was completely remodeled last year and it is an awesome hotel with great style and amenities. But I have to admit, when I saw the name “Best Western” I wasn’t immediately drawn to this hotel. It could easily be rebranded as a Marriott or Sheraton as it was on par or even ahead of some hotels with those brands I have stayed at. I wonder if others have thought the same?
  • The reason we stayed at that hotel in Oshkosh was that it was our 12th wedding anniversary. I still seem to be learning about not only keeping but thriving in our relationship on a daily basis, but it is lessons well learned!
  • I received an email from LinkedIn inviting me to their long form post program where essentially I can write and post full articles similar to what I post here at The Hot Iron. Where this will be an option made available eventually to everyone who uses LinkedIn, I will pass on it for now. There are 2 compelling reasons why I am not clamoring to post something there. The first is in the “rights and responsibilities” of the offering where it indicates I could have posts disabled or lose my LinkedIn account entirely based on what I write, if it is found to be to salesy or in violation of their user agreement. The second is the track record LinkedIn has of terminating services within its property, such as network activity RSS feeds, their Answers section and its acquired CardMunch apps and service. By sticking with my own platform I will retain full editorial control of my content as well as the continuous availability of it.
  • It is better to communicate bad news directly rather than let people hear about it indirectly.
  • When I saw all of the news on the self-driving cars from Google, all I could think of was the Johnny Cab, a robotic-controlled cab service from the movie Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The link is to a clip of the movie where the Johnny Cab is featured. It is not necessarily “safe” for work, and of course that always depends on where you work.
  • I’ve just started watching some of the videos from the Lumia Stories project, where 100 people, born every year over the last 100 years, gets a Nokia Lumia mobile device and records part of their personal story. The campaign was created by 1000heads, the amazing word-of-mouth agency I have had the pleasure to get to know over the years from my involvement with other work they did with Nokia. It has me thinking about recording more of my history and getting history from my family members. I do count what I write here as being part of that.
  • When changing my eBay password I reviewed my list of logins and passwords and saw one for “something” called BugMe. I didn’t recall it, and upon further review I still don’t know what it was, but now it is an app productivity tool for tracking tasks with virtual sticky notes. I started using it on my iPhone for both personal and work tasks and so far so good. I plan on using it for this week’s learnings tracking.
  • This past week Steve Perry, the former lead singer of the band Journey, performed a few songs from his former band during an encore after a performance by the band Eels in St. Paul, Minnesota. Apparently Perry and members of Eels have become good friends. What’s interesting is that Perry hasn’t performed on stage in over 20 years. As songs from Journey played over and over on the radio from the late 70’s to the 80’s to today, it was great to see and hear him perform. Though his hair is a little shorter today, he still has it with his unique singing voice. You can watch the video embedded below, or follow this 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 May 9 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 08:21 AM with 0 comments

photo of a what I learned written on a withdrawal slip

With ATMs that accept cash and check deposits without an envelope and mobile apps which take a picture of a check to deposit, the end of the deposit slip, along with its sibling the withdrawal slip, is coming soon. Fortunately the back of these are blank and a withdrawal slip made for a nice way to track what I learned throughout the week.

  • I finally “tuned” into Double J, the new all-digital radio station launched in Australia and the sibling of Triple J, Down Under’s nationwide terrestrial and digital alternative music radio station. I have only listened once but liked its eclectic mix and hope to tune in more.
  • When my family traveled out to Eau Claire, Wisconsin last week for my wife’s Aunt’s funeral, we learned about JAMF Software, a company who makes enterprise management software for Apple computers and devices. For those who don’t know what enterprise management software is, it basically makes it easy to keep track of a bunch of computers. The company, which started in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is moving “back” to the hometown of the founder in Eau Claire, and making quite a splash in its new headquarters and even buying an old hotel and making it into a boutique hotel. A friend who lives there is a teacher and had the founder as a student, and she is proud of his accomplishment. As for what JAMF stands for, see it here, but note there are some asterisks and other symbols making the works safe for work!
  • Where one Eau Claire hotel is making a comeback, another declined and is now gone, and we were wondering why it wasn’t coming up as having occupancy for when we were there.
  • Where some hotels in Wisconsin come and others go, yet another lingers on. Along I-94 in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, across the highway from an outlet mall is an odd looking place called the Gobbler. It is the restaurant of what was a futuristic hotel built back over 50 years ago. Where the hotel portion is now gone, the abandoned restaurant remains. The link above has some decent pictures and all you need to do is search on the Gobbler for more stories about this unique landmark.
  • The Spanish word for panties is “calzones” and I will never think of the Italian food the same way again.
  • It appears the OtterBox Armor line of mobile device cases has been discontinued by the manufacturer. I got a hint to it over the holidays when I saw the cases for around US$25, about a quarter of their original sale price. The idea behind the Armor line was you could drop the phone on a hard surface or in the water and no damage. Granted the case doubled the thickness and weight of the mobile device. But when my 3-year old launches my iPhone across the room, I am rest-assured I can still pick it up and play Angry Birds.
  • I bought some Dasani Sparking water in cans this week. The Dasani brand is owned by Coca-Cola, and this appears to be the first “national” seltzer brand, as many are regional such as La Croix and Polar, the latter which is my longtime favorite from central Massachusetts. One thing I noticed on the can of Dasani Sparkling with lemon flavor is that it contains natural flavoring with zero calories like other brands, but it also contains 25 mg of sodium, where other brands are sodium free. Not sure what Coke put in the formula that needs to contain salt, but others seem to be able to flavor it without it.
  • The hammer finally fell on CardMunch as its owner LinkedIn finally announced it was shutting down the business card scanning app and service. CardMunch has had issues for a long time yet LinkedIn has been surprisingly mum and slow to respond to the outcry for what was a decent service. They are partnering with Evernote to offer a similar service, but I have already moved on with CamCard.
  • When you notice a change in the email name from “Tech Support” to “Customer Service” be expecting a dumb-downed level of support, as I have sorely noticed from one vendor of mine.
  • Whenever I checkout from a Walgreen’s store I see flashed on the pay station a screen where I can press a button to get my receipt emailed to me. As my cat-like reflexes have waned in recent years, I have not been able to catch the split-second display of the option. However the other day luck came my way and I was able to press it in time, and did get my receipt emailed to me. I am not sure why it works that way, but I am not going to raise it with the drugstore behemoth – every time I raise an issue with them on social media, namely Twitter, they tell me they created a ticket for me, but then never respond and whenever I follow-up with them, they never respond.
  • As I have been remiss in writing about my favorite self-cloud service ownCloud, I thought I would share this great video they recently released and I finally watched this week. It’s from their commercial side, but ownCloud is an open-source, free application. It is just over a minute and explains well part of the power of this self-hosted service. View it embedded below or view the ownCloud video on Vimeo.


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 18 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 09:34 PM with 0 comments

photo of Lake Butte des Mortes in Oshkosh, WI

So I took the photo above early last Friday morning, as it was the view I woke up to. Then as I went to fire up my Dell I realized I had left my list of what I had learned for the week at home. Oops.

  • I have been experimenting with Bit Torrent Sync for a few days this week and so far I am liking it. It is a peer-to-peer synchronization tool, which in layman’s terms means you can sync files directly between 2 computers, whether they be PC, Mac or mobile. As it is direct, both devices need to be powered on and active. It is touted as a replacement for Dropbox without your files being copied and stored on Dropbox’s servers. It may take a little extra work, but it may be worth the extra privacy.
  • There is a big difference between paid time off, or PTO, and vacation.
  • From the above learned item it can be inferred I was off of work last week, and a lot of the time was spent on purging and simplifying – well, at least a start to it. I learned that if something was packed in the same box it was in when I moved to Chicago almost a decade earlier that I most likely did not need it, and it should be sent to Goodwill, or in the case of some items, to the American Liver Foundation. They were the recipient of, among other things, the 15+ year-old filing cabinet that I don’t think I have even opened in the last few years. Its contents, or at least what I am saving, fit in 3 paper boxes, and most of that will be eventually scanned to PDFs.
  • So far 2 people have used my personal DRYV discount link to earn $20 in free dry cleaning and laundry which meant I have earned $40 in free services. If you’re in Chicago, give it a try – click the link or use code 6H1A to earn free services, and thanks in advance.
  • Speaking of requests, 3 people have thus far responded to my blog post on sending me Box Tops for Education for my daughter’s school. Now her school is having a contest, for which class collects the most Box Tops, and I want hers to win… and so does she. Please follow the link above and thanks in advance.
  • I took my first bike ride of the season along the north side of Lake Michigan. It was awesome. Then the next day the temperature dropped in half and a day later it was snowing.
  • When looking for new lights (or simply, lights) for said bike, I got Blackburn Flea 2.0 Front Headlight and Rear Light Combo with USB Charger. Lights I can charge with my computer or external battery pack is a good thing. And yes, that is an affiliate link, so buy some for yourself and I will earn a few pennies.
  • The Pandora streaming music service has had an alarm clock feature, where you can awaken to music of your choice. Imagine setting it to wake up to Morrissey.
  • The quote of the week goes to billionaire entrepreneur and NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who in response of paying a US$25,000 fine after his public address announcer criticized an NBA referee on Twitter, said, “Like I said, it’s a hurricane in a urinal, we flush and move on.”
  • Part of my simplifying is getting rid of crap or getting it into a more manageable format, like scanning paperwork to PDFs and converting old VHS video tapes to DVDs. I tried the latter with a few tapes and unlocked some real gems, many going back over 20 years. One example is a news story where I am in a couple of camera shots when Donald Trump visited the Milton Bradley headquarters after the launch of the Trump board game. I was technically covering the event for my college radio station WNEK-FM, and you can see me weaseling the microphone into one camera shot. The reality is that I was a huge Trump fan in the late 80’s and through a connection I got into meet him. I also met the videographer who shot this footage and had lunch with him after Trump flew off, so maybe that’s why I got so much coverage? I have embedded the news story below or you can watch me and the Donald 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 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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Dryv Dry Cleaning And Laundry Delivery Service Is What I’ve Needed

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 01:00 PM with 0 comments

photo of Dryv garment bagYou could call the recently-launched Dryv dry cleaning and laundry on-demand pickup and delivery service disruptive to the market. You could call it a game-changer or any analogy to a new business in an established market. For me and my lifestyle, it simply makes sense.

Read on – if you think it’s worth a try, at the end of this post is a discount code for Dryv.

Over New Year’s I heard some chatter on Twitter about Dryv, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. If it was all that it sold itself as, then it would work perfectly for me. What I heard was it is an on-demand service which, when requested through its mobile app, will come and pickup your dry cleaning and when it’s ready, you can request again through the app to have it delivered to you.

Living in downtown Chicago there are many advantages and as well many compromises that I have had to make over the years. Being so close to Millennium and Grant Park is awesome, yet for years we did not have a decent supermarket nearby until Mariano’s opened a couple of years ago. For dry cleaning, or more often simply laundering and pressing of dress shirts for work (something I have never mastered), I have been on a continual quest for a decent dry cleaner close-by. The ones I had gone to were usually in the basement of an office building, with limited hours that I would often miss and as a result have my clean clothes locked away. As my residence building doesn’t have a doorman or common areas, the notion of any other delivery service wouldn’t work for me.

A Service I Don’t Want To Think About

When it comes to dry cleaning or laundry service, I really don’t want to think about it. Since I have lived in Chicago I have had to. Before I moved here and lived in the suburbs of Boston, I had one local dry cleaner, literally at the end of my street. My schedule allowed me to get to them without any problems and their service was good. It was a service I didn’t need to think about. With the minor inconvenience in dry cleaning for me, if I were to go with a replacement, I would want that level of “comfort” of not having to think – or worry – about it.

Before I tried Dryv, I checked out their Web site and contacted them on answers that weren’t there. They promise to come on-demand within an hour of a request for drop-off and pickup. They use commercial dry cleaners who serve hotels and restaurants in Chicago. Their prices are comparable to other dry cleaners I have used. And last but not least, they will take back my unused wire coat hangers – I never use them and have always brought them back with my next order! This gave me the confidence to try them.

Simple User Experience With Mobile Email and Humans

After getting the app installed on my phone, I set-up my profile, home address and credit card for payment, then requested a pickup by creating a new order. The app itself is very simple – you place the order through it, and in combination with text messages your order is confirmed and you are alerted when the Dryver – the person who picks up your order – is on their way. When you meet them, you give them your clothes and any instructions for cleaning. Later when your order is processed you will receive an email confirming the order and the cost. When your clothes are clean and ready to be delivered – promised within 36 hours – you will get another text message. At that point you then go into the app to request a delivery. The app allows you to store multiple addresses, so you could, say, have pickup at your office and delivery to your home.

When your clothes are returned to you, they are in a nice Dryv reusable garment bag as pictured in above in this post, and inside the clothes are covered in traditional plastic bags you would get from any dry cleaner. You can then use the garment bag for future orders to give the clothes to the Dryver, plus hangers if that is your thing.

It really was that simple and easy, and after the first order I have now used them a total of 4 times, which is a volume normal for how often I get cleaning done. My orders are mostly shirts, occasional pants, and nothing too complex.

A Growing Service And A Few Thoughts

My original order number was under 100 and my latest one is in the 300’s so Dryv is definitely growing. Where originally they only offered traditional dry cleaning and wash and press service, they are now offering a laundry service by the pound. They have had a few updates to their app since they have started, plus they have added an FAQ and other details to their Web site. Not bad for a service that has only been around a couple of months.

Though they are still new, I would be remiss if I didn’t share any thoughts and suggestions on the service and their technology. Currently the app is only available for iOS, and adding an Android and Windows Phone option would be beneficial to them. As for the features of the app, it would be great to be able to not only request the pickup but enter into the app what you are dropping off as well as any instructions. I typically put a piece of paper with what I have and how I like my shirts done, but using the app for this would be key. And when my order is ready, if the icon on the app had an “alert number” as a reminder that would also be helpful, as sometimes the text message gets buried by the other text messages and alerts I receive. I would also suggest them to expand more into the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago.

Try Dryv For Yourself Chicago And Save $20

As you can guess, I recommend Dryv, especially as they have been picking up and delivering with no problems in the horrible weather we have had in Chicago the past few months. As I am customer, they offer a unique referral program, where if you use the code 6H1A you can get $20 off your initial order. Note I would also get a similar savings if you use that code, just so that I am being completely transparent. I don’t have any other tie to Dryv, I am only a happy customer.

I welcome your thoughts in the comments of this post on Dryv and if you have used it or are not sure if you would use it.


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


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3 Things New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Must Do To Win At #Mobile

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, February 06, 2014 at 11:24 PM with 0 comments

photo of Nokia Lumia 925 running Windows PhoneEarlier this week global software giant Microsoft named Satya Nadella as it’s 3rd-ever CEO, succeeding Steve Ballmer, who succeeded Bill Gates. Where the position is highly regarded, and the opportunity is immense, Nadella will have the challenge of defining what Microsoft will be going forward and especially what they won’t be. Some say the company is too big, rooted in its traditional PC and server operating system and software business while trying to be a consumer business with video game consoles and mobile devices.

Where there are many opinions on where the company should be overall, one area I will be watching closely is how it moves forward with mobile technology. Its Windows Phone platform is a distant third after industry leading iOS from Apple and Android from Google. Even a close tie with former mobile industry leader Nokia didn’t prove to be a winning combination, which will be taken to the next level with Microsoft buying Nokia’s mobile division outright.

Can Microsoft be successful at mobile? I believe it can, and if it were up to me, I would follow these 3 major activities to not only succeed at mobile but to thrive and be a contender for the industry lead. Seriously! But as I am not in that role, I will share my ideas here, and Mr. Nadella is free to take them if he chooses. If you’re familiar with the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, these 3 journeys are similar to those of Scrooge, dealing with the past, present and future.

First Reconnect With Your Corporate Roots

Where many know Microsoft as the people who built DOS and Windows for their PCs, the majority of their business is in running corporate computers and servers, and the additional software and consulting services that go with them. Where in 2014 many companies run Linux servers, for many years CIOs shied away from the open-source platform, relying on the operating systems from Microsoft, warts and all.

As Nadella previously led the cloud computing business at Microsoft, he knows how many corporate clients are moving much of their infrastructure to the cloud. He must also know that for as much as companies are looking to save shedding physical servers, they are now spending some of that on mobile devices, providing smart phones to their staff to keep them in contact and productive wherever they may be.

But have these mobile devices been Windows Phone devices? Some may have been, but there are probably still more BlackBerry devices in the hands of corporate users. And that number is probably dwindling, swinging towards iPhones and Android devices, which can integrate well with corporate email and are also popular platforms for the development of corporate apps, not to mention personal apps and Angry Birds.

In reconnecting with the corporate customers, mobile must be leading the conversation. What exactly is said depends on the following 2 activities in my plan.

Next Throw Money At Mobile Today

Yes, I said throw. Microsoft is well-known for its cash reserves in the billions. Where some of it is held for fighting legal challenges, some has been used for acquisitions, including Nokia’s mobile business. Where I don’t know exactly how much they have as of writing this post, I have heard it is anywhere around $50 to $60 Billion dollars.

So when I say throw, Microsoft needs to use its reserves to spend and better position itself right now in the mobile world, and fast. Over the past few years I witnessed Google do this with Android, going from nowhere to it being the second-largest mobile platform. They spent money on advertising, promotion, and on developers to build apps for Android devices. All of this for what is technically an “open-source” platform as well!

Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system has a unique interface and personally I feel it is more robust than screens full of icons in iOS. Couple this with solid engineering and technology it acquired from Nokia, including it’s high-quality Zeiss lenses for its cameras, and you have a solid device that can be used by anyone. But do they know about it?

For Windows Phone to be successful it needs both marketing and buzz. There are plenty of agencies out there would love the opportunity to really sell the “experience” of Windows Phone, just as or even better than Apple has with the iPhone. For buzz, people need to hear about the features from their friends and family, and here Microsoft can tap into the agency that did this well for Nokia for years, 1000heads, as they are the leaders of word-of-mouth marketing and would love to bring back the raving fans they cultivated for Nokia in the past for Microsoft.

At the end of the day, it is really about what you can do with the mobile device, and what most people use is apps. Here’s an area where Windows Phone is way behind. Most app development is done either just for iOS or for Android, and in some cases is done just for iOS. Windows Phone is usually a distant third, if at all. This is an area where a large chunk of that Microsoft reserve money can come in handy. Both consumer and corporate apps are needed for the platform to thrive. Here is the tie in with the corporate relationships – give money, tools, support, consultants, devices… whatever is needed for corporate clients to build apps for the platform. Help them leverage technology like PhoneGap where they can build apps “once” and port them to each platform (I am streamlining a lot of technical detail, but that is the 50,000 foot view of it).With corporate apps, plus seamless integration with Microsoft Exchange mail servers, you have an employees empowered with a sleek device and all the tools they need to log their hours or whatever it is they need to do.

I did not gloss over consumer apps, as these are direly needed. When it was announced the social photo app Instagram was coming to Windows Phone, it was over a year and a half after it came out for Android. Looking at some of the top apps I use – Starbucks, Hailo taxi, the Weather Channel and MapMyRide for bike ride tracking, only the Weather Channel app is available for Windows Phone. The fact the Starbucks app is not on it is almost shocking, seeing the headquarters of Starbucks is only about 16 miles from the headquarters of Microsoft! And if the large corporate players are not building apps for Windows Phone, neither are the small start-ups. Here Microsoft needs to do what Google did before them and what I am suggesting they do for corporate clients – throw money at it, pay key app developers to port their apps to Windows Phone, hold developer conferences, buy developers free food and beer, give them free devices… all what they need to help bolster the Windows Phone Store so you won’t have to think about what apps are available for the platform, at all and never again.

Define The Future Of Mobile

What will mobile devices look and feel like a few years from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now? Whatever the answer to the question is, Microsoft should be looking to be the one to answer it, and set the bar high for the rest of the industry to follow.

Hopefully among all of the chaos with Nokia over the last few years they have some of the brilliant hardware and software designers joining them as part of the acquisition to help define this. Where everything Nokia did was not always a top-selling device, they did create some interesting form factors, from fly-out keyboards to round devices to the small thin candy bar device. Today, with the lead from Apple and the close following from everyone else, including Nokia, everything looks like a black slab, and I know personally myself – and many others in the industry – are tired of black slabs! This is an area where Microsoft is not completely known for – amazing user experiences – but they have a start with Windows Phone, have some advances in their gaming devices and – with the right innovative leaders – create what is next, while not forgetting where it came from, as Nadella said in his first remarks as CEO.

No Time Like The Present

Right now is a good time to make moves in the mobile area for Microsoft. Apple is still feeling the loss of Steve Jobs and trying to define its next versions of devices and operating systems, with the last round not receiving the glowing praise it usually does. Google just unloaded Motorola to Lenovo and may be taking a different direction with hardware. Samsung keeps making bigger and bigger and bigger black slabs. And don’t forget BlackBerry, as they are still hanging on and trying to define what their future is while everyone else is digging their grave.

I wish Satya Nadella much luck and good fortune as he takes the helm at Microsoft. Having Bill Gates step down as Chairman and simply being an advisor was a great first move by Nadella. There is a lot to sort out and a lot to prioritize, but I personally see great opportunity with mobile, and Redmond taking the reins from Cupertino is not completely out of the question.

Go ahead – let me know what you think 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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3 New Year’s Resolution for Digital Marketers

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 05:55 PM with 0 comments

photo of CT MooreEditor’s Note – This is a guest post from CT Moore, a recovering agency hack who helps brand leverage search and social media to meet their business goals online. By day, he heads up Search and Social at Publikit, a boutique web dev agency in Montreal, and also runs Socialed, a digital consultancy that provides digital strategy to both start-ups and multinational brands alike. You can find out more about him through his personal blog.

Aha! Another year is about to come to close and a new one will soon begin. And if you’re any kind of marketer (or business person for that matter), you’ve probably started thinking about what you could start doing in 2014, or at least do better in 2014 than you did in 2013.

image text – Thanks for not laughing at my absurdly unattainable New Year’s resolutions

Well, if that’s the mind frame you’ve been in, I’d like to suggest 3 potential New Year’s Resolutions that you should probably apply toward your upcoming marketing efforts. I have to warn you, though: if you’ve already made up your mind on how to tackle things in 2014 and aren’t open to feedback, you should probably read no further — I’ll just end up saying “I told you so” wink

#1 OWN Your Media

image of large and small sumo wrestlers

Paid media is the placement you pay for: ads, commercials, etc. Earned media is the PR and social media wins you get from doing awesome stuff and providing great customer service.

Owned media, however, is the stuff you produce that people actually care about. In fact, what kinda of makes it “media” is that people actually pay attention to it (unlike ads). It can be anything from just really helpful how-to’s to outright entertaining viral stuff, but the point is that it gets you exposure with the right target market, just like PR or advertising would.

The only difference is that you made it. And right now, 78% of CMOs believe that branded content is the future of marketing, with 25% of budgets going to content. So in 2014, start thinking about how to own your media.

In fact, start investing in media worth owning. Because, at the end of the day, content is a lot like tattoos: it can be either cheap or good, but not both.

Good content costs money to make, and you have to keep at it for a while before it pays-off; but when it pays-off, it really pays-off. From branding to public relations to SEO, it’s one of the few channels that also contributes something to all the other channels.

#2 Get Serious About Mobile

image of cat with an iPhone with text – OMG WTFYeah, I know: a lot of you think you’re serious about mobile? But are you really? I mean, are you anywhere near the companies whose marketing you admire/envy, and/or can you actually implement the kind of strategies they have going on??

Now, I could dig up a bunch of stats and quote them to create urgency and make you sympathetic to my point. But, instead, I’ll just guess (i.e. “assume”) that enough of you reading this have smart phones (and are sufficiently attached to them) that I don’t need to do that kinda thing. So let me leave you with a kind of barometer / checklist to figure out just how the eff you’re supposed to tackle mobile in 2014:

  • Mobile Sites: I’m still shocked by just how many top-tier companies/sites/portals fail at this. If you don’t have a mobile site, get one. And if you already have one, make sure that I’m redirect to it if I visit your site from a mobile device.
  • Mobile App: If your business is driven by user-experience (e.g. commerce) or content, release that App already! No repeat customer or returning user wants to deal with your mobile site. And even here I can think of a few content portals who have an otherwise great mobile engagement strategy but no mobile app…
  • Mobile Campaigns: If you’re already investing in display ads, PPC, and/or SEO, start looking at how you can divert some of that toward targeting mobile users; there are enough of them using mobile apps and searching via mobile devices that you can’t afford no to.

Okay, so you get the point? Good! Let’s move on….

#3 Start Listening to Your Customers

image of world’s most interesting man with text – I don’t always ask for user feedback… but when I do, I use it for actionable insightSo maybe you’re already doing the mobile and content thing, or may you’re not but (hopefully) are gonna start. Either way, you’re going to have to measure your progress. And, of course, you’re going to be measuring and monitoring what user actually do once they engage with your brand.

But are you being proactive in that measurement? In other words, are you actually trying to gage how your users specifically and the market at large feel about your industry?

For starters, start looking at what people are already saying about both you and your competitors. Tools like Salesforce Marketing Cloud are great for this kind of thing. They let you monitor not only your brand name but what people are saying about your industry and competitors, in general.

Step it up a notch, though, by finding what your actual user and site visitor think. There are a few service providers that can help you do this, but the (ubiquitous) one that comes to mind is iPerceptions. You’ve probably come across them in the form of their 4Q survey, which is a free tool. But they also offer a bunch of voice of customer measurement tools you can upgrade to to make sense of the data that you collect via the 4Q survey.

The point is (1) stop assuming you think you know better than your (potential) customers, and (2) stop looking at what your users might’ve done and start considering what they’re actually looking for. Because that’s the kind of insight that’s not only gonna help you step up your marketing game, but develop better products and services, the likes of which you might’ve not otherwise considered…

New Year, New Start

If you’ve read this far, I want to make one thing clear: I’m not saying you have to follow my advice. I’m just saying you should.

You’re free, of course, to disregard my advice, but I’m confident enough that you’d be wrong to do so that I wrote this blog post and put my name on it. So give it some thought; sleep on it; and do whatever it is that you have to do to “tear sh*t up” in 2014 that you’ll be too busy either optimizing some version of your site or developing new product/service that you won’t give this post another thought wink


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


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Flying Over Chicago and Milwaukee With The Nokia Lumia 925

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 09:37 PM with 0 comments

Following the receipt of the loaner Nokia Lumia 925 mobile device from Nokia Connects and capturing its unboxing and first impressions on video, I now had the opportunity to use it. Where I don’t have a SIM card to use it as a phone, I was only able to use it as a WiFi-enabled device. And despite the chance to use a Windows Phone device for the first time, time was not on my side.

Except for a few hours last Sunday, when I took the Lumia 925 with me at about a couple thousand feet over the US Midwest. My friend Walter is a pilot and offered to take me up with him for a flight. Last Sunday was a clear and cool day in the Chicagoland area, so it was perfect for flying. Departing from the airport in Aurora, Illinois, which is west of Chicago, we flew east over Chicago then headed north to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and then back south to Chicago and west back to Aurora.

photo of Chicago skyline flying over it

During the flight I took almost 200 pictures and a half dozen videos. Where some of the photos were duplicates of just bad shots, just over 150 of them came out pretty good and I offer you a slideshow of the photos on Flickr, and a playlist of the videos on YouTube – embedded below are links to both.

View the photos below or link to the photos here.

View the videos below or link to the videos here.

Thoughts on the Lumia 925 while taking pictures

Overall, I liked the experience of using the Lumia 925 as a camera. The only features of the camera I used was the zoom and shutter – I did not use or play with any other features, namely as I am simply a point-and-shoot guy, so I would rather manipulate a photo on my PC in PhotoShop than on my device. The best feature to me was the transition when a picture is taken, which is much clearer than the camera “upgrade” with iOS7 for the iPhone. The zoom feature of the camera took somewhat blurry pictures. Now I did not use the camera much at all on terra firma, so I don’t know how the zoom would be on fixed objects. The final thing I missed in the Lumia 925 was the holes for a lanyard or wrist strap, which would have made taking some shots easier.

As for some of the pictures being hazy, these photos were taken between 10 am and noon, and in some cases the sun was not behind me and rather to the side or right in front of me. That tells the difference in the photos of the Chicago skyline as we flew over the city and those when looking north after passing the city, which came out amazingly clear as the sun was behind me.

Thanks Walter!

Thanks again to my friend Walter for taking me up on an amazing tour of the area from an awesome vantage point. I welcome your thoughts on the pictures and videos and you can leave them in the comments of this post.

As a final comment, I am returning the Lumia 925 to Nokia Connects as my 2-week evaluation period is over. Nokia lent me the device with no cost or expectation of how I used it, nor did they ask me to take it in an airplane…


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


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