Return Hangers to the Dry Cleaners

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, February 23, 2007 at 12:47 PM with 2 comments

If you are "ferrously challenged" like I am, which means you can't iron a garment to save your life, you probably use dry cleaners to get your shirts and other clothes nice and crisp. Over time, you probably accumulate many wire hangers. So what do you do with them? Allow me to make a suggestion – return them to your dry cleaners.

Recently I brought back a whole stack of hangers to the cleaners. After pulling them out of my garment bag, the owner thanked me profusely, telling me that the cost of hangers has been on the rise. So as a result, I am keeping their costs down, which will hopefully relate in keeping my costs down.

There’s also the question of recycling hangers that are used for clothing. When I take a garment off a dry cleaning hanger I do not reuse it, as I prefer to use a more stable hanger. Thus the hangers I return are, as far as I am concerned, clean.

Is that the case for all hangers? Am I thinking about this too much?

Diversions • (2) CommentsPermalink

Know Who Manages Your Domain Name

By Mike Maddaloni on with 0 comments

If you own a domain name, you should know who manages it. This includes who you should be paying when it is time to renew it. Where some may think this is obvious, there are businesses out there who want you to be confused and they will use various online and offline tactics to do so.

If you register a domain name with company X, you can continue to renew your domain name through company X or transfer it to any other company. In some cases, you may have your domain name registered through a reseller, who then has it registered with an accredited domain name company. Dunkirk Systems is a reseller of domain names, and works with accredited domain name companies to handle hundreds of domain names for its clients, but I digress.

As domain name registration is a business, and there is money in registrations, companies will tempt you to transfer your domain name to them, and they will offer add-on services or low pricing to do so. That is called legitimate business. You may have received spam emails from "companies" who want to manage your domain name that you have never heard of, and probably have typos in the emails. That is not legitimate business.

However spam is not the only way companies may try to get your domain name business. One such company is called Domain Registry of America, and they use both the emails and letters that look like bills to try to get you to pay them – usually higher fees than you are paying now – to get you to transfer your domain name. Yes, it looks like a bill, and if you look at the small print, it says that you are transferring your domain name to them. The large print, however, does not say this. I get these letters every so often, and they go right in the shredder.

Once again, consumer beware! Know and trust who you are working with, and you will be fine.

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Guerilla Nametags

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, February 21, 2007 at 06:51 AM with 2 comments

As I am writing this post, my printer is hard at work cranking out nametags for the Breakfast Network Club. The BNC is a networking organization in Chicago that has morphed from meetings in the morning (thus the name) to holding specialized meetings by industry and discipline. I have been involved with the group for about a year and through it have made many networking connections.

I saw an opportunity to help with providing nametags as the group, like many of the entrepreneurs who attend the meetings, runs a tight ship. Each nametag features the BNC logo at the top and "nametag powered by Dunkirk Systems @ dunkirk.biz" at the bottom, with my logo in the place of my company name. The cost of the nametags is minimal – a box of mailing labels and the ink to print on them.

Is my phone ringing off the hook as a result? No. But that is not why I am doing it. My goal for sponsoring the nametags is name recognition in the Chicago market and goodwill from giving a little bit back to a worthy group. The president of the BNC, David Carman, also makes a point to introduce me when I am at a meeting and thanks me for making the nametags. But if the phone does ring from someone who saw my name on the nametag they wore back to the office after a meeting, all the better.

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Mailboxes vs. Aliases

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 07:57 PM with 0 comments

(this is another post in the Domain Names category, where I am collecting thoughts for a larger body of work, one piece at a time. Please check out the entire category and your comments are always welcome!)

Many people complain about how many email addresses they or their friends have, and the difficulty with managing them. If you own your own domain name, you can have all the email addresses you want and only check mail in one place. By adding aliases to a mailbox, this can be easily achieved.

Allow me to make a few definitions. An email mailbox is an email address you configure in an email client program (e.g. Outlook, Thunderbird) to send and receive email. Think of a mailbox in the real world. This is sometimes referred to as your account or address, but for the sake of this discussion I will use mailbox (which is also my personal preference). An alias is a valid email address that simply redirects email to a mailbox – with the same domain name or to another domain (e.g. Gmail or Yahoo!). An email administrator can create either mailboxes or aliases for your domain.

There are many reasons for having aliases to forward email to a mailbox. I consider the main reason is organization, where you can create specialized email addresses for different purposes. For purchases online you could have "shop@" or "ebay@" and for your eCommerce store on your Web site you could have "orders@" or "shipping@." Aliases also help you prepare for growth. An alias can also send mail to more than one mailbox, so "us@" can forward to "craig@" and "lana@." Aliases can be reassigned to other mailboxes, allowing for growth in your organization when mail to "inquiries@" should go to the new customer experience manager.

Aliases allow you to create "throwaway" email addresses. If someone or something asks for your email address, and you are leery in giving it, you can give an alias, and if you start receiving spam, you can delete the alias. I used to have aliases such as "june06@" and "jan07@" which by their names would indicate where and when the source of the spam came from.

But with every good there sometimes comes a bad. Some hosting companies do not allow aliases to forward to certain domain names. I have also experienced a large Internet provider blocking email to their domain from a client’s personal domain name as they considered all of their mail spam. Where that came from I don't know, but one thing we did not get was a notice of the blocking. As we had the aliases in place, once we found the problem we were able to route emails to another mailbox.

Aliases are a useful tool for managing email. Use them as needed, document that you have them, and monitor their effectiveness.

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Blogging Event in Chicago

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, February 19, 2007 at 08:01 AM with 2 comments

SOBCon logo – link to Web siteHave you ever wanted to talk to fellow bloggers in person, without using their comments box? On the weekend of May 11-12 in Chicago, you can have that opportunity.

SOBCon07 is a conference that was born from – you guessed it – blog comments. When I heard about this over the weekend, I realized that I was a small part of those comments. It is being presented by Phil Gerbyshak and Liz Strauss, the latter I have not only communicated with through comments, but using that other device on my desk called a telephone. The agenda includes speakers, presentations and plenty of networking opportunities.

What does SOBcon stand for? SOB, despite what you may think, stands for Successful and Outstanding Bloggers. The name got my attention too!

BusinessTechnology • (2) CommentsPermalink

This past week I was in Boston, and with the snow storm coming across the Midwest to New England, I wanted to get an idea if I was flying home as planned. On Tuesday morning at 6:30 am Eastern (5:30 am in Chicago) I grabbed some coffee and started up my friend's browser on what ended up being an unscientific quest by a person still waking up to find out the forecast for the Windy City.

My first stop was the Web site for WMAQ, or NBC5 as they prefer to be called. My lovely wife and I just about always watch this station for news. I had been to their Web site before, and though I am not a fan of its layout and design, it's where I started. On the home page there were large red bars across the middle with links to school closings and weather alerts – easy to see with just a few sips of coffee. But as I clicked onto what I saw as the Weather Plus page, the entire Web page started scrolling, and I wasn't touching the mouse! It was an ad for GM for the Auto Show that was expanding before my eyes. As I hadn’t found the forecast, I decided to move on.

After a few more sips of coffee, I ended up on WLS's Web site, or ABC7 as they prefer. There I found weather headlines, just not as bright, and a link to watch a video forecast... from Monday night. At that time, there must have been a video clip available from the morning show, right? Sip more coffee, time to move on.

My next stop was WGN's Web site, who does go by the acronym for the World's Greatest Newspaper. However, they have 3 stations, so at wgn.com I was presented with a plain page with their 3 logos – Channel 9, AM 720 and the Superstation. Choosing the first one, the first thing I saw was a link to a video clip of Tom Skilling... from Monday night. What gives? They have a morning show too. Got another cup of coffee, and moved on.

What ended up being my last stop was the Web site for WBBM, or CBS2 as they prefer. Right front and left of center was a link to a video clip... of a weather forecast from about 15 minutes ago. Yea! As I was watching the video, I took a closer look around the site and saw a clean design, mostly text, with an RSS feeds link at the top of the page.

This was not scientific, and I did not go to WFLD (or Fox Chicago) or CLTV, Chicago's answer to CNN Headline News, as the sites came to mind as my mind was slowly awakening. I finally got my weather forecast, as disappointing as it was, and a new source for news in Chicagoland.

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Theirs is not Your Domain Name

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, February 17, 2007 at 03:21 PM with 4 comments

It may be your email address and your identity, but if you have your email through a third-party service, using their domain name, you don’t have complete control of it. These examples have caused grief for thousands, and hopefully it drove some of them to their own domain name.

Many people have their email addresses through their Internet provider. This is a very common practice, and all tends to work well with sending and receiving email. But what happens when you decide to change Internet providers, or you move and have to choose a new provider? Or if you change from dial-up to broadband and go with a new provider. In all cases your old email account will cease to exist when you stop paying for it. Some providers may offer limited forwarding, but that will soon end.

The extreme case of this was when AT&T (note the capital letters) bought cable and broadband provider MediaOne. They decided to terminate the use of the email domain name, mediaone.net, in favor of their own, attbi.com. Individuals and businesses were then forced to change their email address, and in some cases business cards and letterhead. And to add insult to injury, when Comcast bought AT&T Broadband and they eliminated attbi.com for comcast.net, more changes ensued.

Up until recently, individuals and businesses were paying AOL monthly fees just to keep their AOL email address, even when they have moved on to broadband. AOL’s announcement of offering their email services for free changed this; you must contact them to make this change.

If you own your own domain name, your email address would not have changed in any of these cases, and saved you printing costs and time wasted telling everyone of your new email address.

Domain Names • (4) CommentsPermalink

Beanpot University

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, February 16, 2007 at 10:12 PM with 0 comments

Congratulations to the Boston University Mens Hockey Team for winning the 2007 Beanpot Tournament! As the BU Terriers once again beat their cross-town rivals, the Boston College Eagles, in an overtime win, they continued their dominance in this local tournament of the original four schools that play their games in Boston, including Northeastern University and Harvard.

Of the 55 years of the tournament, BU has won it 28 times. For those of you who do not follow college hockey or are fans of the Midwest teams, you are probably wondering what the big deal is, especially with a tourney featuring the same teams. If for any other reason, it is bragging rights, and the continuation of a tradition in an age where traditions tend to fade away. After missing the last two years, it was great to see my Terriers take the trophy home.

GO BU!

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Revolutionary Entrepreneurs

By Mike Maddaloni on with 0 comments

If you travel through New England, you can barely go fifty yards without seeing some historical landmark or marker of where something in the history of the United States took place. As someone who grew up there, you are almost oblivious to the significance of what happened several hundred years ago. When I go back to visit, it is almost like I see these for the first time.

Take a look at this historical marker, which is located in the center of Arlington, Massachusetts:

photo of Samuel Whittemore marker

(click on the photo to see a larger image)

The marker reads, "Near this spot Samuel Whittemore, then 80 years old, killed three British soldiers April 19, 1775. He was shot, bayoneted, beaten and left for dead, but recovered and lived to be 90 years of age."

This event happened as the British were retreating from the famous battles of Lexington and Concord. Whittemore was a retired British soldier who owned a farm, an entrepreneur in his own right. No wonder his resiliency.

And as to the distance between historical markers, across the street from this one is another marking the birthplace of Uncle Sam, an entrepreneur in his own right.

Diversions • (0) CommentsPermalink

I believe everyone should own a domain name, and use it - at a minimum - for their personal email. This way you have control of your email address, and don't have to solely rely on – or be hostage to – an ISP or service.

Over the next several posts, I will be writing about domain names and email addresses. My hope is to present my thoughts, hear what my small but mighty readership has to say, and will shape them into larger publications of some form or another.

As I believe strongly in controlling your own Internet presence, I hope this forum can serve as a springboard to sharing this information to an even larger audience.

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