Viivant Powerbank Unboxing and Initial Thoughts Video

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 09:26 PM with 0 comments

photo of Viivant Powerbank batteries

It’s a power grab out there, and it’s every woman, man and child for themselves!

No, I am not talking about politics, rather something even more daunting of a challenge – the battery life of mobile phones and other portable devices.

The more we use these devices, the more we need them powered. In addition to this take into consideration that these devices can drain power from batteries unbeknownst to us, due to everything from leaving features turned on when unneeded to poorly written software running on them. Add to it that batteries are not made to last forever as well as many devices are not made to let you change the battery, it is no surprise a market has been unleashed over the past years for portable, external battery chargers.

When I heard about the Viivant Powerbank product line, I was interested to see what they were bringing to the marketplace for batteries – from design to features. I just received a Viivant Powerbank set to evaluate, and below is the video of the unboxing of the batteries (yes, 2) and my initial thoughts and impressions. You can view the embedded video or click here to view the Viivant Powerbank unboxing video on YouTube.

My initial thoughts can only be related to the appearance of the batteries, prior to me putting them to the ultimate test of charging my various devices around the household. As I mentioned there are 2 batteries – a larger one which can charge a device up to 7 times and has the ability to charge 2 devices at once. It also has a stylish case and power remaining display. Also included is a smaller, short cylindrical battery which can hold a single charge for a single device. It also has a color indicator for charging, but the light is within the case and is only illuminated when something is plugged into it.

Compared to other batteries I own and have seen, these are very comparable in size and weight. The larger battery has a unique design to it, and the fact it can charge 2 devices at once is an extremely functional and needed feature. I am also impressed that both of these are bundled together – most other batteries I have seen are only sold individually, and I bought my own current high-capacity battery and smaller-capacity ones separately. Couple this with competitive pricing on Amazon, the Viivant Powerbank batteries are also a very affordable option as well.

Next Stop, Wonderland

As I write this I am charging the batteries and will put them to the true test. I plan to report on how they do – either here and/or on my Twitter account @thehotiron.

I must also note that I did receive these batteries from Viivant for evaluation, and there was no expressed or implied contract as to how I use them or what I say about them. Why am I saying this? Read this post here on The Hot Iron about the FTC and I’ll leave it at that and wait for these batteries to charge.

Do you own a Viivant Powerbank? Are you considering getting one? Do you have any questions for me as I evaluate them? Please leave your message 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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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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My Worst Managers Never Took Me To Lunch

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, December 22, 2014 at 12:02 AM with 0 comments

photo of menu at Starbucks in Gold Coast, Chicago

When I look back across my career at the variety of managers I have had, there is a broad spectrum of them from amazing to horrible and everything in between. As I was recently thinking of those I considered the “worst” – those whom I had a poor experience working with – a common denominator came to light that I feel is central to why things did not work out well.

They never took me to lunch.

More Than A Meal

Don’t get me wrong, I am not just looking for a free meal, nor do I think these people are cheap in any way. Frugality with a corporate spending account has come up in dealings with past managers, and for me it is near the bottom of the list.

The fact these managers did not take me to lunch goes well beyond the meal itself and its cost. It has to do with the overall action itself – getting out of the office, a 1-on-1 meeting in a different setting and the discovery and insight about each other that comes with the conversation over the meal. Or in short – the manager getting to know me better, and me getting to know the manager better. This deeper knowledge about a person is important for a working relationship, going beyond the surface and skillsets to truly get the most of that person, and ensure they are happy and satisfied in the work environment.

Meals Alone Don’t Make A Manager

Where I feel that the invitation and act of taking someone to lunch is important in a working relationship, it is not the defining moment for a manager if they do so. In all honesty, most all of the managers I have had in all my years have broken bread with me, some at least once and others on a regular basis. And those managers would be represented across the above-mentioned spectrum. Even those whom I would rank along the lower end of that spectrum, I feel by having had a meal with them, and getting to know them as more than what was written on their business card, outranks those few who did not take this time or see it as important.

My Own Experience With Meal Invites

Where I have been talking about being on the receiving end of a meal invite from a manager, in my own role as a manager over the years I have taken many people to breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, snack or food in some capacity outside of the office and away from the grind to have a conversation. Call it the Italian-American in me, or just call it effective, but this opportunity to further connect with a team member or colleague is a very important part of how I have been successful throughout my career.

Here’s a couple of ways I have integrated lunch and my teams.

Re-energizing After Being Dazed And Confused

It was one of those meeting where you sit there and wonder, with all of this brain power, could we possibly cure cancer? But alas in the end really nothing was accomplished other than puzzled looks on everyone's faces and bad tastes in everyone's mouths.

I was asked to come to an "emergency" meeting and to bring my developers and even my graphic designer. As the manager of the front-end design and development team part of my job was to be the conduit between my team and senior leadership, who called the meeting and the people who did the great things to make our application a reality. In short, I would shield them from the insanity of such meetings. However the requesters pulled rank - literally - and demanded all of us in the meeting.

To make a long story - and long meeting - short, we all didn't need all of the king’s horses and all of the kings subjects to be in the meeting, and after an hour or so we all staggered out of the meeting room with the above mentioned looks and tastes.

Once we all collected in the lobby I decided the team needed to be rewarded for enduring this, so I told them that I would be taking them to lunch. The meal would be on the company, but only if we did not talk about work; if anyone brought up work they would have to pay for their own meal. Needless to say everyone agreed. As we walked back from the restaurant, I realize that we had bonded even deeper as a team than we had before and learned a lot about each other's backgrounds and beliefs, and I feel it had a great impact on our teamwork going forward.

Not When But When I Want To

After joining a start-up company and signing my life away (and possibly my future first born) I was then given our business plan our operating guides, policies and procedures. Reading through all of it I noticed there was no mention about specific business expenses, namely meals. I raised this with our HR director who told me to talk with our CFO, and my conversation with him went something like this:

Me: “Hi Homer (not his real name), what is the policy on expensing meals?”
CFO: “Um, who are you taking to lunch?”
Me: “Members of my team, and others in the company?”
CFO: “Um, when?”
Me: “Whenever I want to!”
CFO: “Um…”

At that point I talked with the company president, whom I had interviewed and talked with extensively during the onboarding process to the company, and he knew my leadership philosophy and told me to take whomever, whenever, and to expense it. These meals, sometimes, at the local mall food court, sometimes at a sit-down restaurant, were integral to me getting to know the team I inherited at the start-up, who they were, what motivated them, and importantly issues they had within the company. Although I was only with the start-up for 6 months and 5 days (a story for another time!), it was a productive time and I got some great things out of our team.

More Than A Skillset

If you read other posts here at The Hot Iron you will see I talk quite a bit about managing and leading people, and it involves a deeper knowledge of who they are, in addition to what they do. Frankly, it just works for me – always has, and I believe it will in the future. Some have labeled my approach as “touchy-feely” and so be it – we all have our styles, and in the end it’s up to the person as to whom they want to work for. Needless to say, I am not looking to work again with those past managers who didn’t take me to lunch.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on my approach in the comments to this post. Has meetings over meals worked for you or not? Do you see it as a way to deepen a working relationship, or just fill your belly?


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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What I Learned This Week For July 11 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 07:16 AM with 0 comments

photo of a hole in clouds letting in the sun in Chicago

As the sun rises over a city that a few hours ago had a tornado and flash flood warning…

  • They (whoever they are) say that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. I found an exception – when the line goes through some not-so-nice neighborhoods in Chicago. Though I did debate actually writing this altogether, let alone as the first one on my list, it is a reality many have shared with me over the years.
  • The above statement being said, the above photo was taken at a stop light on the journey which prompted that statement, proving there is hope everywhere. The photo was taken in color but made it greyscale by accident, and decided to stick with it.
  • I was a witness to a colleague, visiting from India, having his very first tater tot. We sometimes forget things around us are new to many people.
  • I read this sad story about a young boy in Toronto who was starved to death by his grandparents. To add insult to injury, DC Comics, the mega-publishing giant of comics and related merchandising, would not allow a statue being created to honor the boy to sport the Superman “S” logo. The boy was a huge Superman fan, but DC Comics “didn’t want the character connected in any way to child abuse.” Sure, in life it was ok for the boy to have money spent on him, but in his death he can’t be memorialized because of how he died?
  • Troubleshooting a technical problem sometimes means you need to work with the right person who knows why something may or may not be working, though finding that person may not always be obvious.
  • In the course of a conversation with a very wise person, they mentioned the term “find the cracks.” I perked up when I heard this, as I feel this is an even better way of describing looking for niche markets. Only if I heard this term years ago, but that will be covered in that book I am slowly piecing together.
  • Solid state hard drives are the only way to go <- they are small, wicked fast and don’t come with all of the moving parts of a standard hard drive. Though they come with a price tag much higher than said standard hard drives.
  • I was thrilled to learn my favorite beer brewery Harpoon became an employee-owned company this week. With the retirement of one of the founders and the sale of 48% of the company stock to an employee stock ownership plan, the future of Harpoon has been set. With many smaller craft breweries, like Chicago’s Goose Island, being sold to mega-brewers in order to grow and compete, this is a great sign that Harpoon will remain independent and brewing the awesome beers they do.
  • This week a public video was released on YouTube for something called Business Chemistry, a method for identifying patterns in personalities in the business world. Granted that description is in no way the best way to describe it, that is why I was happy to see the video to be released. It came from my employer, and I myself have taken the personality test, and have been identified as a “pioneer” with alignment to an “integrator” – traits I identify and embrace. So from my own point-of-view, I think this process is spot-on. Check out the video embedded below or view it on the YouTube link above, and contact them if you want to bring this unique program into your business.


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


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What I Learned This Week For July 4 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, July 09, 2014 at 10:51 PM with 0 comments

photo of Independence Day color guard in Munster Indiana

With the sound of sirens wailing in the background on this late evening in downtown Chicago, as I go thru my notes and tweets of the holiday week of previous, I don’t have as much noted, but here goes…

  • Once again I reinforced my love of small town US Independence Day celebrations, as my family and I spent the holiday in Munster, Indiana. From fireworks the night before to a bicycle parade for kids the next morning, it was great to be around great friends and great conversation, much of it around our country today.
  • Speaking of fireworks, where we saw the official city-sponsored fireworks, we saw probably 10 times as many displays put on by individuals, as fireworks sales in Indiana are legal. Some of what we saw came close to rivaling anything I have seen launched in big cities as well. That Krazy Kaplan is not so crazy after all.
  • I now have a better understanding why the term “PTO”, for paid time-off, is used instead of the traditional term “vacation.”
  • Where you can learn how to do just about anything online these days, formally or informally, learning from others provides the needed context and paints the complete picture of something.
  • After gaining bits and pieces of his latest idea, I was pleased to see my friend and fellow Chicagoan Len Kendall launch a Kickstarter for Cartegram, an adventure game that involves tagging – literally and online – sites as you travel and logging them in a paper notebook as well as online. I am looking forward to the formal launch of this simple yet elegant idea, and as of the writing of this post there is still time to get in on the fun!
  • In a previous post I had mentioned about Chicago’s app for paying for on-street parking, ParkChicago. I finally got the opportunity to use it one day and it came in extremely handy, as I was parking during a torrential downpour and never had to get out of my car to go to the meter box and buy a ticket. The app user experience is very nice as well. Where parking on the mean streets of Chicago is certainly not cheap, it is a little more convenient.
  • In my ever quest to simplify my life, I have found merely finishing something goes along way to achieving this simplicity.
  • Over the winter I was asked to give a video testimonial on my daughters’ daycare center. Last week I learned part of what I said was selected for the video, which you can watch embedded below or watch on YouTube directly. After watching it over and over and over several times, I wished I was smiling more, but overall I think I did a very good job. I’d love to hear what you think about it, and feel free to send them in the comments section of this post.


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


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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 May 16 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, May 16, 2014 at 12:05 AM with 2 comments

photo of gravity tank with Swedish flag painted on it in Andersonville, Chicago

Not everything we learn in the course of a week is a life lesson or something which jumps out at you completely. But even though I never hear a lot of feedback or get a lot of comments on these posts, for me, it is a good way to end the week and look back.

  • The water gravity tank that was atop the Swedish American Museum in the Andersonville section of Chicago still exists. It now sits in a parking lot, as pictured above. Reports are it may cost upwards of US$200,000 to repair and replace, and a fundraising effort is underway. Perhaps there may be a cheaper way to restore the structure, and one which does not collect water, as when it was removed it was full of ice.
  • Prior to taking the picture of the gravity tank, I attended a performance of Barrel of Monkeys. They are a group of teachers and performers who work with public school students and teach them about creative writing, then stories are selected and a sketch is created by the actors. I know I did not do this description justice, so visit their Web site and look for when their next performance is, and thank me later.
  • Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, was born in Chicago, and lived here until he was 2 years old.
  • I got a new work PC this week, and it has a touch screen and is running Windows 8.1. I really didn’t need a new computer, but the lease was up on my “old” Windows 7 PC, which I really liked. I have only used the basics of touch on it, as my big hands don’t work well with the small text in menus, etc. Looking forward to trying out new apps designed for Windows 8.1, and in the meantime I will use it just like I did my Windows 7 PC.
  • The NFL’s New England Patriots have created a jersey guarantee offers someone who purchased a jersey for a player, and then if that player is no longer under contract with the team, a 25% discount on a new jersey. This is of course built upon the team’s previously successful exchange program for the jersey of Aaron Hernandez, which I feel is even more genius on the part of the Patriots, especially with the cost of jerseys today.
  • Tickets went on sale and the line-up of bands was announced for Riot Fest, a 3-day outdoor concert in Chicago, as well as Denver and Toronto, which encompasses many stages with bands and acts performing simultaneously, not to mention a carnival and midway of rides. Of all the bands performing, include The Cure, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Social Distortion (a few of my favorite bands from the 80’s), is Jane’s Addiction. What’s interesting about them is their lead singer, Perry Farrell, is the creator and still involved in another similar and larger concert in Chicago, Lollapalooza. I’ll be at the Chicago shows at Humboldt Park on September 12-14, will you?
  • This past week I got an off email from photo-sharing service Shutterfly that was a little odd. I rarely use the service, and the message seemed to be in response to the fact that I was pregnant, which despite wild rumors is the furthest from the truth. I then got another email from them, with an apology from their Chief Marketing Officer John Boris saying they were “truly sorry” for the email. When I got the email, I tweeted about it and got a few snarky comments from friends, and that was it. But as the topic of pregnancy can be extremely sensitive, I am sure it pissed someone off.
  • Workers began installing the letters “TRUMP” on the Trump Hotel and Towers in Chicago. The 20-foot high letters will be facing the Chicago River side of the tower, which means when I walk out my front door every morning I will see them. So far they have the letter “T” installed and had it lit up at night. Where it may appear a little tacky, I am in favor of any building having branding on it, as that brand is the reason why the building is there – or in other words, they built it.
  • There have been a lot of attacks on human resource departments in technology publications, which has resulted in very defensive responses from the HR community. I think one thing that some people who are not in favor of HR departments, namely employees, fail to remember is that at the end of the day, the HR department serves the company, not the employee.
  • May 15 is Fluevog Day, where large discounts and events occur at John Fluevog shoe stores around the world. I learned that it is also the birthday of the eponymous owner. I only own 2 pairs of shoes and they are both Fluevogs – the Will and Bodden styles. At 5:15 pm local time in each store, a “class photo” is taken of staff and customers, and it will be sent to each person pictured, personally autographed by John himself. Where these activities may seem unusual, they are in-line with the social outreach and great attitude of the brand over the decades, even long before social media was on the scene.
  • In an interview in Time magazine, actor Colin Firth discussed speaking Italian and used Italian swears. As someone who is Italian-American, and sadly does not speak Italian, I of course know some of those swears he spoke of, and more that he didn’t. Firth’s wife is Italian and she taught him, which I think is awesome. You can see the video embedded below or click the article link above to watch it.


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


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