The Hot Iron

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

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

What I Learned This Week For August 29 2014

photo of Friendly’s Black Raspberry ice cream

At an early hour with a full cup of coffee…

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


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


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

What I Learned This Week For August 22 2014

photo of lights on the ceiling of The Maxwell in Chicago

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

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


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 08/23/14 at 11:26 AM
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

What I Learned This Week For July 11 2014

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

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

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


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 07/13/14 at 07:16 AM
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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

What I Learned This Week For July 4 2014

photo of Independence Day color guard in Munster Indiana

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

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


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 07/09/14 at 10:51 PM
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Monday, June 23, 2014

What I Learned This Week For June 20 2014

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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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 06/23/14 at 10:08 PM
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Friday, May 16, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 16 2014

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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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/16/14 at 12:05 AM
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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 2 2014

photo of a drawing of bugs

It’s a good thing I didn’t use the piece of paper shown above to keep my learned list for this past week, as them my little girl would not have been able to have drawn this picture of bugs. I thought the circular shape was an apple, but she wondered why I would even think of such a thing. Needless to say, she’s spending some time in art camp this summer.

  • This past week my wife’s Aunt Irene passed away too early at the age of 95. As of course I was fortunate to know her later in life, I never knew about her earlier life, such as she was born here in Chicago and she enlisted in the Army as a nurse the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They don’t make them like that anymore.
  • Speaking of history and Chicago natives, if you are on Twitter you should follow Michael Beschloss, a historian who tweets regularly some amazing historical pictures. Even if you are not a history buff you will surely find some of them interesting.
  • I have been a minivan owner for over a year now. It is such a damn functional vehicle. Special thanks to the fine folks at Silko Honda for making the buying experience so enjoyable!
  • Bob Mould will be performing at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion on June 23 as park of their Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays series. I missed seeing him at Riot Fest last year and can’t wait to catch his powerful performance in a few weeks.
  • My friend Lee is still going strong with his Market Outlook blog. If you are a financial type, you may get some value out of this, as it does run a bit too technical for my capacity.
  • I was a little surprised when I saw the proofs of my daughter’s school photos and they had a solid green background. It turns out that the photography studio is employing chroma key to then allow us to select a custom background for the photo. Where this is unique, sadly the choices of backgrounds left much to be desired.
  • It is possible in the SQL Server Management Studio to change the default of 200 rows for editing to an unlimited amount. This post explains how to easily change the number of rows from 200 Thanks to my good friend Alex for finding this and letting me know about it..
  • Whenever I think of Bob Mould and the band he was with in the 80’s, Husker Du, I can’t not think about their performance on NBC’s Today Show in the mid 80’s before they broke up. Why? Watch this video on YouTube of Bryant Gumbel interviewing Bob Mould and notice the puzzled look on Bob’s face to Gumbel’s questions – clearly he did no research on the band before he asked these questions! You can follow the link or watch the video embedded below.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/07/14 at 06:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What I Learned This Week For April 18 2014

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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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/22/14 at 09:34 PM
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Friday, April 11, 2014

What I Learned This Week For April 11 2014

photo of jewelry store sign

With the warmer temperatures here in Chicago, I may have been distracted a bit, so I am not sure if I missed anything this week as I was trying to smell the few flowers that were out there. Still there was things I learned that were beneficial to me, and they may be the same for you too.

  • Just because it is your line of work or industry doesn’t mean you can spell it properly – see the photo above. Maybe that is why there are so many acronyms in technology?
  • If you require me to create a login and password in order to leave a comment on your blog, forget it. Most of the blogs I read are either small enough where they can moderate the few posts they receive or are large enough where they can have someone to manage comments. It’s too easy to throw up a login, and surely there will always be comment spam, but spammers can create a login too.
  • Politicians in Chicago are still moving forward with a plastic grocery bag ban as apparently they are the dominant content of litter throughout the city, and there’s also environmental concerns as these bags are made from petroleum. For myself, this will not be a good thing, as I use these bags as trash bags in the home and in the car. So once they are banned, I will then need to buy small plastic garbage bags.
  • While I was making the odiogo logo more prominent on The Hot Iron as I mentioned in my last post, I also did a little clean-up and made room to add a Crafted in Chicago button to the site. Created by one of the minds behind CentUp I thought I would show my solidarity to my community.
  • Continuing on the Chicago thread, I saw this site proposing a potential redesign of Chicago’s transit system. Where some routes make sense, with shifts in working from home more prevalent, it would be interesting to see if it makes more sense to “wire” the city with Internet access rather than transit routes.
  • My lovely wife went to Minneapolis over the weekend and all I could think of was the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore show as covered by Husker Du back in the 80’s. In the video embedded below, or linked to here on YouTube, the opening of it is the band crossing the street and the same spot where Mary throws her hat up in the air. Granted many of those reading this have no idea what I am talking about, but watch one episode of the show then this video and it will make complete sense.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/11/14 at 09:14 AM
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Friday, April 04, 2014

What I Learned This Week For April 4 2014

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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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/04/14 at 09:41 PM
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The Hot Iron strives to present unique content and perspective on business, technology and other topics by Mike Maddaloni, a Web and business strategist based in Chicago.

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