The Hot Iron

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

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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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Sunday, March 30, 2014

What I Learned This Week For March 28 2014

photo of art from India

This past week was the first time that I learned something new in the presence of someone and they asked me if it would make my next blog post of what I learned. Sometimes it’s nice when the real world collides with the virtual world.

  • A colleague from India gave me the box pictured above. It could be used as a pencil holder or a even a phone cradle, but I plan on putting nothing into it and admiring it for its own beauty. Thanks Sanam!
  • Earlier this week the conductor a Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line subway train fell asleep at the controls as it pulled into the O’Hare Airport stop and the train plowed past the end of the recessed track and went up the stairs of the station. Yet the media calls it a derailment. Watch the video of the accident in the link to the article, or view (and save!) the animated GIF of it and determine for yourself if it is merely a derailment.
  • After finally completing 4 consecutive weeks of Intro to Yoga classes at Tejas Yoga, I feel I have learned enough to take on the “foundation” level of yoga classes. Thanks to my instructor Zach for leading me on the start of my yoga journey. Namaste.
  • After less than a week owning the Frozen DVD, it has already been used as a disciplinary consequence for poor behavior exhibited by my little ones. The soundtrack to the movie was also bundled with this. Early indicators have shown it to be reasonably successful.
  • Tickets for Lollapalooza went on sale this week, but I decided to pass on it and am planning to attend Riot Fest instead.
  • A couple of weeks and a couple of updates later, the Starbucks mobile app is still offering what I consider an awkward user experience for its much-touted tipping feature. Rather than setting an automatic amount to tip after a purchase, or make it work much seamless, several seconds after you have your app scanned, you are prompted to add a tip to the purchase. This several seconds seems like an eternity and, as has happened with me a couple of times already, I have already put my phone away by that point and did not tip my barista. Plus the “shake to pay” feature doesn’t seem to bring up my barcode to scan every time. I hope these will be fixed soon.
  • I have been noodling on something I am calling “cultural experience,” or CX, when it comes to technology and not only the experience of using it, but how the use of it is influenced by the culture of the community and vice versa. Chances are I am not the only one thinking about this, and there may be others out there thinking and writing on it, and I need to start putting some of this down in Word and go somewhere with it.
  • My thougths go out to my fellow NFL AFC East brethren in western New York, as this has been a rough week for Buffalo Bills fans. First, original owner Ralph Wilson passed away. Wilson was adamant at keeping the team in the Buffalo area, and the team is contractually tied to its stadium, named after Wilson, for at least the next decade. It was also announced that former quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was supposed to undergo surgery for oral cancer, then it was decided to treat it rather than operate. Kelly was a phenominal athlete, and I have vivid memories of seeing him kick the Patriots’ butt up and down the field for years. In later years he was a businessman and philanthropist, and has achieved probably as much off the field as well.
  • I learned how to articulate the difference between writing and editing, as I taught it to my 5-year old as she has been working on writing her first book. In Kindergarten.
  • In the course of researching the service Visual.ly I was looking at examples of the creative videos and infographics they have produced and found this great video example of 29 Ways to Stay Creative. I have embedded the video below or you can follow the previous link to watch it in a browser. My favorite way is the very last one – it is worth the less than 2 minutes to watch this.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/30/14 at 11:58 AM
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why I Registered A .UNO Domain Name

photo of Pizzeria Uno signSo I got me a dotUNO domain name. And some of you, reading that sentence, are probably wondering what I am talking about. I mentioned in a previous post I was going to be writing about generic top-level domain names – and I will – but in the meantime I felt it more important to talk about this new addition to my digital identity.

The domain name is maddaloni.uno.

The .UNO domain name extension, commonly referred to as a generic top-level domain or gTLD, was just recently released as part of a mass expansion of extensions to join the likes of .COM, .N ET, .ORG and others. As the word “uno” means “one” in Spanish, Italian and other languages, it is targeted towards to businesses and entities – including individuals – to use for a unique domain name for their presence and branding on the Internet targeting those who speak those languages.

So why did I register maddaloni.uno? The reasons are many, and I’ll start with the base which are more qualifying for the gTLD.

  • I am a second-generation Italian-American and my ancestry is 100% Italian
  • My surname, Maddaloni, is Italian
  • I have had these qualities for all of my life, which has at least gone for 40 years.
  • My wife and children also have this same surname, carrying it along for another generation
  • I do know some Italian, and especially know when I am being insulted in Italian

Though I did not have to apply or provide these qualifications, I am proud to present them here. Where all of this is well and good, what am I going to do with the domain name you may ask? Where I am still developing the high-level and detailed personal branding plan, in general I will be using it for identifying me on the Web. As an interim step, I am pointing the domain name to this very blog.

Size Matters

There are many gTLDs on the marketplace today, and this list from Name.com shows many of the gTLDs. If you look at this list, you will see extensions of varying sizes. What I like about .UNO is that it is short – only 3 letters – and easy to spell. As .UNO will be competing primarily with the “Big 3” of .COM, .NET and .ORG primarily, it is unique enough and should not bring confusion like, for example, a .CO domain name (known as a country-code TLD or ccTLD as it is for Columbia) as many may add an “M” to a .CO.

This is not to say that nobody will register or use a longer domain name, but many have been out there for years, like .MUSEUM, .AERO and .JOBS. How many of these have you ever seen or typed? I have probably seen 3 or 4 uses of a .JOBS domain name – one that comes to mind is hyatt.jobs for the eponymous hotel chain. In general I am bearish on the widespread usage of some of the longer gTLDs, but only time will tell how successful they will be.

Congrats on the Launch of .UNO

With the launch of .UNO I am proud to say congratulations to Shaul Jolles, the CEO of Dot Latin, LLC, the company behind .UNO. He is also the co-founder and co-owner of OfficePort, the facility that I worked from for many years and continue to use as my workspace away from home. His hard work and leadership has paid off in his firm being awarded the opportunity to launch .UNO, and though I registered the domain name like everyone else, I am thrilled for his success. #FFL

Capise?

Does .UNO or what I talked about here make sense to you? Do you think maddaloni.uno will be unique and successful as part of my personal brand on the Internet? I welcome your thoughts and questions 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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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/27/14 at 03:11 PM
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Results Of My February Blog Post Topic Exercise #28d28bt

photo of notes from 28 days 28 blog posts

Back in February I talked about an online course I was taking on “unprocrastination” and one of the exercises was to create a new habit and stick with it for a month. The habit I chose was to come up with a potential blog topic for The Hot Iron every day for the month. If I thought of more than one in a day, then I would log them as well, but as an extra, not for the next day.

Now that we are at the end of March, you may be able to guess how well the course was for me overall! But I did stick to the habit, and as shown in the accompanying photo, I did log the topics. I was tweeting them with the hashtag #28d28bt but I found I was not able to find them all when I did a search on the hashtag – not sure why, so I curtailed the tweeting after a few days.

A List Of Ideas

At the end of February I had a list of 35 potential blog topics, or ideas. And they are just that – ideas. It will not be until I write a topic around it that it becomes a tangible blog post.

This is why I have chosen to share them here. Even if someone else takes the idea, they wouldn’t write the same thing as me. And I have to be honest, not everything I have written about has been a purely unique idea, though they have expressed my point of view which is certainly unique.

Here’s the list by day, and concluded with 7 extra ones.

  1. What is a gTLD and Why Should You Care?
  2. GiveBackBox Makes Donating Excess Easy
  3. Fever is my #RSS Reader of Choice and Here’s Why
  4. Nothing is Forever
  5. CentUp Offers Unique Profit Model For Bloggers
  6. OwnCloud Gives You Control Of Your Data With Style
  7. Rivet News Radio Offers Local News By Mobile App
  8. Odiogo Still Reads The Hot Iron To You
  9. My File Backup Strategy
  10. The Project I Didn’t Politically Work On
  11. Being Removed From It All And Thrown Back In
  12. We Spend Most Of Our Time Around Our Work
  13. How The Web Once Gave Me An Attitude Adjustment At Atlanta Airport
  14. Few Apps Leverage Promotional Opportunity With App Store Update Description
  15. High Demand For Winter Indoor Kids Play In Chicago
  16. Phone.com Is My Home Phone Service And More
  17. Why Don’t You Carry Business Cards?
  18. Everything I Learned About Management and Leadership I Learned Working In College Radio
  19. Hailo Taxi App Gets Me Around With No Worries
  20. 2 Things To Consider Before You Start Blogging
  21. Do We Need Better Stock Photos Of People Or None At All?
  22. Discover Offers App-Based Card Freeze For Better Security
  23. My College Internship Experience And Why I Don’t Care I Didn’t Get Paid For It
  24. Results of 28 Days 28 Blog Posts #28d28bt
  25. When The App Doesn’t Do It All For Complete Customer Experience
  26. Don’t Get Used To A Desk
  27. Procrastination And The Course On It I Am Catching Up On
  28. Have You Googled Yourself Lately?

Over the course of the month, I came up with 7 additional ideas.

  1. Cardmunch App Working Again And I Am Cautious On Its Use
  2. Dryv Dry Cleaning And Laundry Delivery Service Is What I’ve Needed
  3. When Is The Last Time You Exported Your Connections From LinkedIn?
  4. 5 Blog Post Topics from 2007 That Still Matter Today
  5. 3 Things Microsoft’s New CEO Must Do To Win With Mobile
  6. My Next Daily Activity Of One Task A Day for March #31d31t
  7. Build Web Content Management Systems Since 1997

Off To The Races – Both Sprints and Marathons

Looking back at the list, I feel I have a good set of ideas to work from not only in the near term but over the course of the year. Some of the ideas I have already used, and regular readers of The Hot Iron may recognize them. This is not to say this is all I will write about, but if I am every short for inspiration or simply want to use something good I already thought of, I will refer to this blog post. I like it so much I may do it next February as well, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

I welcome not only your thoughts and comments on this endeavor, but on the ideas I came up with and if you are interested in me writing on something. Don’t be shy – really.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/24/14 at 09:57 PM
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Friday, February 21, 2014

What I Learned This Week For February 21 2014

photo of frost heave damage to a Chicago sidewalk

As taken down on a piece of paper from my daughter’s bedazzled notepad...

  • Now that the temperatures in Chicago actually reached above the freezing mark for a “significant” period of time (2 days) and some of the snow has melted, I have noticed a by-product of the frigid temperatures – frost heaves. Very few sidewalks have not been affected by it, and there are many uneven paths around the city. This is on top of the potholed-ridden streets. My guess is these sidewalks will either not be properly fixed or will just be ground down to make then somewhat even.
  • My friends at the amazing design studio Visible Logic are conducting a Web Design Survey. It is open to anyone, and I am sure they would love to hear from people who are not in the Web design and development business, and that means you! You can take their survey here; it is short, to the point, and if you give them your email they will send you the results of the survey. While you are on their site check out the great work they have done for their clients.
  • Your idea, no matter how well thought-out and articulated, always sounds better when it is said by someone more senior than you, and is sold as their idea.
  • I heard about something called the 5 Love Languages where ideally each person in a relationship takes the survey and compares what they want and how they say it. It’s free and doesn’t take long to complete.
  • The idea of the media “spoiler”, though it is annoying when you hear of something you haven’t watched yet, is an increasing reality that we will have to deal with. Unfortunately I have seen details of the second season of House of Cards on Twitter and results of Olympics competitions on screens in building elevators before they were broadcast in the US. With more and more real-time information abound and distributed media channels, this will only increase, and we will have to come up with ways to manage it.
  • This week I had a flashback to the time I designed a QA lab for a company I worked for years ago. It was a very comprehensive lab consisting of computers and operating system versions to cover all of our customers realistic scenarios. I also remembered the pushback I received from some of my colleagues, which was later taken back as the lab helped troubleshoot and prevent many errors. It was only a flashback, and unfortunately not a déjà vu moment.
  • It’s been a while since I have been out at a tech networking event, and thanks to the people at Tech in Motion for hosting a great event in Chicago this past week. I met some great people including the entire team behind Dryv.
  • I need to get out and see friends more often. By accident this week I found out my friend Elliott Bambrough is not the full-time co-host of the TV show Chicago’s Best on WGN-TV. Elliott is not only extremely talented but a great person as well. You can see him in action in this segment from a recent episode of Chicago’s Best and I have also embedded it 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 02/21/14 at 08:51 AM
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dryv Dry Cleaning And Laundry Delivery Service Is What I’ve Needed

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

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

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

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

A Service I Don’t Want To Think About

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

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

Simple User Experience With Mobile Email and Humans

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

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

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

A Growing Service And A Few Thoughts

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

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

Try Dryv For Yourself Chicago And Save $20

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

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


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/19/14 at 01:00 PM
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Sunday, February 09, 2014

What I Learned This Week For February 7 2014

photo of Halls cough drops

Now 2 days late, but hopefully still of some value to some of you, as most were to me. These were scrawled on the back of an envelope for a credit card offer, adding some real value to this junk mail.

  • Boundaries are not always bad, and when people tend to be pushing them, sometimes they are simply asking for them to be defined to them.
  • Halls cough drops have little motivational phrases on the wrappers. Not a bad idea for if you are buying cough drops, you are probably not at the peak place in your life.
  • There is a distinct difference between MOO MiniCards and Mini Moo’s.
  • Perform a Web search on any word or phrase, followed by the word “coloring” and you can find a plethora of coloring sheets for kids to color on.
  • There was little coverage outside of the tech world on the theft and compromise of the Twitter account @N by a social hacker. If you are not familiar with the term social hacker, look up anything on Kevin Mitnick. This article on The Verge about the @N theft and how the owner’s GoDaddy and PayPal accounts were compromised also includes a link to the Twitter account’s owner’s own story.
  • Where that famous groundhog in Pennsylvania saw its shadow and predicted a longer winter, my forecast has always been with Dunkirk Dave who hails from the same Western New York State city that I was born in. And it has nothing to do with him not seeing his shadow, and thus predicting an early spring.
  • I began taking an online course on “unprocrastination” and one of its tasks is to create a habit and commit to it. So I decided to come up with a new blog topic every day (not write it, just the topic) and I am also sharing it with the world. Look on Twitter for the hashtag #28d28bt for my topics. More on the course itself as I get into it.
  • A documentary on learning how to be a pit trader in the famous Chicago markets was just released this week, though it was filmed in 1996. Pit Trading 101 was released only online, and for US$2.99 you can see a training course on how those people who are yelling, screaming and flailing their arms are actually conducting business. It was released by Chicagoan and former trader Jonathan Hoenig who is also in the documentary. I haven’t watched it yet but want to, not only to understand how the heck that process works but also to seeing a piece of this city’s history. Below is an embed of the movie’s trailer or you can watch it on the documentary’s Web site.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/09/14 at 06:56 PM
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Monday, January 20, 2014

The Lack Of Women In Technology And Why I Don’t Touch Type

photo of hands on a keyboard

There has been a lot of talk and activity about encouraging more young women to enter the technology fields, whether engineering or software or any technical role. Much of the reason for the outside effort is that girls and young women are not typically encouraged to enter these fields.

When I first started hearing about these kind of efforts, I was initially surprised, namely as I have had the good fortune to work with many women over the years in software development and Web technology. Where when many think of the traditional “geek” it is a guy, there have been many women I would also consider geeks, and if I told them to their face, they would probably agree with me!

Perhaps maybe I am an anomaly, for as I pull back and see the big picture, I do see there are many more men in tech, whether it’s in the leadership within a company or within the industry overall. I haven’t studied this area in great detail as to statistics or even why there may be people discouraging women from getting into technology. For the more I think about it, I am not surprised that teachers, guidance counselors or even parents or family may discourage someone from taking classes in a subject area, as this was something I encountered myself.

I Don’t Know How to Touch Type

All that you are reading here, including the infrastructure and front-end code that presents my writings here on The Hot Iron, were entered into a keyboard with just my index fingers, plus my thumbs on the spacebar. Seriously, I don’t know how to touch type, and not only did I never take a class in high school to learn how to, but I was encouraged not to.

Though I was using computers back in junior high school, had my own computer at home and even did my first consulting gig for the assistant superintendent of my school system plus it was overall no secret I was into computers, the fact I should probably learn to touch type did not come naturally to my guidance counselors in high school. Their reasoning? As I was on the “college track” in high school, this was not a recommended course to take, and typing – which was offered in school – was encouraged for those not going into college and rather right into the workforce. Seriously, that was the thinking in the early 1980’s. I never did fight this, for by that point I had been typing this way for several years now.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not anything that has ever haunted me as a decision. I have managed to get by with just 40% of my digits on the keyboard and I am actually quite quick at typing this way. The reason why I remember this is because people, upon watching me type, will always ask me why I don’t touch type. As the question comes up almost as frequently as to why I sign my email messages as I do, it is a story that is readily accessible. Over the years I could have taken a typing class but never even made an effort to do so, as I am not sure how much different it would have made. Of course I am not saying this “guidance” led me down a different path, but it is a small example of the types of influences that are out there.

Expose To Most All, Let Them Decide

The more I think of this effort, the more I believe in it. As a parent, I don’t want to purposely hold back my kids from any career or activity decision, providing I can afford it. Though this is nothing I am worried about now, for right now my oldest first needs to learn to read, and my youngest needs to finish potty training! But by the time they are older, hopefully there won’t be a need for organizations like Ms. Tech and the many others, for opportunities will be chosen based on your interest, not negative outside influences.

I welcome you to share any stories – positive or negative or even anecdotal – on this subject 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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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 01/20/14 at 03:55 PM
TechnologyStrategizeThrive • (4) CommentsPermalink



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Controlling Your Own Destiny With Technology, Revisited

Over 5 years ago I wrote here on The Hot Iron about controlling your own destiny or controlling as much of it as possible. If you read (or re-read) the article, I was looking at this topic mostly from the point-of-view of working with external technology vendors and what happens when one doesn’t live up to expectations or even shuts down.

photo of Mike grabbing a phone, symbolizing controlling your tech destiny

Fast-forward to 2014, and my lens on this topic has changed dramatically. Where then I was talking about control you had over external entities, now I am thinking of my needs and my information and if I even need external entities at all.

As time goes by businesses online come and go, or in some cases specific services from those businesses. From GeoCities to Posterous to Nokia Ovi to you name it, one day something you are using is gone the next, and hopefully you don’t lose tangible assets – e.g. data, photos, documents, etc. – in the process. Granted losing sleep, your temper or clumps of hair are collateral damage of this type of situation.

Add to this the overall uncertainty of technology and business, not to mention the ever-changing terms of services from vendors that may change to your disadvantage, or truly not knowing what is “behind the curtain” with a service or who or what has access to it, you may end up in a situation fast where you need to quickly change course.

So what do you do? Where every situation is unique, I’d like to share the path I am taking these days when it comes to online services.

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want

In short, that whole “goals” thing again! Having a goal, purpose, mission statement or random scribbles on a napkin can help guide you through the choices you make, In addition to the goal, think about other controllable factors, such as budget, timeline and how much time you have to invest initially as well as on-going. These factors can also influence your decision, no matter the goal.

Once you have gone through the goals and review process, and have made choice, pat yourself on the back, then plan for what happens if you have to make another change. As this change could occur next week or in the next decade, you don’t need a detailed, point-by-point plan, but you do need some information, such as contact, license, login and how you are using or customized the service. From there, determine how and to what extent you can extract data or information from the vendor or service, both for a final move or on a regular basis for off-site storage.

The Path of a Service Change

A couple of years back, after my several times a day ritual of reading what was new in the world in my RSS reader, Google Reader, I started to think about how I was reading, not what, and if there was a better way.

Google Reader, for those who don’t know, “was” a free RSS feed aggregator and reader from the search giant. It was a very popular service, but one that was slow to innovate. Despite this, I had over 200 RSS feeds subscribed to thru Google Reader, and it was my primary source for news and information, both on the world around me as well as technology, sports, and other topics of interest.

What I realized was quite simple – Google, or anyone who had access to the data stored in the Google Reader service, knows everything I read. Everything.

The more I thought about this, the more my decision became clear. There must be another way for me to aggregate and read RSS feeds where I have control of my destiny – the software, the service and most importantly the information. As I searched I found a variety of hosted services and software I could run myself. After some analysis and a personal recommendation from my good friend John Morrison, I went with Fever and have never looked back.

Fever is a self-hosted RSS reader developed by Shaun Inman. For just 1 person running the entire operation, Fever is a quality product. It is a paid license and is probably the best US$30 I have ever spent. With Fever I could get the same features I got from Google Reader, with a much more stylish Web interface, including a mobile-optimized experience for the iPhone’s Safari browser. It has a “hot” topic feature that I have never used and really can’t talk to, for the main functionality has suited me perfectly.

My migration from Google Reader to Fever meant installing the latter on a Web hosting service I use, then migrating the feeds from Reader to Fever. This step, though very straightforward, requires some knowledge of how a Web site with a database is setup and configured. For migrating the feeds, I could have automated the process and extracted all feeds and uploaded them into Fever. However I chose a manual process as I had not really taken a close look at all of the feeds I was subscribed to, and as a result I culled the collection by about 50 feeds, many which were no longer feeding any content at all.

In mid-2013, Google shut down its Reader service, causing an uproar from many, but not from me. By that point, I had been off of Reader for over a year. Google gave a long lead time to switch to any other service, which is now always the case. That being said, having control of the service means you own the information as well as how you access it.

Always Looking

As new methods, products and service become available, it is important to spend some time evaluating services. Reading and research alone are not enough, a stalking with friends and colleagues also help expose you to options as well as first-hand accounts of their utility.

Where in the past I have used services like Google Reader, Basecamp, Blogger and Google Calendar, today I am using Fever, ActiveCollab, ExpressionEngine and ownCloud respectively. I plan to talk more about some of these services in the future. But this is my list now, and it is subject to change without much advanced notice!

Have you yourself changes services or rolled your own, or is it something you don’t see yourself doing at all? I welcome your thoughts and questions in the comments 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 01/14/14 at 11:25 PM
TechnologyStrategizeWeb Development • (2) CommentsPermalink



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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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