Digital Spring Cleaning

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, May 01, 2017 at 11:20 AM with 0 comments

screenshot of an empty trash can message

Call it a rite of passage or a subconscious impulse, but there is just something about the weather getting warmer and wanting to get rid of excess possessions. Though Spring is only a few weeks in as I write this, perhaps it was the warmer weather in Chicago (hello, a cookout in February?) that got me started with this sooner.

Personally, as I have purged much of the excess tangible things I have acquired over the past years, my spring cleaning this time was more virtual – specifically, digital. I have been carrying around some digital baggage for a while that was beginning to wear on me, let alone cost me money.

So I exchanged my broom and dustpan for my fingers and a physical trash can for one on my desktop and did the following.

Archive Excess Files Off My Computer – When I bought my Macbook I purposely got the maximum available memory and a smaller hard drive. Why? I don’t want to carry around a lot of unnecessary files. So I scoured my hard drive for what I truly didn’t need to carry around and 1) deleted what I didn’t need to own at all, and 2) archived what I needed to keep.

This activity freed up a lot of space on my hard drive, making searches more efficient, and mitigated the need to buy more online backup space, what I use it as part of my digital backup strategy.

Shuttered Old, Inactive Web Sites – As someone who, among other technology skills, builds Web sites, I still had out there a few sites that, though I had high hopes and intent for, had languished due to lack of time as well as changes in my personal priorities. So I closed them – backing up all of the code and databases – and in most cases redirected the domain names to my blog at TheHotIron.com (link) where you are likely reading this.

I would be remiss to say some of those sites still had some sentimental meaning to me, but in the end, it save me some emotional baggage, and led to the next cleaning task going a lot smoother.

Consolidated Web Hosting Accounts – All these Web sites and services have to live somewhere, and for me they were with multiple companies. My goal was to consolidate the 4 of them into 1. However, as I got into it, I decided to leave it to 2 for reasons that, if this isn’t boring enough for some of you reading it, would certainly put you to sleep!

Where this task saved some money, it also allowed me to isolate and think about what I need for Web hosting, leading to an even better way to manage it, and save even more money. This is a work in process as a result, but one that has already deliver gains.

Dropping Domain Names – As someone who has worked a lot with domain names, from advising to managing domain name portfolios for individuals to publicly-traded firms to everyone in between, it’s probably needless to say I have registered a number of domain names for myself over the years. Just like a financial portfolio, a domain name portfolio has to be reviewed, evaluated and changed periodically. In this case, that included dropping domain name.

For this task, similar to dropping domain names, there were a few emotions I needed to put aside. In other cases, I just realized having the .com for a domain was enough and the .biz and .info were not needed. The savings from this cleanup will pay over time as some domain names don’t renew right away.

Antialiasing, or Deleting Email Addresses – Over the years I have employed various strategies to manage email. Where some have worked great, like managing my inbox to zero (LINK), others proved to be more work that saved. This was the case with setting up email aliases or forwarders, which were separate email addresses that forwarded to my main email address. I set them up to use for specific purposes, like eCommerce (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), noting xyz.com is not my email domain!) and mailing lists (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), etc. Et. Al., yada-yada, henceforth… you get the picture.

As you might guess, I had a lot – over a dozen aliases when I stopped counting – and though they were not being actively used, they were the destination for most of my spam email. So I deleted them, or “antialiased” as I like to call it. I now have 1 email address, and a heck of a lot less spam.

Canceled My Yahoo Accounts – As Spring rolled around, so did the word that Yahoo had yet another major password breach. I have had Yahoo accounts for over 20 years, namely using them as backup email addresses and tying them to Flickr accounts when they acquired the photo sharing service. As time went on, I never used the Yahoo portion of the accounts, as well uploading photos to Flickr went out of vogue for me.

So it was with less emotion that I canceled my Yahoo accounts. Nobody was emailing me at those addresses, and there was little traffic to my Flickr photos. Granted all of those photos will disappear from the Web, but if anyone really needs to see pictures of me sitting on the visitors dugout bench at Wrigley Field, contact me directly.

Deconstructing Digital Spring Cleaning

Digital Spring cleaning is similar to eliminating tangible items, but is more for peace of mind, not to mention possibly cost savings. This peace of mind gave me the same relief I get by packing up a box of stuff and shipping it to GiveBackBox or dropping it off at Goodwill. It is also something I will plan doing every year along with getting rid of physical crap.

Have you done digital Spring cleaning yourself? Or have you even thought of it before? I welcome your thoughts on it in the comments to this post.


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


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3 Challenges of In-App Web Browsers

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 03:52 PM with 0 comments

”screenshot

Quick – how many Web browsers are on your mobile phone?

Now I realize this question may confuse you, but please read on, as I may be talking about something completely new to you or something you know about but didn't realize its full impact and the challenges that come from it.

The Mobile Web Is Still a Thing

With the growth of mobile devices and apps, many predicted the Web would be less relevant. With advances in Web design, namely the concept of responsive Web design, where a Web site will adapt or :respond: to the size of the screen it is presented on, Web sites are still viewed on mobile devices, and this will certainly continue.

To view Web sites on a mobile device, like on a PC or Mac, you use a Web browser. This in itself is an app, and on the iPhone the “native” browser is Safari and on an Android phone, it's Google Chrome. As well, you can install other browsers like Opera or Firefox. Just as on the desktop or laptop computer, some people just use the native browser and others use another. Some use more than one, realizing one may present a Web page differently than another – that difference can be slight, or to the extreme the Web site functionality may not work at all. Unfortunately there is no strict standards that a Web browser must follow to display Web pages, thus the differences.

The More Not The Merrier

As you may guess, the more Web browsers there are, the greater the chance these differences – or errors – may occur. I personally have encountered this many times as a regular Web user, as well as someone who owns and builds Web sites.

To compound the number of apps out there that are Web browsers are apps that serve a unique purpose but also have a Web browser built into it.

Again, my apologies if I have confused you... Web browsers in apps? Which ones? And how many different ones? And why? Where I have some answers to these, I am not a mindreader, though as someone who has designed products as well as software, I will share with you my thoughts as to why, and their impact.

As for the which and how, the image at the top of this post shows 8 apps I currently have installed on my iPhone that have an in-app Web browser. Eight! One is Safari, the iPhone native Web browser, and the other 7 are inside apps. As for the why, this depends on the thought and design of the app owners and developers.

Here's one thought as to why: the chief reason is the user experience – click a Web link in an app and you stay within the app. Granted you can launch a separate Web browser on your mobile device, but the user is then leaving your app, where you want them to stay. Talking with some Web app owners off-the-record, they have also said this, as well as functionality of the app they would like to leverage in the Web browser. So as I said, they have their reasons.

Challenges All Around

After this setup, it may already be obvious as to what the challenges to in-app Web browsers are, and who they impact, including:

Challenges to App Users – Thats you and me folks, the end consumer of these apps and their browsers. There's a real-world example tha

t happened to me that first brought this to my attention.

I went to an eCommerce Web site to make a purchase, one I have been to man times on a mobile device as well as my Mac. However a popup window that normally comes up as the last step of the process to complete the order did not appear. I tried and tried a couple of times and it still did not complete the order. It wasn't until I realized I was in an in-app Web browser and not Safari, which I had used in the past. I then opened Safari on my iPhone, tried the order again and it worked just fine.

Even for someone like myself who considers himself a high-end user, I didn't think twice on what app I was really in, and once I did, it still didn't matter, as I wondered why the Web page didn't work?

Challenges to Web Site Owners and Developers – One of the greatest challenges to those who run and build Web technology is that their Web sites and Web applications work in browsers. This may be even more challenging than the site being of value and compelling to the end user.

Going back over 20 years there have been the need to test and verify Web sites on all PC and Mac Web browsers, as well as on other computer operating systems, which back then you could count on one hand. Add to it mobile devices, tablets, watches and multiple brands of browsers on each, not to mention different versions (not everyone is on the latest version!) it can be overwhelming.

Overwhelming, and expensive. The need for a quality assurance (QA) lab, equipment (basically at least one of each piece of hardware), staff, third-party consultants, services and software... you don't even need to be technical to realize the magnitude of it.

Challenges to App Owners and Developers – If you decide you need/want a Web browser in your app, you are basicaly doubling the functionality to build and support in your app. A Web browser is a beast all into itself – and now you have one. You need to test your browser with the latest Web technologies and standards, consistently. You also need to keep up with the competition – standalone Web browsers – as to their features and how they deliver Web pages. And where you have the staff to develop your app, you will need to expand it for the Web browser functionality as well.

This goes beyond the technology and into your product management and development. Where it may be ideal to have that tightly integrated browser, the overall question must be, at what cost?

Supporting not Scaring

As business needs and technology are always a moving target, it's good to have an idea of what may be in case you ever lose scope or focus on it. I hope after reading this I haven't scared you – saying you have almost a dozen of something when you had no idea can be a bit much.

I welcome your thoughts on multiple Web browsers in the comments of this post. I promise not to scare you anymore now... on this topic anyway!


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


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Google Contributor Offers Interesting Approach To Blog Revenue

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, February 07, 2016 at 11:46 PM with 2 comments

Would you pay money to read The Hot Iron? And what if by paying you saw less ads on the site?

I know I have asked this question before when I added CentUp to this very blog. Another new revenue model for writers has come about from Google called Contributor. As I have no illusions (delusions?) of grandeur in earning a living from this very site alone in itself, I was more intrigued to try it to how it really works.

How It Works

Google Contributor allows a Web user to contribute money monthly for ads to not be shown on Web sites it visits. The ads specifically are ones from Google’s own ad services, AdSense and DoubleClick. So if a banner ad comes from another source other than Google (and there are many) that ad will still appear. In the place of the ad it may be blank or a thank you message for supporting the particular Web site.

From the Web site owner’s perspective, if they are displaying on their site through Google, rather than getting the money for someone seeing and clicking on an ad, they are getting money from the user’s Contributor account, in a sense offsetting the cost of the ad usually paid by the advertiser.

A few items of note on Contributor. Currently it only works in the US. By someone contributing money, either US$2, US$5 or US$10 a month, they are still going to see ads. As shown in the chart below, by contributing those 3 previously mentioned dollar figures, they will see respectively 5-15%, 15-25% or 25-50% fewer ads. These fewer ads are across all Web sites with Google ads not just one in particular. So if you contribute $10 a month, thinking it will all go to me for reading The Hot Iron, it will not.

”screenshot

Is It Worth It?

That’s a great question – is it worth it? I honestly don’t know, as I have just set it up on the blog, and I have also signed up as a Contributor at the whopping US$2 a month level.

Here is a screenshot of this blog with an ad appearing at the top:

”screenshot

Here is a screenshot of this blog without an ad appearing at the top:

”screenshot

I know – the difference is amazing!

It will be interesting to see how often I notice the ads not there. Last year was the 20th anniversary of the Web banner ad. As I heard somewhere – and I forgot the source – it was marking 20 years of people ignoring banner ads! So even if it technically works, it will be interesting to see if anyone notices.

Are you a Google Contributor? Did I convince you to join, or not join? I welcome your thoughts 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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Revisiting My Web Site Redesign Checklist

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, May 01, 2015 at 12:22 PM with 0 comments

photo of The State of Your Web Site Web Redesign Checklist

There comes a time when we reevaluate something we are doing. This thing may be an ongoing activity or something is simply still “around” that requires little to no attention, but is something we are aware of. The thought process involved in determining to continue or suspend something can be interesting in itself, and can lead to a go or no-go or a change to what it is we are doing.

Among my seemingly too many projects and activities is something I am still proud of, but wondered if I should keep it out there. About 5 years ago I launched The State of Your Web Site within my former Web consulting firm. It is a checklist of 34 items which I felt are important to the vitality of a Web site. As I later wrote in a post about the process of creating it and naming it, a lot of work went into it. That being said, should I still keep it out there in the Internet eye?

The evaluation process boiled down to 2 points – 1 for and 1 against it. The con is the amount of time that Is needed to keep something like this current, as tools and technology and trends are always evolving and changing. As it is almost 5 years old now, there are some parts of it that are in need of updating. The pro, however, is that people still seek my advice on their Web site, despite that I no longer offer that as a service any longer (if they need someone, I simply refer them to Visible Logic). For that reason alone, I felt it was worthwhile to keep The State out there, and to spend some time to update it and keep it fresh.

Once I made this decision, another “pro” came to mind – this is a good way to keep my own Web skills sharp. As I am still in the profession of building great Web sites and Web applications, to have a “home” for my research and thoughts would be an ideal use for the checklist.

The first step of this process is to do just that – establish a new location to host and offer The State of Your Web Site. This will be the place where, when I review the checklist items and update it, I will post and announce the updates. What better place than right here, at The Hot Iron? Going forward, you will be able to find the latest post on The State at thestateofyourwebsite.com. Right now that link points to the very post you are reading. If a new post had more current information, the link will redirect to it. By clicking on the image at the top or this link you can view the original version of The State – as I said, it came out in 2010, and the list does need some updating, but as you review it you will find some “timeless” items to consider for your Web site.

As I work on updates to The State I of course welcome your thoughts and comments on it – on the list overall to specific elements within it. You can leave them as comments to this post or contact me directly. Your feedback will be vital to the validation of changes to The State of Your Web Site, and I thank you in advance for your time.


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


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Easily Create A UNO Social Site With Free .UNO Domain Name

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, April 06, 2015 at 01:00 AM with 0 comments

screenshot of Mike Maddaloni’s UNO Social Site

Personal Web sites are nothing new. Where they started in the early days of the Web – I created my first one in 1994 – they became more popular and pervasive with improved Web publishing tools. Technical knowledge is not even required for most of them, and there are a variety to choose from. So when I heard of UNO Social Sites, I wondered why another brand? When I tried it out and created my own, I found what could be the best way for people of all tech levels to make one.

UNO Social Sites are offered by the .UNO registry, which began offering the .UNO domain name last year when dozens of new global top-level domains (or gTLDs) were made available for registration, I wrote then why I registered my own .UNO domain names and what I felt were the compelling reasons to do so. My intent was to use my domain name, maddaloni.uno, as my personal home page and build a site there. I never did (the domain name now points to this blog), but still wanted to. I don’t need to worry about that as now the .UNO registry has created UNO Social Sites, which are easy to create and customize personal Web sites.

As I mentioned in the above-linked article, I know the people behind the .UNO registry, and they invited me to beta test the service before it went live. After trying it, creating my own site and testing it all, UNO Social Sites, at hello.uno, are now live for anyone to create one, plus get a .UNO domain name… for free. Where some may want this solely because it is a free service that comes with a free domain name, the site you can build is solid and offers some great features. Once you create your account and choose your domain name, you are free to add a variety of information, pictures and feeds to your site.

In order to create a UNO Social Site, you need a Facebook account. As I don’t use Facebook personally, I inquired why and was told this is solely for verification of your identity. As you can see from my own page pictured above at mikemaddaloni.uno there is no link to Facebook for me, as I was able to use a Facebook account I created solely for this purpose.

Among the features of the site you can customize are the following:

  • Name, photo, tagline, “about me” description
  • Background photos – 1 or up to 3 that rotate
  • Responsive site templates, which means they size nicely for large and small screens, and within them choices of fonts, text sizes and colors
  • A contact link which will send an email to you, as well as an email forwarding address using the domain name
  • A link to your CV or resume which you can upload as a file
  • Links to your chosen social media feeds, and a snapshot of those feeds
  • Something called “My UNO Moments” where you can create a custom collage of photos and text

If all of these customization options are too much for you, coming soon Is the ability to create a page from information on your Facebook page with simply a couple of clicks.

With the variety of customization options, you can create a site with either a social or business focus. Though called “social” sites, you could create a site that is solely for your job search or business, with links and feeds just to LinkedIn, for example. Otherwise you can have it as a multipurpose one as I do for both personal and business. Having the link to your CV or resume upfront is a handy feature, and good way to share more on your profile when exchanging information with a prospect client or job recruiter.

There is also an option to explore others who have a UNO Social Site and follow them. I haven’t used this much other than to see how others have configured their sites, and it has given me some good examples. From what the people at the .UNO registry have told me, these are just the beginning of features and more will be offered in the future. You can see how to setup a site with the video embedded at the bottom of this post, or link here to view it on YouTube.

If you do not have a personal site, or do have one but may want a new approach to one, I recommend getting an UNO Social Site. Whether you have created one, or not, I welcome your thoughts on it 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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Where Did Odiogo Go?

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, March 03, 2015 at 11:43 AM with 1 comments

old Odiogo listen button

Hello, does anyone know what happened to Odiogo?

As vast and connected and telling as the Internet is, sometimes it is like finding a needle in a haystack about some things. One of them is the fate of Odiogo. It was a service for converting text of a blog post into an audio format using a computerized voice. I heard about the service years ago and have been using it here on The Hot Iron and other blogs of mine since 2007. Last year I wrote a post about Odiogo here at The Hot Iron.

A few weeks back, when I was integrating the new responsive design for this blog and was testing all links and functionality that I found the link to Odiogo did not resolve to anything, as if its servers were down. As I thought it may be a temporary issue I left all links in place. Now several weeks later, when I go to the Odiogo site, the resulting Web page is from domain registrar GoDaddy indicating the domain is available for sale at auction! Clearly somebody did not renew the domain name and the site and service is down.

So where did Odiogo go? Looking back on my own records it’s been several months since a blog post of mine was converted to audio. Any searches I have done on Odiogo did not come up with any new or recently-posted information as to their status. I am at a loss – I feel like I am looking for information on something that perhaps I am the only person looking for it?

If you have any knowledge or experience with Odiogo, I’d welcome you to share then in the comments to this post, or you can contact me directly and how to do so is listed on the About page at The Hot Iron.


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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The Work Project I Never Politically Worked On

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, October 10, 2014 at 08:52 PM with 0 comments

Ah, company politics. They can be anything from mildly amusing to wrenchingly painful. In any case, they are at a minimum something you shake your head at. Unfortunately there are politics of some form in every work place and it really depends on the people involved as to how bad the politics can be.

The following story is one of company politics that to this day I still shake my head and laugh at. However at the time I admit I was pretty pissed off about it. It is a true story – one that I went through myself about a dozen years ago. The names of people in the company of all been changed to protect the innocent or feeble.

I was working in internal IT for a software company supporting the software and hardware for its public Web site and Intranet. Along came a major project where the company was going to implement PeopleSoft, an enterprise resource management or ERM system. As a result, everyone in IT was supposed to be working on the PeopleSoft project and not on anything else, including the work I was doing on our Web site and Intranet. Of course reality is always something different, as there was nobody else to technically support either of those projects, and I continued to support both.

One day I got a call about a major project the company was undertaking. It was going to go through a significant rebranding effort, keeping the same logo but rebranding all products and services including a new Web site. Although we had plenty of technical people in the company, I was the person to work on the new Web site as I knew it best, from the marketing team to the infrastructure to code behind it. The call had come from the marketing manager whom I had worked with since I've been there supporting the Web site. I then told her what the new “situation” was in IT, where I was not supposed to be supporting the current Web site, let alone build a new one. Needless to say this didn't make any sense to her, but she understood well how the company politics was, especially in IT.

Next up for her was to raise the “situation” up through her management, which then brought it up to the IT management and then came back down to me. I got a call from my manager who told me that after all I was supposed to work on the new Web site. But there was only one stipulation: I wasn't politically supposed to be working on this project therefore I wasn't supposed to tell anyone about it. So technically I was wasn’t working on the project, even though it was going to take most all of my time for the next several months.

Makes perfect sense right? I didn't think so.

Despite the insanity of the “situation” I had a job to do. A lot of work went into building the Web site, but it was something enjoyed doing very much and it didn't seem like a job at all. I was working very closely with our marketing manager, where I was located in Boston and she was in Vermont. Throughout the entire project we never actually saw each other, but despite that we were extremely successful at what we built.

In addition to building the Web site, I was also responsible for registering and acquiring new domain names for our rebranded products and services. As this was a publicly traded company, the rebranding was very secretive and very few people knew what the new product names were to be. But I was one of them. So that's a lot of faith and confidence in the guy that's not officially working on the project.

Overall the project was a success and we launched the new Web site on the day the company launched the rebranding. A lot of hard work and long hours went into it, and where we were very relieved when it was over, there was a lot of pride in the work we did. About a week after the rebranding, an email came out from the president of the company thanking individually all the people who worked on the rebranding. That is, all except for me. Of course this made complete sense because the president wasn't told I worked on the project because for political reasons I wasn't working on the project as nobody from IT was supposed to be working on anything else but the PeopleSoft project.

No sooner did the email come out from the president, I got a call from the marketing manager who was completely shocked that I was left off the list. I have to admit I was slightly irate I didn't get official recognition, but I knew the “situation” and took it for what it was. At least my immediate colleagues knew I worked on the project and I got kudos from them. Where I did not get credit from the president, I knew what I did and was just as proud as I was before the email came out.

Several weeks later we had an all-hands meeting for the IT organization. As I wasn't really in the mood for going to listen to this meeting in person, I decided just to dial into it from my desk. At the conclusion of the meeting the chief information officer, or CIO, brought up the rebranding project and even singled me out for the work that I did on it. What? Public recognition from the guy who had decided I technically didn't work on the project and made sure that I didn't get credit for it from the president of the company? Needless to say I was mildly irate and may have even made a gesture at the phone as I was listening to this. Interestingly, the CIO himself never personally thanked me for the work that I did on the Web site, and knowing how he operated even his public acknowledgment was very halfhearted.

It's one thing going into a consulting project or a contract knowing that for proprietary reasons you can't reference you worked on a project. When it comes to political reasons for not working on a project, they typically make absolutely no sense and are more to cover for someone than anything else. This was the case here, in a company with plenty of resources and a “leader” who would not acknowledge a significant company effort in order to keep to his marching orders that all-hands would be working on the ERM initiative. Of course by that statement alone there is no leadership shown.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? How would you have reacted if it was you? I welcome your thoughts 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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Government Breakdown On A Small Level In Chicago

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, June 04, 2014 at 11:44 PM with 4 comments

News about the latest government scandal, no matter when, seems to consume the mainstream media… at least until the buzz or outrage dies down or another story takes its place. As it is hard to get any attention for anything smaller or doesn’t make the cut for a 23-minute newscast, people like myself take on telling these stories, in hopes they are heard, spread and people can hopefully can avoid it happening to them.

This story is about something that happened to me, and is still in process. It may not sound like such a big deal, but it highlights how a breakdown across government agencies can happen at any level, from the parks department in Chicago to the US Veterans Administration.

A not-so-special events parking ticket

photo of parking sign on South State Street in Chicago

A few weeks back I parked my car along South State Street in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. There are several types of on-street parking spaces there – metered, resident, open with the exception of during an event at nearby Soldier Field, or some combination of these. Where I parked was a combination of the last 2. It was a Saturday afternoon, and in my mind there was no event going on at Soldier Field, the home of the NFL Chicago Bears, so I parked and went on my way. Little did I know there was a beer festival going on at the stadium, and upon return to my car I saw a parking attendant put a ticket on my car, a US$60 fine for a “special events restriction.”

Needless to say, I was a little upset about this, but clearly I was in the wrong. To reinforce this, had I simply followed the instructions on the street signs I could have avoided the fine and parked elsewhere. As shown in the photo above, the sign clearly tells parkers to check Soldier Field’s Web site or call 311, Chicago’s non-emergency information hotline, to see if there is an event going on a few blocks away. I would surely do this the next time, as I had 60 reasons to do so.

Next time a communication breakdown

Fast forward to this past Saturday and I am getting ready to drive down to the South Loop, and would be looking for on-street parking. Remembering my last experience, I decided to check if any “special events restrictions” were in play. Where the concept was easy enough and I had the places to check, I was unsuccessful in this cross-functional communication breakdown.

First I called 311, and the conversation went something like this:

311: (after about a minute on hold) Can I help you?
Mike: Is there any events going on at Soldier Field today?
311: Yes, there is a walk going on.
Mike: What time does it end?
311: It started at 9 and I don’t have when it is supposed to end.
Mike: Really?
311: Yes.

So much for that channel, and I decided to check the Soldier Field Web site at soldierfield.net, and I got the following:

screenshot of soldierfield.net

This was odd, as I know I had the right URL for the site, so I tried searching for the site and linking to it that way, and I got the same result. I had been to the Soldier Field Web site before, and I had no idea what was wrong or where it was. Where is the Web site? Is it temporarily down for maintenance or is there a bigger problem.

I then took to Twitter, first clicking on the link on their profile to the Web site and got the same error. Then I sent a tweet to @soldierfield and then checked the time and had some place to go, so I left and found on-street meter parking not far from my destination and paid a few dollars and all was good.

Well, all was good except for the Soldier Field Web site. Now almost a week later, it is still down. In the course of that afternoon I got a reply to my tweet from @soldierfield on my mobile phone – I saw it on the lock screen of my iPhone as an alert from the Twitter app. It only showed the beginning of it, and it said something to the affect that “they were sorry for the inconvenience” – I don’t recall exactly what it said, and a few minutes later when I went back to check it, the tweet was gone. I certainly was not hallucinating or doing anything to cause me to dream about it. After checking the Twitter app, it was certainly gone, and they must have deleted it after they sent it to me.

Though it is not American football season, there are other events going on at Soldier Field, one being soccer with Mexico vs. Bosnia this past Tuesday night. Here it is Thursday and still no Web site or even an explanation where it is, and a tweet is a common way to get the word out.

Where 311 did not have all of the information, and Soldier Field’s Web site had none of it, I was not willing to risk it that the parking authority or the outsourced ticket attendants that roam the streets of the city were not there, as I was almost certain they would be. The workaround was paying to park for US$6 for 3 hours, and that was fine for me. Less hassle, namely from barking up the tree of various city agencies or the local alderman, as I didn’t have the time or interest to fight that battle, and my time, effort and frustration would certainly be worth more than 6 dollars.


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 2 2014

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, May 07, 2014 at 06:00 PM with 4 comments

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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