Why I Am Walking In the Chicago Liver Life Walk On June 13 2015

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, May 25, 2015 at 11:48 AM with 0 comments

photo of Mike and his MomThis year marks 15 years that I have laced up my sneakers, grabbed a bottle of water and a few family and friends and walked along a body of water for a great cause in memory of a great person.

In 2001 I participated in the first of what is now called the Liver Life Walk, a walkathon in support of the American Liver Foundation, or ALF. It was literally a few weeks after my Mom lost her battle with primary biliary cirrhosis, or PBC, an autoimmune liver disease that inflicts women. At the time I really knew little about liver diseases, heck about how the liver works in concert with all of your body. Since then I have learned much, including the work the ALF does in research, education and advocacy for the fight against the many forms of liver diseases.

As I have done in the past, I ask you to join me, whether literally in walking with me in Chicago on Saturday, June 13, or by supporting my team, The “A” Team, by making a donation.

It goes without saying what this means to myself and to the cause. Thank you in advance for your support.

Donate to the Liver Life Walk


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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My Guest Post On The Barrel Of Monkeys Blog On The Big Wedding Gala Fundraiser

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, April 01, 2015 at 08:47 PM with 0 comments

Barrel of Monkeys logoThis past Saturday night, Barrel of Monkeys, a non-profit education arts organization in Chicago, held its annual gala fundraiser. Barrel of Monkeys teaches creative writing to schoolchildren in Chicago, and what the kids write is adapted into sketch comedy and performed by the same actor-educators who are teaching them. It is an amazing program that gets even more amazing results, which is why I am proud to be on its Board of Directors.

The fundraiser was called “The Big Wedding” and was based on a story written by a student in a past creative writing course. A performance of the sketch was part of the event, and it was a not-to-miss event on the city’s social calendar.

You can read my thoughts on the event in my guest post on the Barrel of Monkeys blog. After you read it, I welcome you to peruse the entire Web site and learn more about the entire organization, especially its weekly showcase of sketches, That’s Weird Grandma, which is performed every Monday night year-round (and Sundays for the month of April).

If you have any questions on Barrel of Monkeys, or are thinking of taking in a show, I welcome your 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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New Mobile-Friendly Design For The Hot Iron

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 10:11 PM with 0 comments

screenshot of the old design of The Hot Iron

As a regular reader of The Hot Iron, you may have noticed something a little different here, or perhaps you did not. In either case, I’d like to tell the story about the new look to the blog’s Web site, only the 3rd one in its 8 years.

Over the history of this blog my emphasis has always been on the content – updating it as often as I possibly could. As a result I have purposely not put a lot of emphasis on the design of the site. Plus, as many people read the content by email and RSS feed, some may never even see the actual Web site itself at thehotiron.com that often.

Google Made Me Do It

The catalyst for this latest change was as the result of an email I got from Google’s Webmaster Tools, a bundle of services designed to help Web site and their ranking in the search engine. The message stated that the Web pages of The Hot Iron were not mobile-friendly. Google tags Web sites as mobile-friendly on the search results page of a search performed on a mobile device, and does not for those that are not. That was more than enough reason for me to undertake this effort.

More on the actual task of integrating the new mobile-friendly and responsive design is in this post I wrote on sourcegate, a tech tips blog I run that also serves as the test site for all of my blogging technical work.

You can see a screen shot above from my iPhone of what The Hot Iron used to look like. If you are reading this on a mobile device, you can tell it is a lot clearer and formatted towards the mobile browser. If you’re reading this on a PC or Mac, simply resize your browser window smaller to see what it would look like – go ahead, try it!

So what do you think? It is easier to read or does it make a difference to you or not? Your feedback is welcome 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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My Blogging Guest Lecture At University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh #uwonewmedia

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, February 13, 2015 at 04:54 PM with 0 comments

photo of Mike Maddaloni presenting at UW-Oshkosh

Photo credit: Wilke (‏@Wilke_411) via Twitter

Yesterday I had a distinct honor to guest lecture to college students on the topic of blogging.

I was invited to speak to 2 classes at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh by journalism professor Dr. Sara Steffes Hansen. As part of her classes where she is teaching the students all aspects of blogging, each student is building a real, public blog. What better way to learn blogging than with real-life experience?

As someone who has his own blogs and has built blogs for clients, I have learned on the job about blogging as well as keeping up with trends and changes to blogging over the years. One challenge was focusing on key elements to share with the students and keep it to a brief presentation with time for their questions. Another challenge was that I would not be able to be physically in the lecture hall on the Oshkosh campus, yet deliver my messaging in an interesting and engaging way.

As with my own writing style, I decided to tell the story of how I got into blogging myself and then focus on areas that I felt were important to the students, including the art and science of writing and writing on a regular basis, plus some key pointers about blogging such a sharing and social media integration.

For the presentation itself, I created PowerPoint slides and used technology from Personify to literally insert myself into the PowerPoint presentation so that when the students were looking at the screen they saw both the slide material as well as myself, as you can see from the picture above. As the Personify technology is extremely unique in itself, I'm already writing another post on using Personify and how I was successful in conveying myself, my style and my message to the students remotely – watch for it soon.

I have posted the slides from the presentation to SlideShare and you can link to it here or view embedded below. I kept the slides at a high-level and spoke to the details so that the students did not have to read slides, and by using the unique Personify technology I was able to make that happen very well. If you look at the slides and are wondering about the references to Ernest and Edgar, those are to 2 “other” famous Chicago-area writers, Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Rice Burroughs, as I used them as examples of different approaches to writing.

Thanks again to Dr. Hansen, the team at Personify and the students who asked great questions and shared the presentation on social media. It was great getting back into the classroom and I am looking forward to my next opportunity.


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


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Remembering Covering The Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion On College Radio

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 12:23 PM with 2 comments

AP news alert on the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger

When we think of major national and international events that occur in our lifetime, we also remember the impact of it on ourselves – where we were, what we were doing and how we felt as it unfolded. As today is the anniversary of the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, I would like to share my day after first hearing about it and how I remember it today.

Twenty-nine years ago I was in the production studio of my college radio station, WNEK-FM in Springfield, MA, preparing for my first newscast of the semester. Where our newscasts were far from anything that would win a local Emmy and could easily be called “rip-and-read” reports, we always did a professional (or as professional as we could) job at presenting world and local news on the air. I was sitting at the console board recording audio clips from a network audio feed we had to accompany the stories I had collected thus far from the Associated Press teletype printer, or commonly referred to as the AP machine.

I was well aware of the Space Shuttle Challenger launch, especially as the crew included Christa McAuliffe, a schoolteacher from the neighboring state of New Hampshire, around whom there was a lot of buzz for her being on board. I listened for the reports from the audio feed and there was to be one for the Challenger launch, so I was prepared to “cart it up,” or record it on a tape cartridge to play along with what I was to read from the AP machine story.

As I was listening and getting ready to record, the audio feed cut out. I recall calling out something like, “what the hell?” and then I heard the bells on the AP machine ringing as I had never heard them ring before. The AP machine, which was nothing more than a dot-matrix printer that printed on rolled paper, would sound bells when there was urgent news. In the few months on the college radio station I would hear bells ring, maybe once or twice, but not non-stop, or what it seemed. As I and others went to look at what was printing out, we saw initial stories about the launch of Challenger, then that “there appears to be a major problem after the launch of the shuttle ‘Challenger.’”, which was then followed with what is pictured above, “’NASA’ says the vehicle has exploded.’, which was then followed by messages about the successful launch of the shuttle, which apparently were written and sent before the explosion message.

My memory of this is amplified by the fact that for some reason I kept the initial news feeds that came off the AP machine on the explosion. Typically news stories are ripped, read and then discarded (thus, rip-and-read). I kept about 2 feet of the scrolled paper, which included the above alert, and the complete scanned images of the entire scroll are at the end of this post. Note the above alert went across 2 scanned images, thus I made this composite from both.

Following these alerts, there was a lot of activity in the radio station, which was located in our campus center. As there were no TVs in the campus center, we became the primary source for information on the explosion, and we even got the radio signal piped in over the campus center PA system. What was to become a 10-minute newscast at noontime engulfed more time from music programming and more people as well, as we were reporting on what was coming off the AP machine, as well as the network audio feed, which we had cut to directly, unedited, for a portion of time.

For most all of us, in our late teens to early 20’s, we had really never lived through a large national tragedy like this. Then add to it our role in broadcasting it. Where we tried to not be chaotic and somewhat organized about it, for most of us we were making up our approach as we went along. There was plenty of stepping on each other’s toes and voices and literally bumping into each other as we moved around our small studio space. The doors from the broadcast studio and lobby were all open – a major faux pas – as station members and students and faculty were coming and going to hear what was transpiring.

As the day went on, TVs were brought into the campus center, allowing all of us who had only heard about the explosion to actually see it. I remember being in awe as I saw the video played over and over and over and over. I also recall a mix of emotions, from tragedy and sadness, to thinking of all the school children who were watching this live, to why it happened after so many successful launches. The last loss of life for NASA happened before I was born, and after growing up seeing other launches, moon landings and successful returns to earth, this was something entirely new to think about.

Nearly three decades later, we know about O-rings, known engineering flaws, the loss of another shuttle vehicle and the remaining ones are now on their way to museums. Then President Ronald Reagan’s speech to the nation was perfect for the moment then and reflecting on it today, and you can view it here on YouTube. I share the images and memory of this as the these types of stories need to be told, not just the headlines but what happened behind and around them, as these show the complete fabric of our society.

AP news feed on Space Shuttle Challenger explosion

AP news feed on Space Shuttle Challenger explosion


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


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My Guest Post On The CorporateStays.com Blog

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 06:51 AM with 1 comments

CorporateStays.com logo

I was recently invited to write a guest post on the blog for CorporateStays.com, a service which matches luxury accommodations for travelers in select cities in the world like Montreal, Miami and Panama City. Digging into my experience with travel, I decided to write about tips for traveling in the winter months. My post, Travel Tips for Travelling to a Wintery Destination, is now live.

Where my typical writing is about business and technology, I file this under the “occasional diversion” I refer to in the description of The Hot Iron. The more I write, the more these come to mind, and the more these may be available to read by you and others.

Thanks to my good friend CT Moore and the staff at CorporateStays.com for the opportunity to write this.


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


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Mixing It Up In 2015 And The Hot Iron Turns 8

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, January 02, 2015 at 07:52 AM with 0 comments

photo of 1983 Boston Red Sox program

Happy 2015! As today, the second day of January, officially marks the first business day of the year, and by now most have recovered from the merriment of New Year’s Eve, I would like to wish you all a great new year.

Where rolling to a new calendar also comes with resolutions, mine is simply to mix it up in 2015. I started the new year off much differently than I did in past years: sans kids, just me and my lovely wife at a Spanish restaurant, where just about every year that I can remember has involved Chinese food (a Boston tradition) and the past several years have been with our kids, even if they were sleeping in the next room. This was a fun change, and a great way to ring in 2015.

So in mixing it up in 2015, I am not looking to make major strategy changes, but smaller, incremental changes that I see as adding up to something bigger and better. Maybe I take a different route to go someplace, or a different approach to reaching out to someone, or simply wear a different color socks on occasion – I am hoping to stop and think when I get into doing something routine or that comes too natural to me, and think how to change it in some way.

The Hot Iron at 8

December 30 marks the official anniversary of the launch of this little blog which is now 8 years old. It’s almost wild to think I have been at this, at varying degrees, this long. Writing is something I have enjoyed more and more over time, and it has been both a creative outlet as well as a way to vent some of my frustrations over business and technology – the overarching theme of this repository. Whether this is your first time reading or you are a long time subscriber – thank you!

I have written an anniversary post of mixed sorts over the years, and if you’re so inclined you can read them for the following anniversaries of The Hot Iron: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.


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


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Celebrating Christmas 2014 In A Traditional and Non-Traditional Way

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, December 25, 2014 at 12:00 AM with 0 comments

photo of my nativity scene

To all of my family, friends and readers who celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas! To everyone else, have a great Thursday!

As the origin of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, I share the above picture of my nativity scene. This was a gift from my Mom many years ago, as she gave myself and my sister identical nativities. I am proud to share it with my little ones.

So that is the traditional celebration of Christmas. Now for the non-traditional way.

I ran across this video the other day and I was speechless. It is a Star Wars Christmas special that aired on TV back in 1978. You can read the full story about it here if you’d like, or you can just view the show embedded below or by following this link to Vimeo.

Though I was a young lad back in 1978, I don’t remember this show that aired only once. After watching it – ok, even reading the premise of it – that is probably a good thing. If you are a die-hard Star Wars fan or just a casual one, you will find this amusing to say the least.

If you like it, then consider it my gift to you. If you don’t, then we can just forget about it.


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


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Join Me And Support Barrel Of Monkeys For Giving Tuesday 2014 #givingtuesday

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, December 02, 2014 at 09:57 AM with 0 comments

Barrel of Monkeys logo

After Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, if you have anything left, I welcome you to join me and support a great organization, Barrel of Monkeys, for Giving Tuesday.

Though I don’t know the story about how Giving Tuesday came to be, I know well the story of Barrel of Monkeys – what they do, how they do it, and the impact they have made on school kids in Chicago.

In short, Barrel of Monkeys teaches elementary school kids creative writing in several Chicago Public Schools and an after-school program. They learn how to create a story from beginning to end, journaling them in their notebooks. These stories are then adapted into sketch comedy by the Barrel of Monkeys company members and performed for the students in their schools. So not only do they learn how to write creatively, they also see their work come to life!

But that’s not where it ends – every week there is a performance by the Barrel of Monkeys company members, where several of these sketches are performed to audiences live. Each sketch is introduced and the student author is acknowledged, and the program given to each audience member has what the students actually wrote – sometimes it’s just a sentence, other times it’s several paragraphs and everywhere in between. The company members donate their time to perform, and all money raised goes back into the overall program.

The preceding gives only a synopsis of the great work Barrel of Monkeys does – you can read more on their Web site @ barrelofmonkeys.org or see for yourself their programs and some of their sketch comedy performances on their YouTube channel.

Below is a funny video promoting Giving Tuesday and Barrel of Monkeys, performed by Barrel of Monkeys company members and staff Elizabeth and Joseph – watch the embedded video below or you can view it directly on their YouTube channel.

Thank you for your support! And why would I be thanking you and promoting Barrel of Monkeys? I am proud a member of their Board of Directors.


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


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