Announcing dMorning Tech Creative Networking In Northeast Wisconsin

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, November 05, 2017 at 08:24 PM with 0 comments

screenshot of dMorning Web site

With great anticipation I am pleased to announce a networking event for people who work in the tech and creative fields in Northeast Wisconsin. Introducing dMorning.

So what is dMorning?

The idea behind dMorning is relatively simple - informal networking before the busy workday starts, with no set rules and no agenda. Since I moved to the Fox Valley of Wisconsin this past summer, I have been looking for something like this, as I work in the Web and I am looking to meet people who work in similar fields in my new home area.

In the past I have hosted a variety of meetups where I used to live in Chicago – some specific and some general – and I have found the latter to be more interesting. A casual gathering of people to talk about what they are working on, sharing stories and bouncing ideas off each other… this is something I have wanted to restart for a while, and why not here? My plan is for this to be a monthly event.

The first dMorning will be on Friday, November 17 at 7:30 am at All Seasons Coffeehouse in Appleton, which is conveniently located off I-41 at Wisconsin Avenue. I only say it goes until 9:30 am as that is likely as long as I will be there. There is no cost for dMorning, you only have to pay for any beverages or food you purchase from this locally-owned business.

What’s in a name?

You may be wondering about the name, dMorning. As I sought out a name for this, I didn’t want to pick something limiting. On the Web site at dMorning.com there are some ideas of what the “d” could stand for.

Hope to see you there!


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


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My Guest Lecture On Consulting at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, October 27, 2017 at 05:02 PM with 2 comments

photo of UW Oshkosh class with Mike Maddaloni

Last week I had the honor to guest lecture to students at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh (UWO) on the topic of consulting. As the students are working on group projects where they consult to organizations on the Web and social media, I was thrilled to be asked to share my experiences, stories and advice on consulting and working in technology.

The class, Application of New & Emerging Media, is taught by Dr. Sara Steffes Hansen, associate professor and chair of the Department of Journalism at UWO. The class is a required course for the Interactive Web Management (IWM) major, and also part of the curriculum for journalism and public relations majors. The interdisciplinary IWM program combines journalism, business and computer science courses to prepare students for digital careers, where all of these skills are vital.

With 10 students in the class, it was a good setting to talk on this topic of consulting, as well as the upcoming deliverables for their project, including an interim status report and a proposal to the client at the conclusion of the semester. I talked about the commonly-accepted description and roles of consulting, my take on it, as well as real-life examples (with client names properly masked) of positive and not-so-positive experiences throughout my career which spans now a quarter-century. As nobody nodded-off in class and the questions posed by the students were of a high caliber, I am hoping they got as much out of the time as I did.

Dr. Hansen said the students handed in their status reports this week, and discussed the aspects of customer service and risk. She added, "the students applied those real-world examples and consulting essentials from your presentation to their own communication efforts with clients. They could articulate the management of risk for the unknowns in their projects, which is a part of any Web, eCommerce or social media endeavor. It was nice to see the students enjoy their consulting roles in this discussion."

This is the second time I have given a guest lecture in one of Dr. Hansen’s classes. Two years ago I spoke to her class, incidentally a pre-requisite of this one, on the topic of blogging. Where the last time I remotely spoke to the students using the Personify technology and a 3D Web camera, this time I was in person in the classroom, the method I prefer much better.

I have posted the slides from the lecture on SlideShare, and you can view them embedded below or view them at this link on SlideShare’s site. On slide 11, I selected 3 famous people to help describe proposals – can you guess why I chose them?

(photo credit – Dr. Sara Steffes Hansen)


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


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GoPats.com Announces Its Retirement As Patriots Fan Web Site

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 at 05:50 PM with 0 comments

the GoPats.com logo

After 21 seasons of serving the fans of the NFL’s New England Patriots, GoPats.com announces its retirement, according to its co-founders Mike Maddaloni and Clint Mills.

At the time of its launch in the mid-1990’s, GoPats.com was one of only a handful of Patriots fan sites worldwide. In these early days of the Web, with copyright laws still murky for online content, the site, originally called Patriots Unofficial, focused on original content, including its flagship column, Clint’s Corner. Even when the NFL and the Patriots encouraged fair-use of its logo and branding, the site remained true to its origins, even with the number of fan sites increasing.

The site first launched in “beta” in the fall of 1995, when Mike created one of his first Web sites as a way of learning the emerging Web technologies. Upon showing the Patriots page to Clint – whom he met at work and they became fast friends over the team, as Clint was a second-generation season ticket holder and Mike was a new one – he expressed his dismay that it was not worthy of the team.

Miffed at this, Mike told Clint to put his money where his mouth was and provide content to the site. An extremely loyal and knowledgeable fan of the Pats and all of football, Clint wrote an off-season article on March 13, 1996, and this date is considered the official launch of the site. The eponymous domain name was added in 1997 at Clint’s insistence, trailblazing in the trend of personal Web sites being branded with their own domain name.

From its humble beginnings just prior to the Pats second Super Bowl appearance – and loss – to winning its first in New Orleans in 2002, Clint’s Corner was published in 129 editions. Additionally, guest contributors including Frank Moore, Ralph Ingrassia and others made their mark on the site, all with original content. This made GoPats.com the go-to destination for reporting and opinion on the team long before the term “dynasty” was even considered. The site and his involvement was cited when Clint won the 1998 Patriots Fan of the Year Joseph Mastrangelo Trophy, which was presented to him by team owner Robert Kraft.

A bonus, if you will, of running one of the original fan Web sites to serve Patriots Nation was the engagement with fans, across New England and around the world. This included Pats fans and fans of other teams, and where the occasional exchange out of bounds, most all connections were positive. Sporting GoPats.com t-shirts and a large banner during tailgating and other events, including New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, helped Clint and Mike engage with fans from all corners of the globe.

From a technology point of view, GoPats.com was a groundbreaking media platform. It was a content management system (CMS) and blogging platform long before those terms became mainstream. The site could be updated from home or the parking lot right after the game. Its integrated email list informed hundreds of fans of new content to the site and incorporated leading-edge design and functional features to remain a current platform and offer the ultimate user experience for Patriots Nation.

clipping of Mike and Clint with the Pat Van

That was then, and this is now. As time went on and as Mike and Clint went from single guys with plenty of disposable time to family men, it impacted the frequency of publishing and overall updates. A short-lived news blog, Out In The Loop, was added in the mid-2000’s but it didn’t keep up with the fandom landscape, which evolved ahead with more advanced Web sites, mobile apps, social media as well as cross-media business ventures. In recent years the site design was updated to keep it as an archive site, but the demand for knowledge on Bill Parcells “buying the groceries” during the 1996 season waned. Even the above-shown tailgating van is no longer in service, however one of its “PAT VAN” license plates is on display at the official Patriots Hall of Fame at Gillette Stadium.

In its retirement, the domain name GoPats.com will redirect to the very post you are reading now, which lives on Mike’s blog, The Hot Iron, which itself has been publishing for over a decade. Could GoPats.com ever come out of retirement or serve another purpose? Any reasonable offers starting at 7-figures will certainly be considered!


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


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Hello Appleton And The Fox Valley Of Wisconsin

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, August 06, 2017 at 12:29 PM with 2 comments

photo of welcome to Appleton Wisconsin sign

It is with much enthusiasm that I announce my family and I have relocated to Appleton, Wisconsin. After the last few months of logistical planning, packing, purging, running back and forth with a minivan and U-Hauls and the overall stress that goes with a move, we have finally arrived in northeast Wisconsin in the area known as the Fox Valley.

Some of you are probably asking, why? Why is a Patriots fan moving into the heart of Packerland? Interestingly visiting teams who play in Green Bay stay in Appleton, as I have educated my kids when I pointed out the hotel, telling them, “Tom Brady slept here,” but I digress.

The short answer to why the move? Family, more space and less noise.

With any move, the next logical question is, where are you working? This is an easy question to answer, as I am not changing jobs. Thanks to the magic of working remotely, I am able to do the same job I have had for the last 2 years. Special thanks to the people at this great place to work, including my CTO, Director and colleagues.

As I get settled into my new surroundings, I am planning to get back out there and connect with the local tech community. This aspect of working in technology is something I have always done, and where I may not see people on the job on a day-to-day basis, I hope to make up for it with meeting new friendly faces and learning from others.

When You Move To You Also Move From

As I say hello to Appleton I am also saying goodbye to Chicago, a city I have called home for the last 13 years. The time there was a whirlwind of many highs and lows, where I went from newly married and launching a business to a husband and Dad of 2 amazing kids and working for a well-established and acclaimed organization. The friends and relationships I made over those years in the Windy City are and will remain important to me. Plus, I am still a Cook County taxpayer there as a property owner, so I still have some skin in that game. There are many things I will not miss about Chicago, and that will be the topic of future writing.

An important part of this transition is the focus of my social media engagement. As I still don’t have cable TV or an antenna, the Web and Twitter are still vital sources of news. I have been unfollowing many media outlets and sources of information for Chicago and Illinois as I subscribe to the same for Appleton and Wisconsin. Where I am cutting ties with publications and media outlets in Chicago I am still following many journalists and columnists whose opinion and what they share are of value to me. Again, it’s all about the people.

For now, I will get back to work… both to my job and to unpacking.


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


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7 Lessons Learned From Blogging For 10 Years

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, December 30, 2016 at 02:58 PM with 1 comments

photo of Bulleit Bourbon bottle label

On Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 1:56 pm Central US Time, I published my very first blog post here at The Hot Iron. If you didn’t click on the link to read it, it would have taken longer to read this sentence than to read that post. Now ten years and 822 posts later, I am entering my second decade of blogging.

Where every year on my “blogversary” I have written a post to acknowledge it (some more robust than others), rather than simply patting myself on the back again, I’d like to share some of the lessons I have learned over the years of writing.

1. You never know who is reading – Despite knowing the Internet is Earth-wide, I still get amazed as to the reach of what I have written. Whether it’s companies inviting me to dinner or to travel the world, to the one time when someone quoted to me something I wrote myself, the true exposure is something I need to remind myself before I click the publish button each time.

2. Answer a question with a blog post – As the genesis of this blog was out of my former Web consulting firm, I found it useful to use The Hot Iron as not only a means of promoting my business but to create “reusable” content. Whenever someone asked me a question that I believed someone else may ask me, I would create a blog post on it and send them the link in response to their query. It not only answered their question, but made me look smarter as I wrote something on it, and made answering the question the next time all the easier. I still do that to this day.

3. Blogging can help you be a better writer – Before I started blogging, most of my writing was emails and technical specifications and documentation. Over time, I not only honed my writing but found myself greatly enjoying it. Many people have told me that they find it hard to get into a groove on writing, and if you look at my first few posts to those I write today, you will see quite a progression. More on the writing process later.

4. Simply placing ads on your blog won’t make you rich – Some of you may be surprised by this statement, and others of you are surely smirking at it, as you learned this the hard way yourself. From banner ads, Amazon product links to payment services like the former CentUp or soon-to-be former Google Contribute, ads may bring in a little loose change, but it takes a concentrated effort and plan to make real income from your blog.

5. Allow people to subscribe by RSS or email – Many of my most faithful readers are ones who receive my blog posts in their inbox or in their RSS feed reader. Even though Google killed off its Reader product years ago, people still aggregate content by RSS feeds in their Web browser or other services such as Fever. Making it easy for people to read what you write will keep readers reading.

6. Control your blog platform – Over years I have seen people post loyally on a variety of public platforms, from Geocities to Posterous, only to see those services shut down and their content vanish, especially as they never had a backup of their own writing! I am in the business of helping people get their message out on the Web, and I sill profess the best way is to do so is to have control of your Web publishing platform. Your own domain name coupled with any one of the number of content management systems (CMS) out there will give you the ability to manage your message as well as move it if necessary.

7. Blog posts don’t write themselves – Doing the math, I have written and published about 1.5 posts a week. On the surface this looks good, but looking back on early posts – especially those before the social media boom which would have probably been tweets rather than blog posts – there was irregularity and long periods where posts were published and where they were not. It takes a commitment to writing – focusing on actually finishing writing, editing and publishing something. I also like to add original photos to posts, which will take me on a hunt to find the right shot (like the one above at a liquor store – there are worst places to go) and more time. But as I do enjoy writing, it’s also a hunt to find time when I am caffeinated and have thoughts pouring out of my head, as I am as I write this.

Deconstructing Ten Years of Blogging

There are very few things in our lives that we can measure in terms of decades, and I can now count this blog as one of them. For as much work that goes into writing what I share here at The Hot Iron, it is truly something I enjoy doing. This makes the time I have devoted to this labor of love all the more worth it. Feedback from readers rounds out the overall experience, and for that I am also grateful. Now on to post 823.


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


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Stir The Soul

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, November 04, 2016 at 08:08 AM with 0 comments

”photo

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for winning the 2016 World Series, ending a 108-year championship drought! As a fan of the Boston Red Sox, who ended their own 86-year drought in 2004 – ironically just after I moved from Boston to Chicago – there has always been a kindred spirit between the teams, and I am glad to see them win it all.

As I watched the final out of the game – at home, after leaving the pub where several families and their kids stayed far too late on a school night – I heard the jubilation in the neighborhood of literal screams and shouts. I was happy for the team and Chicago, especially for friends and colleagues – loyal fans who have been waiting for “next year” to finally come.

Though I was happy, I can’t say I was emotional about it. Granted, it was after midnight, but the strong feeling I have experienced when others of my teams – the Red Sox, New England Patriots and even my adopted Chicago Blackhawks – won their championship titles was just not there.

That is, until I saw this. Click on the embedded video below to play it, or click this link to watch the video on YouTube.

The video is from Budweiser and was released on the morning after the game. It is an extremely creative piece, combining modern video of Chicago and its fans watching the game and vintage video and audio of the late legendary Cubs announcer Harry Caray, edited to match the final out of the game. It’s as if Caray was alive today, making the call himself.

This got to me. And I finally felt the emotion I would expect to feel, as I have felt in the past when not only a team of mine won, but for other exciting events in my life.

Why it got to me is not surprising. As someone who grew up in an age before ESPN (interestingly, ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen was a local sports reporter where I grew up before he started the cable network) and the ability to see games all the time, we may have gotten 1 or 2 games a week on TV, but radio was where all games were broadcast. In those days, play-by-play announcers had a much different style than they do today; they were much more conversational, and in the absence of today’s computer-generated bombardment of stats, filled gaps with anecdotes that gave you a broader sense of what it was like to be in the ballpark.

Where I knew about Harry Caray and his antics in Chicago, for me it was Ken Coleman who was the play-by-play announcer for the Red Sox. An older gentleman, his mellow voice was a contrast to today’s announcers, and it was like listening to old Uncle Ken telling the story of today’s game.

To say they don’t make them like that anymore is more than cliché. Where Coleman, as Caray, did not see a World Series for their teams in their lifetimes, it was nice that this tribute to Caray was crafted.

(Edited 7/9/2017 - changed link and embed from the original video to an alternate one as it was no longer available.)


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


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About My Deconstructions

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 08:19 AM with 0 comments

”photo

When I started writing here at The Hot Iron, the name came from the expression, “strike while the iron is hot.” Though my entry into the world of blogging could be considered more functional than creative, taking burning topics – whether business, technology or personal – and boiling them down was far from anything new to me.

Much thought has gone into the direction of my blog lately, which is one aspect of the thought into my greater self. As I have considered the focus on what I write, I have also focused on how I write, namely in the approach I take with covering a topic. The product of this quest is what I am calling My Deconstructions.

What is a deconstruction? As I write here and elsewhere, I will strive to take my analysis and reporting on a topic and conclude it by breaking it down into essential points and conclusions. In some regards it will be similar to my book takeaways; rather than rating a book I share what I gained from the time spent reading it. In some cases it is a summary, and in others I look back on something I took from it and am surprised I came up with it! The deconstruction may be takeaways, action items, next steps, essential components, revelations or something else I haven't thought of a category for.

Like anything, I have already started writing these and will see how it evolves. As a reader, whether your first time or as a long-time one (and I know there's a few of you out there), I welcome your thoughts and feedback as this new approach appears in my future posts.

Deconstructing Deconstructions

Why shouldn't what I write about deconstructions have one itself? As time is always of the essence, taking the time to make or reiterate the main points from something is always useful to whoever is consuming it. It also helps the reader understand your main points, as you never want to assume someone has gleaned them from reading your work. In the end the reader – you – will say if these deconstructions are helpful, and please let me know in the comments to this post either way.


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


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Nine Years Of Blogging At The Hot Iron

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM with 3 comments

”photoTypically the inspiration for something I write here at The Hot Iron comes from something that impacts me. It could be a conversation I have with someone. It could be a book I read or a product I try. It could be something I experience. Whatever it is, it will drive me to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to share it with the people I am fortunate are reading here.

Annually something occurs that I have addressed in various ways, the anniversary of the launch of this blog. With my Hello World post on December 30, 2006, I met a goal of launch a blog by the end of that year, and also launched something that is now entering its tenth year, racking up over 800 posts and over 7 million page hits.

Writing this post is always different from the others. Rather than try to come up with something profound or prolific (or any other adjective beginning with “pro”), I will simply say thank you! Thank you to all who read this and all who have inspired me to write over the last year and years. I have gotten more excited about blogging in 2015, and I am looking forward to more sharing and conversations in 2016.


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


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”Giving

With the holiday season upon us, and the accompanying shopping season long under way, it's time to take a break, be thankful and support the spirit of the season and participate in Giving Tuesday.

On December 1, 2015, you are encouraged to close the tabs in your Web browser showing the latest deals and open up a Web page for a worthy charity, and allow me to suggest Barrel of Monkeys.

For over 17 years, Barrel of Monkeys has been teaching creative writing curriculum in Chicago public schools and in after-school programs. These programs are offered to elementary school kids and help them not only in their writing but to learn a little more about their creative side. The teachers in the program are also professional actors and improvisors, and they take what the kids write – from a single sentence to a short story – and adapt it into sketch comedy. This comedy is first debuted to the kids in their schools, and throughout the year Barrel of Monkeys puts on performances to the public showcasing some of the best of this inspired comedy.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Barrel of Monkeys, one may say I am biased as to how amazing this organization is, its people and the work it does. But don't believe me – see it for yourself; whether its in one of our performances or hear it from the kids and teachers themselves.

For Giving Tuesday 2015, our goal is to raise $3,000 towards our annual appeal. Can you help? Click the giant red button below and you can make a tax deductible donation online in any amount.

”Donate

If you're still not convinced, watch this trailer for our Giving Tuesday campaign – the actors are our artistic and education directors – showing some of the depth of talent and dedication to the organization.

If you have any questions on Barrel of Monkeys, check out our Web site or share them in the comments to this post, and thank you in advance for your support!


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


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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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