The Hot Iron

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

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

What I Learned This Week For July 11 2014

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

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

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


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


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

What I Learned This Week For July 4 2014

photo of Independence Day color guard in Munster Indiana

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

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


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 07/09/14 at 10:51 PM
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

What I Learned This Week For June 27 2014

photo of a warning message on a waterski

With the Pandora Smooth Jazz channel playing, and though I am confused at some of the music they are classifying as “smooth jazz” I am nonetheless liking it as I collect my learnings for the week…

  • I learned 2 things along with the above photo. Presumably if you are putting on a water ski, it is probably too late at that point to read the warning fine print. Also, this modern ski was not sufficient for my lovely wife, as she strapped on wooden skis she used when she was a kid to be pulled behind a boat for the first time in at least a decade, and with great success – go you!
  • Sometimes, spontaneous fun has to be scheduled.
  • Facilitating the listening to the earlier-mentioned Pandora channel are my iHip Patriots lanyard headphones. I have had these for a while and am surprised I have never talked about them as I love them! Most of the cord is wrapped in lanyard material sporting the Pats logo, which means they don’t tangle just by looking at them. And for under ten dollars, they are a great deal. Where mine have the logo of the greatest NFL football team ever, they are offered in other team logos, including the local team the Chicago Bears.
  • Where I didn’t need headphones was last Monday when I saw Bob Mould perform at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. I have mentioned him and his original band Husker Du many times before, and this was the third time I saw him over the years. In short, he rocked, both in his new music, songs he has recorded as a solo artist over the years, and even a few songs from Husker Du days, including Hardly Getting Over It, Flip Your Wig and Makes No Sense at All.
  • Building on my original blog post on Managing Your Email Inbox To Zero from 5 years ago, a great way to get your inbox down is to sort by recipient – it’s a great way to clear out notifications, newsletters, junk mail and other spam. It is also a good way to action on a group of emails pretty quickly.
  • The Boston Market restaurant in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago closed abruptly on the June 15 and I found out about it when I went to take the family there for dinner, and we found out from the attendant at the free parking lot next to it that they shut down. As someone who had been to the original Boston Chicken before renamed and franchised, which itself closed years ago, it’s sad this decent meal option for the family becoming more scarce.
  • I am not a therapist nor do I play one on TV, but if I was a PhD and I wanted to prescribe certain medications I now could in Illinois, after taking over 2 years of additional education, based on a new psychologist prescription bill that has become law. Even in this hypothetical situation, to have a PhD then take more education, especially in this uncertain time in healthcare worldwide, I would rather refer them to a true MD who would buy me a beer for every referral. Again, in this hypothetical situation I would.
  • While the City of Chicago has been thrust into turmoil over the addition of the name TRUMP to the eponymous skyscraper and winning the future George Lucas museum, what has been hardly talked about is the installation of sensors to monitor, among other things, sounds and mobile device activity. They are due to be installed along Michigan Avenue and the Loop starting later this year. Of course they won’t look as ominous as they sound as they will be concealed with a decorative shield. As expected, they are being proclaimed not in the name of Big Brother and Big Data, but for our safety. Looks like I will be placing my phone in Chicago Mode (similar to airplane mode) as I walk around the city.
  • When you say you don’t know, chances are you probably do.
  • Version 7 of ownCloud is now in beta. The suite of tools which you can use – just as I do – to replace Google Docs, Calendar, Address Book and similar “cloud” services from others has been an invaluable tool for me, and I haven’t even yet installed version 6 yet, which is out and has been given high marks.
  • Where the next book from my good friend John J. Wall may not be coming out anytime soon, I have finally taken the first baby steps towards writing my own first book. Note the term baby steps, so don’t expect my book signing bus tour to commence anytime soon.
  • I ran across Musicless Music Videos almost by accident, where popular music videos are stripped of the music and you hear what could have been the sound when the video was shot. Below I have embedded the video for Dancing in the Streets by Mick Jagger and David Bowie with this treatment – follow the link if you can’t see the video below, and follow this link to the original video, including music.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 06/29/14 at 03:03 PM
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Monday, June 23, 2014

What I Learned This Week For June 20 2014

photo of the back of a Lands’ End catalog

As the original Disney classic Cinderella plays in the background, allowing me a few minutes to post my learnings and thoughts from the week…

  • Clearly whomever schedules Lands’ End catalogs is the only person in the world who doesn’t know that the Sears store in downtown Chicago closed over a month ago now.
  • After a search for a mobile phone that would be good for my Aunt who is, let’s just say, a few years older than me, I came across the Doro PhoneEasy 618. When I looked to see where they sell them, of course the closest location listed was the above-mentioned closed Sears store. But as others are still open nearby, I will investigate it to see if it will work for my Aunt, and also won’t lock me to a particular network carrier.
  • Speaking of mobile devices, Web retail behemoth Amazon announced its forthcoming Amazon Fire Phone. It runs the Android operating system, has a 13 megapixel camera, has something called Dynamic Perspective for 3D effects, and you can buy it with or without a phone contract, or as it is known as unlocked. Oh, and it makes it easy for you to buy other things from Amazon. I like the phone. The only thing I am curious about is why the Amazon logo is only on the back of the device and not on the front.
  • The Web browser Firefox, the direct descendent of the original NCSA Mosaic Web browser, has something called “safe mode” and apparently you can get stuck in it, as I was this week. The only thing is I don’t know if I am completely out of it, and cannot disable annoying but surely ignorable browser plug-ins. Ah, to remember the day when the Web browser just did what it needed to.
  • Last weekend was the annual Chicago Blues Fest, held in Grant Park by Lake Michigan. For several years after we first moved to Chicago, the festivals in the park were truly “open” where you could come and go as you wanted, and providing you didn’t break the law, you could set up a tent, flags and have a great time. Shortly after Chicago started bidding for the 2016 Summer Olympics, events like the Blues Fest were “locked down” with large fences and entrypoints put around what were still events with no cost to attend. As my lovely wife and I were walking towards the lakefront we passed the Blues Fest and decided to check it out for a little while. That is, until I saw people with “security” shirts patting people down who were entering the area. Really? Why? Because the number of murders from the previous 2 years doubled… to zero? I was appalled, and simply walked away.
  • A few hours prior to the Blues Fest dismay I started my day on a high point, participating in the annual Liver Life Walk in Chicago to benefit the American Liver Foundation. We exceeded our team goal and raised over $2,000 to this worthy cause, who also spends almost 90% of monies raised on programs, research and advocacy for liver diseases and the people affected by them. As many of the first contributors to the team found the link here on The Hot Iron, a special thank you in advance of a formal thank you to arrive in your post mailbox soon.
  • There is nothing like a new battery for your notebook PC.
  • In a previous lessons learned I had mentioned my daughter’s school pictures were taken in front of a green screen and using chroma key technology I could choose the background. This past week we put up her picture, along with my other daughter’s picture, which was taken the old-fashioned way with a backdrop. Where her picture is beautiful, it just doesn’t have the “warmth” of her sister’s. When school resumes I will be requesting they give the option to have a standard backdrop.
  • My good friend Pete finally… FINALLY had his business’ Web site redesigned. Check out the new Web site for Foresight Childproofing. If you are in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota area and have kids, call Pete to have him make your home safe for the little ones. With the redesign he also took my advice and had my good friend Emily Brackett and her studio Visible Logic not only build a great site that looks great on a standard computer or mobile device, but she also made some nice changes to the Foresight logo. Wherever you are, Emily and her team can do wonders for you and your business with its presence, from print to Web.
  • I lost count of the number of emails I received with approved job offers from Apple and Facebook. Where I laud the creativity and timeliness of spammers, they may just want to throw a few slices of spam rather than a few cases if they want to better deceive people.
  • I finally ordered something from Freshii, a chain of fresh food restaurants. I say finally here as I tried to order from them twice before with no luck. The first time I went into one store and, realizing there was a process to ordering, followed everyone else and grabbed a clipboard and paper to place an order. As I didn’t have my reading glasses with me I couldn’t read the microtext on the sheet. The second time Freshii was the offering of the day from Fooda in my office and the service was wicked slow, with a huge queue of people. This time I went to a new store around the corner from me. Where I didn’t see any clipboards, I did see video screens with small text, but this time I had my reading glasses. Several customers who came in at the same time clearly did not know where to go as we were standing in line at the part of the counter where you didn’t order. Clearly the employees couldn’t read the confused faces as they didn’t offer any real help, only to take our order. I chose a salad, and other around me got other things. The salad was good – not the greatest salad I ever ate, but it was good. As I was finishing my salad a woman who was in line with me before was leaving and said to me, “well, we figured it out!” I will probably go back, but the next time I will explore the options more.
  • My how time flies. 2014 marks the 28th anniversary of the Marketing over Coffee Awards. Where I don’t have strong memories of this from my high school days, what I do remember well is the movie Ghostbusters, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. With the anniversary has been a lot of talk about the title theme song of the movie by Ray Parker, Jr. and how it came into being, and the article linked here goes into its detail. The video itself was unique in many ways, not to mention the set not bursting into flames from all of the hairspray worn by the people in it. I embedded the video below but if you don’t see it you can follow this link to YouTube to view the video for who you gonna call.


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


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

What I Learned This Week For June 13 2014

photo of the complete 1,004 Portrait sculpture at Millennium Park, Chicago

After waiting all total about 30 minutes for Windows 7 to patch itself, and a few other lame excuses for this being posted late…

  • The installation of the 1,004 Portraits at Chicago’s Millennium Park, which I mentioned in last week’s post, is complete. This is what it looks like at around 7:30 am Central time with the sun’s reflection off of buildings on Michigan Avenue.
  • Speaking of the last blog post here on The Hot Iron – it was my 750th post. After the last several years of not blogging much, it is good to hit a milestone like that.
  • Morrissey, who came to fame in the 80’s as the lead singer of The Smiths and since has had a prolific solo career, canceled the remaining dates on his US tour as he caught some form of virus in Miami, including tonite’s show. The fact that I had great seats for that show makes me sad, but I hope he gets better and books yet a third show in the city, which hopefully be the charm to see him here.
  • I did get my fix of 80’s music last Friday night as I “heard” Foreigner and Styx. They were performing at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, an outdoor ampitheatre that sits where the former Meigs Field airport was. If you look at this aerial map of the venue, you may see water around it. That water is Lake Michigan and Burnham Harbor, where boats are docked or do dock by it for concerts there, where they can hear them extremely clearly, and for free. I know as I was on a boat in the harbor singing along with Foreigner, who’s 45 rpm single “Urgent” was the first record I ever bought in the late 70’s. It was wicked awesome, and thanks to Kristy and Edi for having us aboard.
  • People are more inclined to give to a specific cause or item rather than just to a general fund. For example, ask people to contribute any amount to a charity, and you will not get the response like asking someone to donate to purchase a specific piece of equipment for a charity that has a fixed cost. It also works better if you repeatedly go back to those same people and ask for another specific item.
  • Just recently Hailo, my choice for taxi hailing app, added black car service. So rather than riding in a standard taxi cab, you can choose a black car – a leather-lined sedan or SUV or even a limo – for just a little more than the cost of a standard taxi. This new option is so easy to choose, and it could become addictive.
  • This past week I learned the terms information foraging and information scent. Though I had just learned these terms, I was very familiar with the concepts and have used them in Web design and content development for years. For those of you that are not technical, follow the link above and read the article and let me know if it makes sense to you, and if you have experienced this yourself.
  • I don’t need someone pimping out their new biography to make it “Ideas Week” – for me, every week is ideas week.
  • Upon catching up on podcasts this week, I got to listen to the 100th episode of The Voicemail. It is a weekly, around 30-minute podcast on mobile technology hosted by 2 very smart and witty guys, James Whatley and Stefan Constantinescu. If you are interested at all in the mobile device industry you must listen, and thank me later.
  • My good friend and colleague Tom Ordonez is launching Miami Startup School. Being billed as a “3-month bootcamp that teaches you the right way to create a business. Sales, marketing, legal, tech. Everything you need to do it the right “lean startup” way and stop wasting time and money” I am sure it will be a success for those who attend and for Tom. He is a serial entrepreneur and takes a no-nonsense approach to building thriving businesses.
  • I was amused by the story of how ad agency Cramer-Krasselt parted ways with Panera Bread. Where I personally don’t have an opinion either way about their advertising, they certainly need a creative touch in the presentation of their in-store menus. Most of the time when I am in there, only to buy a loaf of their fresh bread, I am behind people who can’t make heads or tails of their menu. With numerous colors and fonts, it is not a quick read by any stretch.
  • Though it originally aired over a year ago on national TV in the US, I was just made aware of this dialogue in the CBS-TV show “Mike and Molly” which interestingly takes place in Chicago. The exchange is between 2 older men, an Italian-American, and the other who is apparently a farmer or lives in a rural area. Their exchange is full of stereotypes, making references to life on the farm and being Italian. Where comments about an Italian man’s mother’s moustache is one thing, calling him a WOP is another. The term is a racial slur against Italians, and is clearly not an apples-for-apples comparison to the insults the Italian said to the farmer, yet it somehow cleared for broadcast? You can view the excerpt from the Mike and Molly episode on YouTube at this link and I have embedded it below. Where I usually end my weekly lessons learned on a high note with a video, this one is surely a low point. Seeing this only reinforces why I don’t have cable TV or an antenna.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 06/16/14 at 07:18 PM
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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What I Learned This Week For June 6 2014

photo of the base of 1,004 Portraits sculpture at Millennium Park, Chicago

Processing the virtual sticky notes in my BugMe app on my iPhone that I accumulated with what I learned, here they are…

  • So what is that pictured above? It is a large toilet? Or a statue of Jay Leno’s chin? No, it is the start of one of the 4 new sculptures as part of the 1,004 Portraits installation at Chicago’s Millennium Park. The artist who created the Crown Fountain is behind this, as this sculpture and 3 others in a more inconspicuous location are extensions of the original 1,000 portraits that are illuminated on the glass block towers that is the hottest attraction on summer’s hottest days. This giant head will be looking at me for the next year and a half.
  • Speaking of the Crown Fountain, they finally aligned the video with the spitting water, so the water looks like it is coming out of the people’s mouths, rather than their lip or moustache as it has been for the last couple of years.
  • Like many of you, I have been wondering what Goldie Hawn has been up to the last few years. It turns out she has a foundation, appropriately called The Hawn Foundation, which aims to create programs to help kids learn and grow emotionally stable, all without pharmaceuticals. I haven’t looked into this fully, but I have been following them on Twitter as their goal sounds noble.
  • screen shot of the BugMe appThank you Chicago Blackhawks for another hard-fought exciting season of hockey. Watching you lose in overtime in the final leading to the Stanley Cup was heartbreaking, but you made it interesting leading up to it.
  • The Caribou Coffee shop at 20 Michigan Avenue in Chicago is closing on June 15. Right next door to it is a Starbucks, and next to that a Panera Bread and around the corner from it is another Starbucks. Going the other way is a Caffe Baci where you can get coffee, a Walgreen’s where you can get anything to drink, then next to it a 24 hour Dunkin Donuts, and next to it Toni Patisserie where you can get coffee too. Oh, and around the corner is the Pittsfield Café, which serves a great inexpensive breakfast and, you guessed it, coffee.
  • Though I will still be drinking coffee, my warm weather drink has become the margarita – on the rocks with no salt.
  • I received an email that the Box Tops Marketplace, where you could earn virtual Box Tops for Education for your favorite school by simply clicking on a store link, is closing as of July 31. With the simplicity of earning points which are essentially affiliate referrals, I am surprised it has been around this long.
  • Good luck Jen on your new adventure! We will miss you, and I am sure you will miss us when you’re cashing in all of those frequent flyer miles and sitting in first class.
  • When I took my daughter on a play date with her friend to a Chicago White Sox game, her first large sporting event, I was a little sad when I found out the tickets were virtual, a QR code to be scanned from the TicketMaster app. But low and behold, upon scanning them the ticket agent printed an “MLB Fan Pass” which is essence a ticket stub. So now she has something for her scrap book.
  • This past week baseball journeyman Don Zimmer died too young at 83 after serving three score and 6 years in the game he loved. I will always remember him as manager of the Boston Red Sox when I was growing up, and with all of the other teams he played or coached for, many people will have their own memories of him. One thing I learned about him was he was the catalyst for baseball introducing batting helmets.
  • Is it just me or am I the only person trying to do enterprise mobile app adoption, marketing and promotion?
  • Something happened this week when trying to rearrange my work schedule and I said out loud, “great googly moogly” and thought of the infamous Snickers commercial. I have embedded it below or click the above link to watch it on YouTube, and tell me in the comments ot this post if we should try to bring back that phrase!


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 06/10/14 at 09:55 PM
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Saturday, May 31, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 30 2014

photo of safety pins

Without further ado…

  • Over the last 5 plus months of using Dryv, the Chicago start-up who offers on-demand pickup and delivery of your dry cleaning and laundry, not only has my life been made a tad bit simpler, but I have amassed a collection of safety pins. The pins hold the tags on the garments and for some reason I have been saving them. I have yet to actually use one, yet I hold onto them. If anyone reading wants some (or all), feel free to contact me. Otherwise, the container will continue to fill. If you want to collect your own safety pins and save $20 off your first order, follow this link to Dryv, enter code 6H1A and request a pickup on the Web or your iPhone.
  • Tech media reports about a compromise of eBay logins surfaced almost a week before I received an email from eBay recommending I change my password. You would have thought some companies would have learned from other recent network breaches.
  • A primatologist is someone who studies apes and monkeys and wants to teach them to communicate with humans.
  • Over the weekend my lovely wife and I stayed at the Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It was completely remodeled last year and it is an awesome hotel with great style and amenities. But I have to admit, when I saw the name “Best Western” I wasn’t immediately drawn to this hotel. It could easily be rebranded as a Marriott or Sheraton as it was on par or even ahead of some hotels with those brands I have stayed at. I wonder if others have thought the same?
  • The reason we stayed at that hotel in Oshkosh was that it was our 12th wedding anniversary. I still seem to be learning about not only keeping but thriving in our relationship on a daily basis, but it is lessons well learned!
  • I received an email from LinkedIn inviting me to their long form post program where essentially I can write and post full articles similar to what I post here at The Hot Iron. Where this will be an option made available eventually to everyone who uses LinkedIn, I will pass on it for now. There are 2 compelling reasons why I am not clamoring to post something there. The first is in the “rights and responsibilities” of the offering where it indicates I could have posts disabled or lose my LinkedIn account entirely based on what I write, if it is found to be to salesy or in violation of their user agreement. The second is the track record LinkedIn has of terminating services within its property, such as network activity RSS feeds, their Answers section and its acquired CardMunch apps and service. By sticking with my own platform I will retain full editorial control of my content as well as the continuous availability of it.
  • It is better to communicate bad news directly rather than let people hear about it indirectly.
  • When I saw all of the news on the self-driving cars from Google, all I could think of was the Johnny Cab, a robotic-controlled cab service from the movie Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The link is to a clip of the movie where the Johnny Cab is featured. It is not necessarily “safe” for work, and of course that always depends on where you work.
  • I’ve just started watching some of the videos from the Lumia Stories project, where 100 people, born every year over the last 100 years, gets a Nokia Lumia mobile device and records part of their personal story. The campaign was created by 1000heads, the amazing word-of-mouth agency I have had the pleasure to get to know over the years from my involvement with other work they did with Nokia. It has me thinking about recording more of my history and getting history from my family members. I do count what I write here as being part of that.
  • When changing my eBay password I reviewed my list of logins and passwords and saw one for “something” called BugMe. I didn’t recall it, and upon further review I still don’t know what it was, but now it is an app productivity tool for tracking tasks with virtual sticky notes. I started using it on my iPhone for both personal and work tasks and so far so good. I plan on using it for this week’s learnings tracking.
  • This past week Steve Perry, the former lead singer of the band Journey, performed a few songs from his former band during an encore after a performance by the band Eels in St. Paul, Minnesota. Apparently Perry and members of Eels have become good friends. What’s interesting is that Perry hasn’t performed on stage in over 20 years. As songs from Journey played over and over on the radio from the late 70’s to the 80’s to today, it was great to see and hear him perform. Though his hair is a little shorter today, he still has it with his unique singing voice. You can watch the video embedded below, or follow this link to watch it on YouTube.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/31/14 at 09:25 PM
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Friday, May 23, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 23 2014

photo of a Caronarita

I grabbed one of the last pieces of paper on one of those pads that has a magnet on the back and you stick on a refrigerator – before my kids got to it for their various art projects – to carry with me and log what I learned.

  • I had my first, and most likely my last, Coronarita. Pictures here, it is a margarita with a mini Carona Beer bottle, called a Caronita, inverted in it with a special plastic holder. I like margaritas, but not with beer in them.
  • When I was a kid, you never paid for anything at school except for lunch. You got all of your school supplies and went on field trips at no extra cost. Clearly that is not the case today, as I find myself sticking an envelope in my daughter’s backpack almost weekly with money in it. It would be great if I just paid a lump amount at the beginning of the school year for everything, and if it went under, then the school gets the balance. Like one of those Popeil “set it and forget it” ovens, or maybe that’s a bad analogy?
  • Comfort comes at a cost.
  • Speaking of comfort and cost, after I learned the previous statement, I got a glaring example with platinum passes for Lollapalooza, the massive 3-day concert in Chicago’s Grant Park this summer. The pass gives you everything from golf-cart rides around the grounds to air-conditioned bathrooms to food and drink, all for the bargain price of US$3,600.00. Nice to know, but I’ll take the grunge of Riot Fest over this any day.
  • I have never been a fan of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, and thought it was way too much to spend for such a tool. The Dyson hand dryers you find in public bathrooms are ok, but not everyone can bend their wrist that way. Now if Dyson wants to really have a coup, they should make a car vacuum cleaner that actually works. Now that is something I’d pay money for. Needless to say, I am on my third car vacuum in a year and I don’t see this one lasting either.
  • The authenticity of kids toys is amazing today, including something I took a double-take on at my kids daycare – a wooden toy Keurig machine.
  • Just as I finished ordering for my kids first visit to a Chipotle Mexican restaurant this past week for Taco Tuesday, and tried to articulate their choices to the antsy staff, one of the staff said, “we do have a kids menu.” Who knew? And why isn’t it on the sign anywhere?
  • Put to the test this past week was my new bike lights, which are LED and rechargeable with a USB adapter. The Blackburn Flea 2.0 Front Headlight and Rear Light Combo worked great as I got an evening bike ride in along Lake Michigan. Now if I weren’t one of the few people along the lake trail with lights it would even be more beneficial.
  • The blog post I wrote yesterday about the great service GiveBackBox was written with my voice, using the Siri function on my iPhone and the Notes app. I did it over the weekend during downtime, and for this first attempt it worked well. After I “wrote” it, I emailed it to myself, and edited it on my PC. It was a fairly straightforward story so it worked well. I have already started another post, which I am sure will need much more editing.
  • Though I still do not have a TV, I couldn’t not hear about the “drum-off” between Chad Smith, the drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and actor Will Farrell, which occurred last night on the Tonight Show. I’ve seen the Chili Peppers several times over the years, and once ran into Smith – literally – as I was coming out of the men’s room and he was walking in after their show at the University of Albany in 1990.Years later I met Farrell after he ran the Boston Marathon and I was a volunteer there, though this only involved a handshake and not almost being knocked over. The drum-off made for more than good TV – you can click the previous link to view it or the video is embedded below.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/23/14 at 09:57 PM
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

GiveBackBox Makes Giving Excess Easy

GiveBackBox home page

We are a society of stuff. We get new stuff and get rid of the old stuff. With home delivery, overnight shipping, Amazon Prime and other ways getting stuff is very easy. Getting rid of stuff is a different story, for either we put it out on the street, throw it away or put it in a bag and lug it to Goodwill or Salvation Army. With all these ways methods it takes a level of effort to do so, and isn’t always convenient. With GiveBackBox now there is a way of getting rid of things that is just as easy as getting them.

GiveBackBox, which launched last year, is a service where you can create a UPS shipping label to put on any box of things you want to get rid of. You simply go to their Web site at givebackbox.com, enter your email address and the UPS shipping label is presented to you as an image which you can print out and put onto a box. The label itself is a return shipment label so you don't have to weigh the box or enter its dimensions. Just fill a box, put the label on it and drop it off at UPS Store, Staples or give to any UPS driver. The label has the address of Goodwill in Indiana. There is no cost to generate a label for anyone.

I first heard about GiveBackBox on Twitter late last year. I thought the idea was brilliant and I had to try it out for myself. Originally you had to register and create an account to use this site but now they removed that and you can just enter your email address to get a label.

The service was started by Monica Weila who runs Style Up Girl, an eCommerce site that sells women’s shoes. On the GiveBackBox Web site it tells a story about how she saw a man on Michigan Avenue in Chicago who wanted a pair of shoes. As she didn’t have mens shoes, she got some and went back, but he was gone. This was the catalyst for what has become this service.

I have been using GiftBackBox for several months now and have sent over 10 boxes of stuff. Some boxes were bigger or smaller than others, but every time I was reusing a box that came from something I ordered online. Living in the city, I end up storing a bunch of stuff to give away and I really don’t have the space to do so. With GiveBackBox you can just send the things as you go. Granted larger items like baby gates and desks are nothing that you are going to box up, and those are things that I actually will bring to Goodwill or Salvation Army. But for the most part clothes or small items are perfect for the service. You can also get a receipt for your donation by going to the Goodwill Web site and filling out a donation form you can print it or save it as a PDF for your taxes.

I like a lot of things about GiveBackBox and I have recommended it to many people and I suggest you give it a try at givebackbox.com. Let me know what you think of the service and feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments to this post.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/22/14 at 08:33 PM
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Friday, May 16, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 16 2014

photo of gravity tank with Swedish flag painted on it in Andersonville, Chicago

Not everything we learn in the course of a week is a life lesson or something which jumps out at you completely. But even though I never hear a lot of feedback or get a lot of comments on these posts, for me, it is a good way to end the week and look back.

  • The water gravity tank that was atop the Swedish American Museum in the Andersonville section of Chicago still exists. It now sits in a parking lot, as pictured above. Reports are it may cost upwards of US$200,000 to repair and replace, and a fundraising effort is underway. Perhaps there may be a cheaper way to restore the structure, and one which does not collect water, as when it was removed it was full of ice.
  • Prior to taking the picture of the gravity tank, I attended a performance of Barrel of Monkeys. They are a group of teachers and performers who work with public school students and teach them about creative writing, then stories are selected and a sketch is created by the actors. I know I did not do this description justice, so visit their Web site and look for when their next performance is, and thank me later.
  • Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, was born in Chicago, and lived here until he was 2 years old.
  • I got a new work PC this week, and it has a touch screen and is running Windows 8.1. I really didn’t need a new computer, but the lease was up on my “old” Windows 7 PC, which I really liked. I have only used the basics of touch on it, as my big hands don’t work well with the small text in menus, etc. Looking forward to trying out new apps designed for Windows 8.1, and in the meantime I will use it just like I did my Windows 7 PC.
  • The NFL’s New England Patriots have created a jersey guarantee offers someone who purchased a jersey for a player, and then if that player is no longer under contract with the team, a 25% discount on a new jersey. This is of course built upon the team’s previously successful exchange program for the jersey of Aaron Hernandez, which I feel is even more genius on the part of the Patriots, especially with the cost of jerseys today.
  • Tickets went on sale and the line-up of bands was announced for Riot Fest, a 3-day outdoor concert in Chicago, as well as Denver and Toronto, which encompasses many stages with bands and acts performing simultaneously, not to mention a carnival and midway of rides. Of all the bands performing, include The Cure, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Social Distortion (a few of my favorite bands from the 80’s), is Jane’s Addiction. What’s interesting about them is their lead singer, Perry Farrell, is the creator and still involved in another similar and larger concert in Chicago, Lollapalooza. I’ll be at the Chicago shows at Humboldt Park on September 12-14, will you?
  • This past week I got an off email from photo-sharing service Shutterfly that was a little odd. I rarely use the service, and the message seemed to be in response to the fact that I was pregnant, which despite wild rumors is the furthest from the truth. I then got another email from them, with an apology from their Chief Marketing Officer John Boris saying they were “truly sorry” for the email. When I got the email, I tweeted about it and got a few snarky comments from friends, and that was it. But as the topic of pregnancy can be extremely sensitive, I am sure it pissed someone off.
  • Workers began installing the letters “TRUMP” on the Trump Hotel and Towers in Chicago. The 20-foot high letters will be facing the Chicago River side of the tower, which means when I walk out my front door every morning I will see them. So far they have the letter “T” installed and had it lit up at night. Where it may appear a little tacky, I am in favor of any building having branding on it, as that brand is the reason why the building is there – or in other words, they built it.
  • There have been a lot of attacks on human resource departments in technology publications, which has resulted in very defensive responses from the HR community. I think one thing that some people who are not in favor of HR departments, namely employees, fail to remember is that at the end of the day, the HR department serves the company, not the employee.
  • May 15 is Fluevog Day, where large discounts and events occur at John Fluevog shoe stores around the world. I learned that it is also the birthday of the eponymous owner. I only own 2 pairs of shoes and they are both Fluevogs – the Will and Bodden styles. At 5:15 pm local time in each store, a “class photo” is taken of staff and customers, and it will be sent to each person pictured, personally autographed by John himself. Where these activities may seem unusual, they are in-line with the social outreach and great attitude of the brand over the decades, even long before social media was on the scene.
  • In an interview in Time magazine, actor Colin Firth discussed speaking Italian and used Italian swears. As someone who is Italian-American, and sadly does not speak Italian, I of course know some of those swears he spoke of, and more that he didn’t. Firth’s wife is Italian and she taught him, which I think is awesome. You can see the video embedded below or click the article link above to watch it.


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


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/16/14 at 12:05 AM
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The Hot Iron strives to present unique content and perspective on business, technology and other topics by Mike Maddaloni, a Web and business strategist based in Chicago.

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