Archive for October, 2006

If Clooney Would Ride a Vespa…

VespaAs the whole world knows by now, George Clooney loves spending holidays on lake Como in his Villa Oleandra in Laglio. Recently the american star was involved in a curious episode reported on the pages of our local daily newspaper La Provincia, here and here. An episode so curious that inspired me to write this letter to the newspaper, published in the Letters to the director feature :

I’m asking myself how many smiles snatched the article published on last Saturday on our daily newspaper about the curious episode which featured the nice George Clooney riding his Harley up to Dizzasco, where as it seems he went for an unannounced visit to the rest house and wasn’t recognized by the doorkeeper.
Being a Vespa enthusiast and a two-wheels lover, I tried to imagine what could have happened if he got there riding a Vespa rather than a roaring Harley-Davidson. The Vespa has been a symbol of freedom for generations of italians as it is nowadays, so I like to believe that if he would have got there on a Vespa the doorkeeper would have had a different attitude, maybe recalling the journeys he did in youth with his own Vespa. Such a passion in common would have acted as a pass much more than the noisy american bike.
It happened to me more than once that not-so-young people stopped to have a look at my Vespa, and with a smile they began telling me their adventures spent riding the Piaggio’s scooter.
George gives a good example by choosing a two-wheels for his trips around the province of Como. This is something more people
should do, while they seem to prefer diving into the chaos and stress caused by the traffic fed by themselves rather than leaving the comfort of their cars even for a few kilometers .
I would lend my Vespa to the american star with pleasure, so that the next time he’ll be luckier during his unannounced visits without press managers along with him. He may know very well every palm of Hollywood and be a lover of the Easy Rider movie, but he still probably ignores how to get welcomed by the people of our lake. 😉

The nice reply by Pierangelo Marengo: Yours, besides being a love hymn for the Vespa, is a pleasant digression into the world of the possible. Of course it has to be demonstrated, but no one can prevent you from indulging in a dream on two wheels.

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We Won!!!

I don’t know if it has been for the logo made by Luca, the strong points of the project, the quality of the documentation we submitted, the presentation held with Guido at the Chamber of Commerce of Como last week or even the elegant suit tailored for that special occasion by the Sartoria Orefice ;), or most probably a combination of all these elements, but the end results is that we won the Special Award of the CCIAA Como at the StartCup 2006. 😀

We’re working on something not really new, something others already did by using the latest mobile technologies applied to the sector of cultural goods, but maybe the difference is that we aim our idea towards excellence and the commission got it and decided to choose us, although they told us the other projects were very interesting.

Yesterday in Milan professor Negrini gave us the award during the exciting ceremony of the StartCup finals.

The first picture captured that moment with me and Luca on the stage. The emotion was great, the same emotion that passed through the hands of the photographer.

The second one depicts the team, almost complete since Guido was missing, with professor Negrini and Paolo and Samantha of Opla S.r.l., our main collaborators. The third one shows all the winner groups on the stage of the main hall of the Università degli Studi.

After the ceremony we had a nice walk around the Duomo of Milan thanks to an exceptionally good weather for the season and I took a pic of the Madunina on top of it.

The cash award will help us to quickly get to the prototipation phase of the project, motivate a team that relied upon its own forces until now, and most importantly it opens the perspective to be incubated as a startup in the offices of the Polo Regionale of Como. This if what we actually were looking for, good job i-boys! :mrgreen:

Here the article about the incubation published by the local daily newspaper La Provincia.

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The 16 Slides at the Chamber of Commerce

StartcupOn last friday me and Guido, one of the members of the team I assembled since the beginning of the year to work on a technologic innovation project, held a 16 slides presentation at the Chamber of Commerce of Como.

We have been invited to present the project to compete for one of the special prizes of the StartCup 2006, the annual competition organized by the seven universities in Milan aimed to promote the creation of startup companies.

In front of a commission composed by Paolo de Santis, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Como, Pierluigi della Vigna and Roberto Negrini, two of the best professors I had when I was attending university, as well as Giorgio Corradi, manager for the incubator at the Polo Regionale of Como, we began the presentation with beating hearts.

We felt secure about the strong points of the project, since we’ve been seriously working on it since the beginning of the year, and we did see it slowly evolving on the right path, but you never know what can happen on such occasions, especially considering it was our first presentation outside the working group.

The presentation went well and the commission seemed positively impressed by the project. They asked us a lot of questions and we well exceeded the time we initially had.

There are five candidates in total for this special prize and on wednesday 25th in the main hall of the Università degli Studi di Milano they’ll announce the winners.

We’ll be there with fingers crossed…

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The Chestnuts of the Vespa Club Como

VespaClub ComoOn last Sunday the Vespa Club Como organized the Cagna la Castagna (Eat the Chestnut), a public party at the bottom of the ancient roman walls of Como, where people could eat roast chestnuts, drink wine, listen to music, meet friends and stare at the line of Vespas and Citroën 2CV.

It was my first time at one of their public events since I joined the club only a couple of weeks earlier.

I went to their weekly evening meeting, invited by the president Gianluca Cesana, with a bit of hesitation, because someone warned me that new Vespa models like the GTS weren’t appreciated as much as older ones.

So when I had to answer to the first question about what Vespa I owned, the president told the members to wait for any judgment and let me tell them what I did with my Vespa this summer, right while some of them began moaning ( although with a clear joking tone 😉 ) about the fact I owned a GTS, since they already spotted it. I told them about my trip around Italy and they soon started telling me about their longest journeys done on a Vespa. The ice was broken thanks to Gianluca and we immediately found something to share. 🙂

Gianluca gave me a sticker of the club which is pretty original as you can see on the left. The smoking puppy on the Vespa was made by an artist working at Bonelli, the well known italian comics editor. Now I bring it proudly on the windscreen! :mrgreen:

I liked the introduction I got from the club members, they’re a good bunch of Vespa-fans indeed.

Vespa is a myth for italians and most of all a great passion to share.

L’Italia s’è Vespa” was one of the slogans I spotted on a old advertisement at the Museo Piaggio, recalling the beginning of our national anthem, “L’Italia s’è desta“.

Marketing guys are really crazy you know… 😉

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Artisans-Entrepreneurs at Innovacomo

InnovaComoYesterday evening I attended a conference organized by Innovacomo, the initiative of Confartigianato Imprese Como aimed to promote innovation among the the local small and medium artisan enterprises.

There were much more participants than expected, a clear sign of the interest for the argument. Mr. Cleto Orefice recommended me to attend, since he was invited to speak about the project made for the Sartoria Orefice with the coordination of the Centro Volta.

Dressed in an impeccable suit, as only a taylor could do, he held a presentation clear and effective in just a few minutes of speech. 🙂

After him some other artisans-entrepreneurs presented their success cases.

It was the first time I attended their meetings and I felt at ease among them, maybe because I feel like an artisan after all. The type of tools might be different, since I work with bytes and lines of code while an artisan like Mr. Orefice uses needle and thread to create high quality custom suits. Well, to say the truth, now he’s using a PC and an Internet connection also. 😉

Bruno Panieri, Confartigianato’s manager for the market and rules sector, was connected from Rome thanks to the Skype videoconferencing feature. He had good words for the Innovacomo initiative considering it a example to follow at a national level, a sort of polar star, he said.

Innovacomo’s staff aims to build a network made of two fundamental elements: a community of artisans-entrepreneurs and a database of ideas, connect them and promote innovation. I think they are going to succeed only if they’ll join forces with other local initiative such as IComo. It’s nonsense in my opinion trying to make important steps by themselves in the minefield of innovation in a globalized market. Synergy is the key here to help turn a simple idea into a success case, such as the Orefice’s project.

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Data Recovery with Isobuster

IsoBusterWhenever happens to lose data you assumed was safely stored in your backup devices, you feel angry, sad and desperate at the thought of being unable to recover it in any way.

That exactly happened to a friend of mine last week and I promised him I would have done my best to help him.

He accidentally quick formatted a DVD-RW disc containing almost one year of work. After a search on the Net I found what looked to be the best software solution for this problem: Isobuster.

Loosing data in that way never happened to me personally, so I had to evaluate some of the data recovery software solutions on the market and Isobuster resulted to be the best in terms of effectiveness, usability, price and support.

I emailed Peter Van Hove, the one-man-company behind Smart-Projects and author of Isobuster, and I found a friendly developer. 🙂

He told me he’s going to Cambridge for the European Shareware Conference. You can cast your vote here for his software if you’d like to increase his chances to win the Epsilon Award.

My friend was very happy to know I was able to recover his files, but I think he’d better thank Peter for creating such a good software. 😉

Anyway, loosing digital data is nothing compared to loosing friendship, maybe due to a simple mistake or a misunderstanding. It has just happened to me recently and there’s no software able recover such a situation. Human relationships can be much more complex than any kind of software.

In this case maybe only a candid dialogue could help…



Smau 2006: One Sail, a Couple of Halls and 98 Seminars

Smau 2006The Sail, this is the name of the 1 km long structure by Massimiliano Fuksas covering the new site of fieramilano near Milan, which hosted the 43rd edition of Smau, the ICT international exhibition.

Only two halls were used to contain the exhibitors’ stands and the area reserved for seminars. Speaking with some people they confirmed the impression that something was missing, that sort of background noise coming from big stands aimed to attract consumers and the like. At the same time it was pleasant being able to walk around the fair and ask for a meeting without having to dig through the crowd.

Pretty opposite feelings of course, but they’re both true. This was not a “Smau” for me, maybe they should change the name if they’re going to continue with this new business-only course. 😉

The two seminaries I attended were interesting, one was about software rights protection according to the italian law by Massimo Farina, pretty easy, quick and effective and the other about technologic innovation in point of sales by an IBM speaker.

I had some meetings with people working for companies whose products are (or may be) related to the projects I’m currently involved in, such as Sony’s network cameras and RFID device and service providers. I couldn’t miss a chat with friends in the Windows Mobile areas too.

The area named Innovation Routes was very well organized and hosted numerous stands of italian startups.

One of them was Econoetica, presenting the Arianna PDA city guide. I had the pleasure to meet Valentina, marketing manager, in Firenze during the Vespatour and use the guide for a whole day walking around the city, and at the fair I met her again together with the rest of the staff, Pietro and Luca.

They’re doing well and they got some good exposition thanks to their little stand. I was a real joy hearing again the genuine tuscan accent while speaking with Valentina. 🙂

Next to their stand I also spoke with the staff, a network of professional italian blogs, most of which are of very high quality thanks to their experienced bloggers.

They have opened a blog about Smau and posted some pics of the beauties you could find walking around the stands, but they definitely missed the best ones in my opinion… at the Blackberry one you could stare not only at their latest device, the Pearl, but also get a golf ball from two models. Now I just need a golf mace… :mrgreen:

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IComo: 8th Matching about Technologic Innovation

IComoLast week I attended the 8th matching about technologic innovation organized by the Centro Volta, the monthly event promoted by the IComo initiative and aimed to help local small and medium enterprises to start innovation projects.

The presentations this time ranged from nanomaterials applied to textile fibers in order to grant them new properties such as resistance to bacteria, to the latest developments in liquid crystals production, to advanced imaging systems used in robotics, to the selection and implementation of a natural element with a unique DNA to track a product along the supply chain and to guarantee its originality.

During the presentation by Pierangelo Metrangolo about liquid crystals, he recalled that right there in Villa Olmo, in the big hall below the one we were seating in, modern chemistry was born thanks to Heisenberg, Fermi and other scientists during a big congress held in 1927.

These matchings are always interesting and many of the speakers come from high level italian laboratories. In fact IComo staff aims to stimulate ideas of the local entrepreneurs and they’re right, especially when the presentations are so brilliant. The number of the attendees is also increasing, a good sign of the information campaign they’re making to promote the meetings.

I’ll be at Smau on October 5th, the ICT exhibition in Milan that from this year it’s reserved to professionals only.

There’s also the interesting e-Academy structure and I’ll attend a couple of the numerous seminars.

My Vespa will bring me to Milan tomorrow for the exhibition, then she’ll rest for a couple of days at my friend Marco’s “Motorantola” workshop for a complete check up, so much needed after the long journey around Italy. 🙂

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