Euro Coin Collection featured on La Vita Nóva

Euro Coin Collection has been featured on the april 2012 issue of La Vita Nóva, the iPad magazine of Il Sole 24Ore!

Here’s the full article, written by Antonio Dini in the App Score feature:

“Developed by Davide Orlando, it’s a little kind of magic for newbie numismatists as well as for experienced collectors. The virtual album allows to manage all the euro variants, including commemorative coins issued annually by national mints, and to keep track of the coins you’re missing or already own. Morever, historical data, maps of Euro-area countries, detailed information for expert collectors. You can’t miss it, especially now that there are 20 countries using the Euro and thus as many different designs on the national side of the coins. Soon it will be included a section for the 2 Euro commemoratives. Because numismatics is the best way to travel around the world without moving from home.”

I couldn’t ask for better words as an anticipation for the incoming version 1.3 of the app, with the new virtual album for the 2 Euro Commemoratives.

What else to say? Download La Vita Nóva on your iPad and read some articles (italian only) while waiting for the new version of the app for Euro coin collectors.

On the Facebook page there are some preview screenshots and I’ll soon start the count-down to the release on the App Store.

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Gardens of Lake Como Update 1.2

iPad2 GardensLakeComoThe second update of the app Gardens of Lake Como – west branch is on the AppStore.

It’s a big update, since the app is now in universal binary format, which means optimized both for iPhone and iPad, and the interface graphics, the offline map and the photos are in high resolution, up to four times better compared to the previous version.

Owners of iPad and Retina display devices such as iPhone 4, 4S and iPod Touch 4th generation will be able to enjoy the new graphics at its best.

Among the new features there’s also the ability to add a gardens to your favorites and share it by email, Facebook or Twitter.

I also added new photos taken from the boat, thanks to Marco Leoni, and from the seaplane, thanks to Cesare Baj, President of Aero Club Como.

The new graphics made the size of the app grow up to about 40mb, but fortunately Apple recently raised the download limit under 3G network from 20mb to 50mb.
There’s no such limit when under Wi-Fi.

Since the “likes” on the Facebook page dedicated to the app are still a few compared to the number of downloads, I added a link on the main screen of the app. In this way the Facebook page, where I post themed news and updates, is easier to reach.

The touristic season on Lake Como is now open: download the app and visit the gardens!

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Business Storytelling Course in Como

Steve Jobs Stanford SpeechI have an interest in storytelling applied to mobile devices since some years, from 2005, when I started working on audio-video guide systems for museums and exhibitions.

So, I’m pleased to inform you about the business storytelling course organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Como and curated by Francesca Marchegiano, an expert of the matter and also author of theatrical and narrative shows for children.

Storytelling skills are very useful in different business contexts: for example, being able to tell your mission in a clear and catchy way on your company’s website, is nowadays a sign of professionalism and great care about communication for potential customers.

After all, the famous Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address wouldn’t have been the same if he didn’t start with: “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The course will be held at Mulini di Baggero, in Merone, in the province of Como, an area recovered from a completely restored 1722 mill.

Participation is free, but limited to the first 25 requests until march 12, so hurry up if you’re interested.

Good luck to Francesca for the course!

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Gardens of Lake Como Update 1.1

Villa BalbianelloThe first update of the app Gardens of Lake Como – west branch is available on the AppStore.

The update fixes a bug found on older iOS devices when exiting the online map, if they were low on memory .

Another bug, caused by the rush to be ready for the BIT fair, was about the presentation of the same text when a garden was selected from the offline map.
Thanks to my friend and mentor Alessandro for reporting it.

I’ve also updated some photos, such as the Villa del Balbianello ones, taken by Diego Cottino, a magic place where some scenes of  Star Wars: Episode II were shot.

This spring I’ll visit some gardens included in the guide, both for personal curiosity and to take new photos that will be added to the app.

Photos you’ll better appreciate in the next version of the app, where graphics will be optimized for iPad and Retina display devices such as the iPhone 4.

It’s one of the advantages of digital technologies: an app can be quickly updated, a paper guide not at all.

The initiative is appreciated and the downloads go up. Personally I think it’s reassuring seeing that, although the bad economic crisis, there still are companies and public institutions ready to support innovative projects such as this.

See you to the next update!

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Gardens of Lake Como – west branch 1.0 Released!

What’s the first word that comes to your mind when thinking about visiting a park or botanic garden?

For me it’s relax!

I don’t have any “green thumb” knowledge, so I couldn’t distinguish among different species of plants and flowers.

But the multitude of colors, the harmony between nature and the gardener’s work (I’d say art), are things you can appreciate even if you aren’t a botanical expert.

And you can appreciate them even more when there’s a unique panorama on the background, such as the one of Lake Como. 🙂

It’s a personal opinion confirmed by data, indicating a constant growth of the so-called Horticultural tourism, from abroad to Italy.

For these reasons I was pleased to work on the app Gardens of Lake Como – west branch, the digital edition of the paper guide made last year by the Chamber of Commerce of Como and the Province of Como, with contents by Great Italian Gardens.

This work gave me the chance to discover some gardens and parks I didn’t know and I haven’t visited yet.

For example The Garden of the Valley, hidden pearl of the nearby Cernobbio, maintained with passion by Mrs. Pupa Frati.

While designing the app interface I followed the essential style and the colors of the new logo made for the brand “Lago di Como”, presented at BIT in 2011, the international tourism fair held annually in Milan.

During this year’s edition of the fair, at the Regione Lombardia/Province of Como stand, there was a preview of the app about the gardens, more user friendly and updated than the paper guide, at least for those with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

I hope the app will be useful to discover the gardens of the area around Como, reaching more tourists, both from Italy and from abroad, than any paper guide could.

It’s free. Download it and, if you like it, please spread the word about it!

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Togunà Interactive is dead

Togunà Interactive LogoTogunà Interactive is dead, definitely deleted from the business register of Como.
An insignificant -1 for the statistics of closed companies e 5 people gone one’s separate ways.

Three years ago I celebrated its birth, full of hopes for the future.
The idea was good, someone said, but an idea is nothing without an execution just as good, as anyone who started a hi-tech company knows very well.

I committed myself full-time in this adventure and I certainly did mistakes, starting from the choice of the partners with which to establish the company.
And it’s right on this matter that I’d like to share some suggestions based on my experience, hoping they could be useful to other startuppers.
I read a lot of decalogues about the different aspects of the life of a startup, from establishment to financial issues.
This one is then focused on the relations with partners:

  1. The “chemistry”: be sure it’s present between you and your adventure companions. It’s that feeling coming from the positive thrill of a handshake, making you feel at ease in company of another person. In my case I didn’t feel it with two of my four partners since the beginning, with the proper negative consequences.
  2. Money psychology: money is an important tool, to be managed consciously and without prejudices. Talking about it since the beginning with potential partners can be useful to catch signals such as an excessive fear of falling into debt, or the will to do it all without spending a dime. These are signals of a incorrect approach to the use of the money needed to start a company, typically a very limited amount for a software startup. I underestimated these signals from the partner who, on paper, had the best skills on the matter.
  3. Penalties in agreements: it may seem annoying, but if you have to sign agreements binding partners to dedicate their time to the startup, it’s better quantify and set up penalties, also involving money, if the agreements are not met. We didn’t do that, making the agreements actually useless.
  4. Complementary skills: I believed that having partners with different skills was a good thing and we pointed that out on our website and in team presentations. It does, indeed, but not so much when skills are neatly different, without a little overlapping. In my case none of my four partners used smartphones or PDAs and thus relied on me even for the most trivial technical issues.
  5. Remote work: you can do great things even if you work without physical contact, sure, but in my experience I believe that the best things come out when such contact has already been established and consolidated in the past. Something that in our case we didn’t get (or wanted to) even when we rented an office that would have allowed it.
  6. Haughtiness: you have to stay humble in a startup, and haughtiness is the opposite attitude. After we created a product that people liked, when I was discussing about competitors’ solutions, snooty phrases and attitudes prevailed in partner’s comments. In the meantime competitors sold their products and we just looked.
  7. Looking at the back of everything: having “experts” at looking at the back of everything in the management board is a really bad thing and it annihilates the spirit of initiative. In a startup, scenerios should be made only in the future, not in the past, maybe by remarking past mistakes due to personal hate or sadism.
  8. Meetings: they’re effective when brief and planned at the beginning of the work week. We had long meetings on Thursday evening or on Friday, the only time allowed by the working routine of my partners. The week was actually over and the weekend was coming, during which no one obviously preferred to be disturbed. I recall that an expert consultant I had the chance to talk to about the way we did meetings, ironically named it as the “bridge club”.
  9. Siena’s Palio syndrome: an italian journalist who follows the startup scene defined it in this way. It’s a sickness that takes place when the objective become “loosing is ok, the important is that you don’t win”, in confrontations among partners for example. There’s no cure for this virus. Probably it comes from a negative jealousy feeling (since there’s also a positive one that drives you to make better).
  10. Mentor: being able to count on a mentor, an experienced person, above the parts and respected by all partners, is among the most important things for a startup. It’s also one of the most difficult to find, so keep your “antennas” active to find him since the beginning among the people you know or encounter. I found a mentor too late, when things already went awry, but he has been important nonetheless.

I hope these can be useful recommendations. As for my particular case, maybe it would take a book to be able to tell the whole tale that made me elaborate them.
If you’re in doubt about the choice of partners, rather than risking that mediocrity could take its place in the management board, my recommendation is: start alone and devote yourself to your project.

JUST MAKE, and since talent attracts talent, you’ll certainly find better partners along the way.

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Euro Coin Collection Update 1.2

Euro Common Side 2008The second update of Euro Coin Collection is on the AppStore.

In the new version I added an option to show the coins available only in mint sets, thus not issued for circulation. The data comes from reliable and up-to-date sources such as www.euro-auflagen.de by Henning Agt.

There are also pictures of the new common sides with the enlarged Europe design, issued since january 2008, so that you can compare them with the previous design.
Thanks to Hessel, Damien and Frank for the correction of dutch, french and german texts.

Motivated by the suggestions received, both via email and by reviews on the AppStore, the development of the app continues and in the next version I’ll add the 2 Euro  commemorative coins issued from 2004 to 2011, as promised.

In this period there’s a lot of talk about the Euro and the debt crisis in european countries, Italy in particular. Well, what will really happen is difficult to predict, but I’d like to recall the European Union motto: “United in diversity“, the meaning of which you can appreciate even by collecting Euro coins, discovering and getting to know different cultures.

For what concerns Italy, now having a particularly hard time, I invite you to watch Benigni’s speech at the European Parliament (english subtitles). He said Italy is not the country of Renaissance and Resurgence, but the one of Resurrection! 🙂

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Euro Coin Collection Update 1.1

Belgium Second Series 2008The first update of the app for Euro coins fans is available on the AppStore.

I couldn’t wait for it to be published since it corrects a bug that could crash the app when many different coins were added to a collection.
Thanks to Andrei from Estonia and Uwe from Germany for helping me track down the bug.

The new version also includes the second series design of belgian Euro coins, issued in 2008 in order to comply with the European Commission’s guidelines, as well as minor improvements and bug fixes.

Comments are good so far. Most of all, users like to view all the coins together.

Also, from app usage statistics it’s interesting to notice that the average session length is pretty high, 3 minutes, three times the average of the Reference category, which is 1 minute.

Now I’m listening to opinions and suggestions for the next versions, both from collectors and non-collectors.

Adding 2 Euro commemorative coins is already on top of the list: I’ll need some more work to virtually collect them all, but it’ll be worth it and they’ll have a dedicated album.

See you to the next update of Euro Coin Collection!

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Euro Coin Collection APP Reviewed on TV at Netcafé

Euro Coin Collection APP has been reviewed on TV at Netcafé by Gigi Beltrame!

It’s the italian TV show broadcast by Telelombardia I attended as guest in 2003, featuring Maria Remi and Gabriele di Matteo.

During his comment, Gigi highlighted an important aspect of the app: it’s curious, that’s what distinguish it from many others, something not easy to get at all, since there are more than 400.000 apps on the AppStore.

Then he considered it useful to anyone willing to discover coins from all the Euro-area countries, while collectors can use advanced features, thus exploiting the social component of the app, to quote his words.

Thanks to Gigi, technology journalist and director at BusinessCommunity.it, and dear greetings to Netcafé friends who remembered me even if so many years have passed.

Netcafé will be broadcast again since september, while the show goes on Top-Tech, the new italian digital TV channel dedicated to hi-tech.
 

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Euro Coin Collection APP 1.0 Released!

Euro Coin Collection App IconApple published Euro Coin Collection 1.0, my app about Euro coins!

I think that, even if it isn’t the first one, for any developer is always a particular joy seeing their application available virtually worldwide, at last after weeks or months of incubation in their development workstation and available only to a few volunteer testers.

For me it isn’t the first one about Euro coins: in 2003 I made a similar app for the Pocket PC platform, then become Windows Mobile.

The app got good press coverage, won some awards and after receiving one of them I was even invited to present it to the Netcafé program, my first time on TV I recall with pleasure, since I was so excited about it.

Back then, however, for as much original as it was, the app was targeted to a “niche into a niche”, that is collectors with a Pocket PC PDA… too few to create a critical mass.

It’s not a matter of Microsoft vs Apple, since I’m going to develop also a version for Windows Phone, other than the Android one.

It’s to say that today things are very different: there are social networks, smartphone penetration reached 35%, and most of all there’s the AppStore ecosystem.

The new app has been designed and coded from scratch, but it retains the same objective of the first one: making easy and funny discovering Euro coins with your mobile device, be it an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

An objective not so easy to reach when you have to manage about 200 different coin designs of the 20 Euro area countries.

Actually the main feature distinguishing it from similar apps is the interactive album that allows you to view all the coins at a glance, each of them 1 swipe and 1 touch away to see its details.

The rest of the features are in the page dedicated to the app.

Now it’s the turn of who’ll download the app to tell what he or she thinks about it and suggest improvements for the next versions.

Hope you’ll like the Smiling Coin app!

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