Posts Tagged Como

Gardens of Lake Como on Android

Gardens - AndroidEven the app Gardens of Lake Como has been updated and is now available on Android!

In addition to the Android version, 13 new points of interest of the province of Lecco have been added, which together with the 37 ones of the province of Como already included, bring to 50 the total of gardens reviewed.

Since the earliest releases of the app it was evident that the most important villas and gardens of the east branch of Lake Como were missing.

So now, thanks to this territorial marketing initiative by the Chamber of Commerce of Como, in collaboration with the two provices of Como and Lecco, the app becomes really complete.

Although less complex than the app about the Rationalism, both from a technical point of view and for contents production, the Android version required an accurate testing phase.

According to recent data, there are about 19.000 different devices using Google’s mobile operative system, compared to the relatively small family of devices with Apple’s iOS.
To be more specific, the app currently supports 95% of the devices listed in Google’s Developer Console, which means 7571 out of 7971.

The press release of the Chamber of Commerce of Como, included in the press-kit, also reports some data about the downloads, which aren’t bad for a thematic app among the many available in the “Travel” category of iTunes.

I personally met each of the managers and owners of the gardens of Lecco and with them I reviewed the text describing the gardens. To say the truth, I was a little surprised to know that some of them didn’t know the other villa-gardens reviewed for the app, so I hope that this project could help them to meet and build a network, other than being a useful guide for tourists.

The care and passion with which they work daily inside their gardens is actually more difficult to put into words. So I’d like to invite you to browse the app and visit the gardens when you’ll get the chance, maybe during the next spring flowering.

Some of the opening hours and ticket prices have been already updated for the 2015 season, such as with Villa Carlotta, while the rest will be updated later.

To paraphrase the motto of Expo 2015, “feeding the planet”, I hope that even culture, as food for the mind, will be among the main themes of the milanese event.
It’ll be an important event, during which the Lake Como area will be able to show off its “beauty” also thanks to thematic apps about the gardens and the Rationalism.

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Rationalism in the Province of Como on Android

The tour about Rationalism in the Province of Como has been updated and is now available also for Android!

After the release of the iOS version last year, together with the Culture Department of the Province of Como, we asked ourselves how we could improve the audio-guided tour dedicated to the rationalist buildings located in the Lake Como area.

Then we came up with different complementary actions: new contents to complete the tour of the so-called “rationalist district” of Como, the Android version of the app and an audio podcast.

The new contents include buildings designed by the architects Gianni and Enrico Mantero: the headquarters of the Industry Workers Union, the headquarters of the Lario Rowing Club and the Balilla House with the adjoining Sinigaglia Stadium.
Again narrated in italian, english and german by voice-talents Luca Grandelis, Garth Kennedy and Birgit Röhricht.

With the Android version we satisfy the request of the people using a smartphone or tablet with Google’s mobile operative system, which now rules the market in terms of share.

The podcast completes the digital offering and was designed for tourists and locals without a compatible device on which to download the apps or prefer this simple and easy tool.

The effort in order to support old and new devices, both with iOS and especially with Android, has been considerable, but we’ll release small updates and some news before the next spring, when Expo 2015 will begin, together with the many cultural events related to it.

Last but not least, a personal and sincere thanks to my collaborators and to the Culture Department of the Province of Como, since this project allowed me to appreciate the rationalist treasures of my town that I didn’t know so well before.

Apps and podcast are free, download them!

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Podcast Rationalism in the Province of Como

The podcast of the project Rationalism in the Province of Como is online!

The podcast includes 33 audio files in Mp3 format produced until now for the project aimed to promote the main points of interest of Rationalist architecture in the area of Como, Cernobbio and Tremezzo.

You can now download for free and listen to the 11 points of interests, described in three languages (italian, english and german) by the speakers Luca Grandelis, Garth Kennedy and Birgit Röhricht, on any computer or portable player.

The Mp3s of the podcast have a better quality compared to the ones made for the app, available for iPhone and iPad since september 2013. The file size is actually about twice.
This should grant a better listeing experience to all podcast lovers.

I use the Podcast app made by Apple to manage the subscriptions to my favorite podcasts, but there are many other applications for PC and Mac to do it.
The Feedburner web interface, for example, is more than enough for that:

The podcast is also available on iTunes, in the “Society & Culture > Places & Travel” category.
To quickly find it and subscribe, just search for the word “rationalism” in the iTunes search field.

Soon we’ll also add 3 new contents: the headquarters of the Unione Lavoratori dell’Industria, the Canottieri Lario and the House of Balilla with the adjoining Sinigaglia Stadium.

Listening to a podcast is like listening to a radio broadcast: you can do other things while listening, such as working on your PC, traveling, jogging, cooking, or whatever comes to your mind.
In this case the best experience is walking in Como, Cernobbio or in the Tremezzo area, among the rationalist buildings described in the digital tour. 🙂

Happy listening!

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Rationalism in the Province of Como Update 1.61

Architecture has to be lived in!

That’s what some architects who helped enriching the contents of the app Rationalism in the Province of Como told me.

You have to be in front of, or inside, rationalist buildings to appreciate spaces, volumes, colors, and notice the numerous details: from staircases to furniture.

And that’s what I actually did, first with inspections during the contents production phase, and then again these days to test the geolocation and geofencing features added in version 1.61, today available on the App Store.

To test it, I walked and rode on my Vespa around the town of Como, a real “open-air museum” of rationalist architecture.
Geolocation allows to track your position on the offline maps, while geofencing (a sort of virtual geographic fence) allows to get a notification when you’re 80-100 meters from a point of interest, even when the app is in background.

When the app is in background, a “hollow” arrow icon in the status bar indicates that geofencing is active.
But don’t worry, it doesn’t waste battery: Apple engineers optimized this feature at best.
Also, with iOS 7 geolocation works very well even with devices without an integrated GPS receiver.
A database of Wi-Fi access points is actually used to determine the location of your device.

The new version was demonstrated on the field during an interview by QuiComo, the daily online news website of Como.

Previously, I had the chance to talk about the project during the daily feature of Espansione TV, Angoli (corners): a pretty appropriate name to talk about rationalist buildings, the Novocomum in particular, the first of its kind built in Como and designed by the architect Giuseppe Terragni.
This video has english and italian captions: you can activate them by clicking on the icon in the lower right of the video frame.

Hotel managers and professionals often debate about initiatives aimed at de-seasoning the tourist flow in the town and on Lake Como, currently mainly focused during the “nice” season.

So, now being able to visit the open-air museum of Rationalism in Como with an app describing the buildings, with no entrance ticket, is actually a good chance to do it in any season, don’t you think? 😉

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Rationalism in the Province of Como Update 1.6

Since today, the app Rationalism in the Province of Como speaks german!

Subtitles in german for the english and italian audio have also been added.

This is an exclusive feature of the app, useful if you want to improve your proficiency in a language.
Personally, over the years I improved my english a lot by watching movies or by playing narrative videogames with original audio and subtitles in italian or english.

In the app, the translation of the subtitles isn’t literal, since we obviously gave priority to a fluid text for each of the three languages, but following them on the screen is pretty easy since they’re in sync with the audio track.

It will be useful to whoever will use the app from the comfort of their home couch, which means the vast majority of the users that will download it.

But why version 1.6, instead of 1.1?

It’s a curiosity you probably noticed if you have an eye for detail, maybe by viewing the slide of the presentation in which the next steps of the project are listed. 😉

The version number will follow the golden ratio, phi, which is 1.618…
It’s a special number, knowned since ancient times.
In mathematics it’s the irrational number to which the ratio between two consecutive numbers of the Fibonacci series leads to, while in nature it’s present in a number of ratios, such as for example the ratio between the spires of a shell.
In arts, as well as in architecture, it always represented ideal proportions, the “beauty” in general.

Even in the app you can find it in different forms, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, but never needlessly.
For example in the design of icons, in the spacing between elements of the user interface, or even in the lenght of the audio pause between a section and the next.
If something sounds good or looks nice and in harmony with what surrounds it, it’s thanks to phi, as rationalist architects also knew very well.

Regardless of subtitles or the version number, you’ll get the best experience when in front of, or inside, the rationalist building described.
So, I invite you to do it when you’ll get the chance: you’ll be welcome in Como, Cernobbio or in the Tremezzo area! 🙂

Visiting both the town of Como and the places in the Tremezzo area takes some days of stay: could this be a good incentive for the slow tourism, opposed to the hit and run phenomenon?

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Rationalism in the Province of Como 1.0 Released!

The app Rationalism in the Province of Como is today available on the App Store.

It’s the result of months of work, together with numerous collaborators, promoted and coordinated by the Culture Department of the Province of Como, the public authority administering the west branch of Lake Como.

It’s a multimedia tour about rationalist architecture in the Lake Como area, from Como to Cernobbio and Tremezzo.
The points of interests include the most renowned buildings designed by the architects Giuseppe Terragni, Cesare Cattaneo and Pietro Lingeri.

Is this yet another info-guide app? Or yet another audio-guide app?
Not at all!
The design concept is probably the most interesting aspect for fellow developers: I wanted to make an app that could be an “holistic” combination between these two different app types, info-guides and audio-guides.
A combination in which the end result were higher than the algebraic sum of the single parts.

Let’s start from the audio, the real core of the app.
After we completed the script, written in a simple and easy to understand language, I hired three professional storytellers who managed to literally “give life” to the contents with their voices.
Luca Grandelis is the italian storyteller, while Garth Kennedy took care of the english language.
Luca is a well-known voice-talent, while Garth is also an artist, an abstract mechanical sculptor.
German language will be soon added in the next update, thanks to the voice-talent from Berlin Birgit Röhricht.

Then there’s the interface, designed keeping in mind the keywords of iOS 7: clarity and transparency.
Experts of mobile technologies applied to education love to repeat the mantra “content is king“.
Well, I agree, but if “content is king“, let me add “software is queen“.
Quality contents are often negatively affected by mediocre software that should manage and present it to the user.
The work made in this direction will have its judge in users’ comments: if they’ll concentrate on the contents, it will mean that the software is actually “transparent” and the result optimal.

The app will be officially presented on sunday 29 september, at the Antiquarium of Ossuccio, in the Tremezzo area of Lake Como, and it will be one of the many events organized for the European Heritage Days 2013.
It will be the chance to shake hands with the people who collaborated on the project.
Although there isn’t a single pixel, word or line of code that didn’t pass under my eyes – and this includes the responsibility for eventual bugs 😉 -, this work wouldn’t have been possible without them.

So, the combination between mobile technologies and cultural heritage could really work?
I believe so, and I think it’s the only way out of the tunnel of the economic and social crisis the Belpaese has fallen into for too many years…

Also, the educational effects of this app can be measured in the medium term.
Many communication experts agree on the fact the we tend to overestimate initiatives like this one in the short term, due to their “novelty” character, while we underestimate the impact in the medium and long term.
A litmus test could be this: let’s count how many people of Como (but not only them!) think today that the Camerlata fountain was inspired by Volta’s battery.
Then let’s count them in a 5 years’ time… and maybe a good chunk of them, thanks to the app, will remember that it’s actually a sort of futuristic monument to the traffic!

The news doesn’t end here, as I’ll reveal during the presentation.
Meanwhile, have a nice listening and vision of the app Rationalism in the Province of Como! 🙂

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The Three Miracles of the Summer 2013 in Como

Gardens of Lake Como iPad LandscapeThree “miracles” have happened this summer in Como, as Piercesare Bordoli, president of the Famiglia Comasca association,  said:

the reopening (although temporary) of a section of the lakefront walkway, after a long closure due to works for anti-flooding bulkheads, the restoration of the historic steamer Patria, and the redevelopment of the arena of the Teatro Sociale, the area on the back side of the theater previously used as a parking.

Small steps in the direction of a town that really cares about tourists and its citizens?

Maybe… in my small way – and with due proportions, since the three “miracles” involved a number of public and private institutions, and millions of Euros – I hope the latest update of the app dedicated to the gardens of Lake Como will be another step in the same direction.

A nice and updated app about the garden-villas of Lake Como, can be another good welcome card to encourage tourists spending pleasant days in this magic land.

It’s a mostly technical update.
The app now includes hi-res graphics for the Retina display of 3rd and 4th generation iPads, supports the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5, and also supports the landscape orientation.

Even the sharing of your favorite gardens via Facebook e Twitter has been improved, using the native APIs introduced in iOS 5 and 6.

The app is faster and more responsive, the scrolling animations more pleasant, and the overall look slightly improved.

Apple enthusiasts know very well that iOS 7 will be released shortly, and the app is already compliant with it from a design point of view, thanks to a “flat” user interface style and consistent colors.

Curious about the update?
Download the app Gardens of Lake Como – west branch from 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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