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Friday, 1 June 2018

My Two Days in Milan!

Ciao, come stai! Benvenuto a Embrace Space! I was recently in Milan, Italy, for a work conference, and I'd love to show you around and share my experience!

Working with Northern Sky Research has its perks, I have to say. One of our clients reached out to us, inviting us to an event they were hosting. The event was aimed at bringing together different players within the satellite communications industry, to discuss the latest trends in the business. As our firm is constantly researching and analyzing the changing trends of the business, it was a good fit, and we were asked to present some findings.

For my presentation, I focused on the challenges and opportunities of the satcom industry. Whether you realize it or not, satellite communications is a vital part of most businesses, worldwide. Not only does it provide backup communications, but satellite is very good at broadcasting content in a very widespread area, very easily. 

Fun fact: I learned that many of the major movie theatres in Italy use this multi-casting service, in which movies are simultaneously sent to the theatres at the correct date and time, for new releases and such.

So, what are some of these challenges and opportunities? Well, for the last two decades, the price of satellite capacity, the bandwidth, has been dropping. This causes a problem for anyone selling the data (satellite operators), but obviously opens up opportunities for anyone buying. These prices are expected to continue to drop due to a number of issues: oversupply, competition, new applications and architectures like low-Earth orbiting satellites, and so on.

While the falling prices are enticing new users, it's not linear. Much of the industry has seen this and realizes the problem, and are looking at ways to maintain their market position, to not lose money owing to the fact that their product is worth less each year.

Much of the bottleneck on the growth of the satellite industry is on the ground. The equipment and infrastructure on the ground necessary for capturing and relaying the bandwidth, everything from big gateways (giant satellite dishes in remote areas) to personal antennas and satellite terminals, are expensive, and this limits the uptake of demand.

So, I spoke about all of this, showing our research and our expectations. I spoke much on new equipment and technology, as well as made suggestions on new strategy which could embrace the change, rather than fight against it.

After my presentation, I joined a panel of speakers discussing flat panel antennas. If you've been around this blog before, you'll know that this is one of my areas of expertise with NSR. It was amusing because the moderator of the panel introduced FPAs, and the market context, using my work. The moderator was with the client hosting the event, they had purchased our work, and are thus allowed to rework some of it and use in their presentations. So, it was funny that when asked, "How do you see the market?", I really was tempted to just point at the screen.

The rest of the conference went well. Parts of the morning were hosted completely in Italian, which I was not expecting. While English is generally the common language, it is not always the lead language at certain events. When in Rome, or in case, Milan...

After the conference, I had a short amount of time to see the city of Milan, before catching my flight. As I left the building, I noticed that my phone data was not working, at least not consistently. I had a rough idea of how to walk back to my hotel, but not a fully working map. So, I pulled out my compass, and I made my way.

Special thank you to my sister for this gift, I carry it on me always.

Once back at my hotel, I changed, and downloaded a copy of the map of Milan to my phone. If you're unaware of this, Google Maps has a feature where you can select an area and download a copy straight to your device to use while offline. It's very handy.

The skies were overcast, and rain was starting, which was actually perfect, as my cold, Canadian blood was not made for tropical weather, and it was perfect for taking a long walk.

Just south of my hotel was the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli Park, named after popular Italian journalist and writer, Indro Montanelli, who would often relax in the park before work.

The first thing I saw was this interesting rock formation.

It felt like something from Tolkien, with the ruined remains of statues overlooking a wall that once was. I am not an expert in geology or history, so I simply took in the view and moved on.

The Milan Planetarium

Ruggiero Giuseppe Boscovich, astronomy and physicist who, among many achievements, discovered the absence of atmosphere on the Moon

The Milan Natural History Museum 
I am sad to admit that this reminded me of every "establishing shot" of a school shown in movies.

Continuing my journey, I came across the Piazza Duca d'Aosta train station.

Two jokes here: "Hey, they fixed the Apple logo!" and "New York may be 'the big apple', but this is the biggest apple I've ever seen!

The Basilica di San Babila 
And the gorgeous Duomo di Milano!
The Milan Duomo was recommended to me by a friend, and I'm glad she mentioned it. Making my way downtown (perhaps I've not got that song stuck in your head?), I came to a more commercial district. In fact, the entire block was a large, semi-open shopping centre, and it felt really freeing to be walking on what looked like streets, but with no cars. There, at the end of one of these streets, sits the Milano Duomo.

It was a gorgeous sight, and I could have taken a lot more time just to examine its many architecture facets. However, I had to get back. After a quick walk to my hotel, I was off to the airport, where I found this, in LEGO!

A quick flight, bus ride, and tram stop later, I finally made it back home.

All in all, it was an excellent trip! I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to see Milan, and to meet people in this industry. It was a worthwhile event that will likely help me in my research down the road through the contacts I made, and of course, I loved the chance to explore a city new to me. I did not get a lot of time in Milan, but I was glad to get some exploring in.

More so, I am very glad to have made it through this adventure and return home, safe and sound.  

Thank you all for taking the time to read this. I apologize for the lack of an update these past few months. Oddly, this wasn't due to the normal reasons; i.e. too busy, or a lack of content. I have been busy, yes, but had time, and many things have happened (the Satellite show, my trip to Canada, my birthday). No, instead the problem lay in resting on one's laurels. 

This started as an engineering blog, a portfolio of sorts. Sharing m adventures became an extension of that, but now it has become the entirety of this blog. I do not mind this, in fact, it is nice to have a place to show off my pictures, and connect with you in this way, but I do not want my blog to simply be a yearbook of sorts, a "let's look back" collection all the time. But, most of my engineering brain is focused on work, and I don't share that here. If you are interested, please check this page out for articles I've written about the satellite industry.

I am in a good place in my life, but I am always looking to do more, to improve. I will continue to explore new avenues, both literally and figuratively, and hoping that progress will be prominently featured here in the future. 

Thank you all, again, for reading. I hope you found it interesting and enjoyable. I know these are stressful times, so hopefully this brought some positivity forward. Take care, be good, and I'll catch you in the next one!

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