We started in 2007 as a tiny company. We are still small but we are growing fast. Yet, when it comes to statistical forecasting, more people does not equate better forecasts. This is why we focus on top notch profiles who have the potential to create the next generation of forecasting tools.

This week, we are very proud to announce that Dario Solera is joining the team. Dario Solera graduated from the prestigious Politecnico di Milano. While being a student, he created ScrewTurn Wiki, an impressive open source project that got a significant momentum on its own.

Interview with Dario Solera, Developer at Lokad

Q: Why did you start working in software? Good question, hard answer. I’d guess many people have made-up an answer for this one. In high school I attended a mechanics-oriented course and in the latest two years of it I started getting more and more interested in computers and especially CAD software and 3D design. The interest in computers caused me to also want to program them and then naturally led to my university studies in Computer Science Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano.

Q: What did you do before joining Lokad? I worked for an Italian engineering company. The goal was to design a web-based system for acquiring, collecting and analyzing data generated by large fleet of vehicles. Server-side is based on ASP.NET/C# and SQL Server, while data are acquired by an on-board device built around a Microchip PIC micro-controller that interfaces directly with the Electronic Control Unit of the vehicle. It’s been a very challenging work mainly because of the recurring trade-offs between application performance and operation costs, especially due to the potentially enormous amounts of data it can store and process.

Q: You have also created a community project named ScrewTurn Wiki that has now become quite popular. How did it start? I was still attending university (early 2006) and I needed a simple web application that worked like a CMS to publish some stuff on the web. For the sake of learning a new framework (ASP.NET) I decided to write my own and it soon became decent enough to be released to the public. In the old days of version 1.0 the users were not many, probably a few dozens at best, but I kept working on it, releasing version 2.0 a few months later. STW now counts several hundreds users and version 3.0 is on the way.

Q: ScrewTurn Wiki has been awarded $5000 as best .NET open source project by Jeff Atwood. In your opinion what were the key factors that lead to this success? I’m still not sure, but I think that STW was something big enough and working well enough to be noticed by a sufficiently large number of users and developers. Wikis were and are being used extensively by teams of software developers and are now even entering the less-techy enterprise world of non-developers. STW is probably one of the first choices in the .NET world because there are not so many competitors in the same price range (free). The cash grant that Jeff decided to give us was really welcome, yet has been initially of little practical help for the project. I think Jon Galloway, a friend of Jeff, was right when he warned Jeff that open-source projects run on time, not money. In the end, I used the money to “hire myself” for several days of full-time work on STW. They helped a lot.

Q: What are the aspects that are looking the most interesting in your upcoming works at Lokad? Working on Windows Azure is probably the most interesting part: I believe that the cloud computing race has finally began and I want to be part of it. On a broader view, I think that working on large amounts of data is still a challenge and I can learn a lot while working at Lokad. Also, I never had the opportunity to work on so many math-focused algorithms, and this is another intriguing aspect of the work.