Portrait of Mario

Mario Ferrari's Personal Website

A very simple, no frills, no ads, no cookies site where I share some freeware and some ideas.

Freeware

I love computer programming.

I started in the late '70s on Texas Instruments programmable calculators TI-57 and TI-59. In the '80s I moved first to the DAI personal computer, then to Sinclair QL and finally to the IBM PC family (or its clones).

Computer programming has been my job for a short period of my career, but that ended around 1985. Nevertheless, I actually never stopped programming for my own pleasure and benefit.

I have used many languages, but my heart is with Pascal. I've been using Turbo Pascal for a long time, then its successor Delphi, and finally in 2014 I moved to free pascal and Lazarus.

Here you can find the projects of mine that I think are worth to be published and shared.

They are really 100% free: no limitations, no time-outs, no nags, no ad-ware, no banner ads and no spyware. They can be freely used and distributed provided that neither code nor documentation are altered in any way.

TurboRisk

With this software you can play the classic "World Domination Risk" game, where you are battling to conquer the world!

Go to the TurboRisk page

TurboScore

TurboScore is a software designed to quickly produce professional looking Chords & Lyrics scores.

Go to the TurboScore page

Lego®

I received my first Lego box in 1964, when I was four. Lego has been by far my favourite toy for many years, until I thought I was too old to play with it (and I was wrong). In 1998 the Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System set pulled me out of what the Lego fans call the "dark age", and Lego became again one of my main interests.

For about five years I have been building like crazy, mostly Mindstorms robots, but also parts of large train & town dioramas together with the friends of ItLUG, the Italian Lego Users Group which meanwhile I had contributed to found. It was like I had to fill a gap left in my childhood, not having owned enough bricks (or the right kind of parts) to build what I had wished.

From 2002 on I began to slow down, and now I only very seldom build things with Lego. However, even if I don't always like the commercial policy of The Lego Company - because I think that some pieces betray the original concept - I still believe that Lego bricks are the thing on earth closest to the perfect toy.

The link button below leads to a page that describe some of my robots. They are definitely outdated: the RCX "intelligent brick" that I used in my robots has been replaced by the more modern NXT first and then by the EV3, and the entire Lego Mindstorms line has been redesigned. However, they tell a story of how Lego robotics was during its early years, and still can provide some inspiration to current Lego robot builders, so I decided to keep them in the website.

Go to Mario's Lego Robotics Archive

About me

I was born in 1960, I'm happily married to Anna since 1986 and we have two children: Sebastiano and Camilla.

I've been a manager for a long time, but I'm currently also an entrepreneur, being one of the proud founders of HRT, where I work as CFO.

In addition to computer programming and Lego robotics, I have a few more hobbies:

I love to travel. Not only as a way to have fun or to relax in a nice place, but mostly as a wonderful opportunity to explore different cultures by meeting different people, visiting the places where they live, tasting their cuisines and getting in touch with their arts and their history.

I live in Italy, a place blessed with charming locations (seaside, mountains, lakes...), a lot of fine arts, many historical sites and very good food, so I obviously spend most of my holidays in my own country. However, I have also visited about thirty different countries, in Europe and in the other continents, usually with my family. Travelling is a great way to make the children understand that differences are a value, not a problem.

I always feel happy when I'm in the mountains, an environment that simultaneously satisfies my body, my mind and my spirit.

It is a feast for the Senses: the nose delighted with the fresh air, scenting of pine and fir trees; the skin kissed by the sun rays (or by the raindrops of a summer storm); the eyes enjoying wonderful panoramas; the ears relishing a silence broken only by the sounds of the Nature or by the words of a friend; the legs reawakened with the pleasant fatigue of the climb; the hands satiated by the sensual contact with the rock.

The mind rejoices in the Adventure, the exciting uncertainty that does not let me know if the weather will remain good for the entire day; that leads me to places where I've not been yet and where I could get lost; that makes me wonder about the difficulties of a climbing route; that makes me feel strong because I think "whatever happens, I will face it."

For the spirit, finally ... well, walking in the mountains - especially alone - is the closest thing I can imagine to a mystical moment, it is my way to feel in harmony with the Universe.

Music plays a major role between my interests. I love listening to it, but even more I love to play it. I mainly play piano and keyboards, usually with Mezza Pinta, a garage band which I am a proud member of.

The Mezza Pinta's repertoire is made of covers of famous rock and soul songs ranging from the Sixties to today.

Once or twice a year we perform for free during beneficence events in our area.

When I come home from work, cooking is a very pleasant way to detach my mind from the worries of the day and relax before dinner. Slicing the vegetables with care, preparing a good sauce for the pasta, filleting a fish... those manual tasks are a pleasant relief after the mostly conceptual activities of my workday.

And my reward is the pleasure of sharing some good food with the people I love: family and friends.

Once a year - since 2008 - I perform a two days cooking marathon, preparing a eight or ten courses meal for the closest friends. Every year I choose a theme: geographical (food from a specific count or region), a kind of food (e.g. fish), an historical event (reunification of Italy, foundation of EU). It is quite a hard work, but also a lot of fun and an intriguing way to challenge myself with new recipes and with the ambitious goal of emulating the grand chefs (which I admit I'm still quite far from!).

My love for books is one of the many debts I have toward my parents, who had the intelligence to offer their children a wide range of novels that were perfectly suitable for their age. They made us discover that reading was not only a pleasure, but in many cases a lot of fun too.

Raised with the Three Investigators, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, when the time came for more mature novels and essays, reading had already become an important part of my life. And the books I "had to read" as school tasks never represented a problem.

As for food, also my literary tastes are very broad. I read classics and contemporary novels, thrillers and many essays about different topics. In my bookshelf Stephen King and Ken Follett live together with Dostoevskij, Borges, Huxley, Carroll and many, many others. I have also a wide sci-fi section, where Asimov, Brown, Heinlein, Dick and other famous writer of the so called New Wave Science Fiction age (from the Sixties and the Seventies) share the place with worthy books by less famous authors.

When I get asked what's my favorite book overall, I'm always in a big difficulty because there are so many books and authors that I'm fond of. However, I read "The Lord of The Rings" four times - and I will do it again - so I imagine that it can be considered one of my favorite books :-)

The other one I want to mention is "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid", the wonderful essay by Douglas Hofstadter. This book is so interesting, so well written, so intriguing and so fun to read that I always find difficult to describe it. Let me quote Martin Gardner: "Every few decades, an unknown author brings out a book of such depth, clarity, range, wit, beauty and originality that it is recognized at once as a major literary event.".

Cinema is a relatively recent interest for me.

Well, I've been watching films since I was a young child, as the most of us, but the awareness that Cinema is an Art came much later, in 2004. After surgery to my back I was forced to spend about a month at home, mostly lying down, and there was not much I could do except reading and watching films. I started borrowing DVDs from the public library and discovered many gems I had missed, and so I began digging deeper and deeper in the past and watched most of the masterpieces of all ages.

Like it had happened with Lego Robotics a few years earlier, I was feeling the impellent need to fill a gap, and started studying Cinema to understand what to watch and how to get the most from those movies. I've been a sort of "serial film watcher" for at least five years, and now I feel a bit less about films, directors and the 7th Art in general.

Copyright © 1996-2013 by Mario Ferrari. All Rights Reserved.