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The three Kurilsks of the Kurils – your guide.

The Kuril Islands are bleak – plain and simple. Extreme weather, poor communications with the continent, a 100% mark-up on all imported goods (and just about all goods are imported from mainland Russia), and a constant threat of natural disasters such as volcano eruptions, earthquakes and tsunami!

It takes a tough individual to survive here; an even tougher individual to love the place. However, there are things to love about it; you just need to know where to look…

The total land mass of all the Kurils is slightly less than that of Israel or Slovenia, or about half the size of Belgium. However, its population is only around 20,000, half of which lives in three towns: (i) Severo-Kurilsk (North-Kurilsk), (ii) Kurilsk, and (iii) Yuzhno-Kurilsk (South-Kurilsk). All very logical.

Surprisingly, the first two have the official status of town, yet their populations combined are smaller than that of the third, which is officially deemed an ‘urban type settlement’. (Logical?) There are also a few tiny hamlets plus seasonal fishing villages which come to life in the summer after hibernating through the winter.

So what’s it like living on the Kuril Islands?

Kurils islands, Tyatya volcano

Read on: your complete guide to Kuril settlements…

Deutsch funicular vernacular: Genuine genius.

Somewhat infrequently, I come across something that’s both reeeaaally simple but at the same time reeeaaally amazing and astonishing. For example, the funicular in Wiesbaden, Germany.

At first glance – it’s just two tram cars going up and down a small hill: simple. However, on closer inspection you find out that these tram cars weren’t built say in the middle of the last century… No – it was actually 1888 when they were commissioned: amazing! And the engine they use?… Nope – no engine! The cars go up and down the hill using just gravity plus one other unlikely source of energy – water: astonishing!

Germany, Wiesbaden

Read on: how this hill-tram works?…

Geography lesson.

Every day we release up to 2000 updates for our products.

Every week our users around the globe download those updates over a billion times.

Every month we distribute around four petabytes of updates.

These updates (together with our other technologies) protect you against new cyberthreats. In recent years we’ve been seeing new malware popping up not just every day or every hour, but every minute and even every second! Each year we analyze more than a billion samples of malicious code.

For the average user, receiving antivirus updates is a simple, automatic process. They run silently in the background without disturbing you (and quite right too). However, there’s a lot more to an update than first meets the eye. Updates are merely the tip of a sophisticated iceberg that connects our products to a huge distributed IT system that we built up ourselves using a whole bunch of original ideas and know-how.

That’s the overall scheme. The details get more interesting…

Kaspersky Internet Security Update

Read on: So what actually happens when you update your antivirus?…

Sochi’s winning Formula.

The first Formula One Russian Grand Prix was really great!

The track is very fast, whatever the nay-sayers claim about it being boring and needing more challenging turns. The grandstand is huge, the paddock is well designed and the logistics really work. The teams said the organization was superb and everything went off without a hitch. The people behind this deserve a lot of respect – if properly motivated, people can achieve great things :)

Formula One Russian GP Sochi 2014

Read on: A monochrome podium…

Whisky in the jar.

Not all trademarks make much sense. Especially where whisky is concerned

For example, the other day, I was wandering through the night in Jerusalem like a proper tourist. I sat down on a bench some bar, I can’t even remember its name. But I can remember their menu promising me ‘Monkey Shoulder’ whisky. I was astonished, but not for long. The name didn’t quite do it for me. But there you go. No Talisker, no Jura, no Macallan. Not even Glenfiddich or the notorious Chivas. Ladies and Gentlemen! We give you …. ‘Monkey Shoulder’.

DSC03262

Read on: a few more “whiskys” I recall …

Underground Jerusalem

I have read and heard a lot about the about the excavations in Jerusalem, around the Holy Temple and under its walls. I have seen the pictures, licked my lips in anticipation but I only managed to visit the ruins of the city and one of the newly discovered tunnels (not the main one though) that runs under the Western Wall.

Then all of a sudden – a surprise!

Down the stairs, under the ground, from level to level, from floor to floor. How many of them have not been excavated yet?? Along the Roman cobbles, under the 700-year-old Turkish renovations, along the ancient walls of the Temple. Wow! I never even dreamed of it – but it really happened!

Underground Jerusalem

What is hoary antiquity for New York, is just last night for Jerusalem…

Unexpectedly I am 49!

It might have come exactly on schedule, but my 49th birthday was still something of a surprise.

After all, it’s quite a date … and it inspired some feelings of awe and bewilderment. Does it really mean I’m going to be 50 next? Wow! I guess I should start preparing for that. It’s a good round number, but given my profession it’s more appropriate to count in hexadecimal numbers. Suddenly I’m about 31 again – which looks much nicer. Maybe from now on I should count my age in hexadecimal numbers; I’ll worry less, and people won’t feel they have to organize a big 50th birthday for me any time soon :)

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me!

This year’s birthday turned out quite unusual – for all my travels, it was the first time I celebrated my birthday while on the road. There was only time for a small dinner before boarding, then I was back on the road again.

I think that’s all for now. Thank you everyone for all your birthday wishes!

Sacré-Cœur – mon Dieu!

Next stop – France.

Here we were celebrating the 10th b-day of the KL France office. The goings-on deserve a post of their own really. For now though, it’s down the Champs-Élysées and onwards for some speedy surveying of the familiar spectacular Parisian places of interest I never tire of checking out…

Paris, France

Read on: My top-three fave places in Paris…

Tel Aviving the time.

My fall season globetrotting continues from country to country, city to city… What’s nice about it this year is that the weather just about everywhere is real good. My autumn coat hasn’t left the corner of my suitcase once yet.

Alas, the itinerary – as always – has been very intense – an intenserary! – and some of the ports of call have been decidedly un-resort-like, so dipping into some nice warm sea sadly hasn’t worked out. Until today! For here I am on the beach of Tel Aviv. Hurray! After the very tense official part of my visit to Israel I finally got to the shores of the Med for some serious chilling. Phew.

Beach time in Tel Aviv

But my beaching it in the Middle East is hardly worthy of a blog post in itself. However, while vegging out, I noticed in the corner of my eye a digital display on the side of the lifeguards’ tower. It took it in turns to show the time of day and the current temperature, much like similar digital displays the world over. But this one was a little different…

Read on: a brainteaser with digital clocks…

Ham yard, salad roof.

What ho, folks! Here I am in the center of London, in Soho, the area of London that seems to have just about everything – from the salubrious to the seedy, and from the chic to the cheeky. I’m staying in the outstandingly original Ham Yard hotel. I wasn’t expecting unexpectedness here – but then I didn’t look it up beforehand – we just needed a place in Soho as I’d a few engagements nearby, so it was booked on the fly. This hotel is however full of surprises, the most astonishing of which was up on the roof…we found there a huge vegetable garden covering the whole rooftop! In the center of a megalopolis!

Ham Yard Hotel London

Read on: no fuddy-duddy old hotel for old fuddy-duddies…