Budapest-2024: jubilee fun with the Rubik’s Cube, then a leisurely cruise on the Danube!

The next stop on our whirlwind Euro-April-2024 tour – Budapest…

We’d had our Italian Partner Conference days before – in Milan, as mentioned (and the press loved it). Now it was time for our Global Partner Conference in the Hungarian capital. As per, we had guests fly in from every continent apart from Antarctica (of course) and also, alas – Australia (due to the geopolitical situation). The rest of the world however was in full attendance :) ->

…But I’ll come back to that topic. First, we needed to get from Italy to Hungary…

Read on…

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No FOMO – @ Lake Como; much ardor – @ Lake Garda!

When you find yourself in Milan with a weekend to fill with non-work stuff – what do you? That is, if you’ve been there plenty of times in the past, the city’s parks and downtown highlights have all been strolled, and the top of Milan Cathedral has been climbed up to? When you fancy checking out Paternkofel in the Dolomites but the April weather just can’t be trusted – especially given the poor forecast (we attempted such a thing in 2021 and failed). Well, there are a few other options…

…One being – Lake Como! ->

And not just the lake, but the charming small towns along its shores too:

And that was that: decided. Time to rent a car and head on over there

Read on…

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Que sera, sera – in Ust-Nera-Nera!

Our next overnight stay on our Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk road trip was in Ust-Nera. As you can see on that Google Map – that’s a long way: 560 kilometers, which should take around 10 hours (!). However, all those 10 hours were to be spent on the Kolyma Highway, so, we were like: yes, bring it on!

I’ve told you plenty of times already – this isn’t just a fascinatingly beautiful road-route to be taken through the deep-frozen Siberian countryside, this is a candidate for one of the most beautiful road-routes in the whole world! Yes, that is a bold statement; but it’s not as if I haven’t driven on some of the other contenders for that title around the world; therefore, I’m sticking with my boldness. I mean – just look! ->

Still need convincing? How about our decision to drive along Kolyma Highway already a third time in as many years? Still need convincing? Read on…

Read on…

Two nights on the QE2!

On our recent business trip to Dubai for our first global Cyber Immune conference, we chose probably the most unusual of places to stay out of any business trip I’ve been on. So unusual was it that it deserves a whole post to itself…

As the title of this post indicates, we stayed on the Queen Elizabeth 2 – or, as everyone refers to it, the QE2. But, what were we doing “staying” on a British cruise ship in UAE? We were staying on “her” as, since 2018, she’s been a converted hotel – permanently docked in Dubai!…

It was the first time I’d step foot on a cruise ship; probably the last too, since cruises are not me thing at all. But here, we weren’t cruising!…

Read on…

Our first global Cyber Immune conference!

Despite the extraordinarily uncharacteristic weather in Dubai, we still managed to hold our first ever international Cyber Immunity Conference there; hurray!

So, what is Cyber Immunity? (In case you don’t know; sorry if you do.) It’s our approach to building cybersystems that are secure-by-design and, as such, resilient against hacker attacks.

Actually, there’s a lot of talk about what it is. There’s talk about programming needing to be accurate and secure, and that we need secure processes of program code development, multilevel testing and cross-checks, and other such nonsense. But we believe that the main thing in security-by-design is the basic architecture of the operating system; specifically, its ability to protect even untrusted and vulnerable components/modules/applications, or, rather – block their abnormal behavior. We’ve lots more detailed information here, and those who want to dive even deeper into it are welcome to contact our experts, who can be reached at the same link.

As we hurtle ever deeper into the cyber-era, it’s clear that Cyber Immunity will be our savior. Alas, it’s still only one side of the coin in that cyber-era, for there are still the ever-increasing professionalism and numbers of hacker attacks from the other side of the barricades. However, I firmly believe that, out of the two, one side has no long-term future. Guess which one ). But for that scenario to materialize we need to learn how to build cybersystems that are secure-by-design to be able to fend off hacker attacks. That is the future of the cyberworld. And the other week, when we were down in the UAE, it was of course highly fitting to be able to talk about the cyberfuture in Dubai’s Museum of the Future ->

All righty. Off we pop to our conference…

Read on…

Tanks aren’t afraid of dirt – or the Arctic.

I’ve been asked rather often already about the vehicles we undertook our road trip to Tiksi in. And that’s understandable – especially since they aren’t quite the instantly recognizable household-name vehicles like, say, Land Rovers or Toyota Land Cruisers…

First off, I have to say that we didn’t choose the vehicles ourselves; we left that to the experts – Arctic automotive-expedition specialists Alexander Yelikov and Yevgeny Shatalov. Alexander – Sasha – was in a specially tuned Great Wall Wingle 7, while we – the tourists – were in the three Tank 300s, as supplied by Yevgeny – Zhenya. Here are all four vehicles – somewhere between the settlements of Nayba and Tiksi upon a frozen Laptev Sea:

And here we are in the Indigirka Tube:

So – why were we in “Tanks”?

Read on…

Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk-2024: first overnight stay – Khandyga.

Hi folks!

Herewith, another episode in my  Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk expedition series…

You’ve had my warm-up posts (about winter/ice roads, naleds, and the Kolyma Highway). Now’s come the time to climb behind the wheel and get going!…

It all started in Yakutsk. From there we headed east/northeast along the Kolyma Highway for nearly a thousand kilometers. Next, the plan was for us to take a left turn and head north all the way up to the village of Tiksi on the northern Russian coast up inside the Arctic Circle: no cakewalk – even with all the necessary vehicle customization, special other kit, experienced crew, and professional supervision. The plan was to then drive back down from Tiksi, albeit it by a different route, and take a right onto Kolyma again and back to Yakutsk.

Like I say, that was the plan we had – as we were all set at the “starting line” in Yakutsk for our ceremonial pic. More on how things didn’t go to plan and why, of course, coming later (still – we did make it to Tiksi, as the title of this series on our expedition hints at)…

Also coming up: why particularly this pickup and these jeeps were chosen for the expedition, how they were specially adapted for the cold and ice, how they actually dealt with that cold and ice, and in what state they were in when we arrived at the “finish line”. Patience, dear Watson…

Read on…

1500km on the R504: devilish cold; snow, ice and hoar.

There are many different kinds of roads and highways. There are straight and there are winding; there are smooth and there are bumpy; there are fast-moving and there are snail’s pace; there are ordinary and there are beautiful (rather: ordinary, pretty, beautiful, and mind-blowing). There are plenty of beautiful roads around the world – most often among mountains and along coasts. Especially beautiful (mind-blowing) are those that follow the coast on mountainsides (= x2 the effect); for example – the GI-682 along the Costa Brava near Barcelona, which we drove on last month.

Other great along-the-coast roads I’ve had the pleasure of driving on down the years include, among many others, Chapman’s Peak Drive between Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa (which, alas, is waaay too short), the Great Ocean Road in Australia, and the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West. Then there are the many meditative roads I’ve driven on, like the TF-436 on Tenerife, State Highway 2 in New Zealand, Highway 565 in Tibet, and the R256 in Altai, Russia (which I’ve only done in summer).

Now, the above-mentioned are great, beautiful roads. But then there’s the Premier League of roads – the crème de la crème of roads that both boggle and truly blow the mind. These include: State Highway 94 ending at Milford Sound in southern New Zealand; the roads of Namibia that cross the desert; and also – less of a road and more just a frozen surface – Lake Baikal. Then, of course, there’s R504 – the Kolyma Highway – through the Russian Far East

Read on…

Water, outside, not frozen – below -40°C. How?!

Our friend, the Far North – even in winter (and up there, in northern Yakutia, even March is winter). The extended winter of the North is a kingdom of eternal snow and ice, extreme cold, and endless white expanses. All the same – and you won’t believe this – you can find H2O in liquid form out in the crazy cold!

But… how on earth is that possible? How can you have liquid water when the temperature’s below -40 or even -50°C? Well, you can – we saw it for ourselves, and we even had a bathe in it (not on this Yakutia trip, but on our previous two – in Oymyakon in both 2021 and 2022).

First – a teaser. What’s this in the following photo? I’ll tell you near the end of this post. But for now, let me tell you more about naleds, aka aufeis, aka overflow, aka icings…

There are a number of reasons why water (as opposed to ice) can be found up here…

Read on…