Monthly Archives: August 2012

Kamchatka-2012: History. And Why You Can Never Trust a Bear.

Day 3. Kutkhiniy Batiy

Before Russians settled on Kamchatka it was populated by Itelmens, Koryaks, Evens, Chukchi and Aleut. The first Russian expeditions to, and settlements on, Kamchatka, and the peninsula’s becoming part of the Russian state all took place in the seventeenth century. Then the Crimean war kicked off, which in 1854 reached as far as peaceful Kamchatka. That was followed by the Russian-Japanese War in 1904… But for a complete history of Kamchatka, have a look here.

But let me tell you an Itelmen legend about the creation of Kamchatka and how the Kutkhiniy Batiy came into existence, as told by our guide – a local hunter.

Kutkhiniy Batiy

More: Once upon a time there lived a hardworking raven called Kutkh …

Kamchatka-2012: Bears.

Day 2. Bears, Bears Everywhere – Not One to Fear

Kurile Lake is famous not only for its surrounding scenery and nearby volcanos, but also for the local demographic situation with bears – that demographic being: there are loads of them!

They roam around camps either on their own or as family units – moms and their little ones. The camp we were in had a perimeter fence all around it separating the camp from the surrounding bear-inhabited wilds. The fence is just a little bit electrified – enough just to give the big furry mammals a bit of a scare, nothing more – so the bears generally won’t fancy breaking through said fence with all their weight and might. As we were told, bears touch unknown objects with their noses, and a light electric shock is enough to correct bears’ “auto-pilot”. They take no notice of the folks inside the fence and carry on with their lives undisturbed, even grazing just a few meters from the barrier.

We observed how outside the perimeter everything was relatively peaceful – all the bears mulling about appeared to be in good, calm spirits… until one elder-bear started to pester a younger and weaker member of the sleuth – with the result that the latter, having had enough of this harassment, decided to go for flight as opposed to fight – via (understandably) the shortest route possible, which happened to be right across our camp. It was as if he’d forgotten about the fence, charging at it at full speed. Poor thing. He was soon reminded about it, that was for sure L. He was ok though, just a little startled!

// According to an old folk tale, “A hippo has poor eyesight, but given his size – it’s hardly a problem for him.” :)

Bear

More: Bears’ kindergarten …

Kamchatka-2012: “No Regrets!”

Kamchatka-2012: “No Regrets!”

The next chapter in the expedition travelogue…

Day 1. And We’re Off!

Let me start with a joke. But not just any old joke – there’s a point to it. You’ll see!…

So, two old friends meet up by chance after not seeing each other for years:

– Wohhh, dude! How many years has it been? How the devil are you?!
– Good, thanks. I got married [In a mournful tone].
– Congratulations! Let’s go for some beers and celebrate the occasion!
– No, can’t. Beers aren’t allowed.
– Then football, eh? Like the good old days?
– Nope. Football – not allowed either.
– Hmmm. Ok, let’s get out to the dacha [summer house]. The woods, mushrooms, barbeque, and all that?
– No can do. The woods, barbeque and all that – not allowed.
– I see. So, you don’t regret getting married?
– No. Regret isn’t allowed.

On every successful expedition or tourist-hike, sooner or later a short slogan tends to come into existence that starts being repeated more and more, and which eventually comes to be the trip’s motto, infusing the trip and everything that occurs on it with its essence. Well, Kamchatka-2012’s motto fairly promptly came to be “No Regrets!” – none at all, zero, naught, zilch regrets. No matter the multiple hindrances to a semblance of holiday good times – the far from perfect weather conditions, the scarcity of drinking water, the excess of water pouring down from the heavens, the massive airborne mutant bloodsucking beasts, the numb legs and sore feet from far too much hiking up mountainsides, and so on…

…Despite all of that, everyone, in the end, had no regrets whatsoever!

Travel Books

More: plan of the trip – to see everything! …

Kamchatka-Tourism: Tricky Without Helicopters.

Hi all!

Herewith, the next installment of the travelogue of this year’s Kamchatka adventure.

Today you’ll be getting the low-down – and lots of pics – on the universal, essential means of transport for navigating the peninsula: the helicopter. A lot of the photos aren’t mine; they were taken by other members of the crew of adventurers.

Moutain Helicopter Pad

More: Kamchatka copters and Kamchatka from copters …

Kamchatka Comin’ Atcha!

Howdy, folks!

I’m a big fan of Kamchatka. I’ve been all over the world and seen many of its natural wonders, but nowhere on this planet have I seen such a high concentration of natural beauty and unusualness, mixed in good proportions with overcoming difficulties of the on-foot and water-based tourist way of life, with mushrooms, fish, red caviar, and roaming bears. They say that New Zealand is also such a uniquely beautiful volcanic-mountain-lake land, but I haven’t been – so I can’t compare the two yet. Sooner or later I’ll get myself there though, and will be able juxtapose them for you. But for now – the Kamchatka Peninsula.

I won’t wax lyrical as I often do on these here blog pages; I’ll limit my words here to just the following: Kamchatka is unbelievably amazing and fantastic, utterly unique, and as a result totally mind-blowing. I’ve just confirmed this to myself one more time. As if I needed convincing!

Practically in a straight line along the eastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula there are seven unique natural phenomena, each of which could easily be put on the list of the world’s natural wonders. The curious thing is that practically nothing is known about these extraordinary places in the West – or in the East, and even in Russia too.

What would the average Russian person stopped in the street say if asked about Kamchatka? Probably: “it’s a place where there’s plenty of fish, caviar, bears and huge crabs”. Some might even be able to add: “it’s where the Valley of the Geysers is”. However, that valley is just one of the seven Kamchatka wonders. Let me give you the full list, from North to South:

  1. The Kluchevsky Group – a dozen or so huge to mid-sized volcanoes, in a relatively confined space.
  2. Tolbachik, and the Severny Proriv (Northern Rupture), which is a black desert – the result of a crack that formed during a long eruption in the mid-1970s.
  3. The Valley of the Geysers and the Uzon caldera – bubbling and erupting volcanism.
  4. The Mutnovsky volcano range and the Gorely volcano – monumentally beautiful volcanic structures.
  5. Khodutka – the largest thermal springs in the world, which form a too-hot-to-swim-in lake.
  6. Ksudach – a crater inside a crater, a lake, and overall surrealism.
  7. Kurile Lake – bountiful bears, and stupefying scenery.

The story of how the 2012 month-long expedition went I’ll be publishing here in installments.

But with no more of a do, let’s cut to the chase and get to the pics in this first installment – a few for each of the seven wonders of Kamchatka:

1. The Kluchevsky Group

Sunset Mountains

More: And the other six Kamchatka wonders …

Safe Money: A Virtual Safe for Virtual Money – that Actually Works.

Apart from petty cash carried on the person, where in general does money mostly get stored?

Sure, gangsters still prefer cash stashed in a grubby cubby hole, while grandma still resorts to the trusty in-a-stocking-under-the-matrass option. But in most other cases the sensible move is to have cash converted into non-cash funds – or virtual money – ASAP, and put in banks and the like, where it can at least earn a bit of interest. And banks tend to keep cash in big safes. With this sensible option today come various useful knick-knacks like online banking, online shopping, and online just about whatever.

Of course, wherever lots of money and the Internet are closely connected there’ll always be plenty of cyber-scoundrels close by trying to get at that money – be it in folks’ current, savings or credit card accounts. And we’re not talking here about an occasional threat posed by a pair of unwashed, long-haired marginals from da cyber-underground either. It’s a real serious problem on a worldwide scale. A well-organized and smoothly running criminal industry with a multi-billion dollar turnover. It’s no wonder then that the security of financial transactions on the Internet has become the No. 1 problem (pdf) in the world for the majority of users.

Now, just like with banks with safes for paper money, this virtual money accessed via the Internet could also do with a safe – a virtual one, but one no less secure than a high-tensile steel armor-plated one. So let me tell you about our new Safe Money technology, which will be appearing in the next version of KIS towards the end of August/the beginning of September (depending on the country).

Before going through the details and advantages of Safe Money, it’s probably best first to look at how the cyber-swine try to get their grubby mitts into your virtual pockets. Or, less figuratively, to get at your user logins and passwords to access your online banking and other ‘monied’ accounts.

So, three ways how the cyber-baddies tend to break in:

  • Infecting the computer of a victim with a Trojan to thieve data, take screenshots, and log keyboard strikes. Infection frequently occurs via a vulnerability in popular software;
  • Phishing and social engineering: imitating genuine online stores, bank websites, dialog boxes, even telephone calls, etc.; and
  • Different high-profile attacks like sniffing, DNS/Proxy server substitution, fraudulent certificate use, etc. to intercept traffic using man-in-the-middle attacks, and also man-in-the-browser threats, wardriving, etc.

And now – another threesome: the three main problems in terms of security against financial cyber-fraud:

  • a lack of reliable site identification;
  • a lack of trusted connections via the Internet between online services and clients; and
  • a lack of guarantees that software installed on a computer doesn’t contain vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malware.

Luckily (for some), many aspects of this problem are comfortably dealt with by the latest Internet Security-class protection products. Only the most slothful of IT Security vendors these days don’t offer built-in protection against phishing; however, the quality of protection is another matter. But this is in no way enough to be safe in real life scenarios (about scenarios – see below). Still, the majority of products don’t have all the necessary features to provide fully comprehensive protection. What’s worse, the features they do have don’t work together harmoniously in solving specific problems, even though what’s really needed here is a multi-faceted, wide-spectrum “medicine”.

And so, if you’ll please now welcome onto the stage… Safe Money technology!

Safe Money resides in the upcoming version of KIS. What you do is enter the address of an online service that needs to be protected that uses money (a bank, store, auction system, payment system, etc.). Or you can choose a site from the built-in database, which includes 1500 different banks and 84 domains. On entering the site you need to choose the “Run the protected browser automatically” option, and from then on all sessions with that site are automatically launched in a special protected browser mode.

Kaspersky Internet Security

More: So what does this here protected browser mode do then? …