Monthly Archives: May 2015

Ligurian cruising.

A long time ago I set myself a ‘must-do’ for the next time I’m in Southern France/Northern Italy by the sea. I’d just completed a night drive from Nice to Genoa along the E80. That drive was fantastic. Like Crockett’s night-time speeding along empty Miami streets of a night: no cars, great road, great car, great music… but no views due to the lack of sunlight.

The road skirts the northern edges of a sea – not the Mediterranean – the Ligurian. Never heard of it? You’re not the only one.

Anyway, years passed, but my must-do remained. Now, finally, at last, that must-do has turned into a ‘had to, and did do’, and a very satisfactory one at that.

What a road. Smooth as a baby’s bottom, not much traffic, nice bridges and tunnels, plus good drivers who know their highway code and observe lane discipline. The main thing though: the views. To the right – Ligurian loveliness. To the left – impossible Italian impressiveness. Rolling hills, the sea, the cute villages, the castles atop peaks and along the coast.

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Read on: a truly must-drive…

Formula Monaco 2015.

Watching the F-1 Grand Prix in Monaco is of course a great idea. But first of all you have to get there.

Turns out that’s no easy task when Formula-One comes to town. If you get there before the main race, which is what we did – that’s fairly ok, but trying to get into the city state on the day of the race – that’s when things get tricky. Apparently there are that many roads closed in and around the center of town that’s it’s practically impossible to move around in a car, or, if possible – tediously time-consuming. Just keep it in mind next time you might be in the south of France when it’s F-1 weekend.

As for us, the walk from the hotel to the yacht we rented moored next to the racetrack should take just 15 minutes. But even that took much longer as everything was closed to death even for pedestrians. It seemed there were just two other options to get round this Monte-Carlo-lockdown-syndrome – either to spend the night on the yacht (hmmm, not such a bad idea), or to get to the yacht on a small motorboat. Only the former option – sleeping on the yacht – is workable, we found out: because even on a small motorboat you get caught up in traffic – in a boat-jam!!

In short, next year, I think we’ll make the yacht our base – for both sleeping on and watching the action from :).

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Read on: everything covered with F-1 fans…

My Gabon–Israel–France–Monaco Grand Prix.

Haven’t been posting here for a while. The reason being that last week turned out to be horrendously hectic – without a single minute to spare for putting fingers to keyboard. Now for a bit of catch-up…

From last Monday to Saturday I managed to visit four countries on three continents: Gabon, Israel, France and Monaco. To do so six flights were necessary – on average one per day. Now, I’m no stranger to tight-schedulism, but last week was just daft: such all-out non-stopism is just too much for the body and soul. It took me the whole of the weekend after to get back to normal again.

All the same, though there wasn’t time for writing – there’s always time for snapping. Herewith, then, a quick photo-textual report of my very own international Grand Prix last week, split up into the four respective ‘laps’…

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Read on: First stop – Gabon…

A province by the sea.

“Should you happen to be born in an empire,

It’s best to live in a remote province by the sea.”

Joseph Brodsky, Letters to a Roman Friend

Top of the day to you all, dear readers of my blog. Been away for a bit. Over the May holidays I was lucky enough to spend three days at the westernmost reaches of Russia: the Russian city of Kaliningrad, formerly the East Prussian city Königsberg. However, since the name Kalinin I don’t really like the sound or connotations of, I’m just going to call the place Königsgrad.

Old Brodsky was right. He said “it’s better to live in a remote province by the sea”. I’ve taken out the remote as, well, Königsgrad – which was where he wrote those words – can hardly be called remote these days as it’s fully connected to the world around it via (regular) planes, trains, automobiles, telecommunications and all the rest.

Boning up on the place, as I’m wont to do before a trip, I entered ‘MOW–KGD’ (that is, Moscow all airports – Khrabrovo (local airport)) into a search engine. Turns out there are 11 or more flights per day on that route. Hmmm, I wonder how many there are, say, Boston–New York? Turns out: 33+ – three times more. KUL–SIN (Kuala Lumpaa–Singapore): 38+; Beijing–Shanghai: 49+ per day; Tokyo–Osaka: 57+… I could go on with these curious comparisons, but 11+ per day for a region that has just around a million inhabitants – not bad at all.

So, Brodsky and Königsgrad…

According to various respected Brodskyites, his Postcard from City K and many of his other works were written here, under the influence of the favorable climate and other calming and positive aspects of the place. It’s possible that ‘Letters to a Roman Friend’ was also penned here.

Svetlogorsk. Nice name, nice place:

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Read on: Brodsky had it right…

The aquapark in Atlantis: not to be missed.

Beach-resort holidays (‘vegging out’) are not my thing. At all.

Sand, sun-loungers, parasols, ‘refreshing’ drinks and sunblock – I can survive that torture for two or three hours tops. Then I have to start strolling along the beach, sometimes a few kilometers at a time, oftentimes with camera. It beats lounging about any day. You walk along, get a tan, take a dip once in a while, take pictures along the way… Once, in the Dominicanan Republic, D.Z. and I strolled like that for some four hours. Afterwards we looked like models for a scary sunblock ad.

So yeah: beaches, sand, beach beds and basking in the sun are not for me. But!…

But #1. Some of our trips can be really hectic, involving flying across several time zones. As a result we get to the hotel not just tired, but totally wasted. If there’s nothing I have to do the next day and there’s a nice little beach close by, I can easily spend the day sleeping there. I’m pretty good at it. I lie down in the shade around midday and wake up at sunset, all rested, fresh, and ready to go.

But #2. We often organize our business events in beach hotels (which means that for me a beach has come to represent work rather than play:). Anyway, in our 18 years of active corporate life we’ve been pretty much everywhere. From Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. It works out real nice: we work in the daytime and can have a good time in the evening – resort-style. And often we stay for a couple more days after the business is done :).

I seem to be taking a long time getting to the subject of the waterpark at Atlantis, The Palm hotel resort in Dubai…

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Read on: Things to do in Dubai if you got some time to spend on yourself…

AV boost: exorcising the system-straining ghost.

Around the turn of the century we released the LEAST successful version of our antivirus products – EVER! I don’t mind admitting it: it was a mega-fail – overall. Curiously, the version also happened to be mega-powerful too when it came to protection against malware, and had settings galore and all sorts of other bells and whistles. The one thing that let it down though was that it was large and slow and cumbersome, particularly when compared with our previous versions.

I could play the subjunctiveness game here and start asking obvious questions like ‘who was to blame?’, ‘what should have been done differently?’, etc., but I’m not going to do that (I’ll just mention in passing that we made some very serious HR decisions back then). I could play ‘what if’: who knows how different we as a company would be now if it wasn’t for that foul-up? Best though I think is to simply state how we realized we’d made a mistake, went back to the drawing board, and made sure our next version was way ahead of the competiton on EVERYTHING. Indeed, it was the engine that pushed us into domination in global antivirus retail sales, where our share continues to grow.

That’s right, our post-fail new products were ahead of everybody else’s by miles, including on performance, aka efficiency, aka how much system resources get used up during a scan. But still that… stench of sluggishness pursued us for years. Well, frankly, the smelliness is still giving us some trouble today. Memories are long, and they often don’t listen to new facts :). Also, back then our competitors put a lot of effort into trolling us – and still try to do so. Perhaps that’s because there’s nothing else – real nor current – to troll us for :).

Now though, here… time for some well-overdue spring cleaning. It’s time to clear up all the nonsense that’s accumulated over the years re our products’s efficiency once and for all…

Righty. Here are the results of recent antivirus product performance tests. Nothing but facts from a few respected testing labs – and it’s great food for thought. Have a look at the other vendors’ results, compare, and draw your own conclusions:

1. AVTest.org

I’ve said many times that if you want to get the truly objective picture, you need to look at the broadest possible range of tests from the longest possible historical perspective. There are notorious cases of certain vendors submitting ‘cranked up’ versions optimized for specific tests to test labs instead of the regular ‘working’ versions you get in the shops

The guys from the Magdeburg lab have done one heck of a job in analyzing the results achieved by 23 antivirus products during the past year (01/2014 – 01/2015) to determine how much each product slowed the computer down.

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No comment!

Read on: a valuable advice to assess test results…

Four tickets to Aogashima – part 2. Hachijo-jima.

A summary of part 1:

07:00. Flight from Tokyo (Haneda) to Hachijo-jima, then a tight connection – helicopter flight to Aogashima, a day there trekking and climbing about, and looking at and taking pictures of every nook and cranny. Beautiful!

The next morning I had a vague sense of déjà-vu: waking up at the impossible hour of 07:30, but this time ‘Boy Scout style’, accompanied by a lively announcer’s voice from speakers all over the hotel: peem paam poom puum ohayo gozaimasu (that’s ‘good morning ‘in Japanese). Followed by a lot more Japanese chatter, of which I only picked out ‘arigato’ and ‘kudasai’. Then rise and shine, get up from the straw mattresses, breakfast – and back to the helipad.

Just to recap: there’s only one helicopter flight a day – if the weather’s good. If it’s bad, no helicopter flight. The Hachijo-jima–Aogashima flight leaves at 09:15 and arrives at the destination around 09:40 (based on our observations). After landing, a regular helipad bustle: unloading/loading freight from/to the ‘mainland’, boarding new passengers – Aogashima natives and stray tourists – and flying back.

Thus, the return flight dropped us off on Hachijo-jima at some 11:30. Our flight to Haneda was at 17:20, so we had some six hours on our hands. How were we to spend that time? Rent a car and go to the onsen hot springs, of course! At least, that was what some of us thought. Wrong! I looked at the map, saw a track leading to the top of the local volcanic blister, and we all proceeded to climb this local Hachijo-Fuji (apparently, all sacred mountains in Japan are called ‘Fuji’) in accordance with this sudden plan.

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Read on: Not a bad sight at all!…