Monthly Archives: December 2018

Two thousand eighteen: so much done, so much seen.

Ladies and gents, boys and girls!

Another year, another… oh dear. Where did that go? Again!

Indeed the end of 2018 is upon us, with our planet just a few hurdles short of its full circle around the Sun. Up here in wintery Moscow it’s snowy and freezing (-14°C today); down in the summery southern hemisphere it’s sunny and warm; but no matter where you are on the planet there’s one thing that’s the same: we’ll soon be seeing in the New Year of 2019…

Almost as inevitable as a +1 being added to the number of years since the year dot – before the presents, the fireworks displays, the champagne, the parties… – there also simply has to be my round-up of the year!

However, the round-up of the business year of Me Lab… that will come later on. Here will be a summary of my personal achievements of 2018. There was an abundance of interesting/amazing throughout the year, so I’ll have to somehow organize it all into different categories. But first off, let’s get things rolling with some pics of highlights of the year:

Next, my year – in cities/countries. The ones inside square brackets were places I was visiting purely for tourism; the rest – on business.

Read on…

i-news: best of the best in 2018.

Boys and Girls! I hereby give you the last edition of i-news for 2018. Every year around this time I get the urge to do a bit of light-hearted summarizing and recapping, so we can see in the New Year in a good mood :). So, today we will talk about the loudest, silliest, funniest and weirdest news from the world of IT and cybersecurity that appeared on our screens in 2018.

First, let’s talk about professionalism in the media – you know, stuff like objectivity, investigative journalism and fact-checking. Or, to be more precise, the absence of all those things.

In October, Bloomberg Businessweek published an “investigation” with a pretty sensational headline and authored by a well-known ‘sauna journalist’. The first part of the headline says it all – The Big Hack. The story is based on information from anonymous sources (surprise, surprise!) and claims hardware manufactured by Super Micro has bugs implanted in them. And it’s supposedly been going on for several years. The chips were supposedly found by staff at Apple and Amazon, and the US authorities have been carrying out an investigation since 2015. And then, the interesting part starts…

Amazon denied any knowledge of the bugs, while Tim Cook of Apple said it’s all lies and called for the article to be retracted. Super Micro declared it had never received any customer complaints or questions from the authorities. (All this sounds pretty familiar!) Within 24 hours of the publication, Super Micro shares plummeted 60%. The company called in an outside firm to conduct an investigation that found no evidence to back up the journalists’ claims. Bloomberg appears to be in no hurry to apologize, although it did assign another journalist to do some further research.

Read on…

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The former city of the future.

Tokyo. The extraordinary capital of an extraordinary country. The Imperial Palace against a backdrop of skyscrapers in the commercial district…what’s it called? Marunouchi? I always hear it as ‘Marunouti’. It’s not that important – just those Japanese “middle sounds” again. It would probably be more accurate to write ‘Marunoutchi’. But again, it’s not important. The main thing is that they’re both here. The emperor’s palace and gray office blocks against an overcast December sky – gray on gray.

Read on…

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A melancholic December in Tokyo.

Early December in Tokyo, Japan. Autumn’s stark colors are all but gone now, while cherry blossom season still a long way off. So, there won’t be any need for an easel or paints – I don’t have them with me in any case :) In fact, I’ve never had an easel and paints. Nature goes to sleep; tourists become cold and sad, longing for a cup of hot sake. On this Sunday before a working Monday we are also sad while we go out for a short walk. This is the sort of melancholic December we’re having here.

Read on…

Forbidden City – 2018.

I’m lucky enough to find myself in China several times a year, and often that means its capital – Beijing. I’m also lucky enough to be able to take the time out of my busy business schedule here to get in some touristic sightseeing. Which is just as well as there’s just sooooo much of interest to the tourist in and around this amazing city. But what’s strange is that I haven’t been back to the city’s top tourist attraction since… 2009 – nearly 10 years ago!

And what’s the city’s top tourist attraction? Ah, yes – this post’s title gives it away a little. Yep, it’s the Forbidden City.

Read on…

Top-100: China; pt. 1.

Hi folks!

As promised, herewith the newly refurbished China sub-list of my Top-100 Most Beautiful – Must-See – Places on the Planet

But why does China – a single country – have its very own section of the List, like no other geographical area has? All rather straightforward really: because the number of OMG-beautiful natural and cultural and unique must-sees in China is just off the scale – even if it is only one single country (albeit not a small one:). But the funniest, curious-est, strangest bit of all is that outside the country very little at all is known about them. Just as well you’ve got me to tell you all about them, eh?)

Why exactly they’re unknown outside the country I don’t know. But I think it’s because the Chinese aren’t that bothered about attracting foreigners to their priceless natural tourist attractions. But then they don’t have to. They’ve enough on their plate catering to the hundreds of millions of their own citizens. Accordingly, some places – no matter how ‘wow’ – don’t even have a Wikipedia entry. They only become known about through tales of the odd (odd!) foreign tourist or two who accidentally happen on them during their pioneering travels around the country’s hinterland. And one such odd foreign tourist is (to a certain extent, for I still haven’t seen a great deal of the country) me!

But first, a few of the very obvious, very famous Chinese tourist attractions…

56. Great Wall of China.

I’ve been told that several generations ago folks could trek along the wall for several days on end! Alas, these days there’s no chance of that: self-preservation’s the name of the game today; only a short section is open to visitors. Nevertheless, it’s still totally worth checking out, and not only for the tick on your ‘been and seens’: there’s no other wall quite like it in the world. Uniformly unique.


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Lust in Translation – 2018.

Yes, the Chinese can be… colorful with their translations of foreign languages in signage, menus, whatever. And we love it! So much more fun when the translations are so direct they’re absurd, or so wrong they’re hilarious! But don’t get me wrong – I’m not laughing at the Chinese here, I’m slapping them on the shoulder with a huge grin, grateful that they can make my day brighter occasionally. Heck, there’s no way a Russian could possibly laugh, since Russians are wont to come up with similarly amusing translations. Example: a certain canteen I know insists one of their sandwiches comes with ‘beef language’, not ‘beef tongue’. A sign in central Moscow showing ‘Red Square’, gives a translation into Chinese, but it reads ‘Red Intestine’ in Chinese . Oops! But I digress. Back to China and their wonderful translations…

Btw – if you have any more examples of such mad-hatter translations – do let us all know in the comments!…

One masterstroke translation I’ll never forget, for example, is in the following pic:


Read on…

Wuyishan paths through crevasses and… tea plantations.

Privet boys and girls!

I know it was only a few weeks ago when I finished my travelogue-mini-series on our China-2018 trip, but I just know some of you are already missing my daily updates of the red, rocky and rainy landscapes of the various Danxia landforms. Well, just for you, herewith – yet more of all that red-rocky-rainy-ness! But it’s not all good news today. The bad news is that there’ll be just one installment – this one – for I really have, finally, run out of pics. I eventually managed to finish editing my last China-2018 gigabytes, and this is the result…

On today’s menu – Wuyishan, or the Wuyi Mountains (武夷山), in the Fujian province. Remarkably, the non-Chinese internet knows about the place, which is surely a good sign that it may be even better than all the other rocky tourist attractions in this part of the country. Let’s see…

Read on…

Our Spanish office has a new office!

Hi all!

Herewith, two news items from Spain:

Our regional office here is celebrating its 10th birthday!

As a present to itself, or something like that, it has moved into a new office!

Here’s the new office – in Madrid… just like the old one. Not that there was an ‘old’ Spanish office – the KLers there are much the same. It’s just the office premises that have changed. You could have thought something else… Anyway, here are the pics of the new ‘office premises’:

Read on…

Sagrada Família: unfinished uniqueness.

Hi folks!

Herewith, a brief report from our next Spanish city – Barcelona. Whenever I’m here I try and get myself to the Sagrada Família – the most grandiose building of Barcelona, and possibly of the whole country. Breathtaking, magical… this construction hardly needs an introduction.

This time my Sagrada visit turned out to be wholly unusual. But I’ll get to that in a bit…

Read on…