Monthly Archives: May 2019

Istanbul’s new airport: humungous, ambitious – and delicious!

A new airport has opened in Istanbul! And about time too, for the former main airport had long since been overstretched but couldn’t be expanded because it’s in the city itself (it’s now used just for cargo, business and other unscheduled flights), while the national carrier has been impressively expanding its geographical spread of destinations around the globe. Woah: a quick glance at Wikipedia tells me that that geographical expansion is so impressive that it’s given Turkish Airlines the highest number of countries served by an airline – a whopping 121! The second highest is Air France, but way behind TK  with just 91. Turkish is also sixth in the rankings of most destinations (304 cities) served, with only international cargo and US airlines ahead of it (i.e., hardly the fairest of comparisons). It’s also tenth in the world on fleet size – again behind US/Chinese/postal behemoths (and Ryanair:). But I digress…

So it was logically decided some years ago that Istanbul needed a new, bigger airport hub – a grandiose one; therefore one was built on a greenfield site outside the city. It’s size is 6 x 4.5km; it has four (!) runways each four kilometers long; and a gigantic terminal some 800×400 meters (that’s the main building, not including all walkways to the gates). In a word three words: oh my ginormous!

Here’s the view from up top:

Read on…

German triangle.

The other week I pulled a three-day Russia-Germany triangle: Moscow – Munich – Berlin – Moscow. Though it wasn’t such a long-sided triangle, it all the same was a toughie, as so much was packed into my itinerary. However, I didn’t even manage to get myself to Munich itself, only having got as far as its airport. But then, Munich Airport has its own… brewery, so I wasn’t complaining ).

The brewery is right in the middle of one of the airport’s restaurants too – so that’s two unusuals already; I wondered if the beer was going to be unusual too…

Read on…

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Libertas in monte.

Strolling around the City of San Marino, with its unassailable towers and fortress walls at the very top of a mountain, I figured it must have been a refuge against the medieval bandits, robbers and pillagers that once roamed Europe. However, it turns out that’s not the case.

According to legend, the beginnings of the first settlement here were established by a Christian stonemason in the 4th century A.D. during the period of persecution of Christians. He set up a humble home, started extracting stone, others joined him, a monastery appeared, and on and on it grew organically. Now, for around 1700 years there’s existed here this micro-state up a mountain. Down the centuries many tried to invade it, but no one ever succeeded. The details are rather interesting. Anyway, it’s physical impermeability to a large extent is the reason why it’s stayed independent. The country naturally cherishes this independence: you can tell by the way both its flag and emblem have the Latin ‘LIBERTAS’ (liberty) written large thereupon.

The first, oldest, tower at first was… a prison (keeping bad folks in as well as out!):

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Hey startups, want to become a global company?

About five years ago we launched an interesting project – our own Business Incubator . Why? Because there are a lot of great ideas out in the wild that need nurturing to grow and develop into something great. And we have the resources to help them do this! So we’ve been scouting for cool innovative ideas and giving startups ‘wings’ to fly.

One of the most successful examples of projects from our Business Incubator is Polys, launched in 2017. It’s an online platform for electronic voting based on blockchain. I’ve already mentioned it in this blog. But briefly: it’s safe, anonymous, unhackable, and what I think is more important – very easy to use and suitable for any kind of voting. I personally believe that the future of voting is indeed online and blockchain. Polys has already been officially used by Russian political parties, student bodies, and regional government organizations. And I’m sure that these are just the first steps of this KL nestling.

We’ve another up-and-coming Incubator project on board – Verisium. This is an IoT platform for customer engagement and product authentication. Especially needed in the fashion industry, it helps fight the counterfeiting of luxury products, and gives brands the ability to track product lifecycles and gain marketing insights into how products ‘live’ and perform. Verisium has already launched a number of joint projects with Russian designer brands – involving clothes with NFC chips on blockchain.

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However, though it’s doing really well, the Incubator wasn’t enough for us. So we decided to scale-up the way we work with startups and innovative companies, while focusing on something we know rather well… cybersecurity!

At the end of May (so, in a matter of days) we’re launching a new program that will run globally – the Kaspersky Open Innovations Program. We’re doing it to build an ecosystem that allows for transparent conversation and fruitful collaboration between businesses and innovative cybersecurity companies around the globe.

To start-off, we’re launching a global startup challenge. We’ll be looking for startups that already have products, or MVPs, or even prototypes; we’ll be looking for those who already have something to sell, or already have had some sales and now need more. Since we’ll be neither investing in these companies, nor acquiring them, we’ll keep the focus on finding solutions that can truly benefit from being embedded with our technologies or integrated with them to maximize protection capabilities.

Another goal will be to take the results of our collaboration with startups – and their many new innovative products, solutions, services, etc. – to companies of different sizes around the world.

So, if we’re not investing and not acquiring, what are we actually offering? As a global company, we’ll help startups scale up globally by supporting their further product and business development. But probably most importantly, we’ll be providing an opportunity for startups to build a partnership with us and a chance to sit at the same table with the big guys and global companies.

Join now and take your business worldwide!

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San Marino – Europe’s third-smallest country, don’t you know.

Ciao folks!

Herewith, a tiny post on a tiny addition to my not-tiny list of been-to’s in the world.

As time goes by, my getting a +1 to my countries-visited list seems to become less and less frequent. Maybe that’s because I’ve been to that many – more than 90. Yes, perhaps. But with 206 countries currently in the world, it really shouldn’t mean I’ve much excuse to start slowing down with my new-adds, surely. There’s still plenty of countries to go.

For example, even in nearby (i.e., easily-accessible) Europe, I’ve a full six states left to go: San Marino, Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus and Moldova.

//… Six, that is, according to one definition of which countries are part of Europe. What about, for example, the countries of the Caucuses region? Are they in Europe or in Asia (or both?). If they are, then I need to add Georgia to my list of European yet-to-checks. I’ve been on its territory, but that wasn’t quite Georgia: it was the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (Batumi, 1981).

And I’m sure there will be other question marks within my list: some countries aren’t recognized by certain states. But I don’t want to get into that can of worms.

Aaaanyway. Back to my +1. It was the tiny teeniest of countries – one perhaps whose sovereign status you might not even have been aware of (as many Europeans aren’t:). So – drum roll – it was….. ah, you already know: it’s in the title to this post!. So much for the added drum-drama ).

San Marino is a microstate set in the Apennine mountains, surrounded completely by Italy. In a few words: unique, unusual, unusually awesome, unusually old, and unusually wealthy. Unusually beautiful too…

And that’s all I’ll say about San Marino. This is one of those posts… for the Instagram generation, perhaps: Less words – more pics!

Read on..

Formula Paris-E.

Bonjour folks!

Today’s post is all about Formula E. Just in case that term is a new one to you – the ‘E’ stands for ‘Electric’. And the ‘Formula’ – yep, that’s like just like with ‘Formula 1’. Combined – you’ve guessed it: F1 but with electric cars!

It was only a matter of time since the electric car came into fairly widespread use that they’d start being raced a la Formula 1. And indeed, already for four and a half years they have been racing – around large cities across the globe, garnering more and more attention as time passes. And finally, the other week, I found myself at my first ePrix – in Paris!

And we weren’t just spectating, we take part too; first, with our expertise: we protect the cyber-infrastructure of the Envision Virgin team.

Second: with our sponsorship: check out the panels each side of the driver’s head!

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Notre Dame – optimism, despite the harm.

Bonjour folks!

I’m a technical guy, so I get attracted like a magnet to different kinds of unusual and/or unique buildings. And that includes old – even ancient ones. Standing awestruck at the architectural/construction works of the ancient masters is something I do a lot. How did they manage that? How come their proportions are so exact? How come they had a grand vision and followed through to build massive masterpieces – which simply wouldn’t be built these days, even given the resources.

In Paris there are plenty of such constructions. And when in town I often tread the same path I always have, and could never become bored of it: Eiffel Tower > Pompidou Center > Notre-Dame. So it came as a bit of a shock hearing the news of the fire in the latter one late evening in northern Taiwan. The early accounts of the damage made me think it was all over for Our Lady of Paris. Of course it would be repaired and restored – but it wouldn’t be quite the same would it?

When I arrived in the French capital a few days later – I rushed to see the damage for myself. And was cheered up no end by seeing that things weren’t as bad as made out in the press. She’s still standing tall and proud! Sure, there’s plenty of damage – but not everywhere. I tried to get up close but it was cordoned off, so had to settle for inspecting the damage from a way off:

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Northern Taiwan, 101.

Actively checking out Taiwanese natural places of interest can bring on sudden attacks of hunger, as I found out the other week while in the far north of the island. When our stomachs were rumbling simply too loudly for comfort, we were ushered to the town of Juifen to put a stop to the noise. And guess what – the town of Juifen is… must-see! Particularly – must-eat-in )! Especially – if you’re a big fan of Chinese cuisine, which I certainly am. Oh my gourmet!…

The place is made up of a labyrinth of narrow little streets, in many places with some roof-like construction up above to keep off the rain. There’s less of an emphasis on souvenirs (like you often get with cute little places like these that attract tourists and natives alike), and more of one on: grub! Yeh! All different kinds of grub too – albeit of the Chinese kind. Eateries, restaurants, cafes, greasy spoons; eat-ins, takeaways; boiled, steamed, fried; meat, fish, veggies – ice cream too. Hissing, bubbling… and the fragrances: they sure got the appetite up. And it looks like this:

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Much Ado About Hoodoo.

Practically at the northernmost point of Taiwan there’s a place that’s categorically necessarily mandatorily recommended for a visit: it’s the Yehliu Geopark, whose main attraction are the very rare natural phenomena of which there are just a few specimens throughout the world: hoodoo formations – outcrops made up of horizontal layers of rock of varying hardness. As a result of some not-fully-understood geology, tectonics push these formations up to the earth’s surface, then they’re eroded by the wind and rain – with the lower, softer layers being worn away quicker than the upper, harder ones. The result: totally inconceivable shapes. Sometimes they’re so far-fetched and extraordinary it’s hard to believe they’re 100% natural.

Read on…