Monthly Archives: December 2019

The daily life and sights of Delhi.

Delhi. This is the third time I’ve been here, and finally I decided to do some tourism. On the previous occasions, I’ve had to do press conferences, meetings and was always on the go. I did make it to the Taj Mahal once. But if we’re being honest, there are two things that get in the way of proper tourism here: the polluted air (see below for more), and the chaotic traffic. You step out of your hotel, leaving behind the cleansed, air-conditioned environment, and you are met with the smoke of the local neighborhood.

At the beginning of the week, when we had two days in Delhi according to our approved travel plan, a third obstacle made itself felt to would-be tourists: protests against some reforms taking place right next to some of the city’s main historical sites that are a must-see for every curious tourist. Unfortunately, they were closed. But Delhi has quite a few places to see!

Some of the main ones were still open to visitors though. One was the Emperor Humayun’s tomb. This is an interesting construction. If you don’t have time to do the Taj Mahal (which is much higher up the list, but constructed later), then make sure to see this place.

As a matter of interest, many buildings of importance in this part of India were built in the times of the Great Moguls who were partially descended from the Mongol Empire. For example, the aforementioned Humayun was born in Kabul, a descendant of Tamerlane, etc. In the pictures, he has a typically Mongolian appearance, at least to me. It was these guys who got the ball rolling with the “industrialization” in these parts.

Read on…

Mathematics – the queen of sciences.

Hi all!

There will be two topics today: 1) where to go to study; and 2) a brain teaser – how can you obtain all the numbers from 0 to 100 using the digits 1, 4, 0, and 9. Let’s start with number one.

1) I often get asked: “What sort of education should my kid get? Which subjects are likely to be in demand in the future?”

I do not pretend to be an all-knowing visionary, but I have absolutely no doubt about the answer to this one: teach your kids mathematics! It’s the most fundamental, most indispensable and the greatest of all the sciences. Learning it opens the door to lots of different and wonderful professions. Good mathematicians can then become anything they want, including a perfectly successful humanities major (there are numerous areas where mathematics is applied in humanities, and this number will only keep growing).

Or, to look at it another way, I can safely say I’ve never heard of a humanities student becoming a successful mathematician… It’s just unheard of. Looking back at my life, I think that if it hadn’t been for the Kolmogorov Physics and Mathematics Boarding School (aka AESC MSU), many things in my life may have turned out very differently.

The school maintained very high standards – our brains were permanently going into overdrive. We had classes six days a week, several different math disciplines, advanced physics classes with lab sessions, plus all the other classes as per the regular school curriculum. Despite the heavy academic workload, we had a very happy and interesting time at school. A childhood imbued with physics and mathematics…

That’s why I was very glad when last year, as part of the Mathematical Vertical project, an experimental Grade 7 class was opened in Moscow school 1409. It is the first building block in the foundation of that Mathematical Vertical that has the same name as my company – MVK for short.

Year 7 became year 8, and will then become year 9, and, in cooperation with the school, we will draft a new class or two each year. That way, the desired vertical will be constructed: there will be the specialized classes 7, 8 and 9, then, after such serious preparation, there will be the engineering classes for years 10 and 11. The graduate students will then be able to enter the best technological universities. And then the kids will come to work for us! (said with a sly squint while rubbing my hands) :) And everyone’s a winner! Well, everyone except the cybercriminals of course :)

The Mathematical Vertical project was designed by the Moscow Department of Education as a necessary upgrade of the entire system of teaching math in years 7-9 – a radically new model. If, in a couple of years, it proves to be successful, it will become the benchmark for the entire country. Meanwhile, we are acting as an ally and partner for School 1409 in the implementation of the project. Kaspersky employees are taking an active part in the educational process, teaching the Information Security course to the MVK class and to interested students from the year 10 and 11 engineering classes.

Picture by Anastasia Shayakhmetova, Class 8M

Last Friday, I finally had time to visit the school and talk to the students under our patronage, giving them some math problems and steering them onto the true, highly interesting, albeit complicated, path and revealing a mass of opportunities. In short, I told them why they need to study hard and then work hard.

I’ve actually visited the school a couple of times before, and was pleasantly surprised. Many universities would love to have the sort of teaching equipment they have: apart from hundreds of computers, dozens of interactive whiteboards and robotics sets, the engineering and medical classes are equipped with a 3D printer, a 3D scanner, an atomic molecular microscope and other technological miracles. Back in my day, the equipment was usually limited to desks, chairs and a blackboard :)

I was pleased with my visit: the kids’ eyes were shining with enthusiasm, they asked interesting questions, and they promised to solve the tasks I set! I’ll check the next time I visit.

2) This is the main problem I set them:

You are given the digits 1, 4, 0, 9. Use the math knowledge you have received in school, namely the basic arithmetic operations (adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing), plus raising to a power, extracting a root and factorial, to obtain all the numbers from zero to 100. You can glue numbers together and rearrange them in any order you want. For example:

0 = 0*149. Or, in a more crafty way: = 0! – 149
10 = 10 * ( √9- √4 )

You cannot turn numbers upside down, i.e., you cannot make a 6 from a 9 by turning it upside down. However, you can make a 6 from a 9 using a square root and a factorial:

6 = (√9)!

UPD1: You can use the digits just once (this is somewhat obvious, otherwise “1+1+…+1+0*49” to make any natural number).

UPD2: it’s not permitted to round numbers. Otherwise, that would be simply cheating with roots and factorials.

I wonder if all numbers from 0 to 100 can be derived from such actions. If not – what other knowledge from the school mathematics course needs to be added to the conditions?

Flickr photostream

  • Sochi / Sep 2020
  • Sochi / Sep 2020
  • Sochi / Sep 2020
  • Sochi / Sep 2020

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Biometrics. Lord of the ring!

It’s now perfectly normal to unlock your phone or computer with a fingerprint – nobody would bat an eyelid. In fact, more and more biometric data is being collected, whether it be facial, voice or iris recognition. This type of authentication appears to be very reliable because every human’s physical and behavioral features are unique. However, very few think of where all that data is stored and how it’s protected. What if somebody gains access to it?

According to our experts, in Q3 2019 alone, 37% of computers used to store and process biometric data faced the risk of a malware infection at least once. Of these, more than 5% were infected with spyware. The main sources of infection were the internet, removable media such as flash drives, and email clients.

When your password is leaked, it’s annoying, but it’s easy to change it. But what do you do if cybercriminals get access to your fingerprints? You don’t have a spare set of fingers! We’ve given the problem some thought … and come up with a solution! :)

In early December in Milan, together with Swedish designer Benjamin Waye, we presented a unique prototype ring used for authentication.

Read on…

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Reaping the fruits.

The year is coming to a close, and it’s only natural to sum up the various results of the last 12 months. So here’s a triple whammy of good news:

1) Our business security solution won the Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice in the Endpoint Security Solutions category for the third consecutive year. This year, it scored 4.6 points out of five, based on 1,747 reviews from real users. Gartner Peer Insights is an independent platform where corporate customers can leave positive or negative feedback on the products they use and give them scores. Customer’s Choice is ranked based on the scores vendors receive from users, taking into account both the quality and quantity of feedback. Gartner ensures there are no bots or cheats. We’re constantly improving our products and refining our features. And winning the Gartner rating for the third consecutive year is the best proof that users see it and appreciate it.

Read on…

The Panthéon, the Pendulum, and Paris.

I’ve been to Paris so many times on business, and always manage to squeeze in a little bit of tourism, even if it means doing the same thing for the umpteenth time. After the 15th anniversary of our French office, I had a few hours to spare before the next leg of my business itinerary, so I went to Panthéon of Paris!

Here, amongst many other things, you can see the Foucault pendulum with your own eyes. It was first put on public display for curious tourists and other citizenry… apparently back in 1851. There it is – that dangling thing:

It’s moving, see!

Read on…

K FR = 15!

The celebrations to mark the 15th anniversary of our French office in Paris were lots of fun! But we start this story with a picture of the birthday cake from the 10th anniversary of our French office:

Why? To jog the memory – by going through my archives and photos I recalled all sorts of various stories. Like this hilarious one, which is probably hard to believe now. This is what happened.

It was back in the days when online banking was just getting started and serious cybercrime was only beginning to raise its ugly head; when people still had push-button Nokias and Sony Ericssons in their pockets and plane tickets were printed on paper (long sheets stitched together). It was November 2002, and me and a group of like-minded folks were about to head off to an important event in the Cote d’Azur area of France. It was late afternoon on Friday and we were due to fly on the Monday… Suddenly a letter falls into my box. // When an owl delivers a message it always means unexpected or sudden changes to plans, you know.

The letter contained a proposal for cooperation from the former director of one of our esteemed competitors. It turned out that this competitor of ours had rather blatantly broken their promises and basically dumped their local director who had built up their business in France. And, well, this director was now offering to go down the same path all over again and start a business with us.

It was a bit of a surprise to say the least! Fate doesn’t dish out opportunities like that very often. And we were already heading to France anyway! We absolutely had to meet! But to do so, we had to stay in Paris for an extra day and change our return tickets.

Nowadays you can change planes or hotels as much as you like, whenever you like. But back then it was a very different story because no one worked on weekends. The airline tickets had to be changed physically, not just in the database. Of course, it was all quite doable – you just had to go to an airlines office. And there just happened to be one on the way – we were flying via Paris and then onwards to Nice. And so, sometime in the middle of the day I arrived at the airline’s office on the Champs-Elysées. I got there literally 10-15 minutes before the lunch break(!) – yes, yes, then – and to this day – it was/is customary in France to close for lunch.

Lunch is sacred! Nobody in the office wanted to mess about with customers right before their break. They frowned a bit, but after realizing that I wasn’t going to leave and wait outside, they took my passport, credit card (I had to pay extra), tapped a few buttons on the keyboard and gave me a new ticket. I didn’t look too closely at the ticket (unfortunately), immediately jumped in a taxi and zoomed off to the station, because my Paris-Nice train was already panting and whistling and raring to go.

After that it was all business and press stuff. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that there were a few of us. For example, my good old travelling buddy D.Z. was with us, and the former director of my company, my namesake N.K., all flew to the event. For some reason (I don’t remember why) we flew together, but then she flew somewhere else, and I went to the coast by train.

We got everything done that we needed to, all the meetings were successful, I was flying home in the morning, and N.K. had some other things to do and decided to take another flight later that day. I arrived at the airport check-in desk and handed over my passport and ticket. The employee at the desk read everything very attentively, then looked up at me and asked in surprise: “Natalya?”

Oops… – I couldn’t help thinking that it wasn’t a coincidence. I called N.K. and her ticket was correct – in her own name. Turns out those Mayan drummers at the Paris office had hurriedly (almost lunchtime!) printed off a ticket for me using N.K.’s name. I was in such a hurry to catch my train that I failed to notice the mistake.

It all ended well though. There was a bit of fussing around, some conferring and they eventually agreed it was their fault – and led me by the hand to the plane with a “dodgy” ticket. I’ve no idea how much fainting and confusion there was in our accounting department when they had to account for two “Natalyas” flying from Paris to Moscow just a few hours apart.

That’s just one of the many stories.

Read on…

Venice vs. November, floods and a biennale.

What’s that whooshing sound? Ah, it’s me rushing from Cancún to Venice, to attend a business event the next day :)

I got to thinking about my previous visits to Venice and how I usually arrived by car. In fact, I hadn’t flown into Venice airport for about 15 years! This time, they told me I shouldn’t be too surprised about their unusual new arrivals terminal. And it really was unusual – or, at least the parking lot:

That’s right! You can take a boat from Venice airport (which is on the mainland) straight to the islands on which Venice lies.

Read on…

Diez cenotes, o, cenotes sobredosis!

Ingredients: the Yucatan peninsula; three free days between business events; a great desire to check out cenotes and bathe in them.

Something to be factored in: No Rio Secreto this time; been there a few times, done that, swum that – without the t-shirt.

Decision: Uno, dos, tres – let’s check out 10 cenotes!

There are four types of Cenotes: Cantaro (a cave with a hole in the roof thereof); cilindricos (with strictly vertical walls); aguagas (with shallow water basins); and grutas (cave cenotes, with a horizontal entrance with dry sections). Now, for some reason, along the coast of Yucatan there are mostly the latter to be found – grutas, while if you drive further from the coast inward they are overtaken by cantaro. Why, I don’t know.

Anyway, we set off to study the cenotes in the Dos Ojos park. Here, there are a full 28 cenotes, with around 10 accessible to folks for entering and bathing in. Apparently all the cenotes are part of one and the same system and interconnected as a single labyrinth (underwater river) – which runs to a total length of… 80 kilometers! And it’s all just 15km from Tulum.

Sources

All righty. Off we go – to Dos Ojos…

Read on…

Mayan pyramid duel – Chichen Itza vs. Coba.

Ancient Mayan sites are scattered over rather a wide territory, covering parts of what are today Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. But if you want things narrowed down to just former cities with pyramids, the internet obliges – in competing ways; for example:

10 Most Beautiful Ancient Mayan Temples
13 Most Beautiful Ancient Mayan Temples

On our three-day car-based excursion around Yucatan, besides Coba, we also made a visit to the famous Chichen Itza, including its centerpiece, El Castillo, aka the Temple of Kukulcan. Have a read of what that link takes you to – especially about the steps and the platform (=365), and about the ‘snake’ that slithers down the pyramid on an equinox.

The Maya were masters of astronomy and light-and-shade-architectural effects, but there was no equinox while we were there, so no snake. Still, this was just as well since the serpent attracts huge crowds, which I can’t be doing with.

We were there early morning; accordingly – very quiet.

Frontal view:

Read on…

Coba: My-oh-Maya!

Sometimes I regret not being a historian. I mean – to study different, unusual cultures, for example the central-American ancient Mayan one, and to do it as a job, not a hobby… – sounds ideal!

Now, the Mayans existed for 3000 years! They invented their own writing system, were advanced astronomers, mathematicians and architects, but then, for some unknown reason, they died out completely – around 400 years ago. They never got round to creating a single state, yet ruins of more than a thousand towns remain to this day, scattered across the Yucatan Peninsula and further south into Central America. The number of temples and pyramids is off the scale. And talking of temples and pyramids, that’s where we were headed early morning (since all architectural places-of-interest in the region open at 8am every day) on the second day of our three-dayer in Mexico recently (but we’d have been up at crack of dawn anyway for, as usual, we wanted to see as much as we possibly could – plus it would be uncomfortably hot if we’d have left it till later).

First up for us – the ancient city of Coba, whose ruins cover a large territory, and whose main pyramid is the tallest of all Mayan pyramids, at 42 meters. What the pyramid may have been called by the Mayans themselves nobody knows, but today it goes by the name Ixmoja.

Read on…