Monthly Archives: February 2022

Magadan – Yakutsk – Lake Baikal: All cold on the eastern front.

Magadan to Lake Baikal via Yakutsk by road. Oh yes…

But we’ve got to get to Magadan first!

So it was a final gaze out the window at the office – luckily during a sunset ->

And then it was the short drive to SVO, and from there the long flight to Magadan – eight time-zones to the east!…

Curiously, there’s now a Magadan restaurant in Sheremetyevo:

And several hours later we were dining at another Magadan restaurant – in Magadan! ->

But, what were we doing in Magadan in Magadan in the first place?…

Read on…

A big LEAP for Saudi Arabia.

My first international business trip of the year was as modest as it could get – with just a single port of call. But that port of call was sunny Riyadh, which sure made a welcome change to the sub-zero temperatures and daily snow that’s been falling in Moscow since November!…

I’d been to the city before – in 2013 and 2014 – and both times for conferences, speeches and meetings, and with hardly any micro-tourisms. This year – zero micro-tourisms; not even a nano-tourism. As per – the business schedule was a full and busy one, including matters connected with the imminent opening of our local office here (which I’ll get to in another post). Alas, it was so busy… – zero nice photos too. Apologies folks. My excuse? You’ve got to work hard!

What I remember most from my two first trips to Saudi was that practically all the folks I’d meet would say the same thing: without a serious transformation in the country there’s no future for it in the modern world. To be honest, back then I was a little amazed by the boldness of such statements, but now I see that wasn’t just talk. Changes have been made, and though they’re not big changes, they are noticeable. First of all, public transportation is being built! Earlier there was no such thing: Riyadh was strictly car-only. Today there are overhead transportation lines. No trains yet, but things are looking good ->

Read on…

Flickr photostream

  • Seychelles / Jan 2023
  • Seychelles / Jan 2023
  • Seychelles / Jan 2023
  • Seychelles / Jan 2023

Instagram photostream

Hit the road, Eugene…

Indeed time to hit the road, or, rather – the skies…

I’ll get to the where and why I’m hitting the skies in a bit. For now – prelude: snowy airport.

Once seated, out of the corner of my eye through my window I noticed a particular airline’s insignia on a plane’s tail fin:

And here it is zoomed in:

When I started dancing a jig in the aisle I was quickly asked to sit back down by the flight attendant. But why was I jigging? Simple: that there emblem is Qatar Airways’. So what? Well, in the past, its planes would operate only out of Domodedovo Airport to the south of Moscow. But here we were at our ‘local’ airport – the hub that goes by the name of Sheremetyevo, which is just a short drive from the office. Domodedovo takes an hour or two longer to get to. Qatar has, clearly, started flying out of SVO too. Hurray. Jig!

So where were we headed this time? Check out the following pic for clues ->

Read on…

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For cyber-insurance – a watershed moment (involving a $1.4bn payout!)

Hi boys and girls!

It’s been a while since my last installment of iNews, aka – uh-oh cyber-news, aka – cyber-tales from the dark side, so here’s reviving the series to get back on track in giving you highlights of jaw-dropping cyber-astonishments you might not hear about from your usual sources of news…

In this installment – just one iNews item for you, but it’s plenty: an added item might have watered down the significance of this one (hardly appropriate when there’s ‘watershed’ in the title:)…

Briefly about the iNews: after lengthy legal proceedings in the U.S., a court has ruled in favor of big-pharma company Merck against its insurer for a payout of US$1.4 billion (!!) to cover the damages Merck suffered at the grubby hands of NotPetya (aka ExPetr or simply Petya) in 2017.

Quick rewind back to 2017…

In June of that year, all of a sudden a viciously nasty and technologically advanced encryptor worm – NotPetya – appeared and spread like wildfire. It initially targeted Ukraine, where it attacked victims via popular accounting software – affecting banks, government sites, Kharkov Airport, the monitoring systems of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (!!!), and so on and so on. Next, the epidemic spread to Russia, and after that – all around the world. Many authoritative sources reckon NotPetya was the most destructive cyberattack ever. Which looks about right when you count the number of attacked companies (dozens of which each lost hundreds of millions of dollars), while overall damage to the world economy was estimated at a minimum 10 billion dollars!

One of the most notable victims of the global cyberattack was the U.S. pharmaceuticals giant Merck. It was reported 15,000 of its computers were zapped within 90 seconds (!) of the start of the infection, while its backup data-center (which was connected to the main network), was lost almost instantly too. By the end of the attack Merck had lost some 30,000 workstations and 7,500 servers. Months went into clearing up after the attack – at a cost of ~1.4 billion dollars, as mentioned. Merck even had to borrow vaccines from outside sources for a sum of $250 million due to the interruptions caused to its manufacturing operations.

Ok, background out the way. Now for the juiciest bit…

Read on…