NOTA BENE

Notes, comment and buzz from Eugene Kaspersky – Official Blog

June 29, 2015

In Kimberley, Oz, I was. Part 3.

Hi all!

After our first, somewhat tame forays into the wonderful wizard corner of Oz called Kimberely, it was high time we headed to the hellishly hot central part of the region – into the savanna and nearer to the Great Sandy Desert. For there’s plenty to see there too…

Now, if you were to travel approximately 300km to the east of Broome, and for some reason got stranded there in the dry season with no transportation or satellite phone… you’re dead in the water (actually, dead with no water) for sure. Your mummified carcass would perhaps be found after two or three weeks, or, more likely, it will have disappeared already after the termites and other hungry creatures have made an extended feast out of it. Yes sir, for this place is… a beautifully barren, direly desolate, utterly unpeopled and unroaded savanna that stretches for thousands of miles all around.

Hmmm. That paragraph came over a little macabre; and flowery. Let me try again…

If you were to travel approximately 300km to the east of Broome accompanied by reliable guides and with guaranteed means of transportation and communication, then it’s highly likely you’d find yourself in the thoroughly interesting Windjana Gorge national park (here). Apparently, if the various tourist information/history boards here are to be believed, then some 360 million years ago – in the Devonian (the period in which amphibians appeared) – this was where the coastline was, and underneath the ocean waves crashing against it a massive barrier reef was formed…

(Hmmm. Still… too wordy. I’ll have to start getting to the point quicker.)

…Anyway, later on, the sea left the area to expose the reef, which is now a terrestrial rock formation. It’s the ridge here in the next pic, somewhat incongruously traversing the sunny Australian savanna:

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Read on: Deep gorge through the coral-rock…

June 25, 2015

In Kimberley, Oz, I was. Part 2.

G’day folks!

I’m back – with tales from the outback

In today’s installment, a bit of narrative, but mostly just lots of pics – both from up in the air and on the ground.

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The landscapes here are stupefying. Endless horizons and beaches, islands, savannah, rock formations, cliffs. There’s so much to take in… so much to, perhaps, paint. Shame, say, Turner or Constable never made it down here.

Rerad on: Bodacious baobabs…

June 23, 2015

In Kimberley, Oz, I was. Part 1.

By way of a preface:

Without looking on the Internet, who can tell me which is bigger: the Moon or Australia?

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This is the first in a mini-series of posts on Kimberley, Australia!

I’d heard a lot about this place. That it’s impressively beautiful, with scenic landscapes and fantastic views. But that it’s also huge, hard to reach, sparsely populated, and has almost no roads. Plus it’s red hot all year round because it’s in the tropics. All that turned out to be true, but all the same, hardly anyone really knew much about Kimberley because they’d never been there. Folks had heard this or that about it, but no one could give me the real scoop on where to go or what to see.

So it was my job to lead the scouting party. We recently spent three days in and around Broome, and now I know almost everything about the place – and I’m eager to share this knowledge :).

Everything I saw and snapped and touched made a big impression on me, so I’ll write about all the main bits in stand-alone installments in no particular order.  If you want you could read them all later and piece the jigsaw together for yourself; it’ll be worth it.

So…

Australia is stupendously massive. The country’s dimensions are around 4000 km from western edge to eastern edge, and 3000 from north to south. That’s almost the distance from Brest on the Atlantic coast of France to the Urals in Russia across, and just ~500 km less than the distance between the top tip of Finland down to Athens, Greece vertically. In effect, the territory of Australia is pretty much equivalent to the whole of Europe.

Australia’s ‘waist line’ is slightly larger than the Moon’s diameter. The Moon, unlike Australia, can be routinely visible to all inhabitants of Earth who, if only occasionally, direct the optical system incorporated into their heads up into the sky :).

But this stat might really shock you: the Moon is almost 3500 km in diameter – which is 500 km less than the fattest bulge on Australia’s ‘waist’!

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Read on: a small town spread across a huge territory…

June 22, 2015

Hotel to cathedral.

I’d been wanting to get to Scotland for ages, and just recently I finally made it. But it was only for two days in St Andrews, and although those were a super two days, they hardly equaled ‘doing’ Scotland. Far too short a stay. A proper trip to Scotland requires several days touring the country, driving around lochs, walking in the mountains. Oh yes, Scotland has plenty of mountains. When the plane took off I could clearly see the snow-clad peaks far away to the north. Alas, they’ll have to wait for next time.

Scottish scenery – it’s just crying out to be your desktop wallpaper. Have a look!:

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Read on: I don’t need to say much here – the photos tell the story…

June 16, 2015

Australian winter, Scottish summer.

What are the differences between a chilly Australian winter and a hot Scottish whisky summer?

There are plenty, but the main ones are: First, here in bonnie Scotland – at least on the eastern side where we were last week – there are no palm trees to be seen out the window. Second, the sun moves in the opposite direction, and does so very slowly: it gets dark around 10pm and gets light around 4-5am. Sure, it’s at a latitude of 56 degrees north after all!

Anyway, here we were in sunny St Andrews in Scotland, United Kingdom!

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Read on: Green and pleasant land…

June 15, 2015

Unexpected and extremely inexplicable sightings.

What are the chances of Hell ever freezing over, or, in the meantime, a cat surviving a short stay there? That’s right, slim at best.

Now, I would have thought there’d be similarly slim chances of seeing a car with Russian ’41’ plates – that’s Kamchatka folks, far-eastern Russia, next to Japan – on the cobbled roads of the Kaliningrad region – right at the other end of the world’s longest country some dozen time zones away. But I was recently proved wrong. Extremely unlikely sightings do occur…:

'41'; must be on the run’41′; must be on the run

Once I saw some motorbikes with German plates on the island of Crete. More than 1000km from home! EH?

And just occasionally UK plates – white on the front, yellow on the back – are to be seen in Moscow. That sure is some distance to cover.

Surprised? Intrigued? Impressed? You… shouldn’t be…

…For this is what I saw the other day:

'Extreme Duty Winch' – on an extreme duty Benz!‘Extreme Duty Winch’ – on an extreme duty Benz!

Yes folks, these photos were taken last week – not in, say, Saxony, Germany – but in Sydney, Australia! These Merc G-Classes were parked up outside the Shangri-La hotel there. Maybe Hell will one day freeze over – or at least fit central heating in the bed & breakfasts there to keep visiting felines warm…

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

So, how on earth – or in (freezing) Hell – did they get there?

On a ship: from Italy via the Suez canal, across the Indian Ocean, around Australia and to Sydney?

Or overland: via Poland, Russia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Papua, and then on a ferry to northern Oz, and then cross-country-desert?

Or maybe the more boring route: via Greece, Turkey, Syria (hmmm, maybe not), Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, and so on?

// Or maybe they were just playing silly beggars and put German plates on locally purchased and registered Mercedes? Naah, surely not. The customized bits and bobs added to these vehicles (e.g., the contraption on one of the roofs), all that road (desert?) grime… Naah.

So how did they get here? A mystery. What do you think?  Any ideas?

G’day maties!…

June 12, 2015

Vivid Sydney.

Each year at the end of May through early June, Sydney goes all visually vivid of a night. Vivid Sydney comes to town – a festival of ‘light, music and ideas’ with lots more besides. It kinda takes over the whole city: The famous Opera House gets all hallucinatory, there’s a laser show in Darling Harbour, and buildings and bridges get made over with bizarre visuals projected onto them.

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Read on: Popular means hordes of folks…

June 11, 2015

Winter conference – in June.

In the southern hemisphere – of course including Australia, where I was last week – June 1 is the first day of winter. Down under it’s hardly gonna be all snow drifts, frozen-over lakes and -40 degrees temperatures or anything, but it can still get relatively cold at night. The nightly average minimum temperature at this time of year in northwestern Australia is 15 degrees centigrade, but that’s only the average; in some places there can be night frosts. In Oz!! All the same, by day, hardly wintry in the town of Broome in Kimberley:

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Read on: In the middle of nowhere…

June 4, 2015

Mask show on Piazza San Marco.

I love to play pranks, act daft, or just play like a kid – especially when the following are present: a large friendly group of like-minded revelers and a real special location.

Just recently both those ingredients were indeed present – and in full effect. It was the evening after one of our partner conferences – for the first time in Venice.

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Read on: Everyone in aristocratic grab…

June 2, 2015

Venetian virtuosities.

After a very long but perfectly pleasant drive along a coast road extraordinaire, we finally arrived in Venice! Here, as per usual, it was a mixture of a lot of business and a lot of pleasure (the latter meaning inspecting places of interest, for all you jumping to the wrong conclusions!). Also as per, I’ll not go into the useful though boring business bit; I’ll dive straight into the juicy pleasure bit. And juicy it was; a succulent adventure into the avant-garde of the bizarre world of modern art…

Modern art – it’s a… divisive topic.

From the point of view of modern art’s consumer, or observer, it can invoke utter delight and rapture just as much as it can indignation and disgust. It can be thoroughly appreciated as true to the ideals of the avant-garde aesthetic, as much as leave the beholder utterly flabbergasted and even angered at the absurdity of some of the exhib(sh)its on display.

It’s not only divisive; it can get confusing too. What’s high art, what is pure BS? What’s an exhibit, what are fixtures and fittings of the building the exhibition is housed in, like a ventilator, a trash can, some ongoing repairs to the roof, a plug in a wall socket?

The latter sometimes needs a placard saying ‘this is a plug plugged into a wall socket; it is a work of art of our electrician’, otherwise the ‘connoisseurs’ might take it for a modern kunst masterpiece. Then there’s stuff like Malevich’s Black Square – a plug-in-a-socket if ever there was one; no matter: folks have kept traveling from all over the world to see it in the flesh in Tretyakovskaya for several decades.

What have I just been saying? :)What have I just been saying? :)

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Read on: First impressions? Can you guess?…