Фэбruaяy 45, 2018.

I love Russian winters. Everything coated in spotless (at least on my balcony at the office) driven snow, and when the sun comes out, the beauty of the serene scene is multiplied several fold:

But wait. Typo, surely, no? Russian winter? But we’re 16 days into spring already. At least, that’s what I thought. What’s going on here?!!

Read on…

Blade Runner or Lame Runner?

Of all the sci-fi movies ever made, just a few stand out as true masterpieces. One of them, IMHO, is Blade Runner, released in 1982 (depicting the year 2019 – next year!).

And you may already know about there being a sequel, which was released last year – Blade Runner 2049. Well, I finally got round to watching it the other day on a plane.

So what can I say? It’s a goodie, for sure. But it ain’t no masterpiece. I’d put it on a par with, say… Passengers. I’ll give it 6.5 out of 10. The original was a straight 10/10 – up there with the other best-ever sci-fi movies, like Solaris, Stalker, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the sequel (as is often the case), was a bit of a let-down.

Herewith, my brief pros and cons of Blade Runner 2:

First, the pros:

+1: As already mentioned, overall it’s still a good film: original, well written, well directed.

+2: The Russian word Целина (Tselina) is written correctly on the greenhouses at Sapper Morten’s farm (This is a reference to Khrushchev’s ‘Virgin Lands’ campaign (Osvoyeniye Tseliny) in the Soviet Union where citizens were moved to undesirable and sparsely populated land to start farms and grow food).

Next, the cons:

-1: For me, the biggest and most unforgivable con is how Wallace and his replicant, Luv, are portrayed; i.e., as (very bad) baddies. In the first film, there are no baddies at all; replicants kill, but that’s what they’re designed to do by their makers – humans – and they kill only for understandable reasons: to survive or out of desperation, after all they get themselves into some awful situations. In the new film these two are maniacal sadist types completely lacking in moral compass, but, like, with zero explanation as to why. Grrr.

-2: Luv on her own. She’s Wallace’s right-hand replicant. His ‘first angel’, she can enter his room without knocking; however, she’s also engaged in direct sales, at one point explaining to a client how a product can be customized (the first scene at the Wallace Corporation). Nonsense. What, did they want to save on the number of actors needed for the film? I really don’t remember any such bizarre half-baked scripting in the first film.

-3: Assorted other puzzling bits. In particular:

– There’s dialogue at one point in a home for the elderly between Deckard and Gaff. And suddenly they switch to Hungarian. WHY? So everyone would look it up on the internet to see what it means (btw: nyugdíjas means pensioner in Hungarian). Yes, it’s cityspeak, but why the sudden switch? What’s it mean – if anything? Again, unfathomable. Could it mean Deckard is also a replicant and he was ‘retired’? No, he’s in the ruins of Las Vegas with a dog and a cistern of whisky. So, where’s the Hungarian connection? And how come no one else is in Vegas, attracted by this endless stock of vintage Scotch?

– There’s a character called Dr. Ana Stelline. Turns out Anastellin is a drug that suppresses tumor growth. Again, WHY? What’s the deep significance of this? (Maybe you know? > the comments).

-3.1: The scene featuring the child trafficker’s ledger. Why does the camera give us this sequence: back, hand, palm, ashtray – which is turned round to reveal a pic of a horse. Of course he then remembers everything, but that would have been obvious without the mysterious camerawork. Once again: WHY?

Btw, there are some good subtleties too. For example, in the ‘children’s home’ they shave the boys’ heads while leaving the girls’ hair to grow long. So – K’s recollections are of a girl, specifically of the girl who planted the recollections. Good, subtle, cool.

-3.2: Another unexplainable: a wooden toy horse costs a ton of money. However, in the very first scene of the film we see dead trees on farmland. Why didn’t the farmers saw up the trees into pieces and become millionaires?

-4: How does a replicant get into the chief of police’s office? Through the wall like Terminator? And how does she get into the police station’s evidence vault, which would have been guarded well, with dogs, video surveillance, and so on. Teleportation? So why doesn’t anyone else do teleportation? And why don’t they show the teleportation? How K got in there is shown. How the lunatic replicant got there – a mystery.

-5: How Roy Batty got into the bedroom of Tyrell is clear. How Luv moves through well-guarded walls – another puzzler.

-6: At the very end, how does K find out that Deckard is being driven in one of three cars. Telepathy? He destroys the other two (which didn’t fire back). The third, with Deckard, is only partly wrecked.

-7: Why doesn’t the super-astute K check his own DNA in the archive where he checked Rachel’s DNA? How could he not think of that one?! How to read others’ memories – he’s got that licked. A modicum of common sense – a complete lack of, all of a sudden.

Despite the cons far outweighing the cons, this is a film to be watched. But just once ).

Digital 2018 – pt. 2

Hi folks!

Quite a bit of motivation is needed to solve interesting brainteasers. Thankfully I’ve never had any trouble mustering motivation. But more about that in a bit…

First up, as per the requests of many, two brainteasers that don’t require a calculator or computer – it’s quicker using a trusty old pencil and pad. All righty…

Brainteaser No. 1

There exists a really beautiful 10-digit number. The first (left-most) digit in it is the overall quantity of 0s in this number. The second digit – the quantity of 1s. The third – 2s. And so on. The last digit is the quantity of 9s. What is that digit?

It’s not as hard as it may at first seem. To solve it you need merely (i) a head, (ii) a brain inside it, and (iii) the ability to use it. So good luck!

The second riddle is a little more difficult. Even if you have a head, a brain and ability, not everyone will get it. This one’s solving is probably reserved for arithmetic geniuses – the sort that are able to multiply large numbers in their heads. Let’s see…

Brainteaserdestroyer No. 2

Does there exist a natural (whole, nonzero, positive) number that gives upon multiplication by 2018 a result that consists of a number made up of 10 1s and/or 0s? (everyone’s a programmer here: it’s all about the 0s and 1s:). In other words, is it possible to multiply 2018 by something whole and positive so that the result of the multiplication only has 0s and 1s in it – and is 10 digits long? If yes – let’s see it! If there are many – which is the smallest, and by how much? If there are none, explain the reason why.

Ok all you smart alecks, and Alexandras, thinking caps on! For the best/funniest answers – prizes!

And now a bit on how last week’s riddle was solved:

Digital 2018 – pt. 1

How to get 2018 out of the sequence 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and its truncations: 9-…-1, 8-…-1 and so on?

Here’s how:

Read on…

Digital 2018 – pt. 1.

Boys and girls!

December’s here again already. Over the next few weeks there’ll be the usual Christmassy-New-Year good vibes, then there’ll be the presents, fireworks, champagne, mistletoe, more champagne, and then the clock will strike midnight and we’ll have a +1 to the eternal yearly calendar. Then, for perhaps the first few weeks of January we’ll all still be saying and writing the date as day/Jan/the year 2017; oops, 2018! We all do it! I think ).

Twenty-eighteen. It has a ring to it; yes – a nice, round number. And each numeral that makes up the date is an even number… What? You’re not sure about 1? Come on! 1 is 2 to the power of zero. Kinda :). But wait! There’s more even-ness in this number: each digit of 2018 is a power of two. But what don’t you like about zero? Well, think of an artificial number, raising it to the power of which two gives zero – what, difficult? Now think of an imaginary ‘i’, the square of which gives -1. Come on: such a sexy number as 2018 is just crying out for working a sweat up about :).

Ok, ok; agreed. We won’t spoil arithmetic with all kinds of unnecessary chimeras, to the power of which each decent two turns into an empty zero. But then, as per Chinese tradition, eight means wealth! So get ready – 2018 should be blessed with prosperity; there’s no chance of avoiding it!

Sooo. It’s time to stretch and warm up for what is bound to be an infinitely interesting – and perfectly prosperous – year. So let’s get stuck into some 2018-related arithmetic. And what comes to mind first? Yes: evenness.

2018 = 2*1009

1009 is a prime number. A bit like 2017. Last year I promised that 2017 would be a simple, straightforward year. And look how in the end it turned out! Now we need to get ready for an extra-simple/straightforward year, aka – a minus plus a minus gives a plus.

What else? The sum of all the numerals in 2018 is 11: a most photogenic number from any angle, and one that’s dear to me for technical reasons: the product of all nonzero numerals = 16, which can’t not raise the spirits of any programmer on the planet.

Ok, enough. Warm-up over. Let’s move onto our already traditional New Year arithmetic exercise. Here we go…

Given figures: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Using only ‘+’, ‘-‘, ‘*’ and ‘/’, plus ‘(…)’, all in any quantity, and also using exclusively these figures only once and only in that order… – how do you get 2018?

For example:

((10 + 9 – 8) * 7) + (6 + 5) * (4 – 3 + 2) + 1 = 111

Here we get 111. But we need to get 2018!

Marks, get set, go! Who’ll do it first to become the champ?

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2018

Once you solve it, you go to level two: Get 2018 from the same figures minus the 10.

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2018

Got it? > Level 3…:

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2018

I managed these without a calculator – and without peeking at last year’s brainteaser – in around 20 minutes in Shanghai waiting for my flight to Moscow. My attempt at the next one was interrupted of course by the inevitable ‘turn off your devices’ nonsense on the plane, but once the ‘seatbelts fastened’ light went off, I carried on where I’d left off:

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2018

This one is impossible without a factorial. I think we could allow here powers and roots too.

6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2018

Here I needed a multifactorial.

All righty. From ten figures to six: done. We’re half way there. Next up will be the second part of the brainteaser: from five and down. But we’ll save that for next time. For now, I’ve a party to get to!…

Cheers!

 

52++.

Hi folks!

What is 52?

EK52 = the Munich-Dubai flight on Emirates
52=4*13=2*2*13
B-52 – the name of a shot-cocktail I love (not keen on the band; not keen on the bomber either)

Also:

Today’s my birthday! Oh my word, how time flies!…

It was nature that first wished me a happy birthday this year. For this is what it had in store for me when I opened the curtains:

Read on: Oh my gorgeous!…

Chronicles of a very long week.

What a week! A working week, I mean – and one that included both weekends each end of it.

It started on Saturday, September 9, and finished nine days later on Monday, September 18. It was long and it was tough – so quite typical really – and it went like this…

On the Saturday I needed to be in St. Pete – so I off I popped. As I’ve said before on these here pages, I don’t get one bit the bad rep St. Petersburg has in terms of weather. I’m sure it’s an anti-St.P rumor-based conspiracy. Why? Because when I come here the sun’s always shining and the Petersburgers are strolling about all leisurely and tanned – some even wearing shorts. It’s in Moscow where the bad weather’s at – all murky and sticky and blustery and rainy. Meanwhile in Leningrad…

When in St. Petersburg – have a Belgian craft burger ).

Read more: Good news!..

The best defense is attack – and that now includes when fighting patent trolls.

Hi folks!

What better way to start the day than with champagne? For that’s just what we should all be pouring ourselves after our latest victory in the ongoing war with patent trolls!

And it’s not just any old victory; it’s truly a landmark one. Indeed, our shooing off Wetro Lan with its tail between its legs will go down in the annals of patent law as a crucial precedent, since no one before has ever secured a victory like we just have: we not only forced the troll to withdraw its lawsuit; we also got it to pay us compensation! Ok, so the compensation was merely symbolic – it covered only a tiny fraction of our costs for defending ourselves – but, well, you know what they say: the first blow is half the battle…

Ok. Here’s how it went down:

Read on: Meanwhile in the rural district of Texas…

Then and Now. 20 Years In-between – All Uphill.

20 years in business – is that a long time, or no time at all? Or how about 25 years of continuous development of new technologies and products (including the five years pre-KL)?

To answer that properly we need to ask how old the industry – cybersecurity – is itself. Well, the very first antivirus programs appeared just a few years before 25 years ago.

So that means we’re one of a handful of developers that created cybersecurity! Indeed, we’ve been in the industry since its infancy (when on-demand signature scanners were all the rage), and are still here today (in the new age of big data and machine learning). And that’s 20+ years in the cutting-edge avant garde. Oh yes. And no: modesty isn’t forbidding – it’s our birthday, after all :).

More immodesty: just think of all the cyber-nastiness we’ve been destroying in all those 20 years!

Of course, there’s never just one way of interpreting history. And Kaspersky Lab’s history is no exception.

On the one hand, we could look at old pics from our halcyon days of 20 years ago, recall the naive mistakes and missteps we made with a cringe, then also look in the mirror at our graying hair and deepening lines on our faces and get all melancholic! Sure – that’s possible…

But on the other hand – looking at the very same pics of those halcyon days of 20 years ago – we could simply smile instead, and say something like: ‘Not a bad first two decades, but we’re only just warming up!’ It’s all just perception: you gonna concentrate on the problems and difficulties, or the successes and achievements? Well, no prizes for guessing which perception we’re going for in this here post; yep the latter: ’cause that’s how we do it KL – we stay positive. In this business – you have to! And we hope we’ll inspire you, dear readers, to do the same.

Everything changed in 20 years? Actually – not quite. At least one thing hasn’t: work hard and think big

So, in the run-up to KL’s birthday, we had a long hard think about how we could most graphically and strongly arouse inspiration, while keeping true to historical faithfulness (and observing norms of decency:). And this is what we came up with: let’s have a quick look at some of the more curious and fun aspects of the company over the years – how it was in the ‘good old days’, how it looks now, and how it’ll be in the future.

I’ll start with the office.

If we go right back to the beginning – the early 1990s, we’ve moved offices a whopping six times!

Here, for example, is what the epicenter of development of one of the best antiviruses in the world looked like in 1994. That was our whole office! Ok, so registering as ‘Me Lab’ came three years later, but still – it was our office. It was actually part of the KAMI company, which produced software and hardware solutions in the 90s.

Btw, it was in this year (1994) that we took part in Hamburg University‘s AV tests for the first time – and unexpectedly won (by a mile) on quality of protection. In the pic above I think the smiles were breaking through the exhaustion after hearing about our win.

Read on: Think big and have a toast!…

Happy Birthday to Us – 20 Years Old – to the Day!

Whoosh!

What was that?

That, boys and girls, was the history of cybersecurity passing by!

28 years ago, somewhere around the fall of 1989, my Olivetti M24 was attacked by a virus. That fateful event changed my – and many others’! – lives. If only that virus had known precisely whose comp it attacked that day, and how many malicious descendants would be wiped out over the next decades both by my hand and later by the hands of KLers, I’m pretty sure it’d have about-turned in a jiffy and gotten the hell out of there!

26 years ago, in the summer of 1991, a group of like-minded computer geeks enthusiasts launched the great grandfather of what is today one of the top antiviruses in the world.

Precisely 20 years ago today – on June 26, 1997 – ‘Me Lab‘ was founded.

But it’s fairly quiet in the office today. No party, no champagne, no nothing. On our 20th birthday? Don’t worry – we’ll get to that. We’ll be celebrating, in usual crazy fashion, but just a little later. Today it’s business as usual. All the same, tonight – NOW!, if you’d raise a glass of something tasty and utter a few kind words, please do. You will be repaid in good vibes and positive karma or some such – for sure!

Whoah – we just received congrats from Scuderia. Grazie mille! (the photos arrived with a note: ‘Kimi is smiling!’ Well, so are we:).

The icing on the cake birthday cake:

Now back to those drinkies :)…