Russian Grand Prix in Sunny Sochi.

Sorry folks for the tardiness of this post; been up to my neck with work of late. Better late than never though…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s great watching F1 in the flesh at the racetrack. But it’s best of all watching it from the garage, if you’re lucky enough to have access thereto. It’s in the garage where the team sits, where the pressure is through the roof, where the adrenaline is pumping the most, and where the emotions run amok. And the garage experience is even more thrilling if your team is in pole position – like we were the other weekend (the first time since 2008!). But enough talk – no time for that. They’re on the starting grid!…

It doesn’t matter that we can’t see the cars themselves – we sure can hear them (the starting line’s a mere 30-40 meters away!), and seeing them on the big TV screens is more than enough.

And they’re off!…

Oh my grid. Valtteri Bottas jumped two positions ahead right from the off, and that was actually how things ended today. I’m afraid not a great deal else interesting happened today. No intrigue, nothing! Sometimes it goes like that, F1. In fact, it all resembled more a column of soldiers doing a march. Who would have thought F1 could be dull? :).

A storm cloud looked like it could have put a literal dampener on things, but it decided to stay put up in the mountains and not descend to the sea.

Read on: Familiar faces on the roof …

They Asked Me… Everything!

Hi folks!

Yesterday, I hosted an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) on Reddit. I wanted to take a moment to thank the attendees for all of their questions – especially the challenging ones. So here goes: thank you everyone for the great Q&A session! It sure was wide-ranging – with questions on the security of smartphones to Formula 1 and… my favorite food and drink, plus of course the obligatory queries about how to pronounce my surname and… Star Wars. In fact, you guys asked so many questions that I couldn’t answer them all in the time. But I encourage you to read the full thread here – maybe some of my replies there answer your questions too; if not – feel free to drop some more as I may have a future blogpost responding to them or answer them directly on Reddit.

Simultaneously with the AMA there was a hearing taking place in Washington, D.C., where concerns were being raised about Kaspersky Lab. This is nothing new for us: false allegations are something we’ve gotten used to. Still, let us address some of the questions that were raised there and which also happened to find their way to the Reddit community:

Is your company subject to SORM given you operate servers in Russia?

No, SORM is for ISPs and telecom companies, and we are not them. EDIT: The same goes to PRISM or similar systems. (AMA thread)

 

The US Senate Intel committee is currently interviewing the heads of the intelligence community. They were just asked whether they would be comfortable running Kaspersky software on their computers. The answer was unanimous: No.
Thoughts?

I respectfully disagree with their opinion, and I’m very sorry these gentlemen can’t use the best software on the market because of political reasons. (AMA thread)

 

What is your reaction to the Intelligence Committee’s (CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, DNI Director Dan Coats, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo, and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. General Vincent Steward) universal statement of a lack of confidence in Kaspersky Labs software on their systems?

Once again, I think that due to political reasons, these gentlemen don’t have an option, and are deprived from the opportunity to use the best endpoint security on the market without any real reason or evidence of wrongdoing from our side. I would be very happy to testify in front of the Senate, to participate in the hearings and to answer any questions they would decide to ask me. (AMA thread)

 

Is there a backdoor built into your software?

Our software is designed to protect our customers, not to breach into their devices. There is no hidden functionality in our products, including backdoors. (AMA thread)

 

On our relationship with Michael Flynn

To clarify things: We paid a speaker fee for DC public conference. Nothing scandalous here, he was a good speaker. (AMA thread)

 

On the inevitable KGB questions and misinformation: Is the statement “Once KGB Agent, Always a KGB Agent” true?

Really can’t say, I haven’t been by a KGB agent / employee for a second. (AMA thread)

 

On allegations that we help governments commit cybercrime

Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts. (full statement)

In closing, we weren’t asked to participate in any hearings or investigations. As mentioned earlier, we are always happy to assist in investigations where our expertise could benefit the greater good or to meet with a congressional panel with questions into the work of my company.

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I am doing a Reddit AMA.

During the course of a business trip, I tend to meet a lot of people. These can be anyone to people in the street to conference attendees to reporters or partners of the company. In meeting this many people, I also get asked a lot of interesting questions.

Most times I am able to give quick answers or offer some insight into the state of cybersecurity, what airports to avoid or best places in the world to spend a holiday. But there are also times where I have to be quick and head to the next meeting or connecting flight.

When you add up the years that I have spent travelling and growing the business over the last 20 years, these missed connections start to add up. So many people left with burning questions.

If you are one of these people that have missed your chance in the past, I have got some good news for you. On Thursday May 11th at 9:00 am EDT, you can literally ask me anything.

Seriously, this is not a joke boys and girls. I will be hopping on Reddit for a 2-hour Ask Me Anything where you can ask anything that you want and I will answer as many as I can. We will also be sharing the link to the AMA a bit before on our social media channels in case you can’t make the chat.

So what will you ask me?

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Christmas Sales – a Climatic-Origin Version.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, somewhere in London – quite possibly in the British Museum – I recall beholding a painting called something like ‘The Market on the Thames’. ‘Whoah!’ I thought to myself, naturally. The River Thames completely freezing over to the extent that not only could you walk around on its surface, but also have a large winter marketplace on it too?! Crikey, as they say in London.

I’m not sure this was the painting I saw; it could have been this, or even this one.

Straight away this got me thinking – about man-made global warming in particular…

So, the Thames hasn’t frozen over for more than 200 years. This means that the full force of the Industrial Revolution didn’t make the climate any warmer at all – since the Industrial Revolution’s full force was felt around the same time as when the Thames would freeze over (it was so cold around then (16th to 19th centuries) they’ve even called the period the Little Ice Age).

Ok, that could be countered with: ‘it hasn’t frozen over for 200 years precisely because of the man-made global warming caused by the Industrial Revolution!’ Hmmm. Ok folks, over to you. Your thoughts? :).

Read on: Sounds familiar…

Who Discovered America?

Hi folks!

After my Antarctic series on this here blog of mine, it looks like another series may be on the horizon – a historical one. Yesterday we had an alternative history of so-called crown dependencies; today – more history; not of a (British) crown dependency but a former (British) crown colony, no less…

So, who… you know, got there first from overseas? I was just curious after reading various scholarly versions and falsifications. So I read up more on the subject, and I discovered the following:

Episode 1: Homo Sapiens.

So who first discovered America? You know, like a zillion years ago? Well there’s no precise answer to that question one as it was… a zillion years ago, before things like writing and the keeping of records, and a zillion other useful things were invented. But, apparently, it was someone who was from what is now Siberia, who, at some point during the spring of the ice age, crossed the (possibly, at least in parts, dry) valley between the two glacial mountains on either side of what is today the (very wet) Bering Strait.

Who knows today what the Bering Strait looked like back then? Was it completely dry? Was it a swampy marsh? Or was it much like it is today – a sea? Did that first Siberian walk it? Canoe it? Swim it? We’ll probably never know, unless…).

Read on: What made them decide to go east?…

An Alternative History of Crown Dependencies.

My recent short trips to the Channel Islands (in particular, Jersey) had left me with many unanswered questions and much bewilderment. And of course what amazed me most was the official status of these mini-territories, and the fact that some have their own currency and even Internet domains.

Mercifully, my friend and colleague, V.G, (inter alia, our resident history buff) filled in the blanks in my knowledge regarding these so-called crown dependences in a blogpost he recently put on our intranet on the Second World War – in particular, on the Nazi occupation of crown dependencies. I was going to give you my version of what he wrote there, but, on second thoughts, I decided it’d be better straight from the horse’s historian’s mouth, as they say. So here’s his post – verbatim. All righty. Here we go…

—8<—
 In August 1940, a month after the beginning of the Battle of Britain, the German occupation regime of the Channel Islands – up to that moment crown dependencies of Great Britain – was finally established. These islands became – and remained, until May 16, 1945 – the only territories of the British Commonwealth occupied by the Wehrmacht.

A crown dependency is a territory dependent on the mother country (the United Kingdom) – not a colony; this had been the custom since the times of the Dukes of Normandy, and became law in 1563. In 1565, Elisabeth I introduced the institute of governors of the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and others. The island of Sark falls under the jurisdiction of Guernsey and is ruled by a constitutional monarch with the title Seigneur of Sark or Dame of Sark. 

Read on: Back to the island of Sark…

The Terrific Travels and Astonishing Adventures of Midori Kuma.

Midori Kuma came into this world in Tokyo, Japan. We know little about his childhood, in fact – almost nothing at all…

In his youth he led a somewhat free-and-easy, unrestrained way of life – indeed the antithesis of the archetypal Hikikomori. According to folks who knew him back then, Midori Kuma was often to be found at various Japanese parties, presentations, exhibitions and conferences. In other words, he led the same kind of life he leads today – that of an active participant doing the rounds on the society circuit.

Read on: Midori Kuma gets attention from ladies…

F1 warm up, Barcelona-style.

Quite unexpectedly, it turns out that the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is taking place at the same time that the F1 teams are test driving at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Well, obviously we have to go there! And, well, here we are!

During these test sessions the venues are usually deserted – no noisy crowds, no stony-faced security, no rushing to and from one part of the track to another and none of the hot dog fast-food smells. Nothing!

What’s new?

Read on: A fly in the ointment…

Darwin’s Patent Panopticon – Pt. 3.

Human ingenuity never fails to astonish, leave dumbfounded, and/or smiling. I mean, just look at this:

No, really. This is the main diagram in the US patent for a ‘manually self-operated butt-kicking machine’:

But wait – it gets better when it all gets described in words!

“The Butt kicker is very user friendly with the number of kicking repetitions, type of repetitions, speed of operation, amplitude or height of the kicking cycle, magnitude of the kicking force, and impact and energy of the kick all controlled by the user or operator. This invention is a new, novel, and unique machine with multiple uses, which range from amusement to fundraising and from motivation to discipline. The objectives of this invention are also many, including, but not limited to, teambuilding, self-therapy, to inspire creativity, and to be used as a model for future devices and works of art.”

Btw, it turns out there’s a whole industry (well, almost) dedicated to administering carefully placed kicks to the backside. Here’s another automatic boot-up-the-butt device I discovered in the patent database (seek, and ye shall find:).

Read on: I mean, really? Seriously? Oh yes…

Ask the Audience: Antarctic Creativity Ideas Needed!

Hi all!

As you already know, we’re off to Antarctica! And it’s no ordinary trip to Antarctica – if there can be such a thing – but a very extraordinary one, with an extraordinarily creative international delegation of modern-art adepts aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov research vessel; route: UshuaiaMarguerite Bay and back.

The Antarctic Biennale line-up will consist of 17 multidisciplinary artists; among them: Zhang Enli (China), Tomas Saraceno (Argentina), Joaquin Fargas (Argentina), Gustav Duesing (Germany), Yto Barrada (Morocco), Julius von Bismarck (Germany) and Julian Charriere (France/Switzerland). There are others too, but I don’t know their names yet. This multinational modern-art contingent was put together by the maestro of modern art, installations and performances, Alexander Ponomarev. Here are some of the latter’s works, btw:

So, led by the maestro, the artists will board the ship and for a week create some contemporary, unforgettable and fundamental modern art; then they’ll install their fresh masterpieces on the sixth continent. Yeah, that’s the plan.

Read on: how do I fit in among all these artists?…