“11 brave women skiing to the North Pole” – now in book format!

Hi folks!

Despite a non-stop whirlwind of business trips, meetings and conferences toward the end of the year, it’s always pleasant to be able to stop for a moment to share some good news about our friends! // And this isn’t an advert – it’s completely voluntary!…

The already legendary story about 11 bold women crossing the ice of the Arctic in 2018 as far as the North Pole (details – here), has taken a step skiing-stride further: it’s now in book form! Yes, a hardback book – “Polar Exposure” – all about their record-breaking adventure! And it’s already published. Hurray!…

As you can see, the author is our good old friend, the British explorer Felicity Aston. But the other skiers all share their accounts of the extraordinary expedition too.

So glad to see the legendary celebration of women’s perseverance take its next logical step for the whole adventure (with super photos!) to now be in print in a book :).

Hat: off.

Hands: clapping.

Champagne glass: raised!

PS: Curious polar-themed fact: in 2018 we were that last expeditioners (the women skied, we flew there!) at the North Pole! Why? Because: in 2019 – there were some kinda difficulties with renting a plane; in 2020-2021 – yep, you know; and in 2022 – you know that too…

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

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Sao Paulo: our office on a Brazil World-Cup match day!

My series of posts from both the Egyptian and Jordanian sides turned out to last longer than the trips themselves! As a result, there’s been a delay in my starting a new series from a different continent, which took place as far back as late November. And that continent is… South America. And the countries? Brazil and Chile!…

// Perhaps I should stop writing a sentence like the next one in my posts, as what it describes seems to go without saying for every business trip! The work portion of the trip was busy bust-a-gut intense! That is – lots of: meetings, presentations, speeches, interviews, new acquaintances, hand-shakes, and a lot more besides! Perhaps I need to also stop writing sentences like this one: After the work was all done, it was time for some rest-and-relaxation/tourism time – of both a quantity and tempo of similarly bust-a-gut intensity!… So in future, perhaps I’ll just link back to this blogpost and avoid the repetition! No that won’t work; I’ll just try and be briefer somehow…

But before that “tourism till you drop”, a quick breather: some intro-photos and a few intro-words too…

I’ll start, logically, from the beginning: with the flight. Flying from Moscow to Brazil these days takes about as long as it does from Moscow to Australia (Sydney) – 19 hours up in the air – which is four hours longer than what it used to take. Before, for example, the first leg of the journey was Moscow to Paris (3.5 hours), and the second: Paris to Sao Paulo (+11 hours) = 15 hours. Now it’s 5 hours – to Doha – then +14 hours to Sao Paulo, which makes 19 hours.

But it is what it is. We just have to get used to living in the new geopolitical-transportational reality.

Read on…

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Country #102 – Jordan!

Hi folks!

Just days after my previous +1 to my list of countries I’ve visited came another +1 – the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, becoming No. 102 in the list! It’s a couple weeks already since returning from the country, but I’d been so busy I hadn’t had time to put fingers to keyboard – until the other day. So now, finally, it’s time Jordanize…

After the business portion of our trip (which went well btw, having comprised the MENA ICT Forum (where I was speaking) plus our own partner event), once again we were short on time for the tourism portion. But that didn’t bother me too much since during that brief portion I managed to see something I’d been dreaming of seeing for decades: Petra – that ancient temple cut into a mountain. But it turned out there’s a lot more to Petra than I previously presumed – so much so that I’ll be covering it here (also Jordan in general) over several posts – this one today being the intro…

Read on…->

Luxor luxury living.

Rounding off my tales from the Egyptian side, I simply had to share with you my impressions of the hotel we stayed at in Luxor – the Sofitel Winer Palace Hotel. It’s so wonderful it even has its own Wikipedia page! ->

It’s an old colonial hotel built more than a century ago – and you can tell that as you walk inside: there’s a separate, service entrance on the ground floor for luggage and servants, while the guests – the aristocracy and the like – walk up a flight of grand carpeted stairs to enter:

Read on…

Time to chill for a while – on a slow boat along the Nile.

My tales from the (ancient) Egyptian side are unfortunately coming to a close. We saw a great deal at a really fast tempo – “tourism till you drop” style, as per usual. Incredible how we fitted it all in. Let’s see now; there were: the Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, Cairo (the city), underground and over-ground wonders of the Valley of the Kings, and aerial views of Luxor and environs in a hot-air balloon. There’s just a little more coming up: there’ll be a post on where we stayed in Luxor (tomorrow), but before that there’s this short post you’re reading now on… our express cruise along the Nile!…

Read on…

“Ancient” Egypt from a hot-air balloon.

After a long stream of intensive excursions around the Pyramids, museums, the Valley of the Kings, and Luxor, what better way to take the foot off the proverbial peddle than with some… hot-air ballooning?! Indeed – there’s no better way, especially when you take into account the “bonus”: it’s not just modern-day Egypt you see down below during a flight – plenty of Ancient Egypt (its remnants) is down there too ->

But, if you know just a little about hot-air ballooning, you’ll know about how you normally have to get up at the crack of dawn to have a pop at it (“pop” perhaps not the best choice of verb for ballooning:). Is it something to do with the wind (calmer early morning)? Or is it something to do with what best suits the balloon operating company? I’m not sure…

Aaaanyway, you guessed it, we were up at the crack – 4am to be precise – after crashing three (3!) hours earlier (ugh; where did that proverbial easing off accelerator pedal go?!). Still, once up and out, our crossing one of the world’s most famous rivers (JIC: the Nile) cheered us up a touch. Our moods crashed back down not long after though when the coach we were in got caught up in some horrendous traffic; back up went the moods when we made it to the site in time to see the balloons being inflated (this was going to be an up-and-down day in more ways than one:). I’ve seen hot-air balloons being inflated plenty of times before, but that doesn’t make the spectacle any less interesting somehow:

Just before 6am we finally took off!… ->

Ok, so it’s not quite Cappadocia with its hundreds of balloons, but still… uplifting ). I counted around 30 other balloons up in the air with us:

And there’s the line of coaches that brought all the tourists to the site:

Over there – the Nile and the sunrise:

Aerial views of villages:

Another view – this time of a much older, abandoned settlement:

Actually – you see the many holes/entrances/doorways down there? They’re actually entrances to illegal tunnels that appeared when the locals discovered ancient underground burial sites in their “basements”:

Here comes the sun ->

Onward we fly…

Somewhere over there – the Valley of the Kings ->

More ancient temples ->

The sun coloring in the landscapes a hue of orange:

More ruins of tombs and living quarters of “black market archeologists” ->

The Temple of Hatshepsut:

Assorted pics:

And that was that for our spot of Egyptian ballooning. But we weren’t finished with Egypt just yet; more still to come…

The rest of the photos from Egypt are here.

Luxor, rather – Thebes. More than a day it sure needs.

Next up – Luxor. But you need the luxury of plenty of time for this one, which, alas, we didn’t have…

Luxor (formerly – Thebes), for a long time the capital of Ancient Egypt, has one really rich history – and a very long one: it’s nearly 5000 years old! All the same, a lot of it remains to this day – along both banks of the River Nile – albeit in ruins. Statues, columns, temples (and surely tombs?:) – and all of them simply must-see…

First up for us was the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut (I knew there just had to be ~tombs!)… ->

Mortuary temples like this one were erected close to the royal tombs of Ancient Egypt, and designed to commemorate the reign of a Pharaoh while alive, and then be used by his imperial cult after death…

Not bad for a purely ritual building )…

Read on…

The antidote to operational technology conservatism.

I’ve been saying it often – for years: antivirus is dead.

Such a statement might at first seem strange – especially from someone who’s been a mover and shaker since the very earliest days in all things viruses and anti-virus in the late eighties and early nineties. However, if you dig a little deeper into the AV (RIP) topic and consult some authoritative sources in the (former:) field, then the statement quickly becomes quite logical: first, “antivirus” has turned into protective solutions “against everything”; second, viruses – as a particular species of malicious program – have died out. Almost. And it’s that seemingly harmless, negligible almost that causes problems for cybersecurity still to this day – at the back end of the year 2022! And that almost is the basis of this here blogpost today…

So. Viruses. Those Red-Listed last remaining few – where are they these days, and what are they up to?…

It turns out they tend to reside in… one of the most conservative sub-fields of industrial automation: that of operational technology (that’s OT – not to be confused with IT). OT is “hardware and software that detects or causes a change through the direct monitoring and/or control of industrial equipment, assets, processes and events” (– Wikipedia). Basically, OT relates to an industrial control systems (ICS) environment – sometimes referred to as “IT in the non-carpeted areas”. OT = specialized control systems in factories, power plants, transportation systems, the utilities sector, and the extraction, processing and other heavy industries. Yes – infrastructure; yes – often critical infrastructure. And yes again – it’s in this industrial/critical infrastructure where “dead” computer viruses are found today alive and kicking: around 3% of cyber incidents involving OT-computers these days are caused by this type of malware.

How so?

Read on…

The underground labyrinth of tunnels and tombs of the Valley of the Kings.

I remember how, a few years ago, strolling around the rocky landscapes not far from the Namibian town of Lüderitz (which is the place where what is now South America broke away from Africa, and why the rock formations there are so unique), I was so amazed by the unusual rocks there that I uttered the words, “Mom, I want to be a geologist!” Just the other week, I uttered something similar. I was in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt. And this time my refrain went: “Mom, I want to be an Egyptologist!”

Such a rich (ancient) history presented in a language unknown to me – it was something I wasn’t expecting somehow. The experience turned out to be just marvelous…

Read on…