The Altai river-traveler museum – ver. 2020.

Continuing our Altai-2020 expedition, one afternoon we moored our rafts to visit the makeshift river-traveler museum, which organically sprang up and grew over the years in a field by the junction of the Katun and Argut rivers. It’s a three-legged contraption-construction that has all manner of odd and sod hung upon it, placed there by passing river tourists:

Every year, new exhibits are added to the museum. Various art movements and styles are featured, but there’s a distinct preference for the post-industrialist avant-garde and general modern kunst!

Read on…

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11 brave women at the North Pole.

This blogpost could pass as an advertisement, if it were paid for; however, it’s being published entirely voluntarily and gratis. Basically, in it, I’ll be telling you the fascinating story of 11 fearless females on an Arctic expedition up to the North Pole!…

So, what happened was that our good old friend Felicity Aston, the dauntlessly adventuresome (see why we’re good old friends?:) British explorer, whose unique Antarctic expeditions we support and sponsor from time to time (I’ve even been known to piggy-back onto one of her missions (I flew, she skied!) – to see in the New Year at the South Pole!), decided to steel herself to… try something totally different: to write a new book about one of her adventures! And the one she chose was the first international skiing expedition to the North Pole, in which only women took part, with around half of the skiers coming from Arab countries – so the only snow/ice they’d ever seen was the bit you get in the fridge-freezer (ok, maybe also at the skiing attraction in Dubai:).

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A SPECIAL POST ABOUT A SPECIAL PERSON. SEE 1ST COMMENT FOR ENGLISH ⏬ . Сегодня будет особенный пост об особенном человеке Фелисити Эстон. Мы знакомы с ней с 2009г., когда помогали женской экспедиции под её руководством дойти на лыжах до Южного полюса. В 2018г. мы снова работали вместе, но уже на противоположном конце мира – другая женская экспедиция дошла на лыжах до Северного полюса. Это неожиданный человек, отличающийся открытостью и женственностью с одной стороны и колоссальной силой и упорством с другой. Такие люди живут мировыми рекордами и неожиданными поступками, заставляющими человечество сначала охать и ахать, а потом радостно аплодировать. В 2011г. она предложила поддержать её трансантарктическую соло-экспедицию через Южный полюс. Вчитайтесь ещё раз: в полном одиночестве, на лыжах, почти 2 месяца и ~1800км. Ага? Вот и мы тогда пытались отговорить, но она поставила нас перед нелёгким выбором: я пойду по-любому, с вашей поддержкой или без. Я до сих пор храню на телефоне её СМС когда всё закончилось: «I did it! I just arrived at the coast having crossed Antarctica! Wanted to let you know myself». Догадываюсь насколько ей там было тяжело, а мне просто за неё было страшно. Первая часть экспедиции как-то вообще не пошла. Ещё в Пунта-Аренас её промариновали несколько дней в ожидании лётной погоды, потом неожиданные торосы по пути, привыкание к одиночеству и особенностям антарктического быта. На полюсе – встреча с людьми, небольшой отдых, подзаправка и дальше в дорогу. Зато второй отрезок прошёл как-то очень быстро и даже незаметно. Ну, Фелисити, что дальше? :)

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Officially it was the Euro-Arabian North Pole expedition, which took place back in 2018. But in the book it’s less the official side – more the human side… For it’s not only about conquering the North Pole; it’s also about how the team of women built up comradery and dialogue amid vast expanses of ice and snow, the negotiating of dangerous ice cracks, and also endless daytime where it never gets dark and spending those light nights in cramped tents, and more uniquely ‘polar’ circumstances.

This printed work will be called ‘Polar Exposure’, and just recently Felicity announced the start of its pre-sales. Click here, and you can pre-order a copy!

Now for a bit more detail on the North Pole expedition…

Eleven women took part in the polar expedition, most of whom had no experience whatsoever of anything like it, but under the expert guidance of Felicity they successfully fulfilled their mission: getting to the North Pole on foot and skis only. Some were their countries’ first ever women to set foot on Arctic ice! And despite the extreme temperatures, icy winds and lots of other hardships, the expeditioners completed their tough route in eight days. The expedition, organized by Felicity, and with our full sponsorship-support, showed how much women, no matter where they’re from in the world and regardless of experience, can achieve (given the right guidance) – even to ski across the ice of the Arctic Ocean and to the very top of the planet!

So sure – buy the book, by all means. But also, perhaps – then buy… some skis! Find the right travel agency with experience of Arctic skiing treks, organize yourselves, train, and then follow in the 11 heroes’ footsteps ski tracks – all the way up to the North Pole! Well why not? Life’s too short not to!…

Btw, pre-ordering the book will be possible through November 14. And if there are at least 500 pre-orders, the launch and the distribution of the book will be taken care of by the publisher. And the more pre-orders – the better the distribution terms, the bigger the print-run, and simply the more positivity and drive there’ll be in this world!

Happy reading folks. And then happy polar expeditioning!…

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Rushing down the Akkem Rush.

At Tyungur, we were up early > breakfast > tents down > to the riverbank > into the Katun on rafts > off we pop > 25km of calm rafting until we reach today’s main attraction: several sets of rapids called the Akkemsky Proriv (in Russian), which translates as the Akkem Rush (aka the Akkem Fissure, Akkem Breach, Akkem Rupture, etc., but Rush is arguably closest to the original meaning in Russian, i.e., referring to the water itself, not the location it’s set in. Just to complicate things further, it’s also known as the Akkem Pipe – or Akkem Tube!!).

Read on…

A sign of a bright Altai future.

Briefly looking back over recent blogposts, I see you’ve had plenty on Katun already, including lots and lots of photos thereof. All the same – it’s still… too little! Accordingly, here’s some more!…

We’d already rafted some 200km since we started out on the river (where the Upper Kuragan joins it). Not a great deal given that its full length is 688km – from the foot of Mount Belukha to the mighty Siberian River Ob near the city of Biysk. And most of those first 200 kilometers were calm, steady, conducive to quiet meditation, and with non-stop extraordinarily beautiful Altai scenery….

Quick digression into oddness: one thing (out of many!) I find extraordinary about the Katun is how bendy, winding, twisting it is. But get this: I couldn’t find a picture/map/atlas on the net that shows clearly the full length of Katun, marked out so it’s clear to see it against the backdrop of Siberia and northern Kazakhstan! EH? For example, both Google Maps and Yandex Maps of course point out ‘Katun River’, but only one point of it – not it’s whole length highlighted! Accordingly, you can’t get a good idea of just how bendy, twisty, winding it is. This is doing curious folks a real disfavor! Because how the Katun winds far and wide though valleys amid the Altai Mountains – at one point almost doubling back on itself but in a large ~circle – is simply extraordinary! So, internet – get a grip! Or, if any of you, dear readers, might be able to find – or create – a map with it marked on, I’d be much obliged!

…Back to Katun – the one we rafted on, not the elusive one I can’t find the full length of on a map!…

Read on…

This river was made for rafting, and that’s just what we did.

After your aperitif, are you ready for your main dish of slow-cooked Katun, with a side dish of oh-my-gorgeous Altai scenery? Ok, then we’ll begin…

As I’ve written in this Altai-2020 series already, getting to the top of the Katun sure ain’t easy, and near the top there aren’t that many river obstacles getting in your way (too easy!); however, the early stretches are perhaps the most magnificently meditative! The odd paddle, the occasional spot of steering, a few splashes here and there, but apart from that – magical Altai vistas and Ommmmmmmmm ).

Read on…

Zen and the Art of Partner-Contact Maintenance.

Just when things were starting to look up, it seems there’s a second wave of that ******* (censored) virus washing over the world. In Moscow the Mayor is gently (for now) pushing businesses to have their workers stay at home, schools are preparing for Zoombie Zoom lessons again, and our HQ is still practically empty (especially R&D). So it looks like we’ll rarely be going out, and when we do – carrying on donning the masks and gloves, maintaining the social distancing, and fist-bumping nodding our greetings, at least during the fall and the winter. Hmmm: which is best – corona during summer, or winter? That’s a tricky one. But I’d best not dwell: it hardly helps ).

‘One day, we’ll look back on 2020, and hardly believe it happened!’ Probably. Hopefully. Surely?…

We’ll be stunned by how it put the whole world swiftly ‘on its ass’, and all the awful effects it had on humanity. However, here, today – since I’m always one to see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty – I’m going to concentrate on some of the positive that’s coming out of the corona pandemic – at least from the point of view of a company like ours. There are the new skills and new capabilities we’ve had to forge while working from home and given closed borders while being a global company. For seven months already no one’s been flying hardly anywhere. Our offices are mostly empty. And we haven’t been having our conferences and dinners and fun with our partners and customers. But still the business is getting done – and done so well in fact that targets are being exceeded! So, like, how? Here’s how…

1. R&D. Practically everyone’s working from home! And working better than before – if judging by (i) the increased speed of the introduction of new functionality in our products; (ii) the increased speed of reworking code; and (iii) the efficiency of our development having grown by 15%. Woah! Keep a look out for announcements of our new products, especially the enterprise and industrial control systems ones. Some K-folks (not many) are back in the office, mostly because as yet the ‘digital economy’ isn’t quite fully digital yet: many a manual signature is still needed on many a form and other bit of paper, alas. Otherwise they’d all be ‘at the dacha’ too!

2. GReAT and Threat Research experts are all working remotely, enabled by our AI humachine intelligence, which automatically catches 99.999% of our daily malware haul; i.e., a huge bunch of suspicious files that we receive from all sorts of different sources, but mostly from our cloud-based KSN; therefore, a huge thanks to all our users who are plugged into our cloud! With your help we’re shoulder to shoulder with our users creating bulletproof cyber-protection from all breeds of modern-day cyber-weaponry. What’s more, we’re doing so constantly, automatically, and online.

Btw: every day our haul amounts to literally millions of files (all different kinds, including much garbage), from which we pick out around 400,000 (four hundred thousand!) new maliciousnesses daily. Like – every day! Like, even today! And given the bio-virus quarantine conditions all around the world, it’s a good job we do catch them since most of us much are spending a lot more time online than a year ago.

3. Interaction with partners and customers. This is the most interesting. With unabashed pride in our company and our K-team, I can announce: we were able to turn the difficulties of today’s coronavirus period to good use and in our favor! We didn’t simply learn how to work effectively with our partners and customers online, but we managed to do that work even better than before! So, we don’t only save the world from cyber-pandemics, we also turn evil into good ).

These days we now do practically everything online: meetings, discussions, learning, presentations – and even remote installation and servicing of our products, including our industrial line. I’d say here that we really have shone here, or as, Tina Turner once sang, we’re ‘simply the best’, but I won’t: don’t want to jinx our ongoing online mega-successes! And as a practical example of our mega online-ism I want to tell you about our annual conference for resellers from Russia and FSU Russian-speaking countries.

// Brief nostalgia: our very first conference for Russian resellers was held way back in 2007, not far from Moscow. Since then they (the conferences!) have ‘spread their wings’ somewhat, having taken place in: Montenegro, Jordan, Georgia, Turkey, the UAE, Oman… They’ve always been great, and always been in fun, hot locations. Now, of course, such sunny locations abroad are mostly out of the question. So we decided this time to have the event in Moscow, and make it a ‘hybrid’ online-offline conference (similar to the one we had in September in Sochi).

 

Here’s the recipe for preparing for a business show (in this case – for our resellers, but it can be used for other conference-shows) in COVID-19-era conditions. Ingredients:

  • A minimum of physically-present participants;
  • Maximum information;
  • Teamwork;
  • A professional technical (filming, etc.) team for online broadcasting;
  • Midori Kuma!

Objectives:

  • Bring to the event as many professional audience members and participants as possible, including an online audience;
  • Deliver the message that the remote work due to the coronavirus didn’t have a negative impact on the business, it’s rather made us learn how to operate under new conditions and we’ve managed to increase the effectiveness;
  • Engage our partner-resellers with something new and helpful that can help them (a) develop their own business, and (b) give their customers better quality services. Basically – a ‘talk-show’ for a mass audience.

So there you have it: the recipe for success. Wait. Something’s missing. Ah yes. Photos!…

Read on…

Moscow-to-Mars simulation – to see if you’d last the duration!

The other day I visited a most unusual, unique place – and just down the road too. It’s a space-travel training complex where they do simulations of long missions into space. You may have heard of a small group of volunteers who cut themselves off from the world for a long as it takes to fly to Mars and back? Well, this is the place where that happens…

…In this unassuming building:

…Namely – inside cylindrical chambers like the one in the following pic, whose size is no larger than that of a modern-day space ship. Inside everything’s set up to imitate as closely as possible a space flight: limited space, regeneration of water and oxygen, time delays in communications ‘with Earth’, etc. The only thing that’s not reproduced is weightlessness; oh – and windows through which you can see stars ).

Read on…

From Udomlya with Love – and Fresh Electricity.

There’s a town in Russia that’s situated almost precisely at the mid-point between Moscow and St. Petersburg. It goes by the name of Udomlya. You’ll no doubt not have heard of it. Not many Russians have heard of it; I hadn’t heard of it either until last week when we went there! For I don’t have an encyclopedic memory, and I tend to study geography through personal field visits!

So what were we doing in this little-known town? Well, just to the north of Udomlya there’s a lake of the same name, and on one of its banks is a place to which we paid a visit: the Kalinin Nuclear Power Plant.

// You think Udomlya sounds a little funny/stage in English? It sounds no less funny/strange in Russian! I had a quick look on the net for the etymology, and it claims it comes from the Finno-Ugric, but to me it sounds Slavic. Can any of you, dear readers, confirm the origins?

Now, much as I’d love to show you pics of this fascinating industrial installation, I’m not going to show you one! I didn’t take any! (Blimey: that must be a first.) For this is critical infrastructural object – no photography allowed, not by visitors at least. Some of the nice folks who showed us round – they were permitted to take photos, but even then – only in special designated areas. Accordingly, you’ll just have to settle for their handful of pics (and this here short text of mine)…

Read on…