Kurils-2022: foggy and cloudy, but with a silver lining.

Hi folks!

As per a tradition begun many, many years ago, after returning from my latest lengthy expedition in a distant land, heading your way, dear readers, always comes the mandatory post-expedition write-up: a multi-blogpost series with my travelogue-tales, photos, videos, and also commentary of my fellow expeditioners.

Sometimes these blogpost-series last for weeks, made up of several if not more than a dozen posts full of lengthy texts and gigabytes of pics & vids; an example of one such series was the one on our relatively recent Magadan–Yakutsk–Baikal road-trip early in 2022. Other times they’re shorter, pint-sized series, like the one on our Kamchatka-2018 expedition – cut short (at least for me) by my breaking a leg and having to be flown back home early with said leg in plaster.

So what was it going to be this year for our Kurils-2022 expedition – short-and-sweet or lengthy-and-meandering?…

In the planning stages before the trip, we sure were banking on the latter. We prepared for mind-bogglingly heroic extreme-travel feats, and since we wanted to record all such feats we packed into our backpacks all manner of photo-video-droneo tech plus kilograms of rechargeable batteries. We’d also scheduled several days, just in case, to be waiting days; that is – days on which we were to wait for better weather before the latest ascent up this or that volcano. And all in order to be able to take such photographic masterpieces as the following ->

Like I say though – that was the plan. Alas – the above pic turned out to be taken on the first and… second-to-last sunny day of the whole trip! All the other days on our three-week expedition were foggy and murky and miserable, good sunsets or sunrises were few and far between, and glimpses of blue sky lasted mere minutes. In summary: days – ~21; sunny days – 0!

Real sun we only saw – get this – at our final stop on our journey, which isn’t even in the Kurils but on the mainland – the city of Khabarovsk. But I’ll get to that later; here I want to list the three main goals I’d set myself for this expedition:

Like I say, those were the main three. An additional bonus track was to finally check out the Shantar Islands, which I’d been wanting to do for years. All the other stops along the way I treated as mere side-dishes to the main courses, and/or as downtime-days for sitting out rainy days.

Alas – not a single one (NOT ONE!) of my goals was met. And at one point, at the end of the expedition, thoroughly disappointed and apathetic, I thought for a moment that I’d have nothing to report/show whatsoever in my write-up. But then I calmed down, mulled things over more level-headedly, and realized there were still quite a few Kuriliously interesting tales to be told from this year’s expedition, albeit not the sun-kissed, ecstatic ones I’d hoped for. And I’d be able to add recollections from previous trips when embellishment was needed; after all, I’ve been here a full three times already – this being Kurils-expedition #4.

Alrighty. Time to begin. Despite there being practically no sun for the full three weeks, we still took plenty of photos. Like these ->

I could understand if you’re somewhat surprised by such beautiful scenes after I’ve just been running down the weather and the whole expedition. So let me explain…

The Kuril Islands (as the logical continuation of the mainland-peninsula Kamchatka) are such magnificent masterpieces of natural beauty that they reign supreme over most all other magnificent natural locations (e.g., those in my Top-100) by a long way (perhaps save for New Zealand). All other natural wonders of the world are either smaller or in some other way inferior.

All of which goes to say that, even given the rainiest, most miserable weather imaginable (with the clouds a mere 100 meters up in the sky), and even when poor tourists are only shown coastal areas (not the full magnificence further inland), the Kurils still come out top. The weather was bad, for example, the first time I visited, in 2014, but I was still amazed by the low-altitude volcanic vistas viewable from the shores. However, today, I know just how enhanced those volcanic vistas become given weather good enough to permit forays inland (and normally upward – up the side of a volcano). Take away the “gray ceiling”, and there, up above, the views are world-beatingly mind-blowingly OMG. But more about that later. For now – some “comparative Kurilian meditativity”! ->

The top of Ebeko, puffing away:

Warm streams warm up the snow to form tunnels and arches:

Every cloud has a silver lining – and in the Kurils they also come with rainbows! Still, I’d trade those for clear, sunny skies any day…

Volcanic coastal areas…

Krenitsyn volcano. And we made it up to the top this time ->

Sunset on Alaid volcano on Atlasov Island:

And here’s Alaid (Alla-eed) on a different day from the other side:

One of the few brief glimpses of the sun:

Tundra on the 49th parallel! (Paris; most of the U.S.A.-Canada border…). The climate here – weird. Ah, yes – it’s 200 meters above sea-level.

Greener and neater “lawns” than at the best golf courses of the world! ->

Volcano Ebeko – there she blows! ->

The view from Ebeko of Alaid and the Yurevka river. Top-right: a fresh emission of ash from Ebeko.

Ebeko ash landscapes:

The Olympic Fissure on Atlasov Island, and the “Side” (“False”) crater of Alaid volcano:

Olympic Fissure and “Papa” together:

Cape Lopatka – the southernmost point of Kamchatka:

// Btw – in this post (and I’m sure in upcoming ones) the photos are mine and DZ’s. Here, they’re DZ’s only, since I missed this climb due to a capsized boat incident in the Pacific Ocean…

Old abandoned military defenses. The history of the place is unusual… ->

One morning the sunrise – on Krenitsyn – was spectacular. No Photoshop here! ->

Plenty of sea lions /seals…

Tyuleny Island, near Sakhalin:

A right racket, much… sex, and a stench that can make you vomit – night and day…

A very rare red-footed booby! Their blue-footed cousins can be found on the Galapagos:

Ushishir in the fog – what a let-down. No point climbing it in this weather…

Aniva lighthouse, Sakhalin. Also in the fog…

The Shantar Islands – also in fog (and rain) ->

And here’s our route:

(Click here for a detailed interactive map with more detail)

That’s all for today folks. Back soon!…

The rest of the photos from the Kurils-2022 expedition are here.

Flickr photostream

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Goodbye antivirus. Hello new cybersecurity super-app!

In my review of 2021, I gave a few teasing clues about some upcoming ‘super releases’ of our desktop and mobile products, going so far as promising that this year’s newbie-upgrades will be nothing short of being head-spinningly, show-stoppingly staggering. Well today, finally, in this here post – I’ll be announcing what’s what with all this super-release talk…

Actually, the word ‘super’ isn’t just me bigging up our new and improved tech and products; for we’ve gone and come up with a dedicated cybersecurity super-app for our users in which they can access, control, and tweak all their cyber-protection (plus computer hygiene) needs! No, you’re not having a dream. This is real folks!

All righty. I’ve got your attention, I hope. Now let’s dive in!…

First, as per, a spot of background-history…

Read on…

Cyber-tales from the dark (and light) side: audacious crypto hack, K goes neuromorphic, and how to enter a data-center via a… toilet!

Hi folks!

For those still sweating it out in the office, not lucky enough to have left for some serious digital detox vacationing, herewith, to keep your mind off the heat, some juicy iNews, aka Dark (and Light) Tales from the Cyber Side – yet more extraordinary, hard-to-believe stories from the world of cybersecurity.


The gaming community will no doubt recall how, this spring, Axie Infinity, the online crypto-game (perhaps most notable for permitting virtual winnings to be exchanged into real money), suffered one of the largest robberies of all time. It appears highly likely that North Korean hackers broke into the Ronin blockchain that controls the game, and proceeded to steal around $625 million (the exact figure varies depending on the source) from users’ accounts! The incident went unannounced for a time, highlighting the vulnerability of the game’s security system, and putting the reputation of its developer behind – Sky Mavis – on the line too.

Oh my gigantic sum! But wait – that’s not all; there’s more!…

Earlier this month it was revealed precisely how the hackers managed to break into the blockchain. Are you sitting down?!…

Several months ago fake employees of a fake company on LinkedIn sent info about fake job vacancies to employees of Sky Mavis. A senior Axie Infinity developer decided to apply. He even got through several rounds of (fake) interviews, after which he was offered an extremely attractive (fake) salary and benefits package. Basically, he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Said offer eventually arrived in the developer’s inbox in the form of a pdf document, which he had no qualms about downloading and opening on his work computer. And that was that – the bad guys were in. Henceforth it was all just a matter of technique: an espionage program infiltrated Ronin, via which they were able to seize four of the nine validators that protect the network. Access to the fifth validator (needed to complete the hack and then steal all the money) was gained by the hackers via the Axie Decentralized Autonomous Organization – a group set up to support the gaming ecosystem. Result – bingo; jackpot!

Read on…

Innoprom: third time – and still lucky!

The other week I found myself at Innoprom-2022 – the industrial exhibition in Yekaterinburg. I’d been twice before – in 2017 and 2021 – and, come this year, I can now say that it’s progressed well.

I was there for just one day, and was as busy as a bee – as per the template. Still – I did manage to find the time to take a few pics of some of the more intriguing stands and exhibits…

But, first – it wasn’t the exhibits or stands that impressed most of all. Can you guess what did? Have a look at the following photo. Got it?…

Masks no longer needed. Hurray! Away with you, maddening muzzles! Yes, the virus has weakened, immunity has risen, and the situation is (seemingly, mostly) under control. Let’s hope it stays that way. And I’m sure it will. After all, mega-awful mutants tend to visit us every ~50 years: there was the Spanish flu in 1918–1920, then the Hong Kong flu in 1968–1970, and then of course corona in 2020–2021 (yes, there’ve been other virus pandemics, but they came and went much less noticeably). Anyway, no matter: the latest semi-centennial pandemic – done and dusted!

Right. Next thing to impress? Actually – it wasn’t impress, it was more depress. Just look at these lines to get into the event! Folks had to wait sometimes over an hour. Nope. Sorry: organizers – get a grip. This won’t do at all. Sort it. // I was lucky: as a speaker I entered through a designated door without having to wait.

Once inside – first thing’s first: head over to our stand, where I had my first meeting scheduled. And here we are! ->

Read on…

Everest’s gone green!

Are heroes born or made?

Not a question that’s easy to answer. It’s a bit like what comes first – the egg or the chicken? Or, perhaps – the soul or the body? But one thing is clear: without hard work – often even pain – and indefatigable striving (read: understanding what you want to do and then actually doing it), you’ll get nowhere. Any talent needs to be developed. But is a capacity to develop a part of talent? Ooh, we’d best leave that to the philosophers; if we carry on down this rabbit hole in this post’s first paragraph, we may never reemerge from it!

Let’s make this easier on ourselves!…

We love heroes. But of course we do, for aren’t we – rejecting all false modesty – heroes ourselves for coming this far in a full quarter century?! From garage start-up to the coolest tech cybersecurity company the world has seen? Heroes change the world for the better, shape the future, and by their own example mobilize humanity toward ever greater victories for higher causes. Therefore, we have always supported and always will support special folks who share this ethos.

Remember Felicity Aston, who in 2012 with our support skied across Antarctica on her own? Then there was Olga Rumyantseva, who in 2013 completed her ascents of the highest volcanos of all seven continents. And of course there was the expedition of female skiers from all over the world to the North Pole in 2018 (in which both Felicity and Olga took part).

Fast-forward to this year, and we were assisting Olga again, this time in her ascent up to the highest point in the world – the peak of Mount Everest! And on May 17 – she did it! Today, Olga is still in the highest (!) of spirits after such a momentous feat, and is already thinking of her next adventure.

Read on…

Pamukkale, part two: hot-air balloons and ancient spa-resorts too!

Hi folks!

Pamukkale’s known for its travertine terraces, but that’s not all; it’s also known for the hot air ballooning that goes on here aplenty. 100% Must-do. The only problem for some folks – you have to get up at the crack of dawn to experience it… ->

Even how they inflate the balloons before dawn is a spectacle worth seeing. First it’s all quiet, calm and peaceful. Then they start up the noisy furnaces! And slowly, several, then a dozen, then scores of hot-air balloons all start bulging and rising up from their sides into the air (with the basket still on the ground). And they get big. Real big! ->

Read on…

Travertine that must be seen!

Travertine? Never heard of it? Is it an indie band? Is it a type of floor covering? Is it an errant world-traveler? Actually, none of those. Actually, if you don’t know what it is, that might just point to the fact that you’ve never visited Pamukkale in Turkey. For if you had, that’s where you’d have learned that this, is travertine! ->

The terraces of Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle” in Turkish, are without a doubt among the most beautiful and unique natural objects on our planet (so, of course, they feature in my Top-100 Most Beautiful Places in the World). The travertine is the sedimentary rock deposited by mineral water at the exits of the hot springs here that has formed a colossal cascade of pools with stalactites hanging down off them – and everything as white as snow.

Read on…

New K-horizons, and a little tourism in Abu Dhabi.

Hi folks!

These are difficult, challenging times; however, they’re also hopeful, ambitious times – as we Kontinue to adjust and adapt. Example: we’re radically restructuring our various budgets: we’re trimming off sponsorship and advertising spends that have no direct relation to the development of new technologies and products. And we’re also continuing to aim for ever faster roll-outs of upgraded cybersecurity products.

Then there are the efforts to fill the spaces left in the market since some foreign companies left the Russian market. But replacing Rexiteers’ products is not as new as you might at first think. For example, we’ve been replacing Splunk‘s software since the American company left certain markets – even before the pandemic (in 2019)! So now instead of Splunk, there’s our… KUMA (no, not that Kuma:), which, incidentally, has greatly surpassed Splunk in terms of functionality. In a word, hurray!

Then there are our acquisitions, for example of Brain4Net back in the fall of 2021, and our majority stake in MyOffice early this year. And a little birdie is whispering into my ear that all-things-diversification are only going to get more and more interesting. Stay tuned folks!…

But all strategic management work and no play makes Eugene a dull boy, so… off I flew with the family to Abu Dhabi, of course ) ->

Read on…