Tag Archives: london

Another London Half-Marathon.

Hi folks!

Onward we march on our Thames-side hike. The other day you got the first leg of this day’s walk (taking in a cable car ride + Greenwich and arriving at the Cutty Sark); here’s the second leg.

After the Cutty Sark we came upon the entrance to the under-Thames foot tunnel again through which A.B. and I walked the other week. Not this time…

…This time we didn’t turn right and down through the tunnel, we carried straight on – along the embankment of the river. Why not we thought: the path was nice and smooth, there was loads to look at, the sun was out… even the clouds that day were worth photographing. Yep, no tunnel today…

Read on: Hup two three four, hup two three four…

Back Along the Thames to Greenwich.

What ho, folks!

I’ve been all week in London on business: two conference speeches; interviews, business lunches – all as per the norm. Also as per the norm – a little sightseeing fitted in for good measure. Just the other day I was real lucky that all the work for the day was to be completed before lunch, leaving the rest of the day for recreation. So that morning I donned the trusty ‘smart’ jeans, put my sneakers in my bag for changing into from my office shoes, and out we headed after the obligatory Full English :).

The morning’s work I mentioned consisted of a presentation given at Cloud Expo Europe. This was held in the enormous ExCel London, here, which I soon discovered was not far from the Thames, my fave river :). So it was Thames-wards we – my travel companion A. Sh. and I – headed after the conference…

From the exhibition hall it’s just five minutes’ walk to the Emirates Air Line cable car link that crosses the Thames – the one A.B. and I saw but didn’t have time for just the other week. So glad we had time this week as a short ride on it is just awesome. Highly recommended – if the sun’s out, like it was for us.

Read on: Back down to earth…

What Do Falling Petunias Say to Themselves?…

…”Oh no, not again?!

Oh yes. I know because it’s in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I quote:

“Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was ‘Oh no, not again?!’. Many people have speculated that, if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that, we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.”

I was reminded of that paragraph earlier today. I was on an airplane yet again and looking out of the left-side window down at the passing paysages below. ‘Oh no, not again?!’ I thought as I glanced at the map on the screen in front of me showing the plane’s trajectory: passing over Amsterdam on my way from Moscow over to London. Just the other day I flew the exact same route, only the other way round!

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“Hmmm, a bit like the petunia, only the other way round,” I thought. I’m not sure if that’s self-criticism or an overestimation; physicists and botanists have different views on this topic, so I won’t comment. I’ll just say that coming in to land at Heathrow was just as it should be: with London fully in view through the window!

Over there is where my travel companion A.B. and I walked a half-marathon along the banks of the Thames last week…

Read on: back in Blighty…

London Half-Marathon.

I normally do these here blogposts according to the following M.O.: if there aren’t many photos to go on, then lots of text needs to make up for that; if there are plenty of photos, I let them do the talking and ease off on the word count…

Today folks, there’ll be few words. That’s the thing about the UK’s capital: there’s always so much to see and snap. I was there at the weekend with my travel companion A.B. – also a Londonophile – and we ran a veritable photographic half-marathon along stretches of the banks of the Thames I hadn’t checked out before, taking in all the nooks and crannies along the way.

The night before our photo-marathon we stayed in my fave hotel in the capital: Ham Yard. Not the nearest lodgings to the Thames, but just as well: our warm-up in getting to the river took in St. Paul’s Cathedral – and of course we just had to get up to its famous dome…

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Taking photos and videos is forbidden inside the cathedral, but the views from the top and also all around it are simply stunning – desktop-wallpaper-able.

Read on: Orchestras play alfresco…

Mission Impossible 5 – in KLondon!

I’ve been known to have a pop at the quality of Hollywood blockbuster movies released in recent years. But there’s a new film that bucks the trend, which I recommend everyone sees at the soonest! (But then I would say that)…

This impossibly incredible film I’m talking about is Mission Impossible 5.

So what’s so great about it that it gets a whole EK blogpost dedicated to it? Can’t you guess?…

…Yep, a scene in the movie was shot in one of our offices – our UK one in central London! Specifically, an interrogation scene in the ‘CIA’s London post’ was filmed in the building our office is in in Paddington, some of it on our floor.

Left to right: Alec Baldwin plays Hunley and Simon Pegg plays Benji in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.Left to right: Alec Baldwin plays Hunley and Simon Pegg plays Benji in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions

What struck me as curious at first was that we didn’t solicit any filming – in fact we didn’t do anything.

All that happened was the director liked the look of our office building. Apparently they looked all over central London for a suitable backdrop for a particular scene, and eventually settled for our new office. Can’t say I blame them: our EU business operations headquarters look impressively spanking and swanky. They’re also very conveniently located: right next to Paddington Station – with a connection to the airport via the Heathrow Express that takes just half an hour. It’s just a shame all the KL logos – plus even all the Ferrari kit and paraphernalia – had to be taken down.

Witnesses gave the following account of glimpses of the proceedings:

The shooting took place on October 11-12, 2014. Though it was a weekend, all the people invited to the filming were at their desks. Everything started at 6.30am and finished at 6pm. For all that time they were shooting and reshooting a scene that lasted only 20 seconds in the final film. That’s show business!

In all 400 folks took part in the making of that 20-second footage, including Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, and… our KLers! Here they are, the beauts:

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As you’ll have guessed, they were extras milling about in the background. I can’t wait to see the actual scene and find out who made it into the final cut. If you’ve seen it – let me know in the comments! I promise a nice surprise for the first to do so :).

Btw, the fee we received from the production company was donated to a foundation for the protection of kiddies from cybercrime.

And this (and this) is what our office looks like on a regular workday when Hollywood A-listers aren’t paying a visit.

Hotel to cathedral.

I’d been wanting to get to Scotland for ages, and just recently I finally made it. But it was only for two days in St Andrews, and although those were a super two days, they hardly equaled ‘doing’ Scotland. Far too short a stay. A proper trip to Scotland requires several days touring the country, driving around lochs, walking in the mountains. Oh yes, Scotland has plenty of mountains. When the plane took off I could clearly see the snow-clad peaks far away to the north. Alas, they’ll have to wait for next time.

Scottish scenery – it’s just crying out to be your desktop wallpaper. Have a look!:

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Read on: I don’t need to say much here – the photos tell the story…

Encrypted communications and real-world security: finding a balance

The latest debate that followed David Cameron’s proposal to ban encrypted personal communications in the UK has raised several very important issues.

The proposal would include a ban on messaging services like WhatsApp, iMessage or Snapchat in the UK. Technically this is possible to do, however such a ban on using all encrypted communication channels is not easy to enforce.

And I doubt that it will actually bring significantly more security to offline UK.

The mandate of the security services and law enforcement agencies is to keep the general public safe from criminals, terrorists and all sort of other threats. It seems that the security services want to be able to access our communications in order to be able to stop and prevent illegal activities and, ultimately, better protect people.

Encryption is vital for cybersecurity; it’s used first and foremost to keep communications safe from hackers and cybercriminals.
Do we need to give up the protection of our our data and online communications in order to improve real-world security? I seriously doubt we should.

I think that, if implemented, a ban on the use of encryption in online communication will not tangibly increase offline security. But it will definitely damage the state of cybersecurity and ultimately expose ordinary users as well as businesses to all sorts of cyberattacks, hacks and espionage.

Governments have made attempts to compromise cybersecurity to gain intelligence. For example, we have already seen government-grade malware, such as Flame, exploiting legitimate software, such as Microsoft Update, among other things.

I don’t know the value of the intelligence they obtained during this operation, but the existence of such malware did not contribute positively to global cybersecurity.

I think the real problem here is that global leaders and security services apparently see a contradiction between security and cybersecurity; while the latter should in fact be an integral and valuable part of the former.

Ham yard, salad roof.

What ho, folks! Here I am in the center of London, in Soho, the area of London that seems to have just about everything – from the salubrious to the seedy, and from the chic to the cheeky. I’m staying in the outstandingly original Ham Yard hotel. I wasn’t expecting unexpectedness here – but then I didn’t look it up beforehand – we just needed a place in Soho as I’d a few engagements nearby, so it was booked on the fly. This hotel is however full of surprises, the most astonishing of which was up on the roof…we found there a huge vegetable garden covering the whole rooftop! In the center of a megalopolis!

Ham Yard Hotel London

Read on: no fuddy-duddy old hotel for old fuddy-duddies…

A capital that’s become truly capital.

The more I keep coming back to London, the more I like it…

I was first here in the Smoke in 1992. But back then and for the following several years I was never too impressed with the city, never feeling quite at ease here. Severe and imposing imperial architecture, the interminably awful traffic, far too many folks on the sidewalks, the dirty Thames… ugh – not nice.

But then I started to see the city change – bit by bit, year by year. They largely solved the problem of city center traffic congestion – helped by the introduction of a bike-sharing scheme (‘Boris Bikes‘). They tidied up the embankments, cleaned up the Thames, and added a Gherkin, Cheesegrater, Walkie-talkie and Shard among other progressive architectural delights. Then there was the London Eye, then the Olympics… Two decades ago the place was completely different: somber, bleak and wearisome. Now it’s just the opposite: cheerful, accomodating and lively!

Of course, the addition of our finally up and running new office makes the place even more of a hit. Around 150 KLers will be based here furthering the struggle to maintain a secure and peaceful cyberspace. Have to say I envy them a bit – they’ve got everything: great city, great office, great work :).

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Read on:…

Locks, new office block, and 60 mysterious stones.

What-ho, peeps!

How many times I’ve been to London I lost track of long ago. How many miles I’ve walked in parks, along river banks and down side streets I couldn’t even give a ball-park figure for. But a stroll along London’s Industrial Revolution-era canals – no, that was a first.

London canal strollLocks, water stock and two trees

I really recommend checking out this somewhat lesser well-known side to the UK’s capital. It’s a network of mini-canals, which connected London with the rest of the country so Industrial Revolution-era raw materials and goods could be ferried about.

Read on: thousands of miles of canals …