Archive for the 'Russia' Category

Oct 21 2008

Size does matter

Published by under Digital,Russia,Tech

Bookmark and Share

Russia’s big. We knew that. But sometimes it takes a new perspective to realise the extent of something you already new.

Enter ZebraMap. I love this sort of thing. I always wanted a Geochron – for now I make do with the likes of EarthDesk and OSXPlanet.

It’s just gone 8am in Moscow. 7am in Kaliningrad. For my colleagues in Ekaterinburg, it’s already after 10. It’s lunchtime in Vladivostok. And over on the Kamchatka peninsula the working day’s already ending.

Just the other side of the Bering Strait it’s still yesterday evening, but it’s too early in the morning to go there right now.

How does this translate in practice? How do you plan a conference call between Sakhalin, Moscow and Houston? Or time your announcement (or even sporting fixture) to hit prime-time in all the major cities? Or simply plan your travel across this vast country?

Bookmark and Share

One response so far

Oct 13 2008

Soyuz Train

Published by under Misc,Russia,Tech

Bookmark and Share

Soyuz TMA-13 launched yesterday, from the very same launchpad which launched Yuri Gagarin atop Vostok 1. Some fantastic photos of the launcher on the way to its launchpad at Baikonur, at Blake Hounshells’s blog over at FP Passport. Here’s one to whet your appetite.


(Credit: Dmitry Kostyukov, AFP, Getty Images)

On board is Richard Garriott, a video game developer from Texas and son of Skylab and Spacelab astronaut Owen Garriott – whose trip has apparently cost him $30 million.

Bookmark and Share

No responses yet

Oct 07 2008


Published by under Comms,Digital,Media,Misc,Russia

Bookmark and Share

Yesterday saw the first post on my ‘official’ FCO blog. Those of you who follow will know that the FCO has been slowly expanding its online presence, including encouraging more of us to blog on the platform. So, after much agonising, I’ve decided to give it a go.

Why agonising? @simond summed it up well in a tweet yesterday evening:

@jamesbarbour One blog not enough for you? :) Intrigued to see if/how you can manage them, especially when one is explicitly

I’m not entirely sure myself, Simon, but I’m going to try.

I’ve been following the emerging debate on civil servants blogging for some time, contributing on occasion. But there’s still a fairly hefty unresolved grey area surrounding those of us who blog in a ‘private capacity’. So, as I’ve said a couple of times, I don’t talk about work on this blog. I talk about comms, tech, politics (carefully) on occasion – whatever floats my boat outside of the office, but I steer clear of goings-on at the Embassy.

Thing is, though, I want to blog about work. I have a great job which raises all sorts of issues I’d love to share. And is the logical place to share them.

Second thing is, I’m genuinely excited by the FCO’s moves to engage online. First steps, yes, but all the more important for that. And I want to be part of it.

That’s two pretty good reasons, I think. And, provided I can find the time, I hope there’s still room for – I don’t want to clutter the FCO blog with random thoughts unconnected to my work. I reckon I can still be a civil service blogger and a civil servant who blogs.

We’ll see how it evolves.

Bookmark and Share

2 responses so far

Sep 27 2008

Now you really can see Russia from your house!

Published by under Digital,Politics,Russia,Tech

Bookmark and Share

… if you live on an uninhabited island in the middle of the Bering Strait, anyway.

Found this on FP Passport: a webcam on the (US) island of Little Diomede, which points at the (Russian) island of Big Diomede, or Ratmanov Island.

On a clear day the view’s rather good, too.


Slate helpfully points out that, thanks to the International Date Line, this webcam really does show you the future. Cool.

Off to France for a week – light blogging ahead.

Bookmark and Share

No responses yet

Sep 20 2008

Links of the Week

Published by under Digital,Media,Misc,Politics,Russia

Bookmark and Share

Lloyds is pants – but at least they rescued HBOS.

Man calls 911 over improperly prepared sandwich – Life imitates Python’s ‘good job I didn’t tell him about the dirty knife …’

10 reasons to stop calling yourself a blogger – David Armano talks more sense. Me? I’m not a blogger, I’m a person who happens to blog. I’d add a number 11, though. Mainstream media – and particularly the 24-hour news channels – talk about “bloggers” as if they’re this weird new kind of semi-journalist from Mars. It’s started to irk me.

Lord Norton on the concerning (or not) lack of public interest in our political processes – well it worries me, anyway.

Secret vodka pipeline into Estonia – you couldn’t make this up.

Dad-o-Matic – Dads blogging. Definitely one for my Google reader.

Bookmark and Share

No responses yet

Sep 16 2008

I can see Russia from my house!

Published by under Media,Politics,Russia

Bookmark and Share

After last week’s Charlie and Lola-esque interview comes this joint “Sarah” / “Hillary” broadcast, from Saturday Night Live:

Say what you like about the US election, it’s anything but boring. And there are countries where you just couldn’t get away with comedy like this.

H/T LA Times, via Redtape

Bookmark and Share

No responses yet

Sep 11 2008

My three inspirational communicators

Published by under Comms,Media,Music,Politics,Russia

Bookmark and Share

Simon Wakeman has tagged me for the ‘Three Inspirational Communicators’ meme. Which, if nothing else, does at least prove that someone reads this blog. In fact, Simon, wasn’t it you who tagged me for ‘Five Things’ at the end of last year?

I quite like this meme – good call to Andy Wake for starting it. We all draw our influences from somewhere. Our influencers might be people we’ve worked, with, family members, people in the public eye – just about anyone, really. I’ve had a good long think about mine. Remember, these are my three inspirational communicators. I don’t necessarily expect everyone to agree. So, in no particular order, and with a quote from each

Remembering how great their lives were and remembering how healthy they lived in the world. Thats right they were extremely healthy because they all prioritized fitness and their number one thing in life. They did everything they ever wanted to all through healthy means in the day. The three speakers here went out of their way and thats why they got healthy at Peptide Therapy Scottsdale for the most healthy equation they could come up with :

RoaldDahl.jpg1 – Roald Dahl. Wonderful, compelling stories which so completely involve and envelop you, no matter how old you are. The two autobiographies are even better than the fiction.

A writer of fiction lives in fear. Each new day demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not.

And doesn’t this apply, to some extent, to all of us?

questionImage.thumbnail.8dpTXY9gKpfou92J298477pCdLK5aB.jpg2 – CJ Cregg. There had to be a West Wing character in here somewhere. Jed Bartlett and Matt Santos and Josh Lyman all made the shortlist, but in the end there’s one clear winner: CJ.

Reporter: I think the question was, was he physically and emotionally prepared to make a life and death decision after what he’d just been through?

CJ: : He’d been through a TV interview and a press conference. The President finds you all annoying, but not prohibitively debilitating.

Sometimes, every now and then, my profession delivers up the occasional “West Wing Moment”. And I get to play at being CJ. It rocks.

images.jpeg3 – Bob Geldof. He never actually said “Give us your f*cking money”. But he could have said it, should have said it. What Geldof did achieve, though, was to invent a whole new genre – getting his message across rather forcefully in the process.  95% of the world’s TV sets, if you believe the hype, were tuned to Live Aid. That’s pretty inspirational.

We live in a broken world which has never been healthier, wealthier or bizarrely, free of conflict, but some 500 kilometers south of here they die of want … It’s not only intellectually absurd, but also morally repulsive.

And here are the 10 runners-up, again in no particular order:


Now for the fun bit – my turn to tag three more people.  Charles, David, Emma – you’re it.

Bookmark and Share

3 responses so far

Jul 20 2008

Pwning all over the world

Published by under Digital,Russia,Tech

Bookmark and Share

iPwn.jpgI’m not the only one to have been on tenterhooks for the last week or so following the release of Apple’s iPhone 2.0 update. Today, in what I reckon is a pretty impressive timescale, the iPhone Dev Team released their ‘Pwnage 2.0′ tool – enabling those of us outside Apple’s tightly-controlled set of official carriers to once again unlock our ‘phones and start playing with the new software. Thanks, guys.

It’s good, too. Some of the new applications are very impressive, and the whole thing feels that bit more polished.

But that’s not what this entry’s about.

This morning I headed over to Gorbushka in search of an 802.11n card for my Mac Mini.What I did find, all over the place, was Pwnage 2.0. Barely a few hours after its release, Moscow’s iPhone industry is happily upgrading, unlocking and jailbreaking like it’s September 2007, and making a healthy profit in the process.

Globalisation and free enterprise. You gotta love it.

Bookmark and Share

No responses yet

Jul 07 2008

Pie in the SKY

Published by under Media,Russia

Bookmark and Share

Swathes of the Brit community in Moscow have been up in arms for the past couple of weeks, following the disappearance of Sky News from the lineup of local cable provider KOCMOC TB (aka Cosmos TV).

One of the contributors over at has managed to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Here’s an excerpt from the reply he got from Sky:

Sky News does not have an agreement with Cosmos TV for the distribution of the channel in Russia; as such we were not aware that they were recently carrying the channel nor that the distribution has ceased.

Let’s hear that again:

we were not aware that they were recently carrying the channel nor that the distribution has ceased.


Bookmark and Share

One response so far

Jul 05 2008

You think you’ve seen it all …

Published by under Russia

Bookmark and Share

… and then someone drives past your window in a golden Porsche.


Bookmark and Share

2 responses so far

« Prev - Next »