Back from Russia

I flew back from St. Petersburg, Russia, yesterday -- a long day that began at 5 a.m. Russian time and ended around 5 p.m. EDT.

In my absence my ISP had broken my Internet setup -- Murphy dictates that technology will go haywire when you have no access to fix it. The first order of business today was to get things untangled so that I can resume getting my daily dose of drug, stock and mortgage spam.

It was surprising how few Internet access cafes I found in Moscow and St. Petersburg. By contrast, mobile phone usage (especially SMS text) is extremely high.

While in St. Petersburg, I read (in print) a Times story that put broadband penetration in the St. Petersburg market around 3 percent of Internet users. The story goes on to bemoan that "Very often, even top managers at leading companies ... simplyt don't know how to receive and send their mail" and that many users don't know the difference between the address bar of the browser and the purpose of a search engine.

This is amusing, of course, to anyone who knows top American managers who still have their secretaries print out their email, or has looked at traffic analysis software of search engine referrals to discover how many U.S. users enter "" in Google or Yahoo search boxes.