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October 19th, 2011

Not a Luddite – I just think old stuff is rad

The recent passing of Steve Jobs prompted several conversations in the office, or at least in the Marketing/PR department, about old technologies and how/where they’ve gone. We’re amazed if/when we stumble onto a computer with an old floppy-disk drive nowadays, but in 2006 when I moved to Prague I actually brought a few old 3.5″ disks with me, as they had some stuff on them that I’d not yet saved elsewhere. I remember that by 2009 I had a difficult time finding anyone – even among my IT friends – who had a floppy drive, and fortunately I was able to find one at Anglo-American University Library, where my librarian friends were kind enough to let me use it, to at least save everything to an external USB drive.

In spirit, I could be like Henry David Thoreau, living out my days reading and writing by lamplight in an old cabin in the woods (not at Walden Pond, but somewhere in neighboring Slovakia’s High Tatra Mountains), with no electricity or plumbing. But I really do like electronic gadgets, even though I may be many years behind the mainstream in terms of adoption – i.e., I’ve still never played with a smartphone or a GPS device, and foursquare is to me a game I played in elementary school.

Dream state

What I would rather play with is my ’81 Gibson Les Paul through an old tube amplifier… making it louder until the volume knob is around 7… and then dialing in that sweet distortion one finds between 7 and 10 (at least on my little ‘60s Epiphone amp) and playing until sunrise, until my fingers start to bleed. Read more…

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October 18th, 2011

Are you avast! Free antivirus users? Here is your bottle of champagne.

The first company I worked at was called “CPC”.  Our product portfolio was excellent and the CPC acronym had some historical meaning but we all knew the real meaning was “Charts Producing Company”.  We were making presentations and preparing for presentations all the time.  As I said, the company portfolio was excellent so I didn’t really mind.  Plus it was the first job.  And, I can also say that I have learned something useful there too:  If you present to any audience, it greatly helps if the audience is not sleeping.  I know this is not a profound bit of wisdom, but it really works!

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October 12th, 2011

Banking? Online!

In late 2003, I was offered a job in France. After about a 5-second-long debate with my family, the yes decision was reached and we were ready to go. Living in France was an excellent experience especially after I understood that beer is not la bière but “un demi” and asking for coffee is useless (and it’s absolutely useless trying to say it with different accent) because what you really need to say is “grand crème”. The only thing which I never managed to do was to understand the bank teller who spoke excellent French but neither English nor Czech. And on my side, my French vocabulary never really got much beyond “un demi et grand crème s’il vous plaît“ and so making money transfers or paying bills directly was simply not possible.  The time had arrived for me to learn how to use online banking. Read more…

October 11th, 2011

Distributing antivirus by taxi?

Last Monday, the TV signal coming going into our TV disappeared. “No signal” was the error message displayed quite prominently on the TV screen. Well, since there is no Ice Hockey World Championships at the moment, I thought that fixing the antenna was not an issue of vital importance – a decision that my family disagreed with. So to keep the domestic peace, I called the service, they came the next day, fixed it in about 30 minutes, and all was fine until yesterday.  That is when the invoice for the service arrived.  Note, I don’t mind the cost of fixing the antenna, but I DO mind a lot the cost the repair service charged for COMING to our house. The distance is only 17 km (10 miles) but they charged 50% more than a taxi would! And, taxis in Prague are darn expensive. Which brings me to the benefits of free delivery. Read more…

October 10th, 2011

The real virus lab

I would have never imagined that it could happen, but a couple of weeks back we received the “Export Company of 2010” award from DHL.  That really surprised me because in my mind anything organized by DHL means they will tend to award it to someone who actually uses DHL to ship something in the first place.  But we ship ones and zeros through servers and cables.  Lots of ones and zeros, that is true, but certainly nothing that would need the attention of DHL or FedEx.

But that is not the subject of this post actually. The subject is that I got a call from a journalist who was covering the story with a request to get her some pictures that would go with the story.  Such as the picture of our AVAST Virus Lab. Read more…

October 7th, 2011

Barcelona – fotoreport from the last two days

The content of VB 2011 programme provided an excellent amount of information from the security industry in the last three days. It came packed in an interesting and humorous way. Here is some more pictures from conference to present the atmosphere and we looking forward on next conference!

 

October 6th, 2011

Barcelona – fotoreport from the first day

 

Greetings from Barcelona. The conference is in the middle and here are few pictures from the first day. Everyone seems to be satisfied with the conference, and especially with the free beer offered by AVAST!

October 4th, 2011

Building Permits? More leftovers on rooftops

Yesterday’s post about how difficult it is to get a building permit for even a neon sign sparked some interesting Facebook discussions. Clearly getting any sort of building permit is not an easy task in the Czech Republic. Our own experience at AVAST shows that getting a permit for a small sign can easily take 3 months. But, we should not be unthankful. At least at AVAST, we did GET the permit.

I mentioned AVG in my blog yesterday as the other well-known antivirus brand from the Czech Republic. In case you don’t remember, some time ago AVG was actually called Grisoft after its founder Mr. Jan Gritzbach – GRItzbach SOFTware. And the Grisoft company was located here: 49°12’9.262″N, 16°36’23.723″E  (view the satellite image).

Since then, the company has changed its name. They have even moved their offices. But the GRISOFT logo is still there, laying flat on the roof. I wonder if it was ever mounted and visible or if it is still waiting for the official building permit.  ;)

October 3rd, 2011

Building? Not! Programming

In case you didn’t know, almost half (!) of all home computers in the world are protected by antivirus products coming from the Czech Republic. That’s because both AVAST antivirus and AVG have been and are still developed here. This does make me wonder why: Why here? The Czech Republic is a small country and even though its borders are surrounded by mountain ranges we are hardly a valley – at least to say – of silicon. As far as I can tell, there is no obvious reason for this. Speaking of technology, the only other thing we gave to world is the word “robot” (invented by Czech novel & play writer Karel Capek who used it in his play R.U.R. in 1921).

So why antivirus? I really don’t know but I do know why we are no longer famous for construction and buildings. It is all thanks to our system of building permits. But it wasn’t always like that. Read more…

September 26th, 2011

AVAST – Since year 1801

I love the marketing endorsements that tell you that “the beer you are about to drink has been brewed since 1845”. I wonder how it really did taste 160 years ago ;) Sure, the basic ingredients were the same but is it really the same taste? Selfishly, it is my tastes right here and now that matter  – not what it was 120 years before I was born. Actually I found a reference to some monastery brewery that has been brewing beer since 1455! Still the same great taste?  I doubt it!  Gutenberg invented the printing press around that time and printing as such has evolved a bit since then. I can tell, because I have a 10-year old dot-matrix printer that is completely out-of-date and a 5-year old laser printer that is about to join it in the attic. Read more…