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.
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…
I bet most of you have seen the ‘80s Back to the Future trilogy. Back then it had
great special effects, hi-tech equipment, impressive cars and tricks, but there was also a great theme in which the main hero goes back to the past…
You might be wondering how does it relate to avast! antivirus? Well all of us have a bit of nostalgia for the past, a time when we didn’t use PCs and there were no viruses.
So, the other day I asked my colleagues in our marketing/PR department: do you remember your first PC or the first virus you caught?
I was surprised what kind of discussion it has opened and how excited everyone was about it. So here we go (in alphabetical order):
Jason – Copywriter
First real computer I ever used (at school): Commodore 64 (circa 1986-7) with a cassette-tape drive.
First real computer I actually owned was an HP desktop I bought in 1997 (with Windows 95 and McAfee antivirus (avast! engine!!)). I had it until 2002, when I upgraded to a Gateway desktop with Windows XP, which I think came with Symantec/Norton(?)… which I did not renew, instead using free antivirus software (ZoneAlarm, AVG, avast!) from then on.
Milos – Marketing Director
I was a poor kid from a poor village. No computers. Just socialism. Left and right… everywhere you looked. Firsthand experience was the computer lab at school when I lived for a while in Modesto, California, in 1992/1993. PC, Macs and – listen carefully – Amiga.
I hated Mac because the only way to get the floppy disk out was through the software-eject button. So when it crashed – and it was crashing all the time – your disk was in there and impossible to get out.
The PC on the other hand was excellent.
And of course the Amiga… I learned how to animate and draw on it. It was THE computer for graphics!
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. ;)
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…
It is a very quiet day in the office today because it is a DAY OFF. Yes, it’s a state holiday on Wednesday thanks to Saint Wenceslaus I. Wenceslaus –or ‘Vaclav’ (quite a common name for boys in Czech) was the Duke of Bohemia. On September 28th in the year 935, he was killed by his younger brother Boleslav (today, not such a common boy name) in a small city called Stara Boleslav about 30 kilometers north of Prague. Boleslav wanted to be the local duke and indeed he was for the next 6 years until his own death. Why Boleslav chose Stara Boleslav as the place to commit this murder is not so clear today. The legends focus on Wenceslaus and several of them would be a good topic for blog post, but most Czechs today remember him only thanks to the holiday on September 28th. In my view ‘a day off on Wednesday’ is one of the best inventions of mankind. Read more…
For 10 years now, AVAST has been giving free antivirus protection to home computer users. What started on June 1st 2001 as an innovative step to bring the avast! brand to users around the globe without expensive advertising has worked very well indeed. Over 130 million users are now protected by avast! Free Antivirus and while it may sound like a cliché, even the users who have the free version are very valuable to us.
For starters, it is you, the users of the free version, who give us priceless word-of-mouth advertising. The majority of new users know about AVAST only because it was recommended to them by their friends (hence, we don’t pay for any advertising). You help us to translate the software (avast! is now available in 38 languages and 11 are now being finalized). You help each other and us at the Support Forum and, last but not least, you help us to find new viruses via the CommunityIQ system. Read more…
Known as “CharleyO” on the avast! Forum, Charles O. Prince is one of the 15 most-active avast! Forum members, with more than 6,500 posts since he joined in early 2004. Like his fellow forum members Bob Gostischa (“bob3160”) and Lisandro Souza (“Tech”), as well as many others, Charley helps avast! users around the world with their technical questions. In lieu of my traditional “5 Questions with [person]” interview format, I decided to let Charley paint for us a bigger picture as to how he came to be such an avid supporter of avast! over the years – followed by only 3 questions this time. I think you’ll find his personal IT history fascinating. – Jason Mashak
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…
The first computer virus AVAST stopped was the Vienna virus back in 1988. That was before Symantec released its first product, acquired Norton in 1990, or even used the Norton brand to market its AV products. It was also before Dr. Solomon’s Antivirus was commercially released in 1991 to be later acquired by McAfee (itself established in 1989). Read more…
When I emailed the entire AVAST team about nominations for co-workers that they would want to see interviewed, I saw/heard “Vladimír Černík” more than any other name. It turns out that Vladimir was one of the first people ever hired by AVAST founders Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš, more than 20 years ago. It’s enough of an accomplishment, in modern times, to work 20 years in one place… but to watch a company grow from almost nothing… to over 150 team members, with more than 160 million users of your product… that’s truly amazing.
In the comments below, please join us in offering Vladimír Černík a warm congratulations on his 20 years with AVAST Software. – Jason Mashak
1. You’ve been at AVAST longer than anyone aside from the founders (about 20 years?)… how was it for you in the beginning, and why have you stayed so long?
I don’t remember exactly how it happened. I started as an assembler programmer, then I was programming databases for a while, and eventually I was helping (avast! co-founder) Pavel Baudis with the viruses. At the time I didn’t know a thing about viruses and I was gaining all my experience hands-on. And of course a couple of times I managed to massively infect my computer.
It was back in the good old days of DOS. There weren’t so many viruses around like nowadays, when you are cluttered up with thousands of new virus samples daily. Read more…