Recently we took pleasure in hosting journalists at our Prague HQ. Among them were Wojciech Kowasz and Jakub Pawlak from dobreprogramy, Poland‘s most popular download site. avast! Free Antivirus is Poland‘s top downloaded software, with over 14,000,000 downloads!
While visiting us in Prague, Mr. Kowasz and Mr. Pawlak recorded a video interview with our CTO, Ondřej Vlček. Mr. Vlček introduced new features of avast! 6.0, explaining how they differentiate avast! from other AV products. If you’ve ever wondered how the AutoSandbox works, what SafeZone is, or how can you rate a website using avast! WebRep, check it out. Mr. Kowasz and Mr. Pawlak also asked about everyday’s life in our HQ in Prague, how the virus lab works, and how we detect viruses. Read more…
When the Marketing/PR department was trying to transition to the company’s new project tracking system, it was difficult explaining how each task in our department can be so unique… but that didn’t phase Lukas, who (like me) was still fairly new at AVAST. He helped us determine an overall scheme, with variously detailed project subcategories that made sense. He suggested solutions that could be more easily optimized in the future. And, in terms of QA, that’s exactly how you want to handle things. –Jason Mashak
1. The “QA” in your title is a bit abstract – what types of projects at AVAST are you responsible for the quality of?
In terms of avast! 6.0, we test the antivirus regularly and report any bugs in new features. As avast! is the most widespread antivirus software, the product also has great community support that includes a group of avast! Forum evangelists who help with the testing of every new Beta release. The community makes good suggestions and their help allows us to verify that avast! works on thousands of different configurations.
There are also other projects being built in AVAST’s offices that we put our hands on, such as testing the upcoming Business Protection and Business Protection Plus (administration console) for small business customers. And Mac users should start looking forward to a new version of avast! for Mac. Read more…
Not long after I started at AVAST, I started hearing about Martin as “the guy” capable of handling almost anything language or support related. We connected quickly, I think, because of similar backgrounds (in music and education) and responsibilities (kids and work). Whenever possible, I try to join him for vegetarian lunches a few minutes from our office, and I’m hoping we’ll soon make it into a recording studio to get some of his tasty (jazzy) Fender Rhodes keyboard riffs added to a couple of my songs-in-progress. –Jason Mashak
1. How does the ability to communicate in roughly half a dozen tongues shape your ‘official’ job function at AVAST?
The fact that I can communicate in several languages means that I can easily fill the ‘holes’ wherever needed. So when someone takes a holiday, I can easily jump in and take over the work in his or her (native) language. I’m not only doing tech support, but also sales and, if really necessary, I can do some work for other departments, like editing datasheets in other languages or dealing with unique customer issues. And of course, a big part of my work consists of translating (mostly technical) documents (where my background as a former physics teacher of course helps a lot concerning the technical aspect). So actually, I’m officially in tech support, but much of the time doing other things.
2. In terms of tech support, what are some of the strangest inquiries that you’ve encountered? Read more…
In recent years, the need for a Community Manager has become essential, especially when your entire business operates online and your ‘community’ is a global one. Julia was an excellent choice for this position at AVAST, as her experiences both as a traveler and living as a foreigner have given her insight into the myriad ways communications take shape. I’ve worked closely with her on various projects, and she has a natural ability to empathize with community concerns, promote community interests, and ensure that the avast! Community stays in focus (in the light of our overall company direction). –Jason Mashak
1. I recall that one of our first conversations was about your studies of literature and languages, and so I’m curious how a background in humanities helps you in your current role as Community Manager for AVAST?
The fact that I manage to communicate in several languages helps a lot. But, frankly, I would need to learn at least another 8 languages to be able to cover typical daily communications, as the community of our fans is very multilingual. The first thing that came to mind after reading this question was the “KIS rule”: KEEP IT SIMPLE. Twitter limits you to 140 characters and Facebook to 420, so you’re forced you to follow that rule. It confirms what I already suspected attending university: make your text as simple as possible.
2. What challenges do you encounter in terms of interacting with the avast! Community via Facebook, Twitter, etc.? Read more…
From the time I started working at AVAST, I kept hearing about our avast! Forum “Evangelists” – Community members who have helped us greatly over the years by providing tech support to other users, product feedback (including ideas for improvements), and more. In short, they have been the true heartbeat of AVAST ever since the avast! Forum went LIVE in 2002. As of March, 2011, the top forum evangelist, with almost 55,000 (55 THOUSAND!!!) forum posts, is the Brazil-based user known as “Tech” – known to his family and friends as Lisandro Souza. I was especially interested in interviewing him, as was interested primarily in his motivation for helping AVAST over the years. –Jason Mashak
1. For avast! users who have never visited the avast! Forum, considering that it’s not only a tech-support community, how would you summarize the full range of activity that happens there?
It’s a true Community. We share knowledge, dreams, friendship, professional and leisure readings and thoughts. It’s a very open-minded place, no fanboyism, freedom. There is room for techies and non-techies. You can learn. You can share. You can help and receive help. You can interact with the developers and “interfere” in the future of it in some cases: you really participate. You can rest with some threads about technology and non-avast related. Although, some of us miss the Off Topic forum (sorry Pavel, couldn’t resist…). If you never being in a forum, come, feel the atmosphere!
2. What have been some of the most fulfilling moments for you as an avast! Forum member?
The first troubleshooting with “Vlk” [Ondrej Vlcek, CTO] and Jindrich Kubec [Virus Lab Director]: the professionalism and warm reception caught me! Read more…
My interactions with Jitka have been brief – she is a no-nonsense kind of person, and so you’ll almost never see her having a chat at the coffee machine. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in one place for longer than a few seconds, unless she has to sit for a meeting or at her desk. At AVAST for almost 5 years, Jitka oversees the interactions between AVAST Software and our business partners around the globe. I of course had to interview her via email, as I doubt she’d ever have time to meet with me. –Jason Mashak
1. Would you say that AVAST Software partners basically enable avast! users to have contacts and support in their own regions and languages, or is it not so simple?
To make it clear from the beginning, our business partners focus on the corporate and SMB segments rather than on home users. When potential customers make contact, our local partners only have a few minutes to establish trust and credibility. Fortunately, combining one of the best-known antivirus brands with our partners’ sales skills and marketing activities has been a simple and effective strategy for this.
Our business partners help alleviate fear of fraud, provide support in the local language(s), design or implement customized deployments, etc., enabling companies searching for an antivirus product to put their trust in avast!
2. How do avast! business partners help contribute to the direction of avast! products or services? Read more…
In a few days I’ll introduce a new avast! Blog feature, in which I’ll interview various people involved with AVAST Software – team members, volunteer translators, business partners, avast! Forum “evangelists,” etc. –with 5 questions.
This will give you a better look inside AVAST, at the people who make things happen on our end.
The frequency of interview postings will be partly “as inspired” and partly “up to you”… that is, the more you like them, the more they’ll keep coming.
Read interviews here:
A few months ago we posted this
to our Written About Us page (a list of summaries and links to recent press coverage), but I wanted to bring attention to it here, as well.
Containing a brief history of what drove the two men to create software amid major political turmoil and economic transitions (i.e., regained Czechoslovak independence), the article highlights some of the problems they faced as a fledgling company in a new global environment. As well, it points to the difficult choices they made in terms of an innovative business model, which helped them to attain roles as world-class leaders in the antivirus industry.
For those who may wonder what AVAST Software’s plans are for 2011 (and beyond)… pay special attention to the last paragraph.