History & questions with Charles O. Prince (avast! Forum “Evangelist”)
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
Attended community college in Charleston, South Carolina (USA), for an associate's degree in computer programming & operation .
Worked 30 years at the local Dupont plant. In the early '80s, the plant started switching to computer controls. I was appointed the computer trainer for my work group, while retaining my Chemical Plant Technician position.
During this time I also owned several non-PC computers, including a C64, C128, Amiga 1000, & Amiga 500.
I bought my first PC, which was an Acer running Windows 95.
My Acer had its first virus while using Norton, which failed to protect the computer. After finding and deleting the files responsible for the virus, I had to learn to edit the registry to repair the damage done and to remove Norton. This took about a week of spare time.
Former computer was upgraded to Windows 98SE and was using McAfee when the second virus struck in late 1999 or early 2000. Again, I had to find & remove the files responsible, plus edit the registry to repair the damage and remove McAfee. This took several days to complete.
Summer of 2000 found me building my first PC. While searching the web for another antivirus, I came upon AVG free and installed that. It was a terrible install that took too much time and lugged the system down badly, but I used AVG for about 1.5 years.
In January, I found Avast while again searching the Internet for an antivirus program. The uninstall of AVG was worse than the install, taking me several days to complete. On the other hand, Avast installed easier than any of the 3 antivirus I had used before, as Avast installed almost instantly. The computer ran like brand new, with no perceivable slowdown of the system.
After 2 years using Avast, I joined the avast! forum on February 14th out of an interest of learning more about Avast and why it worked so well, when the more well-known brands had failed miserably in the past. I began to learn that as well as much more about malware.
In summer, I built my second computer and it is the desktop I am still using today. Of course, Avast was the first program installed after the OS.
By this time, I had learned much more about malware and people who use computers. I had also risen to the rank of Avast Evangelist on the forum during this time period.
Invited by Avast (along with several others) to a week-long conference in Prague, Czech Republic, for Evangelists and resellers.
In the Summer, Avast asked me and another evangelist (Bob Gostischa, also from the US) if we would be interested in becoming Spokespersons for Avast in the USA. It was finalized by November. Our first job is to make the public more aware of the dangers of the Internet and of PC malware. I also now have a Toshiba laptop that I use on my travels for Avast while giving PC & Internet Security presentations.
This year, I was in Prague February 8th-11th for an evangelists meeting that covered, among other things, information on upcoming projects.
I also attended the RSA security conference in San Francisco, California (USA), the week of February 13th-19th, as a delegate with members of the Avast staff and a few other evangelists.
During all these years of using Avast, there has not been an infection in any of my computers nor the other computers that I support, though there have been many tries over the years. Avast either blocks them before the payload gets in, or catches them when they attempt to execute. It has to be considered that I sometimes visit some very risky sites while researching malware for my own information, as well as for seeking answers to help people with problems they have posted on the forum.
1. In making your presentations on IT security, what have you found to be the key factors (e.g., mindsets?) that keep people from staying secure?
It seems to me that too many people who use the Internet still think of themselves as being in their own little world where only those who enter are family, friends, and other close associates who would never purposely cause them harm. Therefore, these people feel like they do not need to be so secure. Of course, this has not been true for many years.
2. What are the 2-3 most common problems you’ve encountered with the way people approach computers and the internet?
Many times the attitude seems to be that of ... "Well, they do not know me." "My computer has no information that would be of interest to anyone but me" ... and many others. The approach to computers by too many is one of naivity. They also seem to often think on a personal level instead of on the global level which one must do when using the Internet. The Internet is not a personal experience no matter how secure some application says you might be. Hackers/info gatherers could care less who you are on a personal level. What they care about is what can be used out of the information gained. Usually, this information is used for monetary gain. So, the thinking should be ... "Each time I log-on to the Internet, it is possible for me to be connected to any other person or computer globally and that all my information on my computer or information about me on the Internet is monetarily valuable to someone, somewhere."
3. How would you describe your ideal day (away from the office)
These days, the ideal day for me is one that is warm but not hot, no rain with a nice breeze, and I am on a golf course most of the day with friends. Later in the afternoon, I visit with family. Later at night, I drift off to sleep knowing a good time was had with family & friends.
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