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October 14th, 2011

Internet. What is it for?

I was trying to make a point yesterday about the correlation between snow levels and internet banking usage.  As many of you correctly pointed out, the fact the Northern Europeans love to bank online has more to do with the availability of internet than with 3 meters of snow outside.   And sure, there are differences in internet availability between the EU countries.

But I guess it has even more to do with the willingness of people to use the internet as such.  In Norway, 90% of inhabitants use the internet every week.  And only 5% say they have never used it.  I have to admit, before I downloaded these stats from Eurostat, I would have said that pretty much everybody has done something with the internet at least once in their life.  But that’s not quite so. Read more…

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October 13th, 2011

No point in going to the bank … in Norway

It has been raining a little over the last 3 days in Prague but the weather for weekend should improve.  Sunny skies and temperature around 12 °C (about 54F) are expected.  In general, the weather in Central Europe is mild and comfortable.  Nothing extreme and this is what we are used to.  That also means when we do have 3 centimeters of snowfall in Prague,  it is a ‘calamity’ with a traffic jam throughout the whole city and everything stops working.  I guess the winters in northern parts of Europe are much more harsh and unless there are 3 meters of snow nobody really bothers to call it unusual.  And I also would imagine that it is the weather, lots of snow and 20-hour long winter nights, which drive internet usage up there. Read more…

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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 Special: Day 3 – Goodbye and see you all in Dallas

The Barcelona VB Conference is nearing the end and the last presentations are being delivered. You can clearly see that the last 3 days have been very intensive as many faces show signs of sleep deprivation. Clearly it has been a success (and we can always sleep later). I’m glad AVAST was able to help sponsor the good mood (just yesterday evening, we had sponsored the distribution of 1,857 free beers to all participants) and I hope they will remember this particular conference more than previous ones.  But, I just gave a good example of an oxymoron … with so much beer, it will be a small miracle if anyone remembers anything. Read more…

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October 6th, 2011

Barcelona Special: Day 2 – Nice to meet you

The prime reason for participating at a VB Security Conference is, of course, seeing the presentations about what’s new in the security sector, what are the newest attack tactics from the bad guys, and naturally, what the security companies are doing to stop them. But, the next best thing about this Security Conference is to meet the people and socialize. Which is exactly what we did yesterday evening! Read more…

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October 5th, 2011

Barcelona Special: Day 1 – AVAST Proud Sponsor


Virus Bulletin, a leading publication on computer security, is organizing this week’s 21st annual Virus Bulletin International Conference in Barcelona, Spain. And AVAST is a proud platinum sponsor. So if you are in Barcelona these days and you have couple of minutes to spare, visit the Hesperia Tower Hotel where the event is held. You will get a chance to meet many of the security enthusiasts who have dedicated their lives to fighting viruses and malware. Read more…

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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…