How To Properly Utilize Anti-Virus Software Reviews

August 29, 2011

As with several of my blog posts, this post is derived from my experiences providing volunteer support on AVG Technologies’ Facebook Community. Recently, I’ve noticed that some people, most notably a trolling community member who would return to post the same content each day, have started posting reviews and ranking lists of AV products from blogs as evidence that AVG is superior or inferior to other products.

Of course that same troll did bring us "AVG SOCKS!!!", so we can't really stay mad at him.



There are a couple of problems with this logic though.

  1. First of all, these are not necessarily reliable sources. It’s just some guy and his blog. There is no editorial oversight, there is no rigorous fact checking. These are not sources that you could turn in even to support your 8th grade essays, there’s a reason for that.
  2. Bloggers are people too. They are influenced by their own biases. A review or a product comparison is just the opinion of the person reviewing/comparing. The reviews will focus on the aspects that are important to them. They may focus on things that matter to them, but not to you. In the case of product comparisons, they may (even without knowing it) root a little too hard for their personal favorite product to get the top spot in the rankings (the very reason that I don’t do reviews on this blog, I have a bias, so it’s of little value to my readers.)
  3. Many of these people mean well and try hard, but have no idea what they’re doing. I touched on this in point one, but there’s no oversight. If these guys get something wrong or make a mistake (which from what I’ve seen happens quite frequently) then you don’t get the full picture of the product being reviewed, and that does you a disservice as a consumer relying on this source for accurate and unbiased information.
  4. In the case of YouTube videos of guys “testing” AV software, there is no utilizing the scientific method, a lack of testing standards (such as failing to use the same hardware and software environment, set of malware, etc to test each product), tests which don’t represent real world applications of the product, “It’s great that you can show me how this product would hold up in your controlled lab testing environment. It’s not so great that the controlled environment you created does not represent real world methods for how computers become infected, and therefore means nothing outside of your controlled experiment,” and generally a lack of common sense altogether.


I’m sure I could take this further, but those are personally my biggest issues with the logic of “I read this product sucks at *insert unknown, unemployed basement dweller’s blog*, so it must be true! They have tests and everything!”

So, where does this leave you as a consumer looking for information on what product to choose? Well, here are a few more points to consider.
  • Online reviews and comparisons can have value, but be sure to look at a large sampling to weed out inconsistencies and/or false claims. If you see something that doesn’t pop up often in reviews, or seems inconsistent, but is still a deal breaker for you, then try doing a bit of research to verify the claims in the reviews before making a decision.
  • Whatever you do, don’t base your entire decision off one bad (or good) review. Understand that no matter how great something is, there will always be someone out there that it didn’t work for, or that it didn’t meet their expectations (or in many cases, they misused it and therefore didn’t get the desired affect from, but I digress), and even beyond that some companies pay individuals to pose as unaffiliated consumers online, to either boost the reputation of their own products, or decimate the reputations of their competitors, so you can’t just base your entire decision off what one person has to say. Like any data set, this information only has value when it is analyzed as a whole, giving you a full picture of what you’re really looking at.
  • My top suggesting for figuring out if a product works well for you or not, is to try it for yourself. Nothing you read elsewhere is worth your own personal experiences with a product. You can’t please everyone, so someone will always have something bad to say about anything, rather than basing your opinion off of what someone else tells you to think, try out the product for yourself, and decide if it works well for you based on your own opinion. Luckily with AVG you have the option of free trials or even a completely free version to decide if you like it before you buy!

This advice can serve you well beyond just choosing an Anti-Virus product like AVG, much of it applies to any buying decision you might base off of unverifiable reviews, comparisons, and other opinions.

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My Thoughts on the Social Networking Privacy Act

May 22, 2011

There is currently a lot of debate about the Social Networking Privacy Act, proposed by US Senator Ellen Corbett. The act seeks to force social networks, such as Facebook, to make it the default option that users’ information is hidden. I thought that I would join in on the debate as well, and logically I chose this blog to be my platform for sharing my two cents.

While I agree that it is best that privacy settings be set to their most secure and locked down state by default, I personally don’t believe the government should have so much of a part in it. This bill would benefit people who don’t know how to secure their information, but as others have stated, everything is not so cut and dry in Washington as the government would have you believe. I’m not into conspiracies and general mistrust of the government, but I do recognize that there is a lot of corruption in Washington, and that politics is a game of manipulating others so that your point of view becomes the law of the land. There are many sneaky things going on, sneaking things into bills and only discussing the positive merits of the bill, “grassroots” campaigns, PACs, and parties that are actually ran by major party members with tons of capital backing them up (that’s the meaning of grassroots, right?), and all sorts of other unfortunate shenanigans.


Government regulation of the Internet is a bad thing. All the rich guys (read: politicians) who don’t know what it’s really like to actually live in our world, to live on our salaries, or to deal with our daily problems, are not the ideal people to go to when it comes to deciding what’s best for the rest of us. Not to mention that many of these people further expanded their wealthy by abusing the power of their office. Take for example that many times large corporations donate to a candidate’s campaign. This is not free money because they like the candidate, this is basically a legal bribe, and when they have a certain piece of legislation that they want passed, perhaps something that is unpopular because it’s good for this small group of people and bad for everyone else, then they’re going to come to call in that favor. These are the sort of reasons that many of our laws today are against our own best interests, why our government’s power is growing far beyond what our constitution grants it, and why we don’t want them deciding what’s best for our Internet, because as a whole they tend to be uninformed about many of the issues they decide on, and easily influenced by the people who helped them get where they are, people who don’t tend to have anyone’s best interest at heart but their own.I agree that it would be wonderful if it could be as cut and dry as, “the government says you guys have to set privacy settings to hidden by default” and that was the end of it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Even more far reaching than anything else unfortunate that gets snuck into the bill that isn’t advertised to the general public, is the fact that by passing any piece of legislature, you are also setting a precedent. In our government, and our legal system (which is actually the Judicial branch of our government) precedents are very important. Basically what it means is that when you’re looking at whether to pass a new bill, or whether to decide on a case if you’re a judge, then you look at how people who are or were in your position decided on similar cases from the past. That’s why lawyers tend to study similar cases to the client their representing’s case, because chances are past decisions by other judges in similar cases will have at least some, likely a lot, of weight in the judge’s decision. The reason for this is that judges and politicians are only human, they cannot know every aspect of how everything in the world that they must decide on works, so oftentimes they look at past decisions by others in similar positions for guidance. My point being that if you pass a piece of legislature that approves government regulation of the Internet, even a good one such as this, then you make the next proposed government regulation of the Internet more acceptable. The next proposal for government regulation may not be such a good thing, but by passing this act, you’ve made it easier for a future unpopular attempt for government regulation to pass, because there’s a precedent for government regulation then.

I think that it would be great if it were that simple, but it really isn’t. I still think that the best way to go is education, like what we do at the AVG Community. Teach people that they need to be aware of what their privacy settings are. That they shouldn’t share anything online that they wouldn’t feel comfortable becoming public information. As others have correctly stated, no one but you is responsible for your data, and oftentimes when you put too much trust in someone else with your data, you’ll get burned. Keep track of what you’re sharing and who’s allowed to see it, rather than depend on a private company that’s only interested in profit (Facebook), or the federal government to take care of you.

Oversharing Is An Education Issue

I’ve also noticed that a lot of people complain that “many people aren’t “savvy” enough to know how to control their privacy settings.”

This is also an education issue. As we move into a more connected world, where almost everything is moving towards information, and the ability to access and share it from anywhere, anytime, we have to learn how to correctly control our own personal information. When you’re raising your children, you don’t go to the government and ask them to pass a bill saying that kids have to stay out of the street. You teach them not to play in the street, and what might happen to them if they do.

I like the analogy that “people who don’t have a license shouldn’t be driving cars.” In our connected age, it’s no longer acceptable to be ignorant of how to monitor and control your personal information. You need to be able to identify what’s personal, and when, where, and how you should share it. If you make an account on any type of website, you need to take personal responsibility for ensuring your information stays private. If you’re going to get behind the wheel, then for both your safety as well as the safety of others, you must first learn how to drive safely. The same can be said for getting online. If you’re going to share information online, then you should first learn how to do that safely, for your own benefit. It’s not as though there are a lack of resources out there. AVG regularly shares information through the AVG Community to help you, AVG employees and helpful volunteers (such as myself) are more than happy to answer any questions that anyone may have about how to safely share their information, this very blog has many articles about staying safe online, and there are thousands of other resources online to help you as well.

There’s no excuse for not understanding other than not taking the time and effort to try to understand. And I don’t find that acceptable in our information driven world. It’s akin to taking the wheel of a car without even knowing what it’s called and must less how to drive it. It’s no longer about “that’s too technical for me” that’s the same as saying that how the gear shift in your car works is too technical for you to bother to try to understand as you mistakenly plow into the car behind you while in reverse, because you expected to go forward. Information is an important part of our world today, and it’s only becoming more so important. I recommend you learn how to control it.

The answer to “people don’t understand how to protect their own personal information” isn’t to have the government protect it for them. Facebook and other social networking sites are by far not the only places personal information can be shared, this act isn’t a fix, it’s just a band-aid over the underlying problem.

This is an education issue. When you’re a kid how do you know to call 911 if someone is injured? How do you know not to talk to strangers? That’s because you were taught in school or by your parents, likely both. The answer to this problem is for correctly classifying information as personal and knowing what information to share and what not to share, as well as how to monitor and control that information, to become as much a part of the learning process as the common knowledge I referenced above.


Yext Ripoff, How An Internet Marketing Service Took Me For A Ride.

February 6, 2011

I’ve had a terrible experience with a company called Yext. Their tagline is “Bringing the power of internet advertising to all local businesses” The business model makes absolutely no sense. Basically they’re an advertising service that was supposed to bring in new customers to my business at a fixed rate per customer.  One of Yext’s account representatives called me about a year ago to get me signed up. That’s one phone call I wish I had never answered. The way the service was explained to me was that I would only pay them when they brought me a new customer. I would pay $30 for the first time this customer came to me, but after that I would never pay Yext another penny for that customer. And if that’s how it truly worked then this post would be titled something like “Why Yext is an invaluable tool for my small business,” or “achieve more with Yext!” or something along those lines. Unfortunately this is not the case.

My primary concern is of course the cost. If Yext really were bringing in new customers for me then $30 would be a reasonable expense for all the new customers I’d be bringing in, which leads to more referrals, repeat customers, and more income. However, I’ve ended up shelling out $120 so far without getting a single customer, or a single dollar, in return. You see, what the account representative failed to mention, among the things he selectively left out of his explanation of the service, was that their services are not guaranteed. So long as someone calls the Yext proxy phone number, which will connect them to my cell phone, so long as they mention the word computer it’s going to cost me $30.  That’s right, even if I don’t actually get a customer from the call, I’ve still got to fork over my money to Yext.

Now, of course that’s also my fault for not reading the fine print. Anytime you’re dealing with a snake-oil salesman, they’re going to explain it one way, and the fine print in the terms and conditions are going to explain it a different way. But in my defense, I specifically asked the man “is there any catch to this,” “are you leaving anything important out,” and “are there any more hidden costs I should know about.” I was lied to when he answered my questions. I was pretty happy with their service at first. I got mostly “junk” calls from Yext, for some reason a lot of people seemed to think that because I can fix a computer I can fix a refrigerator. But they didn’t bill me for them, and it wasn’t really costing me anything, but they had put my information on a lot of different sites and some “partner networks” that I normally couldn’t have gotten my info on anyway, so it always had the potential to bring in some profit, and it wasn’t hurting me.

The problems started when Yext’s service actually started doing what it was supposed to, getting me phone calls relevant to my business. I know that seems like a strange thing to say, but try to follow my logic here. Up until I started using Yext I got all my customers from referrals from current customers, even my business clients! (To be more accurate it’s still that way, even with Yext.) So, I had never had to deal with the issue of people off the street calling for a price check, comparing me to everyone else, and then going with the guy who offered to do it for next to nothing. It’s easy for me to retain clients when I’ve worked for them, or when someone I’ve worked for has personally recommended me to them, because those people know how knowledgeable I am, how hard I work, and how I always go above and beyond to provide the best work and customer service to my clients. However, it’s not so easy to get clients in the door when all they’re asking for is a number, and then comparing it to some numbers from other guys and going with the lowest common denominator.

So, not foreseeing calls like that which were dead ends, and not being armed with the knowledge that any call which mentions some key words like “computer” would be billed at $30 a piece, I was very surprised to find I was being billed for simply taking a call.

Yext’s business model is ridiculous! This would be like me billing people a $30 fee just for a price check call, even if I don’t actually provide any valuable service to them. In fact that’s exactly what it is. The only feasible way that I could continue using Yext’s services is if I did charge a ridiculous fee like that.

One thing that really got me was that I was billed for a call from this confused old lady who apparently had found my number on the Internet and mistook me for a guy who usually did her computer work. She lived outside my service area as well. Of course this didn’t lead to any work for me, only another $30 expense.

The other really big issue with Yext is that they will say anything to get you on board and keep you on board, but they’re terrible at keeping the promises they make, or just refraining from flat out telling lies to you. Let me spell out to you the various deceptions and incompetence I’ve been faced with from the people at Yext.

  • I was told there were no hidden cost, yet when I called Yext about the charges, I was informed that their services were not guaranteed. Well, perhaps that’s something you should mention. Explain it as, you pay per call, rather than you pay per customer, that’s a much more accurate description than I was given.
  • Hidden costs again. I was told they would waive the $10 monthly service charge to make up for their abysmal service. My response was “What damn service charge? I haven’t been giving you any money up until now.” Apparently because I hadn’t been getting “qualified calls” (billable calls) they weren’t charging me this yet. But since I was getting these useless calls they could bill me for this on top of the calls now.
  • When the account representative setup my account for me, I asked him to set it up so that I would have a 20 mile service area. When I contacted Yext customer service about the bs charges they informed me I had a 5 mile service area. 5 miles. I live in a semi-rural area. 5 miles is nothing out here.
  • I also discovered that I was listed on something called the “Google Click to Call Network.” Evan, the “customer specialist” I spoke with, informed me of this. He described it as something where people often didn’t even know what they were calling about, as in, they don’t know what kind of service I provide when they call. That explains all the annoying calls about refrigerator repair. What it doesn’t explain, however, is how it looks good for a company which is charging me per call to, without my knowledge, sign me up for a marketing service networking where people are blindly calling me and have no idea what I actually do. Seems like a way to increase call volumes without adding value at the expense of their customers to me. They removed me from this network when I complained about the service I was receiving from them in addition to waiving the maintenance fee.
  • This is probably the most shocking part of it all for me. What I’m paying Yext for is pretty clear. To post my information across several online sites that display information for services, monitor those sites for reviews, and I pay them when I get new customers (sorry, when I get any calls at all). Yet when I started poking around on the different accounts to see why I wasn’t getting any value out of this service, I found that most, if not all, of the account were half-assed filled out. Most only had my business name, number, and hours of operation. None of the other info I provided to them or on my own accounts was shared. I mean, come on! This is the main thing I’m paying Yext for, to create, fill out, and monitor these accounts so I don’t have to. And they weren’t doing it.

To summarize, I find Yext to be a terrible fit for my business. I was lied to when I was signed up, empty promises were made to me when I raised concerns with their support staff when I started having problems, while they did try to make a difference by waiving the monthly fee and taking me off this network that was fraudulently inflating my call volume, in the end it just didn’t make a difference. They didn’t really do what they told me they would, which is something that I expect from people I do business with, clarity and honesty.

I would recommend that you stay away from Yext if you’re a small business. Their business model of charging you $30 per call and $120 a year on top of that for something you could do better yourself for free in 5 minutes just doesn’t work. Maybe if they charged something more reasonable, like a few dollars per call, then it would fit in a budget. However, as long as they aren’t posting the information your provide to them, aren’t setting up your service areas properly, overcharging you for customers they’re not bringing in, and omitting facts to sign you up, they’re not going to be adding value to your business. If you can afford to hemorrhage money for simple phone calls, then go for it, but if you’re running your business on a budget (and who isn’t?) then this company is not for you.

When I contacted their support to reverse the charges and cancel my service, they convinced me to stay with empty promises and some small discounts. But even after they removed me from this “Click To Call” network and waived my service fee, it’s still to expensive to keep when it’s not adding any value. They refuse to give me my refund, so instead I’ll share my experiences with this company with all my readers and the Internet at large. I hope the $120 they refuse to refund is worth it. I’m calling tomorrow morning to cancel my account before they can get their greedy hands stretched out again for my hard earned money in return for absolutely nothing. The moral of this story? Read the fine print, and be careful who you do business with. There are good marketing companies out there, but Yext isn’t one of them.

I’m not the only one to be hurt by Yext either. Check out this comment where Yext actually damaged the brand of one of their clients over $165. Damaged the brand of a client over $165, consider that for a moment. Are these the kind of people you want to be in business with? Here’s yet another comment where yet another business was not informed of Yext’s actual policy on calls that don’t generate business, and refused a refund upfront for these bogus charges. It was not explained to them upfront, this is how Yext operates, ripping small businesses off for as long as they can until they drop them.

Have you had a bad experience with Yext? Or know someone who has? I invite you to post a link to your own blog post about a bad experience with Yext in the comments below or share your experiences in the comments. I want to hear from you!

Update!: An interesting thing happened today before I had a chance to contact Yext Customer Service. Just several hours after posting this blog and sharing the link on their Facebook page, without ever talking directly or indirectly to anyone at Yext, I was issued a refund confirmation from Yext for $60, the cost of the latest “qualified calls” I was being billed for that never brought me any work. It’s not everything that I’m out of, but it is at least half. And I must admit, when you don’t even have to contact customer service to get your refund, that’s some top notch customer service. I’ve got to give them some credit for that. Unfortunately, I had requested a refund the first time this happened and was simply told, “Our services are not guaranteed.” So, it seems the only reason I’m getting a refund is that I got a little more vocal than they cared for. Still, I appreciate the refund, I really can’t spare any money right now without some kind of return on that investment. I do appreciate this turn of events and the excellent customer service that I was eventually provided with, but I will still be canceling my Yext service tomorrow morning. No matter how good the customer service is, it can’t make up for the fact that Yext and their business model just don’t work for my business. Thanks for being considerate and providing me with my refund Yext! I appreciate it, and no hard feelings, but this is where we go our separate ways.

Thank You,
Zachary Chastain
RunPC Computer Repair

My Appeal to MajorGeeks.com’s Editors, and the AVG Community At Large

December 28, 2010

Image Credit- AVG Facebook Page, Community Tab

First, before I say anything, I ask that if you participate you read my entire post first (or at least don’t skip the end after the blockquote from my post on MajorGeeks.com, it’s important.)

Recently I read a post from an AVG Community member who pointed out that AVG was getting a bit of an unfair treatment on it’s download page at MajorGeeks.com. So, in response to this I wrote an appeal to their editors that they edit the text to be more accurate in relation to the issue they’re describing. I’ve included that post in it’s entirety below in a blockquote. I made a few edits to the formatting so that the links and bullets would work, but the content remains unchanged. I’ll also include a link to the original post on the MajorGeeks Forum.

My Post On The MajorGeeks.com Forum

Hey everyone! I hope that you can help me out with something. I’d like to make an appeal to one of the editors of this site, but I can’t find any identifying information or contact information that goes with the literature I’d like to address. So I was hoping someone here could either put me in touch with them or pass this along to them on my behalf?

The issue I’d like to address is this text that was included with the download of AVG Free on your site. I have included reference links as well to support my claims.

AVG Download on MajorGeeks says:

“Please note that while we still gladly offer AVG for download, recently AVG Free Edition has been breaking peoples computers, including both of the editors at Majorgeeks. We had a lot of difficulty removing and repairing our machines and we like to think we know what we are doing. After 10+ years we had to find a new anti-virus. Their new model seems to be a poorer quality free edition with an attempt to upsell to the paid versions. This is something we can not stand by and watch without warning you. We have had numerous emails as well from people who needed their computer fixed after a botched installation of AVG Free Edition. Other companies continue to offer free protection and we suggest you try those instead. I am currently using Panda Cloud anti-virus but Avast and Avira offer good, free protection. You might consider one of these alternatives. You’ll thank us later.

We hope AVG makes a comeback in the free protection arena, an area we feel they had dominated all of these years.”

I understand that this is your website and that you are entitled to sharing your opinion on it, but I feel that this is inaccurate and that you’re being unfair. So I’d like to share some information with you and make an appeal to you that you make this text more accurate, after considering the information I have shared with you.

I am aware of the issue which you cited in your text, because I’m a very active member of AVG’s Facebook Community. I’m not an employee, mind you, I’m a volunteer, an independent IT Consultant by trade. A few weeks back AVG had an issue where an update caused a false positive which crashed some 64-bit systems. This is unfortunate, but the issue has since been resolved, and new measures were taken to ensure this does not happen again. AVG worked very hard, opening up support numbers for both paid and free users for 48 hours in order to help correct the issue for those who were affected, and it is now long behind them.

While I agree that it was their mistake which caused the issue, AVG is not the first AV vendor to have an issue like this, nor will they be the last. Take for instance, the false positive issue from McAfee which crippled businesses, schools, and even hospitals. Also, please consider that while McAfee tried to pretend like it was no big deal, stating the issue “can result in moderate to significant performance issues,” (really, how can being stuck in an endless reboot cycle be a “moderate” performance issue?), AVG took ownership of their mistakes, even though had they not many customers admitted that they would have never known AVG was at fault. But rather than defraud their customers, they instead took the high road, stepped up, and took ownership of the mistake and began helping to correct it. Please also note these similar issue of equal impact from other vendors: Symantec’s Norton, Kaspersky, Avira, Avira again, Avira causing a huge problem for a software development company and rather than trying to work with him to resolve the issue they instead try to point out reasons why their false positive is acceptable, Avast detecting legit Microsoft software as malicious, Avast detecting MS Office files as malicious, Avast detects legit HP software as malicious, and I could go on and on all day with examples for every AV vendor out there.

However, I’d like to appeal to you that you edit this text on the grounds that

  • It’s an issue that affects all AV Vendors at some time or another, no matter how well funded or careful they are.
  • While Avast and Avira have not had as many widespread issues, mostly due to their much smaller command of the market, they are affected by the same issues you berated AVG for, yet you recommend them over it.
  • While you described AVG 2011 (yes, that’s the name of the “newer version”) as “poorer quality in an attempt to upsell paid versions,” AVG has actually added many new features to both the Free and Paid versions, and has added features to Free that used to only be available in Paid, such as heuristic detection, adding even more value for free users than past versions provided.

So I hope that, having been enlightened by this new information, that you will edit your text to be more accurate. Also, if you ever have any trouble with AVG, rather than try to fix it yourself, give up, and move on to lesser products, come bring your issue to the AVG Community on their Facebook Page! There are many volunteers, such as myself, as well as AVG employees, who are happy to assist you in resolving any issues you may have.

Otherwise, keep up the good work guys. I’ve used your site many times over my many years working in the IT field. Thanks and have a great day everyone!

Thank You!
(I would sign my post, but your forum rules stated that I not post my real name)

Link to the original post on the MajorGeeks.com Forum.

Now, I’d like to make an appeal to the rest of the AVG Community that you come and support me in my appeal to the editors. However, if you do choose to join my cause, I ask that you please do the following.

  • Read the MajorGeeks.com Forum Rules when you register your account and please be respectful of them.
  • Please be respectful of anyone who might reply to us, whether they are respectful of you or not.
  • Please keep your support confined to my thread, which I linked to above (and right here as well). I don’t want this spammed all over their forums. I’d like for us to make a very respectful appeal, not upset the moderators and get us all banned. It will also present an organized and united front to anyone who views the thread, where as posts spread all across the forums would not.
  • Please don’t try to hide the fact that you’re part of the AVG Community, or that you came over to support me. I don’t want to be dishonest. Stick to the facts and make your case.
  • If for any reason their moderators should decide to close our thread, please don’t confront them over it or make any new threads. Please just let me handle negotiations with their moderators should an issue arise. I want to be sure that we are respectful of their rules and community members.

If enough of us band together, I’m sure we can draw some attention and get the consideration we deserve. However, I also want to make sure that we are respectful of their rules and community members, as we will be representing the AVG Community. So, if you’re willing to abide by these requests, and you genuinely love and support AVG, then please join me on the MajorGeeks.com forum in support of our favorite AV software!

Thank You,
Zachary Chastain
AVG Community VIP

UPDATE!: After the editor I was seeking responded to my post on MajorGeeks.com, the text in question was removed from the AVG Free Download Page on MajorGeeks.com. Chalk this up as a great success, AVG Community!


Five Things I’ve Learned From The AVG Community

December 27, 2010

The AVG VIPs in Prague

AVG recently held a contest for their Facebook Community, asking us to list 5 things we learned from the community this year.

I refrained from entering the contest as it seems rather unfair to compete against others for a license when I have the privilege of pretty well just asking for any license I like. But I do want to share what I’ve learned as a very integral and involved part of the community this year.

  1. One of the first things that I learned when I began getting involved with the community is that I really enjoy helping people. I also learned that I’m very interested in pursuing a career in social media. I love what I’ve done with AVG, as well as my other volunteer projects and my recent job offer in the social media field.
  2. I also quickly began to realize that AVG is unlike any company I’ve ever known. They’re honest to a fault, even when it’s not convenient for them. They’re very in-tune with their customers, and they devote a lot of time and resources to building and maintaining their online community, which I’m proud to be a part of. All of our suggestions are sent directly to development teams, and I’ve seen some new features in products which I’m quite sure came directly from requests and suggestions from community members. AVG is an amazing company!
  3. I learned about a slew of new threats, and got loads of hands on experience with troubleshooting and supporting AVG’s software and online resources. I’ve become quite the expert, with a knowledge of AVG’s products and resources that may perhaps even rival some of their own support employees. In addition to that I also had the opportunity to really refine my research skills even further as I worked day and night to answer your questions and solve your problems. I love helping you guys, they say that one good deed begets another, and I’ve certainly benefited in many various unforeseen ways from my efforts in assisting the AVG Community.
  4. One of the most cherished things that I have come to possess is the many friends and contacts that I have met at AVG and in the community. I’ve seen many people collaborating in the community on various projects together, and I’m collaborating on projects with other Community VIPs as well. I’ve met a lot of great people at AVG, Thought Labs, Best Communications, and other community members who also offer Community Support as well. Whether we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet in person when we went to Prague, or if we’ve only spoken online or by phone, know that you guys are great, and it’s a pleasure to know and work with each and every one of you!
  5. One of the biggest things that I’ve learned from my experiences with the AVG Community is that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. We all are. I also learned that when you help others, great things can happen in your life, things you never dreamed of. So aim high and lend a hand when you can, because you never know when you may need a hand yourself, and you never know what sort of kindness one may repay you with for your assistance.

Helping each other is what being a part of the AVG Community is all about. Whether it’s through automatically returning data back to AVG’s cloud services to identify and protect against new threats, by sharing information on how to stay safe online and warning each other about new threats, or by getting in the trenches and doing research to answer some of the toughest questions you guys have about your computer problems, it all boils down to us all helping each other, and everyone benefiting as a result. The AVG Community truly is a wondrous place, the likes of which I’ve never seen before, and something that I am very pleased to call myself a part of.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone in the AVG Community! I hope you had a great year, and I wish you a wonderful and productive upcoming year as well! Thanks for being a part of this community… our community!

Thank You,
Zachary Chastain
AVG Community VIP
Overlooking the beautiful city of Prague, Czech Republic

Zachary at Prague Castle with AVG


My Opinion Of The Google Fiber Voting Website

April 28, 2010

http://www.googlefiber.com/

This website isn’t official. Google has already stated it will not be considering the results of this poll. It doesn’t hurt to vote, but I wouldn’t freak out about the totals.

Greenville already did something more amazing that showed much more creativity and interest than having people go to a website and click a radial button every day. We gathered together in downtown and formed the company’s logo with over 2000 people and glow sticks, and documented it with a helicopter. I don’t think that any amount of people going to a website and clicking a radial button is going to diminish that.

Google is all about creativity (they even give employees paid time to work on personal projects at work) and innovation. I think that the GoogleOnMain event will impress them far more than people returning to a website to click on a radial button will. Voting isn’t very creative or innovative, we’ve been doing that pretty much since we founded this country. When you think of a democratic way to decide something, a vote is pretty much the first thing to spring into your head, doesn’t take any creativity at all. Asheville may have had some parties, rallies, and fliers out in town, but we had all that too, right after we got done with GoogleOnMain plenty of businesses had fliers up, and there were after parties as well.

To further prove that the results of this poll won’t even be considered, take this into consideration for yourself. We don’t know who is running this site, only that they’re not affiliated with Google in any way. Google could not in good conscience consider the results of this poll because they don’t know who is running it, and obviously proper controls were not in place to prevent a poisoning of the polls. The extent of false votes that have been cast from many candidates have put the results of this poll into an exceeding amount of question.

Also, it’s impossible to fairly cancel out votes because the only way they can try to identify bogus votes is by looking at the IP address. As has been pointed out before, businesses and universities, as well as public wi-fi hotspots, will all be using the same public IP address (or a small handful of addresses). So judging votes based off their IP address is far from a perfect method, and could potentially lead to multitudes of discarded votes that were completely legit, and the blocking of many legit voters from returning to cast their vote again. Also, I find it hard to believe that considering the volume of votes cast here, that a handful of volunteers who made this site have time to properly weed out bogus votes while still maintaining the legitimate votes.

Simply put, when you think about it objectively, to me, and to Google, it will be clear that this site has no regulation, no reputation, we (and Google) have no reason to trust this poll to the hands of the admin of this web server, this volunteer project cannot be properly staffed with enough qualified, properly identified, and unbiased people to deal with proper quality control of the votes in regard to bogus votes, and considering the extent to which the results have already been poisoned, even causing one candidate city (Tokepa, the only city other than Greenville that’s really done anything creative on a large scale that I’ve heard of) to lose it’s entire vote count, and I think it’s clear that Google would not feel comfortable in using the results of this poll in any way to decide what city deserves Google Fiber.


Google Fiber Experiment

March 12, 2010

Google plans to experiment with implementing fiber-to-the-home networks in either one or perhaps a very limited few cities.

Fiber optics cable carries data as impulses of light rather than as an electrical signal over copper cable. This allows fiber to move data at the speed of light, much faster than traditional copper cable. Fiber is usually reserved for the backbone of the Internet. It is run underground to residential and business areas, but rather than running straight into your home or business, the fiber terminates at utility boxes outside your home or business and from there copper cable is run, either in the form of telephone lines from the phone company or coaxial cable from a cable TV company.

Google’s experiment will remove the copper cable, which effectively removes the bottleneck. You will gain a pure fiber connection straight to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) while in the process gaining connection speeds at least 100x faster than any phone or cable company is capable of providing today.

Best of all Google, in line with their belief that you can make money without doing evil, will operate an open and transparent network. Open means they will share the network with other providers, meaning you will have options as to who your ISP is, which prevents any one company, or Google, from monopolizing these new networks.

If you live in Greenville, you have a lot to gain from this, a 100x faster Internet connection while retaining the right to choose your ISP, just like you can today. And it’s not coming out of your tax dollars to build the infrastructure, the only part you’ll have to pay for is your Internet connection, just like you do now.

If you don’t live in Greenville, you still have a lot to gain from this as it’s less expensive to build new infrastructure off of existing infrastructure rather than where none existed before. Meaning that if Greenville were to be selected (through your support) for the experiment, then in the coming years after the network was implemented in Greenville, the network would likely spread to other nearby cities and towns first.

And of course not to mention that this will be a milestone in tech history, and we could make a city that we live, work, and/or go to school in a part of it! But rememeber, none of this can happen without your support, so check out the link and get invovled in any way you can.

http://www.wearefeelinglucky.com/

http://www.wearefeelinglucky.com/get-involved/sign-the-petition

Thanks,
Zachary Chastain