Category Archives: AVG


Labor Day Reflection: The 77% Rule and Women in Tech

You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.

–Jane Galvin Lewis


Yesterday while I was observing Labor Day, the day set aside to celebrate the social and economic advancement of the American worker in the U.S.— it provided some time to reflect and consider the topic of women in the workforce and specifically pay parity.

What if I gave you 77 cents for every dollar you earned? Would you feel fairly compensated? Unfortunately, that’s generally the wages the average working woman makes as opposed to her male counterparts.

The 77 cents for every dollar? That’s a generalization that averages in all jobs across the board.  The good news is that the tech industry is more progressive. Pay parity, according to various surveys, is equal in our industry as long as the job titles are the same.

Of course, the catch is that women aren’t as likely to have the top titles. (For a more in-depth look at this you can go to one survey at Dice.)

Nevertheless, I believe tech is a great place for women and has a rich tradition, from Ada Lovelace to Admiral Grace Hopper. When I began in tech, role models were few.  Today, if you look around today, there are a number of role models for women starting out: Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Susan Wojcicki, to name a few. But the playing field is still far from level.


Where and how can we level the playing field?

Maybe online? As reported in a survey by freelance job site Elance, women in technology are finding more opportunities online than on-site. According to their survey of 7,000 global independent professionals, 80% of respondents also said they’re optimistic about the future of high-tech professions for women even though a majority still sees a lag in pay equality and encouragement from parents and/or teachers.

Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance, noted,  “Online work provides an attractive avenue to neutralize gender discrimination around the world and create flexible professional opportunities not available in traditional job markets.”

That’s one solution. I think another has got to be education. Basically, education is a great lever to pay parity.  And, backing programs such as Girls Who Code is a great way to get young women engaged in technology.

Mentoring is also another great avenue. It’s something I’m proud to say I use to measure my success as well.

I hope to share more of my thoughts and experiences at SWXS this coming year as a featured speaker on the topic “Boardroom or Baby.” You can support me and continue to raise awareness for the issue by going here to vote for my presentation.  Voting closes Friday, Sept. 5th – so go check out the SXSW PanelPicker and vote today!

Back to school…for the rest of us

“You’ll never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”

–Julia Child

All across the nation, parents are breathing sighs of relief as their children head back to school.

But how about ourselves? As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a strong believer in lifelong learning. It keeps us focused, interested, and engaged. It helps our communities. And whether you want to teach or learn, there’s a place for you, either in person or online.

While I have the greatest respect for traditional universities and our wonderful community colleges, there are so many resources available online today that make it easy to stay active and engaged in learning. Back in the early 2000s when I started an early online learning company that did classes for consumers on all sorts of topics sponsored by major brands – we were a bit ahead of our time. Now technologies –specifically video applications- have evolved so much to support and make online classes truly visual, interactive and engaging.

Though we juggle our work, projects, kids and other commitments and it can be crazy, many of the online courses are self-paced, making them more manageable.  And BTW, a report by the U.S. Department of Education has found that classes with online learning (either solely or as a component) on average produce stronger student learning outcomes than do classes with solely face-to-face instruction – especially among older learners.

Here are some of the best distance learning apps and sites that I’ve come across. These can be used whether you want to share your knowledge or want to learn…or, ideally, both! Here are five I recommend, with a bonus thrown in for good measure!



Canvas is an open source platform for online collaboration that’s designed to be easy to use. It’s free and used by more than 800 colleges and universities. A sampling of courses shows a wide range of diverse material from “The Great Depression to the War on Terror,” a history course presented by a Seattle Central Community College Professor, to “Parenting in the Digital Age,” a course by the director of technology from an Indiana school district. These self-paced courses include video lectures, discussion forums, group work and more. Canvas’ motto is Keep Learning, something I think we can all agree with!


The Coursera online portal also hosts classes from major universities around the country and the world, basically providing a way for you to learn at your own pace or audit classes from the comfort of your desktop. It currently boasts 9 million students, 737 courses and 110 partners, with both free and paid courses. In its specialization area you can take a group of courses, for example, to earn a Cybersecurity Certificate from the University of Maryland (for a fee). They also offer financial aid, by the way!


ePals says it’s “where learners connect”. It maintains a community of collaborative classrooms engaged in cross-cultural exchanges, project sharing and language education. It’s a sharing site that offers a way for groups of students around the world to be matched up and paired with other classrooms, and allows teachers to create their own projects or collaborate on others. It’s all about learning through experience.  I think this site is what the future is going to look like…at its best: People all over the world sharing knowledge together.


edX is one of the leading sites for accessing free, open online courses. Harvard and MIT founded this platform, and offers classes from those amazing institutions, as well as classes from a growing list of partners. One course coming this week that caught my eye is UT Austin’s course on “Ideas of the Twentieth Century.”

iTunes U

Apple’s site and app for online and connected learning, iTunes U provides thousands of audio and video courses on-demand and the world’s largest catalog of free education content. You can access learning and presentations from many top schools and universities worldwide, including Stanford, Harvard, MIT and more.


And now for the bonus…

Don’t have time to commit to a class this fall? There’s an awesome YouTube presentation featuring Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clark and Stephen Hawking here about “God, The Universe, and Everything Else.” Now that’s education in less than an hour.

Happy back to school, everyone!

Microsoft Office 365 service module offers MSPs the best of both worlds

Life for a managed services provider (MSP) is seldom straightforward.   Support staff in the service center have long had to juggle between screens as they log in and out of numerous applications from different vendors in the course of their day-to-day remote management operations. Over the years advances in technology have created ever more diverse technical environments for them to manage.  Nowadays it’s commonplace for customers to have a mix of traditional on-premise IT along with mobile devices and the latest cloud-based applications. The number of management screens just keeps on multiplying – all the while pushing up the time and costs of administration.

The Microsoft® Office 365™ cloud-based collaboration, communications and productivity software platform is a good example.  Its combination of Exchange e-mail, SharePoint online, Lync VoIP and conferencing online, web hosting via SharePoint and the Office Web Apps has proved extremely popular with businesses of all sizes. Indeed Microsoft’s own executives have described it as the fastest growing business in its history. Little surprise, then, that it has also gained a strong channel following with more than 60 percent of top MSPs seeking to wrap their services around one of the market’s current best sellers.

Yet managing this along with a multitude of other applications is no picnic.  Our MSP partners have been telling us that they would like a more convenient way to administer hybrid physical and online environments so that they can add value for customers with the Office 365 cloud platform.  In view of the large numbers of MSPs using Office 365, developing a solution to help our customers support and obtain recurring revenue streams from supporting Office 365 with ease and simplicity has been a priority.

The Microsoft Office 365 service module for AVG Managed Workplace®, just released, goes some way towards addressing this issue. It allows our channel partners to provide management services such as user password resets and mailbox policies – which Microsoft typically will not do – via a single screen through AVG Managed Workplace. In fact the module allows MSPs to remotely perform five of the most popular management tasks. Apart from the two already mentioned you can also set license expiration alerts, receive service down notifications and managing users without using Windows PowerShell®. Other administrative tasks can be accessed without any additional logins.

Allowing administrators to view all the essential information they need about cloud-based and on-premise applications together within the same screen in this way gives IT services providers the best of both worlds.  In so doing it neatly solves problem of multiple logins for partners and helps them to run their operations more efficiently.

Our simplification of Office 365 management for services providers is a clear demonstration of our commitment to our channel partners.  We will continue to add modules to AVG Managed Workplace that allow IT service providers reap productivity benefits and deliver long-term value to their customers.

In summary, the Office 365 service module represents a first step in developing easy ways to manage cloud data within AVG Managed Workplace – something that appears destined to become commonplace as more everyday objects and devices are IP-connected to form the Internet of Things. It also further enhances the wide range of productivity benefits already available to MSPs who use AVG Managed Workplace to remotely manage the IT of their entire customer-base through the same, single pane of glass.

What does the future hold for our privacy?

Nothing is ever certain about our future, but when it comes to privacy, we can take a look at current trends and make some educated guesses as to what we will see tomorrow, next year, or even in 10 years’ time…

Looking at those trends, it’s clear that no matter how people’s privacy is violated and taken away, there will always be new tools to help protect it combat them and most important of all, keep people in control of their own privacy.

Innovation helps both sides of the spectrum and will lead to many games of cat and mouse moving forward into the future. To be more specific though I see two primary areas where privacy will be influenced the most in the future: anonymity and user owned data.



Being anonymous is one of the hardest things to do, if not impossible, in this day and age. With the prevalence of online tracking, government surveillance, and login systems everywhere it is very difficult to keep things to yourself unless you are willing to forgo the online world. While there are many services that start to offer “anonymous” services such as Secret and Telegram, there is always something that is connecting your device to the posts you do or the interactions you make. That’s why I see a future where pseudo-anonymity is commonplace.

Pseudo-anonymity would allow people to be anonymous to others and possibly to the application they are interacting with, but still be able to put together a profile and have an account. Adopting a pseudo-anonymous system has potential far beyond simple messaging apps and in something like Bitcoin, has the potential to really change the world.

In Bitcoin, everyone has a public address where you can see where Bitcoins are being sent to and from, and follow transactions very publicly, but you can’t actually identify the person that has the addresses unless they specifically tell you. This form of pseudo-anonymity is regarded as a positive step for privacy as it allows for direct audits and transparency of information while still letting individuals control their identifiable data.

Bitcoin is just one example of pseudo-anonymous technology, while even Facebook is taking steps to allow for Facebook login where apps cannot access your identity but rather just verify you are a person. It’s important I think to separate out task of verifying users as real people and learning their identities. That way we can have quality services supported by real users but without them having to sacrifice their privacy. Pseudo-anonymityis a good bridge for these two things.


User Owned Data

Right now as you browse the web there are dozens of companies that are collecting information about what you search for, what pages you visit, what you watch, and more. These companies make inferences about you such as your gender, income bracket, and marital status. They then sell this information to advertisers who will try to serve you with more relevant ads so that you are more inclined to click on them. This is the current status quo but it relies heavily on inferences and guesswork, which means there is a limit to how accurate the information can be.

Currently many companies have tried to bring user control to this aspect of online data collection, but nobody has truly succeeded. To get users to willingly hand over their data to companies, there needs to be a high enough value proposition for the users. Facebook and Google do a great job of this currently by providing free services that we use every day in return for data to be used for advertising. Other companies are still trying to crack the code on what would be valuable enough to these users. Online advertising is still in a high growth phase though and has a strong outlook to expand and grow into the future. Once advertising matures enough, it may become worth enough for other companies to be able to provide proper incentives to users in return for access to their data.

While nobody can predict the future we can help build the future we want to be a part of. The next time you sign up for a site or enter a competition in exchange for your email address and phone number, consider what information you are really giving up, who is getting access to it, and how it will be used. If we want a future where we are all more in control of our privacy we must start to take better care of our data.


If you have any ideas of what would be ideal in your future for privacy, let us know in the comments or drop us a line on our Facebook page at

California Earthquake serves up privacy reminder

This weekend’s earthquake near American Canyon has highlighted the risk of living in the Bay Area and also given us all insight to how people behave in today’s connected world.

The speed at which tweets started appearing of people sharing their experiences shows that many of us are sleeping with a connected device next to the bed that is the first thing we grab for when awoken in the middle of the night. Now though, our connected devices are no longer relegated to the nightstand, but instead are in bed with us.

After the quake, an interesting story emerged from Jawbone, the manufacturer of a fitness/sleep tracker UP. They have released data on the number of people that were woken by the earthquake based on location and the epicenter. The data is interesting, 93 percent of UP wearers in Napa, Sonoma, Vallejo and Fairfield woke up instantly, while just over half in the areas of San Francisco and Oakland. And 45 percent of those within 15 miles of the epicenter then remained awake for the remainder of the night. The data gives you some indication on the magnitude and effect the earthquake had on people.


While the information is very interesting and offers fascinating insight into human behavior, it does also serve as a gentle reminder that as connect our lives to the Internet, that data takes on a life of its own.

I wonder if the users of fitness/sleep devices are aware that their data could be used for analysis such as this? While the data Jawbone shared was anonymous and pretty much harmless, it does make me think, what else is being collected? What other insights do they have into our daily lives?

Fitness/sleep trackers collect information about the user and most of it is of a very personal nature and includes name, gender, height, weight, date of birth and even what you eat and drink if you are logging this in the app. Now couple this with location data that is being collected and you may even be able to understand where people regularly work out or go to eat..

I use a fitness tracker and as a user I limit the sharing of my data, I have switched off the sharing through social media as I don’t think my friends and family really need to know how many steps I took today. But I do understand that many users bounce off their friends as motivation to do more exercise which is not a bad thing if that’s the way you get your motivation.


Checking privacy policies

It sounds boring but I would absolutely advise reading the privacy policy of a fitness tracker before purchasing/installing. It cannot hurt to be more informed about what you are agreeing to reveal about yourself and who you are happy to share that information with.

After all its your data, it should be up to you how it gets used.



Games hit by massive outage: Sony PSN, Blizzard, Riot and more affected

Gamers, you better dig out your good old offline games: some of the most popular online gaming networks are getting attacked by hackers. On Sunday, August 24th2014, a group which calls themselves the “Lizard Squad”:

lizard squad


They have started attacking Sony’s PlayStation network (PSN) though which the company sells all of their online games and which serves as a hub for all multiplayer games. The method used: DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service). Sony, being burned in 2011 by a massive hack attack, immediately issued a statement saying that no customer data was stolen this time and that it’s back up since Monday August 25th.

Riot, Blizzard, Xbox Live affected too

On Monday, however, the group moved on to Blizzard, the makers of World of Warcraft, and Riot Games, the ones behind games like League of Legends and continued to attack other sites. Here’s the latest:

PSN Network: Is back online, according to their statement on Monday, August 25th. Lizard attacked PSN for what they perceive to be a lack of PSN customer service: “Sony, yet another large company, but they aren’t spending the waves of cash they obtain on their customers’ PSN service. End the greed.”

Blizzard:, the online service behind World of Warcraft, seemed to be heavily affected on Sunday, but was in the process of stabilization on Monday. But other than the fact that was a target, the group doesn’t seem to offer any reasons for hacking – other than their typical “lulz” by asking users to write the groups name on their forehead while playing Hearthstone and Dota 2 on Twitch.

Xbox Live: in addition to the networks above, Microsofts Xbox Live network has been hit, too – users should regularly check the status here:





However, the negative “icing on the cake” came when the group announced that they’ve seen “reports of explosives” on board an American Airlines flight from Dallas to San Diego carrying Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley.



American Airlines immediately redirected the plane, which just goes to show how much of an impact this series of DDoS attacks and its publicity just had on people.

Should you be worried?

For now: no! DDoS attacks are not traditional hacking attacks, but rather “clogging the Internet toilet” by which a server gets hits with hundreds of thousands of requests. So far, there appears to be no evidence of an actual hacking attack. We will keep you posted, but other than the major inconvenience for gamers, there seems to be no data compromised!