Avast Is Buying Antivirus Company AVG For $1.3 Billion


Avast has announced that it is purchasing rival antivirus company AVG in a deal which is worth $1.3 billion.

The company will pay $1.3 billion in cash to take over AVG. The two companies combined will have a customer base of 400 million and around 16 million mobile users.

We are in a rapidly changing industry, and this acquisition gives us the breadth and technological depth to be the security provider of choice for our current and future customers,” said Vince Steckler, chief executive officer of Avast Software. “Combining the strengths of two great tech companies, both founded in the Czech Republic and with a common culture and mission, will put us in a great position to take advantage of the new opportunities ahead, such as security for the enormous growth in IoT.”

“We believe that joining forces with Avast, a private company with significant resources, fully supports our growth objectives and represents the best interests of our stockholders,” said Gary Kovacs, chief executive officer, AVG. “Our new scale will allow us to accelerate investments in growing markets and continue to focus on providing comprehensive and simple-to-use solutions for consumers and businesses alike. As the definition of online security continues to shift from being device-centric, to being concerned with devices, data and people, we believe the combined company, with the strengthened value proposition, will emerge as a leader in this growing market.”

You can find out more details about the deal between Avast and AVG at the link below.

Nasa’s Juno Mission Sends First Image of Jupiter, Its Moons

Nasa's Juno Mission Sends First Image of Jupiter, Its Moons

Nasa’s Juno spacecraft has sent the first-ever image of the gas giant Jupiter and three of its four moons to the Earth as it continues orbiting the planet.

The image was taken on July 10 when the spacecraft was 4.3 million km from Jupiter on the outbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit.

The colour image shows atmospheric features on Jupiter, including the famous Great Red Spot, and three of the massive planet’s four largest moons – Io, Europa and Ganymede, from left to right in the image.

“This scene from JunoCam indicates it survived its first pass through Jupiter’s extreme radiation environment without any degradation and is ready to take on Jupiter,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

“We can’t wait to see the first view of Jupiter’s poles,” he said in a statement.

The JunoCam camera aboard Nasa’s Juno mission is operational and sending down data after the spacecraft’s arrival at Jupiter July 4.

Juno’s visible-light camera was turned on six days after it fired its main engine and placed itself into orbit around the largest planetary inhabitant of our solar system.

However, the first high-resolution images of the gas giant are still a few weeks away.

“JunoCam will continue to take images as we go around in this first orbit,” said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator from the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona.

The first high-resolution images of the planet will be taken on August 27 when Juno makes its next close pass to Jupiter.

During its mission of exploration, Juno will circle the Jovian world 37 times, soaring low over the planet’s cloud tops – as close as about 4,100 km.

During these flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

Astronomers Spot Giant Planet That Experiences Triple Sunrises and Sunsets

Astronomers Spot Giant Planet That Experiences Triple Sunrises and Sunsets

Astronomers have discovered a planet unlike any other ever found, one that loops widely around one star that is locked in a gravitational embrace with two others in a triple-star system, creating a curious celestial ballet.

The findings, published on Thursday in the journal Science, challenge current notions about what makes a planetary system viable.

With three stars in the system, the massive planet would experience triple sunrises and triple sunsets during one season and all daylight in another. Since the planet’s orbit is very long, each season lasts for hundreds of years.

“Depending on which season you were born in, you may never know what nighttime is like,” lead researcher Kevin Wagner of the University of Arizona said.

The planet, called HD 131399Ab, is about four times bigger than Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and is orbiting in a three-star system located about 340 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus.

Scientists are not sure how HD 131399Ab came to exist. It orbits its parent star about twice as far as Pluto circles the sun, needing 550 years to complete a single orbit.

Astronomers have previously discovered planets in multi-star systems, but never one that circles a parent star with such a wide berth. It also is one of the few extrasolar planets – those outside our solar system – to be directly imaged by telescope.

The planet’s orbit is akin to the distance more typically seen when a star orbits another star, not a planet orbiting a star.

“This is the first planet that we’ve found with an orbit that is comparable to that of the stars,” Wagner said.

If HD 131399Ab’s orbit was just a bit wider, computer simulations show it could be gravitationally elbowed out of the system by the pair of smaller stars that orbit each other and the main star, which is about 80 percent bigger than the sun.

Though the planet is relatively young, around 16 million years old compared to the 4.5-billion-year-old Earth, it likely has had an eventful life. Scientists suspect it may have started off in a much closer orbit around two parent stars before it was gravitationally bounced to its extreme distance.

Scientists plan additional observations to determine if the planet’s orbit is actually stable.

“It is not clear how this planet ended up on its wide orbit in this extreme system … but it shows there is more variety out there than many would have deemed possible,” Wagner said.

The planet was detected using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile.

Driverless Cars Need Infrared Technology to Be Safe, Says Auto Supplier ZF

Driverless Cars Need Infrared Technology to Be Safe, Says Auto Supplier ZF

Self-driving cars will need multiple detection systems including expensive infrared “lidar” technology if they are to be safe at high speeds, the chief executive of German autos supplier ZF Friedrichshafen said on Wednesday.

Stefan Sommer’s remarks come a week after news that a 2015 Tesla Model S crashed into a trailer while on “autopilot” mode. Tesla has said it was hard for the car’s cameras to identify the white trailer against a bright Florida sky.

“I have no details about the Tesla accident, so I can’t comment on it,” Sommer told a news conference to discuss ZF’s integration of rival TRW.

But he added cameras relying on visual signals alone were insufficient for safe autonomous driving at high speed.

“For autonomous driving, we will need three core technologies: picture processing camera technology, short and long-range radar, and lidar,” Sommer said.

Laser or infrared based lidar technology will help vehicle sensors pick up contours and contrasts of obstacles which normal cameras are unable to detect, particularly in low light situations, he added.

Lidar technology is currently too expensive to be incorporated in mass production vehicles, but investments into the technology will bring economies of scale will likely lower the costs to a manageable level, Sommer said.

Companies working on lidar technology include US-based Velodyne.

Facebook Unveils OpenCellular, an Open Source Wireless Access Platform

Facebook Unveils OpenCellular, an Open Source Wireless Access Platform

In a fresh bid to connect nearly four billion people to Internet, Facebook on Thursday announced an open source and cost-effective, software-defined wireless access platform aimed to improve connectivity in remote areas of the world.

The platform named OpenCellular is designed to improve connectivity since it can be deployed to support a range of communication options, from a network in a box to an access point supporting everything from 2G to Long-Term Evolution (LTE), Facebook engineer Kashif Ali wrote in a blog post.

The system is composed of two main subsystems: general-purpose and base-band computing (GBC) with integrated power and housekeeping system, and radio frequency (RF) with integrated analog front-end.

“Facebook plans to open-source the hardware design, along with necessary firmware and control software, to enable telecom operators, entrepreneurs, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and researchers to locally build, implement, deploy and operate wireless infrastructure based on this platform,” Ali wrote.

Facebook aims to work with the members of its engineering-focused initiative Telecom Infra Project (TIP) to build an active open source community around cellular access technology development and to select trial locations for further validation of technical, functional, and operational aspects of the platform.

“Despite the widespread global adoption of mobile phones over the last 20 years, the cellular infrastructure required to support basic connectivity and more advanced capabilities like broadband is still unavailable or unaffordable in many parts of the world,” Ali pointed out.

Facebook in February announced the Telecom Infra Project which will look at developing new and alternative technologies to build and deploy telecom infrastructure with partners.

“At Facebook, we want to help solve this problem, and we are pursuing multiple approaches aimed at improving connectivity infrastructure and lowering the cost of deploying and operating that infrastructure,” he posted.

With OpenCellular, Facebook wants to develop affordable new technology that can expand capacity and make it more cost-effective for operators to deploy networks in places where coverage is scarce.

“By open-sourcing the hardware and software designs for this technology, we expect costs to decrease for operators and to make it accessible to new participants,” Ali said.

Facebook has implemented an access platform that can support a wide variety of wireless network standards, from 2G and LTE to Wi-Fi access points.

Anyone can customise the platform to meet their connectivity needs and set up the network of their choosing, in both rural and urban areas.

For instance, the system, due to its on-board computing and storage capacity, can be configured as network-in-a-box or purely as a cellular access point.

The initial version of OpenCellular’s software platform will be available in the summer.

“We are currently testing the system in our labs at Facebook headquarters and working with OEM and original design manufacturer (ODM) partners to make the OpenCellular platform widely available,” Ali wrote.

“So far, in our lab at Facebook, we are able to send and receive SMS messages, make voice calls, and use basic data connectivity using 2G implementation on our platform,” he added.

Nasa’s Curiosity Mars Rover to Resume Full Operations on Tuesday

Nasa's Curiosity Mars Rover to Resume Full Operations on Tuesday

After it was brought out of the “safe mode” on July 9, the Curiosity Mars rover will now resume full operations on Tuesday, Nasa said in a statement.

The rover put itself into a precautionary safe standby mode on July 2.

After investigating why the rover put itself into a safe mode, Nasa’s engineers said that the most likely cause was a software mismatch in one mode of how image data are transferred on board.

Science activity planning for the rover is avoiding use of that mode which involves writing images from some cameras’ memories into files on the rover’s main computer.

Alternate means are available for handling and transmitting all image data.

Curiosity was now communicating with ground controllers and was stable. The rover ceased most activities other than keeping itself healthy and following a prescribed sequence for resuming communications.

Curiosity has entered safe mode three times previously, all during 2013.

The rover landed in Mars’ Gale Crater and has been exploring the area since August 2012.

During its first year on Mars, the mission achieved its goal by determining that, more than three billion years ago, the region offered fresh-water lakes and rivers with environmental conditions well-suited to supporting microbial life, if life has ever existed on Mars.

In continuing investigations, the mission is learning more about the ancient wet environments and how and when they evolved to drier and less habitable conditions.

Recently, the US space agency said it was planning to drive the Curiosity Rover towards water sites on the Martian surface to further investigate the long, seasonally changing dark streaks briny water in the hope of finding evidence of life.

Nasa’s Mars Orbiter Finds Carbon Dioxide Ice on Red Planet

Nasa's Mars Orbiter Finds Carbon Dioxide Ice on Red Planet

Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found that carbon dioxide ice more often covers the ground at night in some mid-latitude regions than in polar regions of the Red Planet, where it is generally absent for much of summer and fall.

Some dusty parts of Mars, at night year round, become as cold as the planet’s poles do in winter and also some regions near the equator in summer, according to new Nasa findings.

The surface in these regions becomes so frigid overnight that an extremely thin layer of carbon dioxide frost appears to form. The frost then vaporises in the morning.

Carbon dioxide is the main ingredient of Mars’ atmosphere. The planet also has large reserves of frozen carbon dioxide buried in the polar ice caps.

Seasonal buildup and thawing of carbon dioxide frost at high latitudes on Mars have been studied for years and are linked to a strange phenomena, such as geyser-like eruptions and groove-cutting ice sleds.

“The temperature gets so low, it starts freezing the atmosphere onto the surface,” said Sylvain Piqueux of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, who led the study which published recently in the ‘Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.’

“Once you reach that temperature, you don’t get colder, you just accumulate more frost. So even on the polar caps, the surface temperature isn’t any colder than what these lower-latitude regions get to overnight,” Piqueux added.

Three middle- and low-latitude areas in the Tharsis, Arabia and Elysium regions of the planet have temperature at night cold enough for carbon dioxide frost year-round or nearly year-round. Each of the three is bigger than the US state of Texas.

“These same regions that are coldest at night are the warmest during the day. It has to do with the nature of the material – it’s so fluffy,” Piqueux said.

“Think of when you are at the beach on a summer afternoon, where you step on the fine grain sand almost burning your foot. But just below the surface it is not so hot, and if you touch a boulder, it doesn’t feel as hot as the sand at beach. Then at hight the phenomena reverses as the surface of the sand cools off quickly, while the boulder stays warm,” he added.

The science instruments on Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have been examining the planet since 2006.

Bacteria Can Be Used to Power Micro-Machines, Including Smartphone Components

Bacteria Can Be Used to Power Micro-Machines, Including Smartphone Components: Study

A team of scientists has demonstrated how the natural movement of bacteria could be harnessed to assemble and power microscopic ‘windfarms’ – or other man-made micro-machines such as smartphone components.

Using computer simulations, the scientists from Oxford University demonstrated that the chaotic swarming effect of dense active matter such as bacteria can be organised to turn cylindrical rotors and provide a steady power source.

“Many of society’s energy challenges are on the gigawatt scale, but some are downright microscopic. One potential way to generate tiny amounts of power for micromachines might be to harvest it directly from biological systems such as bacteria suspensions,” said study co-author Tyler Shendruk.

The study results were published recently in the journal ‘Science Advances’.

Swimming bacteria are normally too disordered to extract any useful power from. But when the team immersed a lattice of 64 symmetric microrotors into a dense bacterial suspension, the bacteria spontaneously organised itself in such a way that neighbouring rotors began to spin in opposite directions – a simple structural organisation reminiscent of a windfarm.

“The amazing thing is that we didn’t have to pre-design microscopic gear-shaped turbines. The rotors just self-assembled into a sort of bacterial windfarm,” Shendruk said.

“When we did the simulation with a single rotor in the bacterial turbulence, it just got kicked around randomly. But when we put an array of rotors in the living fluid, they suddenly formed a regular pattern, with neighbouring rotors spinning in opposite directions,” he added.

At micro scales, the simulations show that the flow generated by biological assemblies is capable of reorganising itself in such a way as to generate a persistent mechanical power for rotating an array of microrotors, which could be harnessed to power micro-machines.

Trai to Share Views on Spectrum Usage Charges With DoT This Week

Trai to Share Views on Spectrum Usage Charges With DoT This Week

Telecom regulator Trai will give its much-awaited view on annual spectrum usage charges (SUC) to the Department of Telecom this week, a top official said.

“The DoT has written to us seeking view of Trai on SUC. We had sought some additional information. We will send our response within this week,” Trai Chairman R S Sharma told PTI.

The Cabinet last month approved spectrum auction rules except spectrum usage charges (SUC) recommended by the inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission.

Earlier, the DoT had planned to hold the spectrum auction in July but with the Cabinet asking for Trai’s view on SUC, it deferred the sale, in which airwaves worth Rs. 5.66 lakh crores will be put on the block,till September.

The Telecom Commission had recommended that government should levy 3 percent SUC on airwaves that will be allocated to companies following the auction.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had recommended SUC at a uniform rate of 3 percent across the industry and gradually bringing it down to 1 percent of revenues from telecom services.

The SUC has been a highly contentious issues of late with the industry. Reliance Jio has opposed levying of uniform SUC rates, as suggested by Trai, as it pays only 1 percent on its spectrum in 2300MHz band (broadband wireless access).

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the Telecom Commission took the opinion of Attorney General on SUC after recommendation of Trai was received and hence there was need to consult the regulator again before a final call was taken.

Before 2010, there was only 2G spectrum and hence the calculation of revenue was easy. But the process became complex after new frequencies were allocated to companies for services like 3G and 4G.

A technical panel of DoT has said it is difficult to segregate revenue of companies holding airwaves in multiple bands.

The government, in January 2014, decided to cap SUC at a flat 5 percent for spectrum that was to be procured in the future auctions.

At that point, telecom operators were asked to pay the weighted average of their existing SUC (on the old rate of 3-8 percent) based on the quantum of spectrum they hold and five per cent if they acquire new spectrum.