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Industry & Technology

Grumpy Cat internet legend dies

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 7:17pm
Hers was the feline face that launched a thousand memes, but Grumpy Cat is no more.

Single neutron star merger supplied half the Solar System’s plutonium

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 7:00pm

Enlarge / The aftermath of a simulated neutron star merger. (credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab)

We are all, as Carl Sagan said, star-dust. You might think that since most stars are pretty much the same, all star-dust is equal. But we have evidence that some star-dust is more equal than others. Yes, some elements seem to have a very special origin: neutron star mergers.

Most stars are pretty much all hydrogen. Near their center, fusion busily turns hydrogen into helium. Eventually, that hydrogen will run out and, like a pub that runs out of beer, the real destruction begins. The star starts turning helium into heavier elements at an increasingly feverish rate. The end, no matter how hot and heavy the star, comes when the star’s core is made of iron.

Up to iron, the process of fusion releases more energy than it consumes. But after iron, fusion consumes more energy than it releases, which essentially shuts the star down. Once this was understood, scientists were left wondering where the remaining 80 odd elements that are heavier than iron came from.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

AT&T denies that selling phone location data was illegal as FCC investigates

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 5:18pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Witthaya Prasongsin)

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all told the Federal Communications Commission that they recently stopped selling their customers' phone location information to other companies. Sprint said it is phasing out the sales and will shut them down by the end of this month.

The details came in letters to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who had demanded an update on the carriers' sale of customers' real-time geolocation data. Rosenworcel released the carriers' responses yesterday.

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, criticized the Republican-controlled FCC for not taking action against the carriers over the privacy invasions.

Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Archaeologists find DNA in a 10,000-year-old piece of chewing gum

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 5:10pm

Enlarge (credit: Kashuba et al. 2019)

The people who lived at Huseby-Kiev in western Sweden 10,000 years ago made their living by hunting and fishing. That doesn't sound surprising until you consider that this was a landscape that had, until recently, been covered by ice sheets 4km (2.5 miles) thick. How they occupied the re-emerging landscape is a bit of a mystery. We don't know much about who they actually were, where they came from, or how they made their way into Sweden as the ice receded.

In the 1990s, archaeologists recovered a few chewed-up lumps of birch bark pitch, some of which still held fingerprints and tooth marks left behind from millennia ago. Using this ancient chewing gum, archaeologist Natalija Kashuba of Uppsala University recently recovered DNA from two women and one man who had lived, worked, and apparently chewed gum on the shores of ancient Sweden. That means we can now link DNA from ancient people to their artifacts, and that's a big clue about how people migrated into Scandinavia after the Ice Age.

Two groups of hunter-gatherers met in Sweden

Birch bark pitch, like other saps and resins from various trees around the world, makes a decent chewing gum. When chewed and softened, it's also a handy glue for repairing cracked pottery or gluing bone points onto stone blades to make a vicious-looking composite point (see gallery). That's how people at Huseby-Kiev seem to have used it.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

OnePlus 7 Pro Review—The fastest, best-designed, best-value Android phone

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 4:41pm

Wow. OnePlus is putting the rest of the smartphone world on notice with the launch of its newest smartphone, the OnePlus 7 Pro. The company has become known for providing excellent value in the Android market, and while that is still true of the OnePlus 7 Pro, everything moves even further toward the premium side of the spectrum with this device. With a bigger bill of materials budget behind it, OnePlus has created the best Android phone on the market.

OnePlus isn't just offering features and performance that feel a generation ahead of many of the current devices on the market—it's doing so for a lower price than the super-premium, $1,000 flagships out there. While you can buy a OnePlus 7 Pro today, I think a lot of manufacturers are going to spend the next year scrambling to catch up to OnePlus.

Brace yourselves for an incredibly positive review of the OnePlus 7 Pro.

Read 51 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Minecraft Earth: Minecraft's answer to Pokemon Go

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 2:29pm
Newsbeat is one of the first to get a look at the newly announced Minecraft augmented reality game

NASA chooses companies to design part of its Artemis lunar lander

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 2:27pm

Enlarge / Artist's concept of a lunar lander. (credit: NASA)

Although NASA's plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024 face some political headwinds, the space agency has taken its first concrete step toward making its ambitions a reality.

On Thursday, NASA chose 11 companies to develop concepts and prototypes for its lunar lander. The companies chosen for the awards, a total of $45.5 million for all contracts, include a mix of aerospace bluebloods such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, premier new space firms like SpaceX and Blue Origin, and smaller companies like Masten Space Systems. The companies have six months to complete their work.

The awards cover design work for two of the three components of NASA's proposed "Human Landing System." As presently envisioned, NASA's plan for landing humans on the Moon will involve a "transfer" vehicle to carry the lander from a Gateway in a high orbit above the Moon down to low-lunar orbit, a "descent" vehicle to carry the crew down to the surface, and then an "ascent" vehicle to separate from the descent module and ferry the astronauts back into low-lunar orbit.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

American man accused in $9m net address theft

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 1:45pm
US prosecutors claim a "deceptive" scheme was used to take control of valuable net addresses.

The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, reviewed

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 1:10pm

I'll admit to being a little trepidatious reviewing the Toyota Corolla Hatchback. I didn't exactly gel with the new Camry, and the two cars share the same underpinnings. Not that Toyota needs my approval—as with the Camry, people will buy the Corolla regardless of what any journalist says about it.

Toyota wouldn't be where it is today without this car, which is now in its twelfth generation. The company has sold at least 43 million Corollas, and the name may as well be a synonym for "people's car" at this point; its sales surpassed the Volkswagen Beetle more than 20 years ago. The Camry might have been Toyota's biggest US hit, but beyond these shores, in places where average salaries and parking spaces are much smaller, the Corolla has filled the niche of an affordable, reliable, dependable little car. And when the $23,140 Corolla Hatchback XSE arrived here for testing, it won some instant brownie points for having three pedals. Yes, Internet people, break out the party balloons: you can still get this one without an automatic transmission.

This latest Corolla is all new, derived from the Toyota Next Generation Architecture (TNGA). That's the toolbox of assemblies and subcomponents that has also given us the aforementioned Camry, Avalon, RAV4, and the current Prius. The Corolla is a small car, measuring 169.9 inches (4,315mm) long, 69.9 inches (1,775mm) wide, and 57.1 inches (1,450mm) high. That actually makes it a tiny bit shorter (in both length and height) than the outgoing model, but the wheelbase is 1.5 inches (38mm) longer. This translates into some extra room for stuff in the back.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Guidemaster: Ars picks the best wireless keyboards you can buy in 2019

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 12:40pm

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Sometimes the default just doesn't cut it, and that's often true when it comes to keyboards. Whether you're working on a desktop or a laptop, the keyboard you were given or the keyboard built into the machine may not be the best for your working style. If that's the case, you may benefit from re-organizing your workspace to fit a wireless keyboard that connects to your machine via Bluetooth or a USB receiver.

But there are scores of wireless keyboards to choose from these days. Big PC companies as well as big accessory manufacturers all make wireless keyboards for various kinds of uses from stationary desk typing to on-the-go working. Luckily, we recently dove into the vast world of wireless keyboards head first. Maybe a modern wireless keyboard will never be as beloved as your old Model M, but there are good options out there—and here's the info you'll need to make your buying decisions easier.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Read 51 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Rocket Report: Falcon 9 rocket muscles up, ULA to conduct reuse test

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 12:00pm

Enlarge / The Rocket Report is published weekly. (credit: Arianespace)

Welcome to Edition 1.49 of the Rocket Report! Another week has come and gone, and we find ourselves in the middle of May. For Houston, where this report originates, this essentially means the beginning of summer. But for those of you in cooler climates, we hope there's plenty of news herein to warm your hearts.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Vega rocket preps for rideshare launch. Arianespace has finalized a payload of 42 satellites for a Vega launch as early as September, company officials said. "We are fully booked. We have no gram left of performance," Marino Fragnito, vice president of the Vega business unit at Arianespace, said during a panel discussion at the Satellite 2019 conference, SpaceNews reports.

Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dribble no more: Physics can help combat that pesky “teapot effect”

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 11:45am

Enlarge

Tea drinkers know all too well that annoying dribble from the kettle spout that so often occurs as one pours a nice refreshing cuppa. It's even known as the "teapot effect," and it usually happens when the tea is poured too slowly. Potters usually design their pots—giving the spout a thin lip, for instance—to reduce the likelihood of dribbling, based on centuries of accrued knowledge derived from trial and error.

Now a group of Dutch physicists has come up with a quantitative model to accurately predict the precise flow rate for how much (or how little) a teapot will dribble as it pours, described in a recent paper in Physical Review Letters. The model accurately describes both the simple teapot effect and more complex behavior—notably, the formation of a helix as a water stream swirls around a cylinder. That should be a boon not just for teapot design, but for 3D printing and similar industrial applications, which are also plagued by inconvenient dribbling.

Physicists have long been fascinated by the phenomenon. The late Stanford engineer and mathematician Joseph B. Keller once recalled attending a lecture by an Israeli scientist who mentioned that he'd posed the question of why teapots dribble to 100 physicists. All opined that it must be due to surface tension, but when the Israeli scientist performed experiments to test that theory, this proved not to be the case.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Tesla Model 3: Autopilot engaged during fatal crash

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 11:35am
The driver had not had his hands on the wheel for 10 seconds, a report has found.

Big Bang Theory finally bows out

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 10:16am
Fans say a [spoiler-free] goodbye to the US sitcom as its final episode airs in the US after 12 years.

Amazon invests in Deliveroo food courier

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 9:57am
Deliveroo says it is looking forward to working with "customer obsessed" Amazon.

Nasa plans first woman Moon mission and other news

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 9:49am
BBC Click's Jen Copestake looks at some of the week's best technology stories.

Boeing completes 737 Max software upgrade

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 8:32am
The firm will seek certification from the US regulator which grounded the jet after two crashes.

Facebook bans "inauthentic" accounts targeting Africa

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 3:48am
Facebook blocked an Israeli firm it said was behind fake accounts mostly targeting elections in Africa.

Health: Apps and technology could help 'patient power'

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 12:15am
Apps and wearable technology are starting to help patients monitor their health and medicines.

The doctor who invented 18 medical devices

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 12:10am
Professionals are finding holes in the system and turning into entrepreneurs to fill gaps in the market.

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