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Industry & Technology

Will ships without sailors be the future of trade?

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 49 min ago
May saw the world's first unmanned commercial shipping operation.

Facebook scam-busting service goes live

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 58 min ago
New tools to fight online scams are launched after a legal action by TV personality Martin Lewis.

Measles is killing more people in the DRC than Ebola—and faster

Ars Technica - 5 hours 8 min ago

Enlarge / A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center on July 15, 2019 in Goma. (credit: Getty | PAMELA TULIZO )

As the world anxiously monitors the outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo, health officials note that a measles outbreak declared last month in the country has killed more people—mostly children—and faster.

Since January 2019, officials have recorded over 100,000 measles cases in the DRC, mostly in children, and nearly 2,000 have died. The figures surpass those of the latest Ebola outbreak in the country, which has tallied not quite 2,500 cases and 1,665 deaths since August 2018. The totals were noted by World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a speech today, July 15, at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Frankly, I am embarrassed to talk only about Ebola," Dr. Tedros said (he goes by his first name). He gave the speech in response to two new developments in the Ebola outbreak. That is that two Ebola responders were murdered in their home in the DRC city of Beni, and that officials on Sunday had identified the first case of Ebola in Goma, a DRC city of over one million at the border with Rwanda.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

SpaceX nears completion of Dragon investigation, has a “good path forward”

Ars Technica - 6 hours 8 min ago

Enlarge / A 2018 view of the clean room where the spacecraft for the first crewed Dragon mission was nearing completion. It will now be used for an In-Flight Abort test instead. (credit: Eric Berger)

On Monday, officials from SpaceX and NASA provided an update on the investigation of an anomaly that occurred in April, which destroyed a Crew Dragon spacecraft. Generally, they were upbeat with their assessment: "I'm pretty optimistic right now, because we have a good path forward," said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president of mission assurance.

After nearly three months of work—which has included the collection of debris from the ground-based incident, assessing large volumes of data, and a series of tests at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Tex.—the company is about 80% complete with its analysis, Koenigsmann said. He characterized the findings discussed Monday as "preliminary."

The accident occurred during tests of the Crew Dragon's thruster systems in Florida. The capsule has "Draco" thrusters used to maneuver in space as well as powerful "SuperDracos." They would fire in the event of an emergency with the rocket to pull the crew safely away during a launch. Specifically, the April 20 anomaly occurred during the activation phase of the SuperDraco thruster system, when it is is pressurized and valves are opened and closed.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Facebook's Libra could be misused, says treasury chief Mnuchin

BBC Technology News - July 15, 2019 - 9:51pm
Steven Mnuchin joins other powerful voices in warning that the cryptocurrency could be misused.

Ajit Pai’s new gift to cable companies would kill local fees and rules

Ars Technica - July 15, 2019 - 9:24pm

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at a press conference on October 1, 2018, in Washington DC. (credit: Getty Images | Mark Wilson )

Ajit Pai is continuing his multi-year battle against local broadband regulation with a plan that would stop cities and towns from using their authority over cable TV networks to regulate Internet access.

Chairman Pai's proposal, scheduled for a vote at the Federal Communications Commission's August 1 meeting, would also limit the fees that municipalities can charge cable companies. Cable industry lobbyists have urged the FCC to stop cities and towns from assessing fees on the revenue cable companies make from broadband.

If approved, Pai's proposal would "Prohibit LFAs [local franchising authorities] from using their video franchising authority to regulate most non-cable services, including broadband Internet service, offered over cable systems by incumbent cable operators." Pai's proposal complains that "some states and localities are purporting to assert authority" to collect fees and impose requirements that aren't explicitly allowed by Title VI, the cable-regulation section that Congress added to communications law with the Cable Act of 1984.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Twitter is changing Twitter.com to be more like mobile app

Ars Technica - July 15, 2019 - 8:26pm

 

 

In a blog post today, Twitter announced the rollout of a new version of the Twitter.com website that revamps the Web interface to bring it more in line with the design and functionality of the mobile client application. The redesign is focused on unifying Twitter's code base across platforms and simplifying the deployment of new features.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Lawrence of Arabia takes on Rasputin in first trailer for The King’s Man

Ars Technica - July 15, 2019 - 7:41pm

Ralph Fiennes plays T.E. Lawrence, who forms a fledgling spy agency in The King's Man, 20th Century Fox's prequel to the popular Kingsman film series.

Lawrence of Arabia is setting up an independent intelligence agency to take down Grigori Rasputin and Mata Hari, among others, in the first trailer for The King's Man. Even though it's Director Matthew Vaughan's prequel to his popular Kingsman franchise, the trailer is conspicuously lacking in the dark humor that made its predecessors so broadly appealing. But there's enough hyper-stylized action sequences to assure us that, stylistically, this will be very much a Kingsman movie.

(Spoilers for first two Kingsman films below.)

The Kingsman franchise is based on the Marvel comic series The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, which spawned two very successful action/comedy spy films. In the first film, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the young son of a deceased Kingsman agent, is recruited to follow in his father's footsteps by Harry Hart (Colin Firth), aka Galahad. (All the Kingsman agents take on the monikers of the Knights of the Round Table.)

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Italian police raid of neo-fascist militants finds air-to-air missile

Ars Technica - July 15, 2019 - 6:52pm

Enlarge / Hmm, what's this doing there? (credit: Italian General Investigations and Special Operations Division (DIGOS))

A neo-Nazi group in northern Italy had sent members to fight alongside Russia-backed separatists in the Donbass region of Ukraine. Apparently, the group brought some things back from their adventures—including a French-made air-to-air missile that somehow found its way from Qatar into the home of a neo-fascist extremist.

The missile and an assortment of other weapons were discovered in the latest of a series of raids by Italian federal police from the General Investigations and Special Operations Division (DIGOS). The raids are part of an ongoing investigation into the Forza Nuova political party and Rebel Firm extremist groups that had fought in the Donbass region.

Other raids had turned up pro-Nazi and pro-fascist propaganda and relics alongside caches of knives and other illegal weapons—including brass knuckles, and a baseball bat inscribed with the words "Dux Mussolini" (Leader Mussolini) and a portrait of Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. The groups were also being investigated under Italy's anti-fascist laws, following pro-fascist comments by Forza Nuova's leader in Turin, Luigi Cortese. But in a raid today in the province of Pavia, south of Milan, police discovered a collection of modern automatic weapons—including nine assault rifles, a submachine gun, seven pistols, silencers, bayonets, and other military weapons.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Office 365 declared illegal in German schools due to privacy risks

Ars Technica - July 15, 2019 - 5:58pm

Enlarge / Germany's government continues its history of principled Microsoft opposition. (credit: Flickr user fdecomite)

Last week, the German state of Hesse declared that its schools may not legally use the Office 365 cloud product. Hesse is one of the sixteen federal states of Germany, with a population of roughly six million (of roughly 83 million Germans). Although the press release specifically targets Office 365, it notes that competing Apple and Google cloud suites also do not satisfy German privacy regulations for use in schools.

This isn't the first time part of Germany has publicly broken up with Microsoft Office; some German cities including Munich and Freiburg famously ditched Microsoft Office applications in favor of OpenOffice in the early 2000s. Those open source adoption programs have had a notoriously rough ride, plagued with interoperability issues—just because one town changes its office applications doesn't mean its neighboring towns, parent state, or even its own citizens have. The municipalities have also been targeted heavily with lobbying from Microsoft itself, up to and including Steve Ballmer (then Microsoft's CEO) interrupting a ski vacation to fly to Munich to try to cut a pro-Microsoft deal in person.

However, the early-2000s attempts to break free of Microsoft were a function of choice. This time around, the Hessian commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HBDI) isn't just saying that schools would prefer not to use Microsoft, he's stating that their use of Office 365 is outright illegal. In August 2017, the HBDI ruled that Office 365 could legally be used by schools so long as the back end for the school accounts was stored in Microsoft's German-located cloud. A year later, Microsoft closed its German cloud datacenter, and schools migrated their accounts to the European cloud. Now, the HBDI states that the European cloud may offer access to US authorities; with no way for the German government to monitor such access; this makes use of that cloud illegal without specific consent being granted by its individual users.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Why is there no smoking in Gears 5? It depends on who you ask

Ars Technica - July 15, 2019 - 5:38pm

Enlarge / Don't expect any more cigar-chomping characters to show up in the Gears games going forward.

The upcoming Gears 5 will not feature any on-screen depictions or references to smoking, according to the developers at The Coalition. But the precise sequence of events leading to that decision is apparently up for some debate.

The smoke-free story gained attention over the weekend with a report in Variety that linked the decision to a pressure campaign from the anti-smoking advocates at the Truth Initiative. According to Variety, The Coalition decided to remove the smoking references after Truth reached out to Turner Broadcasting, which featured Gears 5 as part of an invitational tournament filmed during its ELeague esports over the weekend.

That sequence seems plausible, especially considering that Truth is a presenting sponsor of the tournament, which is officially titled "Eleague Gears Summer Series Invitational powered by Truth." And Truth has a long history of pressuring media companies to remove smoking references from their products, a move that recently led to changes in Netflix's youth-focused programming.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Flay your mind: Stranger Things S3 just might be the show’s best season yet

Ars Technica - July 15, 2019 - 5:02pm

Enlarge / Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the gang are back to face down yet another supernatural threat to Hawkins, Indiana, in the third season of Stranger Things. (credit: YouTube/Netflix)

Warning: This story contains spoilers for episodes 5-8 of Stranger Things' third season, following up on Nathan Matisse's slightly spoiler-y review of episodes 1-4. You can read our non-spoiler preview of the new season here, or catch up on what's come before with past Ars stories on season one and season two.

Everyone's favorite teen sleuthing squad is back, taking on Russian operatives, local corruption, and the latest supernatural evil to emerge from the Upside Down in the third season of Netflix's Stranger Things. Anyone who feared the series might be losing its luster, three years on, should rest easy: season three is just as good as the first—in some respects, even better.

The first season was set in November 1983, when an accident at a secret government lab opened an inter-dimensional portal and unleashed a supernatural threat from a different dimension onto the unsuspecting town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the form of a creature dubbed the Demogorgon. The source of that accident? A young girl with psychokinetic powers, known only as Eleven (Milly Bobby Brown). She escaped the lab and was befriended by a group of preteens whose friend Will (Noah Schnapp) mysteriously disappeared into an alternate dimension dubbed the Upside Down. They teamed up to find Will and defeat the monster that took him.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Eric Michels murder: Serial killer Stephen Port's drug dealer convicted

BBC Technology News - July 15, 2019 - 4:51pm
Gerald Matovu, who sold drugs to serial killer Stephen Port, gave his victim an overdose of GHB.

The Snapdragon 855 is getting an upgrade to the Snapdragon 855+

Ars Technica - July 15, 2019 - 3:56pm

Enlarge

Today Qualcomm announced a mid-cycle upgrade for the Snapdragon 855, called the "Snapdragon 855+." As a mid-cycle upgrade, there aren't huge changes here. It's still an eight-core, 7nm SoC, but the CPU and GPU are a bit faster thanks to higher clock speeds.

First up: the CPU, which sees the 855's "Prime" core clock speed get bumped from 2.84GHz to 2.96GHz in the Plus version. Remember the 855's "Prime" core layout was a bit of a new thing for Qualcomm. It was typical to split the eight CPU cores up into two sets of four cores. The "Big" core set got a more advanced core design and a higher clock rate for the heavy workloads, while a "little" set of cores had slower, more power-efficient cores for smaller workloads. The 855 took that bigger core set and pumped a single core up to a "Prime" core, so you had one Cortex A76-based core at 2.84GHz, three A76-based cores at 2.42GHz, and four 1.8GHz Cortex A55-based cores for the smaller cluster. The new "Prime" core clock speed means that only the single main core is faster.

As for the faster Adreno 640 GPU, Qualcomm's press release promises "15 percent faster graphics rendering" and offers no technical details. We're going to assume that means the 585MHz clock rate from the Snapdragon 855 is now somewhere around 673MHz.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon workers launch protests on Prime Day

BBC Technology News - July 15, 2019 - 3:51pm
Thousands of workers are calling for better conditions as the retail giant's annual sale starts.

Ars is hiring a technology reporter

Ars Technica - July 15, 2019 - 2:05pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich Lawson)

Ars Technica seeks a Technology Reporter with deep expertise in GPUs, CPUs, systems architecture, storage innovations, networking, and other consumer-focused hardware.

The Technology Reporter will report to the Senior Reviews Editor and will produce daily content including informed news and analysis—plus regular long-form reviews with an emphasis on benchmarks and testing as well as the analysis Ars Technica is known for.

We are looking for a strong writer who can not only grok the business that drives today’s technological innovations but who can also write clean and compelling prose accessible to readers from a wide variety of technical backgrounds.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Galileo sat-nav system still without service

BBC Technology News - July 15, 2019 - 2:02pm
"Europe's GPS" remains offline as it grapples with a technical glitch in its ground infrastructure.

Porn block: Margot James 'extremely sorry' for delay

BBC Technology News - July 15, 2019 - 1:40pm
"I know it sounds incompetent," Margot James says of age rules that should have started on Monday.

Virgin Media probes why it blocked giant Gif site Imgur

BBC Technology News - July 15, 2019 - 1:27pm
The broadband provider had warned viewing some of Imgur's content could be a criminal offence.

Computer password inventor dies aged 93

BBC Technology News - July 15, 2019 - 1:12pm
Fernando Corbato also pioneered work on ways for lots of people to use the same computer simultaneously.

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