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Industry & Technology

Samsung refreshes wearable line, including new Galaxy Watch Active

Ars Technica - 2 hours 9 min ago

Along with the S10 smartphones and the new Galaxy Fold handset, Samsung officially announced new wearables in its Galaxy family at its Unpacked event today. The information leaked just days ago purportedly by Samsung's own Galaxy Wearables mobile app has been proven correct as Samsung showed off a new Galaxy Watch Active smartwatch, a Galaxy Fit tracker, and new true wireless earbuds called the Galaxy Buds on stage.

Starting in the audio department, the Galaxy Buds are Samsung's latest shot at the cord-less earphone market popularized by Apple's AirPods. Samsung says they get six hours of battery life on their own per charge, with an additional seven hours available through their charging case. That case supports wireless charging, and can be powered by one of those new Galaxy S10 phones.

The company claims the Galaxy Buds's case is 30 percent smaller than that of its previous Gear IconX earbuds. Samsung's much-maligned Bixby assistant is built into the earphones by default, letting users perform a modicum of smartphone controls with their voice—send texts, answer calls, change songs, and more—but the earphones can also use Google Assistant if desired. They connect over Bluetooth 5, and Samsung is touting easier connectivity with its own devices. The company says the Galaxy Buds' audio has been tuned by its AKG subsidiary, though we'll have to give them a listen before making any judgments there.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Samsung reveals Galaxy Fold and S10 5G

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 11 min ago
The "luxury" foldable-screened phone can run up to three apps at once when opened up into tablet mode.

Samsung officially debuts Galaxy S10 smartphone after weeks of rumors, leaks

Ars Technica - 2 hours 53 min ago

Today is Samsung's big launch event, and the company has made the thoroughly leaked Galaxy S10 official. The company announced the S10 and S10 Plus smartphones onstage today at Samsung Unpacked 2019, after it unveiled the impressive and incredibly expensive Galaxy Fold foldable handset.

The Galaxy S line never joined the notch trend of 2018, and this year, Samsung is going with a new scheme to maximize display space while still having a front camera: the hole-punch display. Samsung is pushing the display boundaries all the way out to the edges of the phone, and a camera is located under the display panel. Samsung's display technology has reached the point where the camera lens is under the display, so you get a display with a round camera hole in it (cut out by a laser!) and pixels all around the camera lens.

The slimmer bezels means screen sizes are getting even bigger. The S10 has a 6.1-inch 3040×1440 AMOLED display—up from 5.8-inches in the S9—while the S10 Plus is getting a 6.4-inch 3040×1440 AMOLED panel—up from 6.2-inches on the S9 Plus and now the same size as the Galaxy Note 9. Both phones are a few millimeters wider than last year, so they will feel a bit bigger when you're holding them.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

First look at Samsung S10 and Fold phones

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 57 min ago
The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones goes hands-on with the new phones in Samsung's Galaxy range.

Forget Airwolf: One of these is the Army’s next assault “helicopter”

Ars Technica - 3 hours 5 min ago

The Army's future "helicopter" takes shape. A transcript of this video can be found here. (video link)

The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and its many variants have been the backbone of the US Army's helicopter force for decades. Designed during the Army's last major helicopter procurement push in the 1980s, the Black Hawk now flies in some form in all of the military services. But its range and speed have become limiting factors in the Army's airborne assault operations. And to add to the problem, the Army lacks a scout helicopter that meets the demands of deployment overseas. The Eurocopter UH-72 Lakota isn't combat-capable, so AH-64 Apaches have had to play the role of armed scouts with the assistance of drones.

As a result, the Army has two separate helicopter procurement programs running for the first time since the Black Hawk and Apache were in the pipeline. The two programs, which emerged from the "capability sets" of the Army's Future Vertical Lift program, seek Black Hawk and Kiowa replacements that are "optionally manned"—meaning that they can fly with or without an aircrew—as well as being easier to maintain and fly than their predecessors.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Samsung’s foldable phone is finally official—meet the Galaxy Fold

Ars Technica - 3 hours 16 min ago

After years of teasing, Samsung on Wednesday took the wraps off its first foldable smartphone: the Galaxy Fold.

The device will start at a whopping $1,980 and arrive on April 26. It'll hit Europe on May 3 and start at €2,000. Samsung says both LTE and 5G-capable variants will be available. The electronics giant detailed the Android phone-tablet hybrid at an event in San Francisco, where it also unveiled its new flagship Galaxy S10 phones.

As the company hinted at its developers conference last year, the Galaxy Fold consists of two OLED displays: a 4.6-inch, 21:9, 1960x840-resolution panel that serves as a more traditional smartphone display, and a foldable 7.3-inch, 4.2:3, 2152x1536-resolution panel that behaves more like a tablet.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ajit Pai says broadband access is soaring—and that he’s the one to thank

Ars Technica - 3 hours 19 min ago

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai listens during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Ajit Pai says the Federal Communications Commission's annual broadband assessment will show that his deregulatory policies have substantially improved access in the United States. The annual report will also conclude that broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely basis.

The FCC hasn't released the full Broadband Deployment Report yet and won't do so until the commission votes on whether to approve the draft version sometime in the next few weeks. For now, the FCC has only issued a one-page press release with a few data points and some quotes from Chairman Pai in which he claims that his policy changes caused the improvements.

But Pai offered no proof of any connection between his policy decisions and the increased deployment. Moreover, broadband deployment improved at similar rates during the Obama administration, despite Pai's claims that the FCC's net neutrality rules harmed deployment during that period.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Facebook 'failed to protect’ health data in private groups

BBC Technology News - 3 hours 49 min ago
A complaint says Facebook should have told users of their data being downloaded from private groups.

Liveblog: The Samsung Galaxy S10 launch

Ars Technica - 3 hours 55 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Samsung)

Samsung Unpacked 2019 will kick off Wednesday, February 20, at 11am Pacific (2pm ET) in San Francisco. We're going to hear all about Samsung's Flagship lineup for 2019, which includes the Galaxy S10 in many variants.

We already have a huge post here outlining what to expect, but the highlight of the event will be the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. These devices are expected to bring a number of advancements to mainstream smartphones. They will be one of the first device families to feature the Snapdragon 855 SoC, Wi-Fi 6, and an ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensor. There's also a slick new "hole punch" camera cutout in the display, along with slim bezels, which means the displays are getting even bigger.

We're also getting way more than just the S10 and S10 Plus. There's expected to be a cheaper version of the Galaxy S10 called the "Galaxy S10e," and we might get a look at the upcoming 5G version. Samsung has also spent some time teasing that "The future of mobile will unfold" at the event, which means we'll hear a bit more about the company's upcoming foldable smartphone (the Galaxy F?).

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Could Huawei threaten the Five Eyes alliance?

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 19 min ago
Different views about the threat posed by the Chinese firm pose risks to the intelligence alliance.

Report: Trump officials tried to fast-track nuclear tech transfer to Saudi Arabia

Ars Technica - 4 hours 19 min ago

Enlarge / President Donald Trump is intent on a deal that allows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud's government to purchase nuclear technology built by US companies. There's a small problem with that: it's against the law. (credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

An interim report from the staff of the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform shows evidence that members of the Trump transition team and administration attempted to push through a plan from a consortium advised by former National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn to sell nuclear technology to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The plan would have led to the construction of 40 nuclear power plants and facilities to enrich uranium fuel. The technology, while focused on civil nuclear power, could give the Saudis resources that could be used to build nuclear weapons. The plan would also have pumped billions into a number of US companies involved in the nuclear industry, including the bankrupt nuclear services company Westinghouse Electric—which would have build the reactors.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told NPR's Ari Shapiro in an interview that the details in the report were "bonker-balls…can't come up with a better word. It's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. It's a half-baked, grandiose plan with all kinds of things that could go wrong in it and people screaming at them to stop. And they don't stop."

Despite repeated wave-offs by national security officials, members of the White House team and Trump confidants outside the White House—including Tom Barrack, the chairman of the Trump inauguration committee and a close friend of the president—continued to press forward on the scheme. Barrack, who urged Trump to take on Paul Manafort as his campaign manager, also tried to broker a secret meeting between Manafort and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, according to a New York Times report.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Users alarmed by undisclosed microphone in Nest Security System

Ars Technica - 6 hours 24 min ago

Enlarge / You can't see it, but there is actually a microphone in here. (credit: Nest)

Google's Nest smart home brand is in hot water this week after news surfaced (via Daring Fireball) that its home security system, Nest Secure, shipped with an undisclosed microphone. Google activated the microphone earlier this month for Google Assistant functionality, but that meant the device sat in users' homes for up to a year as an unknown potential listening device.

Nest Secure launched last year as a $500 home security system. It's just a collection of door, window, and motion sensors, along with a small desktop box that acts as a hub for the devices and a security code keypad. It has a speaker for alarms and other sounds, but it isn't something you would ever expect to have a microphone.

Google gave a statement to Business Insider yesterday, saying, “The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part.” According to the company, "the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option.”

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft, Paradox allow open game modding on Xbox One for the first time

Ars Technica - 6 hours 31 min ago

Enlarge / Surviving Mars will be the first Xbox One game to allow the upload of user-created mods without pre-approval.

In a console industry first, Paradox Interactive and Microsoft are allowing Xbox One players to get direct access to game modifications created on the PC without any pre-approval from the console maker or publisher.

This isn't the first time players have been able to add their own modified content to a console game. Bethesda enabled Fallout 4 mods on Xbox One back in May 2016 and on PlayStation 4 months later. Paradox itself followed with a similar modding program for the Xbox One version of Cities: Skylines early last year.

But the player-made mods made available on those and other console games in the past had one major distinction from their PC cousins: they had to be individually and manually approved by the platform holder and game publisher for potential content and security issues.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Tesla’s top lawyer leaves after two months—but don’t worry

Ars Technica - 7 hours 19 min ago

Enlarge / Elon Musk in 2018. (credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Tesla announced Wednesday that it is replacing general counsel Dane Butswinkas, who had been on the job for only two months. Tesla Legal Vice President Jonathan Chang will take the job.

The groundbreaking electric carmaker has suffered a number of senior executive departures in the last couple of years—and some were of surprisingly short tenure. Last September, Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton announced that he was leaving after less than a month on the job.

Tesla short-sellers have revelled in this kind of news. Especially last year, as Tesla was struggling to ramp up Model 3 production and Musk was dealing with the fallout from several self-inflicted problems, critics portrayed each departure as the latest sign that rats were fleeing a sinking ship.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple reportedly planning to combine iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps by 2021

Ars Technica - 7 hours 59 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Samuel Axon)

A new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman suggests that Apple is serious about combining apps across the iOS and macOS App Stores. The iPhone maker is reportedly planning on expanding Project Marzipan, a multistep initiative that will allow developers to create one app that works across iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices. Apple may reveal the first steps of this program as early as June 2019 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

We first heard about Marzipan back in 2017, but this is the first hint of Apple's tentative schedule for its rollout and application. The company may debut an SDK later this year that will allow developers to port iPad apps to Mac computers. While developers will still have to submit two separate apps to the iOS App Store and the Mac App Store, the SDK reportedly makes it so developers only have to write the underlying code once.

By next year, Apple plans to expand the SDK to include iPhone apps, meaning developers could port iPhone apps to Macs in the same way. By 2021, developers may be able to merge iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps, creating one application that works across all of those Apple devices (what the report calls a "single binary"). At this stage, developers will not have to submit multiple versions of apps to different app stores—and Apple may be able to merge its separate stores into one all-encompassing app store.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Russia bans smartphones for soldiers over social media fears

BBC Technology News - 8 hours 9 min ago
The decision comes after social media use by soldiers raised national security issues.

Nasty code-execution bug in WinRAR threatened millions of users for 14 years

Ars Technica - 8 hours 25 min ago

Enlarge / Evert (credit: iStock / Getty Images)

WinRAR, a Windows file compression program with 500 million users worldwide, recently fixed a more than 14-year-old vulnerability that made it possible for attackers to execute malicious code when targets opened a booby-trapped file.

The vulnerability was the result of an absolute path traversal flaw that resided in UNACEV2.DLL, a third-party code library that hasn’t been updated since 2005. The traversal made it possible for archive files to extract to a folder of the archive creator’s choosing rather than the folder chosen by the person using the program. Because the third-party library doesn’t make use of exploit mitigations such as address space layout randomization, there was little preventing exploits.

Researchers from Check Point Software, the security firm that discovered the vulnerability, initially had trouble figuring out how to exploit the vulnerability in a way that executed code of their choosing. The most obvious path—to have an executable file extracted to the Windows startup folder where it would run on the next reboot—required WinRAR to run with higher privileges or integrity levels than it gets by default.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

With the best air pressure sensor ever on Mars, scientists find a mystery

Ars Technica - 9 hours 11 min ago

Enlarge / An artist's image of InSight on the surface of Mars, showing the location of its weather sensors. (credit: NASA)

There's a new meteorologist on Mars. Although NASA's InSight spacecraft landed on the red planet late in 2018 to measure the planet's geology—primarily by listening for Mars quakes—it also brought some sophisticated meteorology equipment with it.

The space agency has set up a website to share that information, which includes not only daily high and low temperatures but also unprecedented hourly data on wind speed, direction, and air pressure for InSight's location near the equator in Elysium Planitia. "We thought it was something that people might have some fun with," Cornell University's Don Banfield, who leads InSight's weather science, told Ars.

Other spacecraft have brought comparable temperature and wind sensors to Mars before, but none have carried such a precise air pressure sensor. The new sensor is 10 times more sensitive than any previous instrument because InSight needs to detect slight movements in the Martian ground, and from such movements infer details about the red planet's interior. For this, weather matters.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

UK 4G 'slower than most of EU when busy'

BBC Technology News - 9 hours 20 min ago
In a table of 77 countries, the UK ranked 35th for download speeds, a report finds.

Happy Death Day 2 U, Russian Doll give us time loops with a multiverse twist

Ars Technica - 9 hours 30 min ago

Enlarge / (left) Natasha Lyonne as Nadia Vulvokov in Russian Doll. (right) Jessica Rothe as Theresa "Tree" Gelbman in Happy Death Day 2 U. Both women find themselves caught in a time loop where they die over and over on their birthday. (credit: Netflix/Blumhouse Productions)

The time loop is pretty much a classic science fiction trope, thanks in large part to the enormous success of the 1993 film Groundhog Day. It's been used so often, in fact, that it's challenging to come up with a fresh take. But the Netflix series Russian Doll and the new film Happy Death Day 2 U manage to do just that, giving us time loops with a multiverse twist.

Wikipedia has amassed an impressive list of films featuring time loops: 49 so far, and that's not counting TV shows, like The X-Files episode "Monday" (in turn referenced on a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, "Life Serial"). The earliest film dates back to 1933: Turn Back the Clock, in which a tobacconist named Joe is killed in a hit-and-run and wakes up 20 years earlier. But it's not a true time loop tale, having more in common with It's a Wonderful Life.

A 1987 Russian film, Zerkalo dlya geroya (Mirror for a Hero), does have a lot of the key elements in place. But the real original source material is probably Richard A. Lupoff's 1973 short story, "12:01 PM," adapted into an Oscar-nominated short film in 1990 and a full-length feature in 1993—the same year Groundhog Day came out. (Lupoff definitely noticed the similarities and considered suing for plagiarism, but eventually dropped the idea.) It's pretty much been a sci-fi mainstay ever since.

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