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Industry & Technology

SpaceX puts up 60 internet satellites

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 8 min ago
The California firm launches the first spacecraft in its multi-billion-dollar broadband project.

SpaceX launches Starlink mission, deploys 60 satellites [Updated]

Ars Technica - 2 hours 6 min ago

11:40pm ET Update: The Falcon 9 rocket launched. Its first stage landed. And then the second stage coasted for the better part of an hour before making a final burn and deploying its payload of Starlink satellites.

About 1 hour and 3 minutes after the launch, the entire stack of 60 satellites floated away from the Falcon 9's second stage. Slowly—very slowly, it appeared—the 60 satellites began to drift apart. The SpaceX webcast ended without saying whether this deployment went as anticipated, and it probably will take some time for the Air Force to begin identifying, and tracking the individual satellites.

A stack of 60 Starlink satellites is released from the Falcon 9 rocket's upper stage. (credit: SpaceX webcast)

In any case, this all made for an interesting evening in space.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Trump says Huawei could be part of trade deal

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 1 min ago
Huawei could feature in a US-China trade pact despite being "very dangerous", says the US president.

Fake cryptocurrency apps on Google Play try to profit on bitcoin price surge

Ars Technica - 5 hours 31 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Google)

Google's official Play Store has been caught hosting malicious apps that targeted Android users with an interest in cryptocurrencies, researchers reported on Thursday.

In all, researchers with security provider ESET recently discovered two fraudulent digital wallets. The first, called Coin Wallet, let users create wallets for a host of different cryptocurrencies. While Coin Wallet purported to generate a unique wallet address for users to deposit coins, the app in fact used a developer-owned wallet for each supported currency, with a total of 13 wallets. Each Coin Wallet user was assigned the same wallet address for a specific currency.

"The app claims it lets users create wallets for various cryptocurrencies," ESET Malware Researcher Lukas Stefanko wrote in a blog post. "However, its actual purpose is to trick users into transferring cryptocurrency into the attackers' wallets—a classic case of what we named wallet address scams in our previous research of cryptocurrency-targeting malware."

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Five tech trends shaping the beauty industry

BBC Technology News - 6 hours 43 min ago
Five tech trends shaping the beauty industry

Stronger than aluminum, a heavily altered wood cools passively

Ars Technica - 7 hours 4 min ago

Enlarge / A look at the lignin-free compressed wood. (credit: University of Maryland)

Most of our building practices aren't especially sustainable. Concrete production is a major source of carbon emissions, and steel production is very resource intensive. Once completed, heating and cooling buildings becomes a major energy sink. There are various ideas on how to handle each of these issues, like variations on concrete's chemical formula or passive cooling schemes.

But now, a large team of US researchers has found a single solution that appears to manage everything using a sustainable material that both reflects sunlight and radiates away excess heat. The miracle material? Wood. Or a form of wood that's been treated to remove one of its two main components.

With the grain

Wood is mostly a composite of two polymers. One of these, cellulose, is made by linking sugars together into long chains. That cellulose is mixed with a polymer called lignin, which is not really a single polymer. The precise chemical formula of its starting material can vary among species, and it typically contains multiple places where chemical bonds can form, turning the polymer into a chaotic but extremely robust mesh.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New Assange indictment adds 17 espionage charges

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 10:42pm

Enlarge / Supporters of Julian Assange protest outside the Ecuadorian embassy as the WikiLeaks founder awaits a High Court hearing to determine whether he will be extradited to Sweden on sexual charges. Now, new US charges have been added to a previous indictment: 17 counts of espionage. (credit: Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Today, the Department of Justice filed a new indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia—adding 17 more charges atop the original hacking charge used to file for Assange's extradition from the United Kingdom. The new charges are all espionage-focused: conspiracy to receive, obtaining, and disclosure of "national defense information. Each of the 17 counts carries a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years.

In a statement announcing the filing, a Justice Department spokesperson said, "The superseding indictment alleges that Assange was complicit with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the US Army, in unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defense." The new counts allege, among other things, that Assange conspired with Manning to steal "national defense information," obtained that information from Manning, and "aided and abetted her in obtaining classified information with reason to believe that the information was to be used to the injury of the United States or the advantage of a foreign nation."

In a Twitter post, a WikiLeaks spokesperson wrote, "This is madness. It is the end of national security journalism and the First Amendment."

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

NASA officially orders its first segment of a lunar space station

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 10:26pm

Maxar has been selected to build and fly the first element of NASA’s lunar Gateway. (credit: Maxar Technologies)

NASA has chosen its first commercial partner for a proposed space station, known as the Lunar Gateway, to be built near the Moon. On Thursday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Maxar Technologies would build the first component of the Gateway—the power and propulsion element. Like the name suggests, it will provide electricity to the Gateway and help move it around.

"This time when we go to the Moon, we're actually going to stay," Bridenstine said in making the announcement. He has characterized the Gateway, which will be positioned in a high, elliptical orbit balanced between the Earth and Moon's gravity, as a reusable "Command Module." Under NASA's current plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024, this is where astronauts will launch to from Earth before climbing aboard pre-positioned landers to take them down to the lunar surface.

Despite the fanfare Thursday—Bridenstine provided an hour-long overview of NASA's ambitious Moon plans at the Florida Institute of Technology for a relatively simple contract award—the announcement represents a continuation of a Lunar Gateway plan that was initiated under the Obama administration. The Obama space plan involved using the Gateway as a stepping stone toward Mars, but now the Trump administration is pivoting toward the lunar surface.

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GOP, Dem Senators officially introduce loot box, “pay-to-win” legislation

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 9:50pm

Unlike this ceramic replica, video game loot boxes are not filled with real candy. (credit: ThinkGeek)

Weeks ago, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) released an outline for the The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act, aimed at stopping randomized loot boxes and pay-to-win mechanics in the game industry. Today, Hawley was joined by Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in formally introducing that bill in the Senate, complete with an 18-page draft of its legislative text.

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the bill attempts to define so-called "pay-to-win" mechanics in games. Those are defined broadly here as purchasable content that "assists a user in accomplishing an achievement within the game that can otherwise be accomplished without the purchase of such transaction" or which "permits a user to continue to access content of the game that had previously been accessible to the user but has been made inaccessible after the expiration of a timer or a number of gameplay attempts."

For multiplayer games, this would also include any purchasable in-game content that "from the perspective of a reasonable user, provides a competitive advantage."

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Purdue infiltrated WHO, manipulated opioid policies to boost sales, report finds

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 9:10pm

Enlarge / Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and its owners, the Sackler family, are facing hundreds of lawsuits across the country for the company's alleged role in the opioid epidemic. (credit: Getty | Drew Angerer)

Infamous OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma used front organizations and sponsored research to deceive the World Health Organization and corrupt global public health policies with the goal of boosting international opioid sales and profits, according to a Congressional report(PDF) released Thursday, May 22.

The investigation identified two WHO guidance documents that appear to parrot some of Purdue's misleading and outright false marketing claims about the safety and efficacy of their highly addictive opioids.

The findings, released by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), land as the country is still grappling with an epidemic of opioid abuse and overdoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdoses kill an average of 130 Americans every day.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Comcast does so much lobbying that it says disclosing it all is too hard

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 8:40pm

Enlarge / A Comcast sign at the Comcast offices in Philadelphia, Penn. (credit: Getty Images | Cindy Ord )

Comcast may be harming its reputation by failing to reveal all of its lobbying activities, including its involvement in trade associations and lobbying at the state level, a group of shareholders says in a proposal that asks for more lobbying disclosures.

Comcast's disclosures for its lobbying of state governments "are often cursory or non-existent," and Comcast's failure to disclose its involvement in trade associations means that "investors have neither an accurate picture of the company's total lobbying expenditures nor an understanding of its priorities, interests, or potential risks from memberships," the proposal said. "Comcast's lack of transparency around its lobbying poses risks to its already troubled reputation, which is concerning in a highly regulated industry, especially given the rise of public Internet alternatives."

The proposal is on the ballot for Comcast's June 5 annual shareholder meeting and was filed by Friends Fiduciary, which "invest[s] based on Quaker values" and says it "actively screen[s] companies for social responsibility." Friends Fiduciary and other investors who joined the proposal collectively hold "over 1 million shares of Comcast stock," they said.

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Facebook: Another three billion fake profiles culled

BBC Technology News - May 23, 2019 - 8:06pm
Mark Zuckerberg hits back at calls to break up Facebook, as it reveals it removed a record number of hateful posts.

Baltimore government held hostage by hackers' ransomware

BBC Technology News - May 23, 2019 - 8:03pm
The hack has disabled government email and payments to city departments, with no end in sight.

A sad raven bums out its friends

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 6:35pm

Enlarge / Does he look happy or sad to you? (credit: US Fish and Wildlife)

As social creatures, we subconsciously match moods with those around us—and not just when a cranky supervisor darkens your day (Editor's Note: Is it something I said?). The scientific term for the spread of feelings is “emotional contagion,” a term that may feel particularly appropriate when it comes to grumpiness. But as is so often the case with human psychology, this very human behavior does not appear to be unique to our species.

Studying emotions and their contagious nature in other animals can be tricky. Relying on outward displays runs the risk of conflating a simple emotion with some overt rowdiness that makes it visible. Getting at that underlying emotion requires understanding how critters act in varying moods. A team led by the University of Vienna’s Jessie Adriaense tried to do that with ravens by designing a test to reveal whether they were feeling optimistic.

Emotional control

The first goal of the experiment was to induce a positive or negative emotional state in a raven. To do so, the raven was shown a pair of food items: dog kibbles (a highly rated treat) and some raw carrot (a hard pass). One of the food items would then be taken away. When the tasty treat remained in view, the raven should be enthused; it responded by walking up to that side of the cage and focusing its attention on the snack. When the carrot was left, the bird gave it a dominantly left-side side-eye (the left eye and right brain hemisphere are linked to negative stimuli) and scratched at the ground in frustration.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Now live post-leaks, Star Trek: Picard trailer asks why the “Admiral” left Starfleet

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 6:08pm

Star Trek fans briefly turned into Internet archaeologists today after CBS posted, then quickly took down, the first trailer for Star Trek: Picard. Earlier this morning, Entertainment Weekly appeared to have taken down a story about the reveal, but luckily for everyone else the trailer still showed up in Google results as "Star Trek: Picard first trailer released." (And this being the Internet, of course, mirrored versions of the trailer soon existed everywhere, showing us the first public glimpse of a show that was last teased at CBS' Upfront presentation in March.)

With rampant unofficial footage of the captain officially out of retirement, however, CBS soon righted the ship and debuted the teaser via the @StarTrek Twitter feed, noting it comes on the anniversary of The Next Generation's series finale.

25 years ago today, ‘All Good Things’ brought us to an end. The end is only the beginning. #StarTrekPicard to stream exclusively on @CBSAllAccess in the United States, Amazon #PrimeVideo in more than 200 countries, in Canada on @SpaceChannel & @CraveCanada https://t.co/MQp0eP0ovM pic.twitter.com/m9sDqvS8Mo

— Star Trek (@StarTrek) May 23, 2019

"Fifteen years ago today you led us out of the darkness," a voiceover intones elliptically over a vineyard that evokes images of the potential future in Next Generation finale All Good Things.... "You commanded the greatest rescue armada in history. Then, the unimaginable. What did that cost you? Your faith? Your faith in us? Your faith in yourself?"

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dealmaster: Save big on Windows laptops and smart TVs ahead of Memorial Day

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 5:51pm

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of deals to share. Memorial Day hasn't arrived yet, but the holiday deals are already in full swing. Before you get out of town for the long weekend, you can snag big sales on some of our favorite Windows laptops from the likes of Dell, HP, and Lenovo. You can get the newest Dell XPS 13 laptop, featuring a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD for just $979.

The XPS 13 has always been a stellar laptop, but Dell made a few updates this year that pushed it up to the top spot in our Windows ultrabook guide. It's constructed beautifully and sturdily with a mixture of aluminum and woven fiberglass (depending on the model), and now it's not blemished by an unflattering up-nose cam. Dell's new, 2.25mm FHD webcam sits atop the FHD display so you can video chat without worrying about your on-camera appearance.

On top of that, the XPS 13 laptop has a comfortable keyboard and trackpad area, a fingerprint sensor embedded into its power button, and superb performance with an average battery life of about 13 hours base on our testing. The biggest things you can complain about are its display's 16:9 aspect ratio, which admittedly isn't ideal, and its scant port selection that includes just two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one USB-C 3.1 port, one microSD card slot, a headphone jack, and a lock slot. The base laptop still costs $899, but you'll save $230 if you opt for this more powerful model.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Subscribe to Ars and get 20% off

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 5:20pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich Lawson)

The final weekend in May marks the unofficial start of summer (at least at the Orbiting HQ, where our season simulator is aligned with the Northern Hemisphere). It's a time for farmers' markets, parades, and cookouts, if you're into those sorts of things. But who would want to spend time out under the Daystar absorbing UV radiation and swatting away flying disease vectors when you could be reading the latest from your favorite website?

We've got some improvements to Ars in the works. We plan to tweak the commenting system and are working on a complete overhaul of our mobile site. Part of what makes these improvements—and indeed, all of our work—possible is the support of our readers. To make that more enticing, we are offering 20% off any subscription to Ars Technica. Ars Pro is discounted to $20 from $25 and Ars Pro++ is just $40.

In addition to supporting our mission of bringing you the smart reporting Ars readers have come to love, subscribing to Ars comes with a bunch of other perks. All Ars Pro and Ars Pro++ subscribers get a completely ad-free experience. Based on reader feedback, we also removed all tracking scripts for subscribers. Beyond that, subscribers get Classic View (a throwback to the old-school Ars experience), full-text RSS feeds, premium forum access, and PDFs of all our stories.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Why the quirky Playdate portable could succeed where Ouya failed

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 5:03pm

Enlarge / Little. Yellow. Different.

Remember microconsoles? Years before "the streaming era" that Sony now says is upon us, there was a period there where the conventional wisdom was that traditional consoles were dead and lower-priced microconsoles were the wave of the future.

In that time, upstarts like Ouya and established brands like Sony, Nvidia, Mad Catz, Apple, Amazon, and more jumped into the microconsole gaming market in one form or another.

Their bet was that there was an audience who wanted to play games on the TV but didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a full-fledged console that was overkill for the large flood of indie games out there. But then tens of millions of people bought the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (and later the Nintendo Switch) and the bottom largely fell out of the microconsole market (though no one has told Atari, apparently).

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Huawei: China warns of investment blow to UK over 5G ban

BBC Technology News - May 23, 2019 - 4:04pm
A top Chinese diplomat tells the BBC there could be "substantial" repercussions if the UK bars Huawei.

The Boring Company appears to have its first paying customer

Ars Technica - May 23, 2019 - 3:48pm

Enlarge / A view of the exit of The Boring Company's test tunnel in Hawthorne. (credit: The Boring Company)

On Wednesday, the board of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) voted to grant The Boring Company—Elon Musk's private tunneling venture—a $48.6 million contract to build a two-mile Loop at the expanding Las Vegas Convention Center.

LVCVA officials recommended The Boring Company's proposal to the board back in March, saying that it had the most competitive price among the transportation companies that submitted proposals. At the time, Boring Company officials said they could build the Convention Center's transportation system for between $33 million and $55 million. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the final cost for the project is expected to be $52.5 million.

Elon Musk's Boring Company wants to ameliorate traffic by moving people through tunnels on electric cars or electric skates at speeds of up to 155 miles per hour. Musk has said he can significantly reduce the cost of tunneling through the company's technical improvements to boring machines, the reuse of dirt to create concrete reinforcement, the use of continuous tunneling and reinforcing operations, and by digging smaller tunnels that don't need to accommodate internal combustion engines.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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