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Industry & Technology

Once again, engage: Picard trailer feels like the next Next Generation

Ars Technica - 4 hours 4 min ago

All eyes were on San Diego Comic Con's Star Trek panel this year, as anticipation continues to build for Star Trek: Picard, the first Trek entry to feature Sir Patrick Stewart since the 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis. And on Saturday, the series' handlers at CBS didn't disappoint.

A whopping two-minute trailer went well past "teaser" status with a smorgasbord of story, action, and detail for this CBS All-Access exclusive, all clarifying what little we knew from the first teaser in May. Picard's retirement to a vineyard was further clarified: it came, in part, because "Commander Data sacrificed his life for me." (This plot point is emphasized in the new trailer by Picard examining Data's body parts, all spread out and disconnected in a storage facility.)

Roughly two decades after that calamity, however, a mysterious, unnamed woman (Isa Briones) finds Picard on his retirement grounds and pleads with him: "Everything inside of me says that I'm safe with you." The woman's shapeshifting powers and athletic prowess are put on display before Picard returns to an apparent Starfleet outpost. That's where he declares his hunch to an admiral: "If she is who I think she is, she is in serious danger."

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Greatest Leap, part 5: Saving the crew of Apollo 13

Ars Technica - July 20, 2019 - 4:00pm

Video shot by Joshua Ballinger, edited and produced by Jing Niu and David Minick. Click here for transcript.

As Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise floated in the tunnel snaking between the Lunar Module and Command Module, he heard—and felt—a loud bang. Around him, the two vehicles began to contort. Then, the metal walls of the tunnel crinkled as the spacecraft shuddered.

Apollo: The Greatest Leap

View more stories Wide-eyed, Haise scrambled from the tunnel into the Command Module alongside Jack Swigert and their commander, Jim Lovell. From his customary position at Lovell's right, Haise quickly assessed something was drastically wrong with the spacecraft's cryogenic tanks—the oxygen was just gone. Fortunately, there didn't seem to have been a chemical explosion, because only a thin wall separated the oxygen tank from the propellant tanks used to power the spacecraft’s main engine.

“It really didn’t explode like something you think of with shrapnel,” Haise told Ars, in an interview. “It just over-pressurized, and then it let go some steam. If it had been a shrapnel-type explosion, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Read 93 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Operation Avalanche, the only good conspiracy—fake the Moon landing, get promoted

Ars Technica - July 20, 2019 - 3:30pm

With this weekend's 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, it's worth remembering most conspiracy theories are more-or-less the same: a shadowy cabal of all-powerful, all-knowing elites comes together to manipulate us commoners, for whom they have nothing but contempt. The cabal changes—globalists, Lizard People, the media, the Vatican, whatevs—but the song remains the same.

So a few years back when I heard someone had made yet another a low-budget mockumentary about faking the Apollo 11 Moon landing, that's what I was expecting. Maybe even Kubrick would be evoked again. Instead, imagine my surprise when 2016's Operation Avalanche turned out to be light on conspiracy against the sheeple and heavy on a bumbling, baby-faced doofus who comes up with a plan to fake the Moon landing as basically a way to impress his boss.

Psychologists speculate that people are drawn to conspiracy theories because a world controlled by dark forces is still preferable to a world in which no one is at the controls. But truthers will find cold comfort in Operation Avalanche's view that the masters of the universe are more likely to be a grinning nincompoop whose best friend's wife greets him with "Don't touch me."

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Running the numbers on an insane scheme to save Antarctic ice

Ars Technica - July 20, 2019 - 2:15pm

Enlarge / Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier sheds some icebergs. Could we... sort of... put them back? (credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Imagine, if you will, the engineers of the king’s court after Humpty Dumpty’s disastrous fall. As panicked men apparently competed with horses for access to the site of the accident, perhaps the engineers were scoping out scenarios, looking for a better method of reassembling the poor fellow. But presumably none of those plans worked out, given the dark ending to that fairy tale.

A recent study published in Science Advances might be relatable for those fairy tale engineers. Published by Johannes Feldmann, Anders Levermann, and Matthias Mengel at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the study tackles a remarkable question: could we save vulnerable Antarctic glaciers with artificial snow?

Keeping our cool

Antarctica’s ice is divided into two separate ice sheets by a mountain range, with the smaller but much more vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet representing one of the biggest wildcards for future sea level rise. In 2014, a study showed that two of the largest glaciers within that ice sheet—known as the Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier—had likely crossed a tipping point, guaranteeing a large amount of future ice loss that would continue even if global warming were halted today.

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The new Terminator board game is actually worth your time

Ars Technica - July 20, 2019 - 1:05pm

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.

Even Terminator has a board game now. In the “golden age” of tabletop gaming, companies and licensing have brought us a wealth of titles, including those that no one was asking for (I’m looking at you, Ghostbusters and Wacky Races). Is Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance something to get excited about?

Thankfully, yes.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Unlicensed “health coach” claims health advice is free speech—court disagrees

Ars Technica - July 20, 2019 - 12:31pm

Enlarge / Unlicensed "health coach" Heather Del Castillo (credit: Institute for Justice)

A federal court on Wednesday rejected claims by an unlicensed “health coach” that the unqualified health advice she provided to paying clients was protected speech under the First Amendment.

In rejecting her claim, the court affirmed that states do indeed have the right to require that anyone charging for health and medical services—in this case, dietetics and nutrition advice—be qualified and licensed. (State laws governing who can offer personalized nutrition services vary considerably, however.)

Heather Del Castillo, a “holistic health coach” based in Florida, brought the case in October of 2017 shortly after she was busted in an undercover investigation by the state health department. At the time, Del Castillo was running a health-coaching business called Constitution Nutrition, which offered a personalized, six-month health and dietary program. The program involved 13 in-home consulting sessions, 12 of which cost $95 each.

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Netflix lost US subscribers in Q2 over price hikes; how can it win them back?

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 11:24pm

Enlarge / Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. (credit: re:publica)

If you’ve been grumbling about the rising cost of your Netflix account, it seems you’re not alone. Netflix shared its second-quarter financial results and the company indicated that higher prices may have led to dips in the platform’s subscriber counts.

Revenue for the video streaming service totaled $4.92 billion in the second quarter, up 26% year-over-year. Net income was $271 million, with $0.60 earnings per share. Both those figures were down from Q2 in 2018 and from Q1 of 2019.

Netflix added 2.7 million paid members during the period, a big cut from the 5 million it expected to see and from the 5.5 million recorded in the year-ago quarter. “Our missed forecast was across all regions, but slightly more so in regions with price increases,” the shareholder letter read. The company insisted that competition from other platforms was not a concern, but rather that the shows it had for the second quarter weren’t enough to inspire people to subscribe.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Blizzard’s bad-news year continues with another co-founder’s departure

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 11:02pm

Enlarge (credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Frank Pearce, one of Blizzard Entertainment's three original founding staffers, announced his intention to leave the game-making company on Friday, effective immediately.

Pearce's announcement came via a Friday blog post at Blizzard's official site, which was appended with a note from current Blizzard president J. Allen Brack. The combined blog post indicates that last year, Pearce "stepped into an advisory role to help with the transition," which seems to indicate that his departure has been some time coming. It's unclear whether this advisory-transition period began anywhere near the time another Blizzard co-founder, Mike Morhaime, left the company in October 2018.

The departure of Pearce as chief product officer leaves only one of Blizzard Entertainment's original co-founders, Allen Adham, at the helm. Adham returned to Blizzard in 2016 after a ten-year game-development hiatus to become the company's senior vice president. Adham, Pearce, and Morhaime founded the company, which was first named Silicon & Synapse, in 1991. Their first video game under the S&S label was RPM Racing for the SNES.

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Algae bio-curtains: Architects' radical solution to capture carbon

BBC Technology News - July 19, 2019 - 11:01pm
Scientists and architects in London have developed 'bio-curtains' to act as an alternative to urban trees.

Verizon wants you to pay $650 plus $85 a month for a 5G hotspot

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 10:55pm

Enlarge / A Verizon booth at Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles in September 2018. (credit: Verizon)

Verizon's 5G mobile service is available in just a handful of cities, but the carrier is charging premium prices to the few people who live in range of the network.

Verizon yesterday announced its first 5G hotspot, namely the Inseego MiFi M1000 that Verizon is selling for $650. On top of the device cost, the monthly fees for 5G service will be higher than 4G even though Verizon's 5G network barely exists.

Verizon said hotspot-only plans "start at $85 a month (plus taxes and fees)." Verizon describes the $85-per-month hotspot plan as "unlimited" when you go through the online checkout process. But the fine print states that customers get 50GB of high-speed 5G data, and 5G speeds are reduced to 3Mbps after that. The plan treats 5G and 4G data separately; it provides 15GB of high-speed 4G data and slows users down to 600kbps after that. Verizon allows 4K video streaming on 5G, while limiting video on the 4G network to 720p.

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President Trump says NASA should “listen to the other side” of exploration

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 10:32pm

Enlarge / President Trump, with Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot at far left, listens to Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin on Friday in the Oval Office. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

On Friday, a day before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, President Trump invited the crew of that mission to the Oval Office. Seated, Trump was flanked by Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and the children of Commander Neil Armstrong.

During the 20-minute ceremony, Trump praised the efforts of the Apollo 11 crew and NASA in achieving the first Moon landing half a century ago. But pretty quickly, he pivoted to his own administration's plans for sending humans to the Moon—and eventually Mars. The administration's Artemis Program, which calls for humans to return to the Moon by 2024, has been heavily promoted by the space agency as of late.

However, Trump seems much more interested in sending humans to Mars, which he considers more inspirational than a trip back to the Moon.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New York passes its Green New Deal, announces massive offshore wind push

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 9:22pm

Enlarge / Sights like this may become common on Long Island. (credit: University of Rhode Island)

Yesterday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that's been described as the state's Green New Deal. Unlike the one that's been floated in Congress, this one isn't a grab-bag collection of social and energy programs. Instead, there's a strong focus on energy, with assurances that changes will be made in a way that benefits underprivileged communities.

The bill was passed by both houses of the New York legislature last month, but Cuomo held off on signing it so he could pair it with an announcement that suggests the new plan's goals are realistic. The state has now signed contracts for two wind farms that will have a combined capacity of 1.7 GW. If they open as planned in under five years, they will turn New York into the US's leading producer of offshore wind power.

What’s the (social) deal?

The national Green New Deal did include some energy-focused plans, but it mixed them in with aspirational ideas like a guaranteed basic income. It's hard to understand how New York's plan has picked up the same name given that it's nothing like the national one. While there is some nod to New-Deal-like programs (the law will create a Climate Justice Working Group for instance), those aspects are limited in scope to issues brought up by transitions in the energy economy. Instead, the majority of the law is focused on changing the state's energy landscape.

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How private is your browser’s Private mode? Research into porn suggests “not very”

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 9:14pm

Thought using Incognito mode might keep such searching private? Facebook, Google, and even Oracle have more of your Web usage in their sights than you might think.

A forthcoming research paper [PDF] from researchers at Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pennsylvania brings up the possibility that Google and Facebook might be tracking your porn history—and, perhaps more worrisome, that using Incognito mode doesn't help.

The paper, set to be published in the journal New Media & Society, does an excellent job of backing up the claim that porn usage ends up being tracked by Google and Facebook. Authors Elena Maris, Timothy Libert, and Jennifer Henrichsen used open source tool webxray to analyze more than 22,000 porn sites, discovering tracking code for Google on 74% and for Facebook on 10% of the sites analyzed. Software giant Oracle's Web tracking code also showed up, appearing on 24% of those sites.

In light of the study, a Facebook spokesperson told CNET, "We don't want adult websites using our business tools since that type of content is a violation of our Community Standards. When we learn that these types of sites or apps use our tools, we enforce against them." Google told The New York Times that the company disallows ads on adult sites and directly prohibits adding information based on sexual interest or activities to any personalized advertising profiles.

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Chrome 76 prevents NYT and other news sites from detecting Incognito Mode

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 7:05pm

Enlarge / The Boston Globe and some other news sites prevent non-subscribers from viewing articles in a browser's private mode. (credit: Boston Globe)

Google Chrome 76 will close a loophole that websites use to detect when people use the browser's Incognito Mode.

Over the past couple of years, you may have noticed some websites preventing you from reading articles while using a browser's private mode. The Boston Globe began doing this in 2017, requiring people to log in to paid subscriber accounts in order to read in private mode. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other newspapers impose identical restrictions.

Chrome 76—which is in beta now and is scheduled to hit the stable channel on July 30—prevents these websites from discovering that you're in private mode. Google explained the change yesterday in a blog post titled, "Protecting private browsing in Chrome."

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The Greatest Leap, part 4: Catching Apollo fever as a new NASA employee

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 6:37pm

Video shot by Joshua Ballinger, edited and produced by Jing Niu and David Minick. Click here for transcript.

As inevitably happens in August, a sweltering heat with the tactility of dog's breath had come over Houston when Raja Chari reported to the Johnson Space Center. Just shy of his 40th birthday, the decorated combat veteran and test pilot had been born too late to see humans walking on the Moon. No matter, he was in awe of the new office.Apollo: The Greatest Leap

View more stories

The son of an immigrant from India, Chari grew up in the heartland of America and grasped onto the American dream. He worked hard in school, and then in the Air Force, to become an astronaut. So when Chari finally got to Johnson Space Center in 2017 as a member of its newest astronaut class, his sense of achievement mingled with reverence. He found himself in the cradle of human spaceflight, where the Mercury 7 and Apollo astronauts had trained. Chari felt a wide-eyed wonderment for the people around him, too. The engineers. The flight controllers. His fellow astronauts.

“Honestly, it’s all about the people,” he told Ars just a few weeks after moving to Houston. “We’re all caught up in this sense of mission. The people here, my colleagues, are what really stand out. I can’t wait to go to work with them every day.”

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Google tries to reassure gamers it’s behind Stadia for the long haul

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 5:35pm

Enlarge / A Google Stadia controller sits behind glass with a mock-up of a retro game store. (credit: Kyle Orland)

In a Reddit AMA yesterday, Google Stadia Director of Product Andrey Doronichev provided a few more tidbits about what features will and will not be available when the streaming game service launches in November. But as he did so, he had to convince some skeptical potential customers that Stadia won't end up in the same corporate graveyard as many other Google service experiments.

Doronichev compared Google's commitment to Stadia to services like Gmail, Docs, Music, Movies and Photos, which have persisted for years with no sign of imminent shutdown. "We’ve been investing a ton in tech, infrastructure, and partnerships [for Stadia] over the past few years," Doronichev said. "Nothing in life is certain, but we’re committed to making Stadia a success... Of course, it’s OK to doubt my words. There's nothing I can say now to make you believe if you don't. But what we can do is to launch the service and continue investing in it for years to come."

Doronichev also compared the transition to streaming gaming to similar transitions that have already largely taken place in the movie and music industries, and with cloud storage of personal files like photos and written documents. While acknowledging that "moving to the cloud is scary," he also insisted that "eventually all of our games will be safely in the cloud, too, and we'll feel great about it."

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Extending the savings: Get 20% off an Ars Pro subscription

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 4:10pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich Lawson)

As I arrived home from a brief trip Thursday night, I had to navigate a small pile of brown boxes—the results of some Amazon Prime Day shopping. Prime Day 2019 may be in the rearview mirror, but one discount is not: Ars is extending the discount for new Ars Pro and Ars Pro++ subscriptions. If you subscribe in the next few days, you'll receive 20 percent off the regular price.

Here's what you get with the $25 $20 Ars Pro:

  • No ads: If you're logged into Ars, you'll never see an ad
  • No tracking scripts: Every last one of those scripts disappears for Ars Pro subscribers, with the exception of those from objects embedded in individual stories like videos from YouTube and tweets from Twitter
  • Full-text RSS feeds: See the whole story and never leave your RSS reader
  • Subscriber-only forum access: Sit back, relax, and vent your geek angst in The Lounge
  • Article PDFs: Read our great long-form content offline
  • Classic reading mode: Read Ars in the old-school way

Ars Pro is compelling on its own, but for $50 $40 Ars Pro++ offers all of the great benefits of Ars Pro, plus:

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Cari Watterton gives her tips on how to get into the games industry

BBC Technology News - July 19, 2019 - 3:57pm
Young developer Cari Watterton, who works for a games firm located in Dundee, offers her tips for getting into the business

The Corvette goes mid-engined—supercar performance for $60,000

Ars Technica - July 19, 2019 - 3:34pm

TUSTIN, Calif.—On Thursday night, in a 1,000-foot-long (300m) hangar packed with hundreds of attendees, the world got its first proper look at the next Chevrolet Corvette. New for model year 2020, it's the eighth version of "America's sportscar" and one that's radically different to any production Corvette of the past. In the quest for even sharper handling, the engineering team realized the engine would have to move behind the cabin.

This change has been an open secret for some years now, probably to prepare the fiercely loyal and just-as-opinionated fanbase that once freaked out just because the shape of the tail lights changed with the debut of the previous generation car. It's an idea Corvette has played with since the early days, when Zora Arkus-Duntov was in charge. Starting with CERV I in 1960, there has been a stream of experimental concepts with the engine between driver and rear wheels, but none ever made the leap to production car. How times change.

The performance bargain of the century?

Although we've known about the impending layout swap, that was pretty much all we knew. Grainy spy shots from places like the Nürburgring and the Milford Proving Ground filtered out, as did rumors of breathtaking performance. But debate raged over the details, particularly the question of whether a supercar layout and supercar speed meant a supercar price. As it turns out, the answer is no, as a brand new C8 Corvette (as the new generation is known) will start at under $60,000 when it goes on sale next year. But the stuff about the breathtaking performance? That was all spot on: Chevrolet promises the car will do the dash to 60mph in under three seconds. That's as fast as the outgoing Z06, a model that has 650hp (485kW) costing $20,000 more.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

BritBox: ITV and BBC set out plans for new streaming service

BBC Technology News - July 19, 2019 - 2:09pm
Shows like Love Island, Gavin & Stacey and Victoria will be on ITV and the BBC's streaming service.

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