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Industry & Technology

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.

First results from New Horizons’ time in the Kuiper Belt

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 11:00pm

Enlarge / When Ultima met Thule. A view of the two-lobed body, showing the bright neck and the large Maryland crater. (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University APL/Southwest Research Institute.)

For many at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, January 1 this year didn't mean a New Year's celebration. Instead, it meant the first arrival of data from New Horizons' visit to a small Kuiper Belt object. But, like its earlier flyby of Pluto, the probe was instructed to grab all the data it could and deal with getting it back to Earth later. The full set of everything New Horizons captured won't be available for more than a year yet. But with 10 percent of the total cache in hand, researchers decided they had enough to do the first analysis of 2014 MU69.

2014 MU69 is thought to preserve material as it condensed in the earliest days of the Solar System's formation. And everything in the New Horizons' data suggests that this is exactly what it has done. With the exception of one big crater temporarily named "Maryland" and the gentle collision that created its two-lobed structure, the object appears to have been largely untouched by more than 4 billion years of the Solar System's existence.

The dawn of time

The Kuiper belt is a sparse donut of small bodies near the outer edges of the Solar System. The bodies there are formed primarily of icy materials, most of which would otherwise remain gases in the warm, inner regions of the Solar System. Some of them, like Pluto, are large enough and/or have a complex collision history, which can ensure that they undergo geological changes that alter the materials that were present at their formation.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

SpaceX scrubs second attempt to launch 60 Starlink satellites [Updated]

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 10:25pm

Enlarge / The begrimed Falcon 9 booster is back at the launch pad with its Starlink satellite payload. (credit: SpaceX)

9pm ET Update: Another day, another scrub for SpaceX and its mission to launch a batch of internet satellites. About two hours prior to the opening of Thursday night's launch window, the company canceled its Falcon 9 launch of five dozen Starlink satellites. In a tweet, SpaceX offered this explanation: "Standing down to update satellite software and triple-check everything again. Always want to do everything we can on the ground to maximize mission success, next launch opportunity in about a week."

So we'll do this again in about a week.

Original post: Even though time remained in its launch window Wednesday night, SpaceX scrubbed an attempt to launch its first batch of Starlink satellites. The upper-level winds were just not cooperating, so the company stood down the launch attempt.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

These firms promise high-tech ransomware solutions—but typically just pay hackers

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 9:35pm

Enlarge / Cryptolocker was one of the ransomware pioneers, bringing together file encryption and bitcoin payment. (credit: Christiaan Colen / Flickr)

This story was originally published by ProPublica. It appears here under a Creative Commons license.

From 2015 to 2018, a strain of ransomware known as SamSam paralyzed computer networks across North America and the UK It caused more than $30 million in damage to at least 200 entities, including the cities of Atlanta and Newark, New Jersey, the Port of San Diego and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles. It knocked out Atlanta’s online water service requests and billing systems, prompted the Colorado Department of Transportation to call in the National Guard, and delayed medical appointments and treatments for patients nationwide whose electronic records couldn’t be retrieved. In return for restoring access to the files, the cyberattackers collected at least $6 million in ransom.

“You just have 7 days to send us the BitCoin,” read the ransom demand to Newark. “After 7 days we will remove your private keys and it’s impossible to recover your files.”

Read 167 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Genetic self-experimenting “biohacker” under investigation by health officials

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 8:58pm

Enlarge / Zayner is best known for injecting himself with CRISPR. (credit: Andrew Matthews / Getty Images)

Prominent genetic "biohacker" Josiah Zayner is under investigation by California state officials for practicing medicine without a license.

Zayner has a background in biophysics and runs a company called The Odin, which sells do-it-yourself genetic engineering kits and other lab equipment intended for use outside of scientific laboratories. The kits and tools are intended to allow lay users to genetically modify bacteria, yeast, animals, and even humans.

The human that Zayner's products are best known for trying to modify is Zayner himself. In fact, the brazen CEO has a long history of self-experimentation. In 2016, he attempted a stomach-churning DIY fecal transplant in an airport hotel, then moved on to trying to genetically engineer his skin.

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Utility equipment sparked massive California wildfire, investigators say

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 8:45pm

Enlarge / Workers make repairs to utility lines in a neighborhood that was destroyed by the Camp Fire on February 11, 2019, in Paradise, Calif. Three months after the deadly and destructive Camp Fire, the community is beginning the rebuilding process. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Fire officials have determined that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), one of the state's largest utilities, was responsible for the deadliest fire in a century.

The Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and burnt down nearly 15,000 homes, was sparked by PG&E power lines, according to a report that Cal Fire officials discussed with the press. The report was not widely released, but it was forwarded to the Butte County district attorney's office.

The district attorney may bring criminal charges against the utility, and Cal Fire Deputy Director Mike Mohler told reporters that "Investigators determined there were violations of law." According to the San Francisco Chronicle, charges could include "recklessly causing a fire or manslaughter."

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Saved from obsolescence, Microsoft is now making Paint better

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 8:30pm

Enlarge / A picture apparently constructed in Paint using the keyboard exclusively. (credit: Microsoft)

The news for mspaint.exe aficionados is just getting better and better. Microsoft's original plan was to deprecate Paint and end its development. It would still be installable from the Store but would no longer be included with Windows or receive any updates.

Last month, the company relented and said that the app would continue to be included in Windows. And now things have gone a step further: the program has been updated to include some surprising new features.

Paint has been updated to include keyboard support. More explicitly, Paint can now be controlled through the keyboard exclusively. The cursor can be moved with the cursor keys while the space bar is used to activate tools. There are keyboard bindings to control selections, switch between resize handles/control points, and generally do all the things that currently use the mouse.

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What Microsoft and Sony’s streaming partnership means for gaming’s future

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 8:08pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty / Hanna-Barbera)

In a rare move, console rivals Microsoft and Sony announced a major collaboration on Thursday to join forces on a potentially huge new gaming sector: the cloud. The companies announced today that they have entered into a "memorandum of understanding" to "explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services."

The surprise move is the closest sign of collaboration between two fierce competitors in the console-gaming space, but it is probably not a sign that they will stop being competitors any time soon.

As part of the agreement, Sony will still use Microsoft's Azure servers and data centers for its own game and content-streaming services. That presumably includes PlayStation Now—the Sony game-streaming service launched in 2014 after Sony's 2012 acquisition of streaming company Gaikai—and PlayStation Vue, the company's Internet-based cable TV alternative.

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Dealmaster: Get a high-performing 55-inch Vizio 4K TV for less than $600

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 7:02pm

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of deals to share. Today's list is headlined by a nice deal on Vizio's acclaimed P55-F1 4K TV, which is currently down to $598 at Walmart. That's $100 off the 55-inch set's standard going rate and the lowest outright price we could find for this specific model to date.

While this keeps the TV a little bit pricier than TCL's 55-inch R-Series Roku TV—Vizio's chief competition—the extra $70 or so may be worth it for Vizio's apparent advantages in picture quality. While we don't review many TVs at Ars, various outlets have praised the P-Series sets for its excellent motion handling (with its 120Hz refresh rate) and low input lag, which make it particularly well-suited for gaming. It supports a wide color gamut and all the necessary HDR formats, including Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG, and it can display that content vibrantly thanks to its high brightness and 56 local dimming zones (the $1,000 65-inch model has 100 zones, but this should still be sufficient). The set itself has five HDMI inputs, too, and it will soon gain support for Apple's AirPlay 2 protocol, which should be a boon for iPhone users.

The big caveat here is that this TV is from 2018. Vizio didn't announce an exact follow-up to its mainstream P-Series sets at CES earlier this year, but it will launch some new models soon, which helps explain the price slashing now. Vizio's smart TV interface isn't quite as helpful as that of a Roku TV, either, and image-wise, its viewing angles aren't great. Like most smart TV makers, Vizio also tracks users' viewing habits for ad purposes. Still, this is how the cycle of TV pricing works. And while the panel is a clear step below premium sets like LG's OLED TVs, it still represents good value at this price for anyone willing to pay for picture quality.

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The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is the US’ first 5G phone

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 6:45pm

Samsung and Verizon are introducing the first 5G smartphone to the US, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. A participation trophy should go to the Moto Z3, which is a 4G smartphone that you can clip a 5G backpack onto, but if you're looking for a fully self-contained 5G phone, the S10 5G is the first. Today, the S10 5G is out exclusively on Verizon, and it can be picked up for an astounding starting price of $1,300.

Samsung Galaxy S10

View more stories As the first 5G phone, the Galaxy S10 5G lets us put our assumptions about first-generation 5G hardware to the test. Last year, when Qualcomm announced its 5G chips, we expected the first 5G hardware to be big and power-hungry, and the S10 5G seems in line with that theory. To start, the S10 5G isn't a normal Galaxy S10 with an extra 5G modem, it's a fourth size class of the Galaxy S10 (after the S10e, S10, and S10+). It's essentially an S10++.

The bigger size is most likely required to fit all of the extra hardware needed to make 5G work, which consists of a separate 5G chip and around four extra 5G antenna modules. Since Samsung needed to super-size the Galaxy S10, it might as well have thrown in a gigantic 6.7-inch display, a bigger 4500mAh battery, a fourth rear camera (this one is a depth sensor), and a front 3D sensor.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Autopilot was active when a Tesla crashed into a truck, killing driver

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 6:10pm

Enlarge (credit: National Transportation Safety Board)

A Tesla Model 3 had Autopilot active in the seconds before it crashed into a semi truck in March, killing the driver, the National Transportation Safety Board reported on Thursday.

Jeremy Banner was driving his Model 3 on a divided four-lane highway in Palm Beach County, Florida. As the car approached a driveway, a semi truck pulled out in front of the car, making a left-hand turn from the driveway to the opposite travel lanes.

The Tesla was moving at 68mph (110km/h) and slid under the truck's trailer. The trailer sheared off the top of the car, killing Banner. The vehicle continued down the road for another 1,600 feet (500m) before coming to a rest in the median.

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Russian bots rigged Voice Kids TV talent show result

BBC Technology News - May 16, 2019 - 5:56pm
A 10-year-old singer wins a Russian TV talent show thanks to thousands of fraudulent votes.

Trump tries to shut Huawei out of US market with executive order

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 5:38pm

Enlarge / Customers purchase mobile phones at the Huawei Experience Center on May 16, 2019 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. (credit: Getty Images | VCG/Long Wei)

The Trump administration yesterday took two actions that could effectively prevent Huawei from buying US technology and prevent it from selling products to US companies.

An executive order issued by President Trump and a separate action taken by the US Commerce Department could "cut the Chinese telecommunications giant off from American suppliers and ban it from doing business in the US," The Wall Street Journal wrote.

The order doesn't mention Huawei or China by name, but it was widely seen as targeting Huawei and other Chinese companies such as ZTE. Huawei is the second-biggest smartphone vendor in the world, according to IDC, and it sells a large amount of network equipment to telecom providers and other companies.

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Hackers abuse ASUS cloud service to install backdoor on users’ PCs

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 5:23pm

Enlarge (credit: Jeremy Brooks / Flickr)

ASUS' update mechanism has once again been abused to install malware that backdoors PCs, researchers from Eset reported earlier this week. The researchers, who continue to investigate the incident, said they believe the attacks are the result of router-level man-in-the-middle attacks that exploit insecure HTTP connections between end users and ASUS servers, along with incomplete code-signing to validate the authenticity of received files before they're executed.

Plead, as the malware is known, is the work of espionage hackers Trend Micro calls the BlackTech Group, which targets government agencies and private organizations in Asia. Last year, the group used legitimate code-signing certificates stolen from router-maker D-Link to cryptographically authenticate itself as trustworthy. Before that, the BlackTech Group used spear-phishing emails and vulnerable routers to serve as command-and-control servers for its malware.

Late last month, Eset researchers noticed the BlackTech Group was using a new and unusual method to sneak Plead onto targets’ computers. The backdoor arrived in a file named ASUS Webstorage Upate.exe included in an update from ASUS. An analysis showed infections were being created and executed by AsusWSPanel.exe, which is a legitimate Windows process belonging to, and digitally signed by, ASUS WebStorage. As the name suggests, ASUS WebStorage is a cloud service the computer-maker offers for storing files. Eset published its findings on Tuesday.

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Five seater self-flying air taxi unveiled

BBC Technology News - May 16, 2019 - 4:50pm
Lilium says the craft, which had its first test flight this month, could travel 300km in an hour.

Global education X-Prize awards $10m

BBC Technology News - May 16, 2019 - 4:16pm
A British charity wins $5m for an app designed to monitor how children learn.

White House unveils new tool to report censorship by social media giants

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 3:55pm

Enlarge / The landing page for the White House censorship reporting tool. (credit: whitehouse.gov)

Donald Trump has long accused social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube of political bias. On Wednesday, his White House launched a new online form that allows members of the public to report political bias in their content moderation decisions.

"SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH," the form says (capitalization in the original, of course). "Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear 'violations' of user policies. No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump."

The form asks users to provide their name and basic demographic and contact information. Users then provide details about the content that was censored and can provide screenshots of messages from social media companies about moderation decisions.

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Steam Link comes to iOS without Steam Store functionality [Updated]

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 3:32pm

[Update (12:07 pm): Ars testing has discovered an important difference between the new iOS Steam Link app and the Android version that has been available for over a year. When streaming to an iOS device, Steam launches in a specialized version of Big Picture mode where a user's Game Library is the only available selection. On Android, by contrast, a generalized remote desktop connection offers the usual access to Steam's Community, Chat, and, crucially, the Store interface (see examples in the gallery below).

Apple has long required that apps selling digital content give Apple a 30 percent cut for anything sold directly through the app. That decision led many app makers to direct users to make purchases and subscriptions outside their iOS apps. But Apple has cracked down on direct links to outside store purchases within its apps.

(Thanks to Golem.de for the tip)]

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