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Industry & Technology

Want a better idea of your future climate? Try this map

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 5:23pm

Enlarge (credit: Alan Levine)

Absent a time machine, it’s hard to truly wrap your head around what the future climate will be like. Climate projection numbers carry a lot of information, but those numbers can seem abstract—what does 2.5º warmer actually feel like?

One way to understand that information is to hop in the car (even if it’s not a DeLorean). There are a huge variety of local climates around the world, and it’s possible to find a location today that ought to feel a lot like your hometown will in a few decades. A new study by Matt Fitzpatrick and Rob Dunn applies this “climate analog” approach to 540 cities in the US and Canada—which means about 250 million people can use a Web map to look for an analog to their future climate.

Present and future climates

There are multiple ways you could imagine defining such a comparison. In this case, the researchers broke the data down by season, calculating minimum/maximum temperatures and total precipitation averaged over 1960-1990. This is basically the seasonal weather you’re used to.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

JP Morgan creates first US bank-backed crypto-currency

BBC Technology News - February 14, 2019 - 4:58pm
The US investment bank has created the JPM Coin to handle wholesale payments for some clients.

Amazon caught selling counterfeits of publisher’s computer books—again

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 3:56pm

Enlarge / At left, a counterfeited No Starch book. At right, the real deal. (credit: left, Bill Pollock; right, Jon Sawyer (@jcase))

Bill Pollock, the founder of the tech how-to book publisher No Starch Press, called out Amazon on February 13 for selling what he says are counterfeit copies of his company's book, The Art of Assembly Language—copies that Amazon apparently printed.

Just discovered today a new case of copyright infringement directly by AMAZON'S CREATESPACE. Not the first time! This is obviously NOT printed by No Starch. Kindly report any other cases to us. Please RT and share. @amazon @nostarch pic.twitter.com/ayjebwTiOI

— Bill Pollock (@billpollock) February 2, 2019

One of the Amazon printed fakes. Note the poor spine wrapping. @nostarch pic.twitter.com/3pcm0BYVHN

— Bill Pollock (@billpollock) February 12, 2019

Even the photo for the book's main listing on the Amazon marketplace is of a fake, showing a misaligned spine image.

After Pollock's post on Twitter on Wednesday, other people posted pictures of other No Starch books that had been counterfeited through Amazon, including books that had pages poorly cut. What's even crazier is that this isn't the first time this has happened.

In 2017, Pollock got reports of Amazon selling counterfeit copies of Python for Kids, a popular children's introduction to programming, and four other No Starch titles. The books were easy to distinguish from No Starch's production runs because of the poorer quality of the paper and binding, changes likely resulting from Amazon's print-on-demand production.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Citing lack of demand, Airbus cancels A380 superjumbo aircraft

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 3:17pm

Enlarge / An Emirates Airbus A380. (credit: Getty | NurPhoto)

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced today that it will halt production on its enormous A380 superjumbo passenger airliner.

The news was delivered by Airbus CEO Tom Enders at the company's headquarters in Toulouse, France. Enders cited a lack of orders as the key reason behind the cancellation of what is currently the world's largest airliner. Airbus expects the cancellation to potentially affect thousands of employees in the UK currently working on A380 production, though the company hopes to reassign as many of those employees as possible to other roles.

Efficiency remains king

The writing has been on the wall for the A380 for quite some time, and sales of the enormous jet never really reached the levels Airbus had hoped. The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, according to The Guardian's report, was an order reduction from Emirates, the A380's largest buyer.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

British hacker Marcus Hutchins loses bid to omit 'intoxicated' testimony

BBC Technology News - February 14, 2019 - 2:42pm
Devonian Marcus Hutchins is accused of writing virus code and says he was "intoxicated" in an interview.

Crackdown 3 review: Half-baked action with tasty triple-jumping

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 2:17pm

Enlarge / The views are pretty nice.

Originally announced way back in 2014 for a 2016 launch, Crackdown 3 has certainly taken its time in finally reaching Xbox One and Windows PC players this week. Despite all that time in the proverbial oven, though, Crackdown 3 comes out feeling dated and half-baked—though it's still a fun world to jump around in.

This time around, the super-powered agents of, uh, The Agency, are unleashing their carnage-filled version of justice on the secluded city of New Providence. The metropolis is controlled by Terra Nova, an immensely powerful corporation that apparently organized a blackout of every major city in the world (and incinerated most of the Agency agents dispatched to stop them) in order to attract new citizens to their futuristic haven. Once there, though, these refugees find they're forced to exist as impoverished grist for Terra Nova's economic mill, enriching company executives who live in relative opulence.

The stratified architecture found in the different regions of New Providence provides some important grounding for the battle between the haves and have-nots that the Agency finds itself in. For the most part, though, the game is annoyingly blunt about telling—rather than showing—how your actions are inspiring the proletariat to "rise up" against their authoritarian masters (throwing in plenty of "edgy-for-a-thirteen-year-old" random cursing along the way).

Free some dissidents from jail, for instance, and a voice in your ear immediately tells you how they will help "take the fight to Terra Nova." But I can only recall one time in my play-through when I actually saw citizens taking up arms against their corporate masters (rather ineffectually, I might add). Shut down a mining operation for Chimera—a poisonous weapon Terra Nova gathers for vast profits—and you're reminded how it will disrupt the company's plans without ever really seeing that effect in the city itself.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

What is Article 13? The EU's copyright directive explained

BBC Technology News - February 14, 2019 - 2:13pm
The final version of the new EU copyright law is agreed after three days of talks in France.

Alita: Battle Angel rises above its ugly ads, flies to a cloud city of awesome

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 1:30pm

Enlarge / There's just no getting around the eyes, huh, 20th Century Fox? So be it. (credit: 20th Century Fox)

Alita: Battle Angel lands in theaters on Thursday, February 14, with—if my own pessimistic assumptions are any indication—some significant baggage attached.

I know I'm not the only person to sigh after seeing the oversized, Avatar-esque eyes in Alita's trailers. Worse, those eyes are attached to a James Cameron script that adapts an early '90s Japanese manga into a multimillion-dollar film that casts zero Asian actors as leads. Nothing about that bullet-point trio, which reminded me of the 2017 ScarJo stinker Ghost in the Shell, got me excited ahead of Alita's press screening.

But the name "Robert Rodriguez" made me interested. Could one of my favorite directors of the past 20 years strike gold again, even while saddled by so much apparent baggage?

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

School bomb hoax suspect arrested in US

BBC Technology News - February 14, 2019 - 12:45pm
Thousands of US schools were shut down by fake threats involving bombs, allege prosecutors.

Airbus scraps A380 superjumbo jet as sales slump

BBC Technology News - February 14, 2019 - 12:03pm
The aircraft manufacturer ends production of the superjumbo after key buyer Emirates cuts order.

YouTube's copyright claim system abused by extorters

BBC Technology News - February 14, 2019 - 11:37am
Google acts after YouTubers report users attempting to extort money via fraudulent copyright claims.

The basketball coverage directed and filmed by AI

BBC Technology News - February 14, 2019 - 9:37am
The British Basketball League is testing a new way of filming games that picks the action using AI.

Former Apple lawyer charged with insider trading

BBC Technology News - February 14, 2019 - 4:03am
Gene Levoff is accused of engaging in insider trading on several occasions between 2011 and 2016.

Good Omens fans will love finding all the Easter eggs in new teaser

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 1:55am

Animated versions of the angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley take a walk through history in latest Good Omens teaser.

We've been on tenterhooks for months, waiting for news of when the long-awaited TV adaptation of Good Omens would air. And now the wait is over.

In conjunction with an announcement at the Television Critics Association regarding an airdate of May 31, Amazon Prime dropped a charming animated teaser trailer. Huzzah!

(Mild spoilers for the novel below.)

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

MalwareTech loses bid to suppress damning statements made after days of partying

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 1:19am

Enlarge / Then-23-year-old security researcher Marcus Hutchins in his bedroom in Ilfracombe, UK, in July 2017, just weeks before his arrest on malware charges. (credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Marcus Hutchins, the widely acclaimed security researcher charged with creating malware that sold for thousands of dollars on the Internet, has lost his bid to suppress self-incriminating statements he made following days of heavy partying at the 2017 Defcon hacker convention in Las Vegas.

Hutchins—who, under the moniker MalwareTech, unwittingly helped neutralize the virulent WannaCry ransomware worm—was charged with developing the Kronos banking trojan and an advanced spyware program known as the UPAS Kit. The then-23-year-old UK citizen was arrested in August 2017 at McCarran International Airport as he was about to fly home. He had spent the previous week attending the Black Hat and Defcon conferences. Hutchins has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to court documents, federal agents questioned Hutchins in an airport interview room shortly after he was arrested. When asked about his involvement in developing malware, the court records show, Hutchins grew visibly confused about the purpose of the interrogation. Eventually, prosecutors said, Hutchins acknowledged that, when he was younger, he wrote code that ended up in malware, but he denied that he had developed the malware itself. After reviewing some source code produced by the agents, Hutchins asked if the investigators were looking for the developer of Kronos. Hutchins then told the interrogators he didn't develop Kronos and had "gotten out" of writing code for malware before he turned 18.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Super Mario Maker 2, Link’s Awakening remaster headline latest Nintendo Direct

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 12:31am

The latest "Nintendo Direct" announcement video came packed with surprises, and none shattered more earth than the big Mario and Zelda games at the video's beginning and end.

As seen in the above gallery, Super Mario Maker 2 is heading to Nintendo Switch in June, 2019, and it appears to include enough new tools and systems to rank as a bona fide sequel, if not at least a serious "deluxe" edition. The revealed footage sticks primarily to the four games that the original build-your-own-platformer game supported (SMB1, SMB3, SMW, NSMB), but it adds tools like auto-scrolling paths, clear tubes, piranha plant pathing, more platforms, and the cat-suit power-up.

Though Nintendo issued only a vague release window of "2019," the company had a lot to showcase for its upcoming, surprise-announced remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. This apparently faithful remake retains the 1993 Game Boy game's top-down perspective (along with its occasional drops into underground side-scrolling), but it otherwise remakes the entire game as a fully 3D adventure.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple’s insider-trading policy enforcer accused of insider trading

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 12:20am

Enlarge (credit: Andrew / Flickr)

The Securities and Exchange Commission has brought suit against Gene Daniel Levoff, who was Apple's senior director of corporate law until September 2018. Levoff is accused of using his position to make illegal trades of Apple shares.

Levoff was part of Apple's Disclosure Committee—one of the people who could review the company's quarterly financial reports ahead of their publication. The SEC maintains that he used nonpublic information obtained as part of the committee to inform trades he made of Apple shares. For example, in July 2015 he learned that Apple was going to miss analyst estimates for iPhone unit sales. Between July 17 and July 21, when Apple published its quarterly earnings report, he sold nearly his entire holding of Apple stock, totaling nearly $10 million. When the news became public, Apple's share price dropped by more than 4 percent—selling early avoided losses of approximately $345,000.

The SEC alleges that, between 2011 and 2012, Levoff reportedly made $245,000 in profit and, in 2015 and 2016, avoided losses totaling $382,000.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Raw milk drinkers in 19 states at risk of rare, dangerous infectious disease

Ars Technica - February 13, 2019 - 10:53pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Thomas Trutschel )

If the explosion of measles cases hasn’t made you question what year it is, this health alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may inspire a double-take at the calendar: Unpasteurized milk may have sickened people in 19 states.

Yes, as the country grapples with five—count’em, five—outbreaks of a vaccine-preventable disease, the CDC is warning that another infectious disease of yore poses a risk to widespread dairy drinkers—at least the ones who soured on the standard, decades-old process to remove deadly pathogens from their milk.

The infectious disease is Brucellosis. It’s a hard-to-define febrile illness caused by Gram-negative Brucella bacterial species that infect a variety of animals and the occasional unlucky human. There are four species that pose particular risks to humans: Brucella suis, found in pigs; Brucella melitensis, found in sheep and goats; Brucella canis, from dogs; and—the one at the center of this current health alert—Brucella abortus, which is carried by cattle. Usually, the disease pops up in developing countries. But in the US, meatpackers, hunters, veterinarians, farmers, and careless microbiologists are at risk—as well as those who consume unpasteurized dairy.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Aluminum may be key to making exosolar systems with water worlds

Ars Technica - February 13, 2019 - 10:43pm

Enlarge / Should we expect all the planets of an exosolar system to have similar levels of water? (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Mini-Neptunes. Super-Earths. There's a huge diversity of exoplanets out there, many of them unlike anything we have in our Solar System. So how does a single physical process—the aggregation of bodies within a disk of gas and dust—produce so many different outcomes?

That's a question tackled by a paper in this week's Nature Astronomy. An international team of researchers has modeled the formation of planets early in the history of exosolar systems. And they find it's possible to radically change the water content of planets based on the amount of a radioactive element present in the material forming the exosolar system. The difference, they suggest, can determine whether a system is filled with ocean worlds or whether it winds up looking more like our own Solar System.

Wet or dry?

We already have some idea of what sets the level of water on a planet. The material in a planet-forming disk is heated both by collisions among its material and from the inside-out by the star once it ignites. Different materials will freeze out at specific distances from the star, creating multiple snow lines for water, carbon dioxide, methane, and more. Depending on which side of the snow lines an exoplanet forms, it will have more or less of these materials.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Selling 911 location data is illegal—US carriers reportedly did it anyway

Ars Technica - February 13, 2019 - 10:13pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | skaman306)

Three of the four major wireless carriers have been accused of breaking US law by selling 911 location data to third parties.

"Telecom giants broke the law by selling detailed location data" that was "meant for use only by emergency services," consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge said last week in a blog post that urged the Federal Communications Commission to punish the carriers.

Public Knowledge's statement came in response to a Motherboard article last week that provided new details about how carriers collect location data from customers and sell it to third parties.

Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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