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Industry & Technology

Google restricts Huawei's use of Android

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 10 min ago
New US restrictions were placed on the Chinese tech giant last week over cyber-security fears.

Required gamer viewing: The history of M2’s Japanese retro-port empire

Ars Technica - May 19, 2019 - 10:50pm

If you speak a certain language about classic video games, you probably know about M2, a Japanese game studio responsible for dozens of impressive arcade and console ports to newer home consoles. Yet even if you don't, a new hour-long documentary about the studio should still be considered required viewing for anybody who loves the best Japanese games of the '80s and '90s.

Produced by My Life In Gaming, a video channel known for a laser focus on retro gaming, the M2 Complete Works documentary (embedded below) is a sweeping, decades-long look at a game studio renowned among dedicated gaming fans. That's because M2 has produced some of the most impressive ports, emulations, and even fully blown remakes of classic series by Sega, Konami, Capcom, and SNK. (Listing them all would bury the embedded video below, but to get a sense of how impressive M2's work is, look into the Sega 3D Classics Collection. This series saw M2 deconstruct many original Sega arcade and console games, then fully rebuild them with pitch-perfect emulation and 3D depth effects for the Nintendo 3DS.)

The MLIG production duo of Coury Carlson and Marc Duddleson fill their documentary with original insights from M2 staffers, starting with the studio's college-aged efforts to build an arcade-perfect version of Gauntlet for the Sega Genesis and working up to its acquisition of dozens of '90s industry vets to keep the studio going through the '00s and '10s.

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Google reportedly ends business with Huawei, will cut it off from Play Store

Ars Technica - May 19, 2019 - 9:40pm

Enlarge / Huawei's latest flagship, the P30 Pro. (credit: Huawei)

President Trump issued an executive order last week banning "foreign adversaries" from doing telecommunication business in the US. The move was widely understood as a ban on Huawei products, and now we're starting to see the fallout. According to a report from Reuters, Google has "suspended" business with Huawei, and the company will be locked out of Google's Android ecosystem. It's the ZTE ban all over again.

Reuters details the fallout from Trump's order, saying "Huawei Technologies Co Ltd will immediately lose access to updates to the Android operating system, and the next version of its smartphones outside of China will also lose access to popular applications and services including the Google Play Store and Gmail app."

Huawei's loss of access "to updates" is most likely a reference to Android Q, which hardware manufacturers get early access to. Since Android is open source, Huawei could resume development once the source code comes out. The real killer is the loss of the Google Play Store and Google Play Services, which unlocks access to the billions of Android apps and popular Google apps like Gmail and Maps. Reuters claims this will only happen to "the next version" of Huawei's smartphones, presumably meaning existing devices with the Play Store will continue to work.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus—how does American luxury stack up?

Ars Technica - May 19, 2019 - 2:00pm

The Nautilus is new to Lincoln's lineup for the 2019 model year—sort of. Another way of looking at it is that Lincoln gave the MKX a significant makeover and renamed it the Nautilus. Both the MKX and Nautilus sit on the same Ford CD4 platform, which we previously encountered in the Ford Edge. The Nautilus is about 2 inches (50mm) longer than the Edge and sports Lincoln's new large, rectangular grille, with the badge centered inside instead of on the body between two smaller grilles. Other cosmetic tweaks include body-color trim instead of black, some really sharp-looking wheels, and more aerodynamic appearance. Perhaps the biggest exterior tweak is the location of the "Nautilus" badge—it's embossed into a metal plate overlapping the forward edge of the front doors and the quarter panels. It gives the Nautilus a more distinctive look.

Turbocharged engines are standard in the Nautilus. Gone is the 3.7-liter V6 of the MKX, replaced with either a direct-injected 2.7-liter turbocharged V6 or a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger. The V6 offers up 335hp (250kW) and 380lb-ft (512Nm) of torque, while the standard 2.0L model deals out 250hp (186kW) and 280lb-ft (380Nm). No matter which power plant you opt for, it will be paired with an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission—a clear upgrade from last year's six-speed transmission. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available and are paired with an adaptive suspension aimed at offering a posh ride.

Lincoln offers the Nautilus in four trim levels: Standard ($41,335 base MSRP), Select ($45,540), Reserve ($49,870), and Black Label ($57,890). Lincoln makes a suite of driver-assist technology—newly bundled together as Lincoln Co-Pilot360—standard. Unfortunately, Co-Pilot360 doesn't include adaptive cruise control, lane-centering, evasive steering assist, and adaptive steering. Those are add-ons available via the Driver Assistance Package. The car we tested was the Black Label edition, with a sticker price of $67,630.

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Opera Reborn 3: No modern browser is perfect, but this may be as close as it gets

Ars Technica - May 19, 2019 - 1:30pm

When Opera Software unveiled a new look and feel for its browser earlier this year, the company made a big deal of the impending changes. "We put Web content at center stage," the Opera team declared on its blog. And early previews of the design appeared to be quite pared down, allowing users to browse "unhindered by unnecessary distractions" as the Opera team put it.

Well Opera recently released what the company refers to as Reborn 3, the latest version of its flagship desktop browser, and it's tempting to dismiss the name as little more than marketing hype. But given the relentless and utterly unspectacular updates that the Chromium project releases every six weeks, it can also be hard to denote actual big releases of browsers based on Chromium—hence the "Reborn" moniker. After spending some time with Reborn 3, however, the name seems accurate. For Opera, this is a significant update that goes far beyond what arrived with the move to Chromium 60.

Opera Reborn 3—or Opera 60 if you want to stick with version numbers—transitions a slew of features that recently debuted in Opera's mobile browsers to the desktop. The big three in this release are support for blockchain-secured transactions, a crypto wallet to go with the mobile version, and a new overall look with light and dark themes available. So if you haven't checked out Opera lately, it's worth revisiting, especially for those older Opera fans still smarting about the switch from Opera's Presto rendering engine to Google's Blink rendering engine.

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How tech companies are shaping the rules governing AI

Ars Technica - May 19, 2019 - 1:15pm

Enlarge (credit: Mina De La O | Getty Images)

In early April, the European Commission published guidelines intended to keep any artificial intelligence technology used on the EU’s 500 million citizens trustworthy. The bloc’s commissioner for digital economy and society, Bulgaria’s Mariya Gabriel, called them “a solid foundation based on EU values.”

One of the 52 experts who worked on the guidelines argues that foundation is flawed—thanks to the tech industry. Thomas Metzinger, a philosopher from the University of Mainz, in Germany, says too many of the experts who created the guidelines came from or were aligned with industry interests. Metzinger says he and another member of the group were asked to draft a list of AI uses that should be prohibited. That list included autonomous weapons, and government social scoring systems similar to those under development in China. But Metzinger alleges tech’s allies later convinced the broader group that it shouldn’t draw any “red lines” around uses of AI.

Metzinger says that spoiled a chance for the EU to set an influential example that—like the bloc’s GDPR privacy rules—showed technology must operate within clear limits. “Now everything is up for negotiation,” he says.

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Everyone is “gun-fu” fighting: John Wick 3 is almost as good as the original

Ars Technica - May 19, 2019 - 12:31am

Enlarge / "It wasn't just a puppy." Keanu Reeves is back, declaring war on the High Table in John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum. (credit: Lionsgate)

John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum is blowing up the box office this weekend with a projected $56.8 million opening in the US and $92 million globally. No sequel is likely to match the lean, mean, revenge-filled fury of the original film, but Parabellum comes close. Director Chad Stahelski knows exactly what his audience wants. This third installment advances the assassin's underworld mythology while stringing together a series of spectacularly choreographed fight sequences showcasing some of the finest stuntwork you're likely to see onscreen.

(Spoilers for first two films and mild spoilers for Chapter 3 below.)

For those who missed the first two movies, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a legendary hitman (known as the Boogeyman or "Baba Yaga") who tried to retire when he fell in love and got married. Unfortunately, he's drawn back into the dark underground world by an act of senseless violence after his wife's death. Nothing will stop John Wick from seeking retribution. The first John Wick grossed more than $88 million worldwide for a film that cost around $30 million to make, and it was praised for its brisk pace, heart-stopping action sequences, and stylish noir feel.

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Thanks Autopilot: Cops stop Tesla whose driver appears asleep and drunk

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 7:45pm

Enlarge (credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Police in the Netherlands on Thursday pulled over a Tesla driver who had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel while driving down the highway. A Dutch police agency reported the incident on Instagram.

A 50-year-old man was spotted driving close to the car ahead of him on the A27 road. "When we came alongside, the driver appeared to have fallen asleep," the police said.

Police signaled for the driver to pull over, but he didn't seem to notice. Eventually, the officers managed to wake the driver up using a siren, the Instagram post says. Police administered a blood alcohol test and found the driver to be under the influence of alcohol.

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Grumpy Cat’s death marks the end of the joyful Internet

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 6:31pm

Enlarge / Grumpy Cat poses on the set as she makes her broadway debut in "Cats" on Broadway at The Neil Simon Theatre on September 30, 2016 in New York City.

In 2012, America was halfway through President Obama's time in office. The first Avengers movie came out, and Hunger Games premiered. Hope was high, and Reddit—the Web's "front page"—was where anyone with a cute pet could get thousands of upvotes. Cats were the most popular, but occasionally a dog or two would slip in. Then, in September of that year, Bryan Bundesen posted a picture of his sister Tabatha's cat, Tardar Sauce, an 11-month old tabby with feline dwarfism that perpetually looked annoyed. The Internet was enraptured with Grumpy Cat.

That's how life on social media used to be. The biggest memeswere funny looking cats like Tardar and Lil Bub, or Mohawk Guy, and "Call Me Maybe." Memes weren't yet weapons of mass disruption (at least not on the scale that they came to be in 2016) and we still knew what a troll was. Now, Grumpy Cat is dead—the feline's owners announced her passing today on Twitter—and with her goes an era in which the Internet was more a place of joy than hate, uplift rather than harassment.

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Wandering Earth: Rocket scientist explains how we could move our planet

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 4:30pm

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

In the Chinese science fiction film The Wandering Earth, recently released on Netflix, humanity attempts to change the Earth’s orbit using enormous thrusters in order to escape the expanding Sun—and prevent a collision with Jupiter.

The scenario may one day come true. In five billion years, the Sun will run out of fuel and expand, most likely engulfing the Earth. A more immediate threat is a global warming apocalypse. Moving the Earth to a wider orbit could be a solution—and it is possible in theory.

But how could we go about it and what are the engineering challenges? For the sake of argument, let us assume that we aim to move the Earth from its current orbit to an orbit 50% further from the Sun, similar to Mars’.

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Star Wars: Outer Rim review—Piloting as Han or Boba Fett could use more thrills

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 3:00pm

Enlarge / The game's player board.

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

One of the defining aspects of Star Wars is its dramatic sense of adventure. Hopping from planet to planet, quarreling with local cultures, and getting swept up in something greater than yourself are all essential to the property’s Midichlorian-infused DNA. That’s why it’s surprising to realize that we’ve never had a proper Star Wars adventure game.

But the new Star Wars: Outer Rim is just that, a star-hopping frolic in the vein of classic titles Talisman and Runebound. You select your pilot from an eclectic mix drawn from both the big and small screen. Favorites such as Boba Fett and Han Solo are of course included, but we’re also offered Ketsu Onyo from the Rebels television show and Doctor Aphra from a beloved comic series.

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Borderlands 3, other games temporarily removed from Epic Games Store sale [Updated]

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 1:28pm

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 took itself off of the Epic Games Store temporarily rather than take part in the recent "Mega Sale"

[Update, May 18, 12:03pm ET: Ars received the following response via a representative of publisher 2K Games: "We are working closely with Epic and have temporarily removed Borderlands 3 from their storefront. We look forward to the game being back on the Epic Games store soon. Games bought during their Mega Sale will be honored at that price."]

[Update, May 18, 8:28am ET: Gearbox's Borderlands 3 is no longer available for pre-order on the Epic Games Store. The game was previously available for as low as $49.99 during the sale (before Epic's additional $10 off for all games over $14.99), down from its initial starting price of $59.99.

The Epic Games Store page for the game now simply lists a "Coming Soon" message where the pre-order links used to be. The "PC Digital" platform option has also been removed from the pre-order page on the official Borderlands webpage.

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>20,000 Linksys routers leak historic record of every device ever connected

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 12:45pm

(credit: US Navy)

This post has been updated to add comments Linksys made online, which says company researchers couldn't reproduce the information disclosure exploit on routers that installed a patch released in 2014. Representatives of Belkin, the company that acquired Linksys in 2013, didn't respond to the request for comment that Ars sent on Monday. Ars saw the statement only after this article went live.

More than 20,000 Linksys wireless routers are regularly leaking full historic records of every device that has ever connected to them, including devices' unique identifiers, names, and the operating systems they use. The data can be used by snoops or hackers in either targeted or opportunistic attacks.

(credit: Troy Mursch)

Independent researcher Troy Mursch said the leak is the result of a flaw in almost three dozen models of Linksys routers. It took about 25 minutes for the Binary Edge search engine of Internet-connected devices to find 21,401 vulnerable devices on Friday. A scan earlier in the week found 25,617. They were leaking a total of 756,565 unique MAC addresses. Exploiting the flaw requires only a few lines of code that harvest every MAC address, device name, and operating system that has ever connected to each of them.

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The Google city that has angered Toronto

BBC Technology News - May 18, 2019 - 12:30am
Canada is not Google's lab rat, say those protesting against plans to build a smart city in Toronto.

There’s a new Minecraft game coming, and it’s played entirely in augmented reality

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 12:12am

Microsoft may believe it has made augmented reality's killer app: the just-announced Minecraft Earth for iOS and Android.

AR on mobile devices may carry tremendous potential, but it's easy enough to argue that the mainstream value proposition hasn't arrived yet. Pokémon Go is probably the most oft-cited "killer app" for AR, but it's only barely a true AR app. And there are some neat shopping apps and educational tools (from Warby Parker and Ikea, for example), but none of them have made a big dent in the mainstream consciousness.

Minecraft Earth

At first glance, Minecraft Earth is a bit like Pokémon Go, given that it seems to be location aware in some ways. But there's a bit more to it than that. Players will be able to construct builds on their living room tables either alone or in collaboration with others, then go and place them full-size in the outside world when they're ready. You can collect new mobs (both familiar and new) and resources around you to incorporate in your build, then fight them in the life-size version of the build. Fundamentally, it appears to be the basic Minecraft experience translated to augmented reality with geolocation features.

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Hack on Stack Overflow exposes private data for ~250 users

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 11:13pm

(credit: Pixabay)

Stack Overflow said hackers obtained private data for about 250 users after breaching the site and spending the next week escalating their access.

“While our overall user database was not compromised, we have identified privileged Web requests that the attacker made that could have returned IP address, names, or emails for a very small number of Stack Exchange users,” Mary Ferguson, Stack Overflow VP of Engineering, wrote in a blog post published Friday. “Our team is currently reviewing these logs and will be providing appropriate notifications to any users who are impacted.”

In an update, Ferguson said investigators now estimate the number at 250 public network users. Officials for the developer community site will notify those affected. The company first disclosed the breach on Thursday in a four-sentence post that said “some level of production access was gained on May 11."

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Creator claims Lenovo stole foldable Moto Razr video it played at a press event

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 11:00pm

Lenovo's smartphone division has once again been caught misleading the press on its future plans. This time, the company held a press event for Chinese media and showed off what it said was a render of the mythical Moto Razr phone reboot with a foldable display. The only problem is that "Lenovo's" Razr render was a fanmade video that it downloaded from the Internet, and the creator says the company didn't even have permission to use it.

The allegedly stolen video in question is this Moto Razr concept video created by Waqar Khan. What appears to be an edited version of Khan's video was given to the Chinese media, and reports like this one from Sina Technology (a media company from the owners of Sina Weibo, China's Twitter clone) rehosted the video saying (through translation), "Lenovo today unveiled its own folding screen mobile phone video in an interview with Sina Technology and other media."

The rehosted video, reportedly from Lenovo, shows Khan's Razr render with some—but not all—of the watermarks removed. The most noticeable remaining watermark is on the clock, which says, "Concept by @WaqarKahnHD" above and below the time. This appears on the inside and outside screens of the phone render. The original video has watermarks in the bottom left and top right corners of the video, which have been cropped out in the version given to the Chinese media.

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China’s Chang’E-4 may have landed near pieces of the Moon’s interior

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 10:45pm

Enlarge / The original Yutu rover, shown on the Moon. (credit: NASA)

While some of the details are still being worked out, it's generally agreed that the Moon formed when a Mars-sized body collided with the early Earth. Some of the debris put into orbit by the collision would then go on to condense into the Moon.

One of the consequences of this is that the early Moon spent a lot of its history being bombarded by this debris, a process that should have left its surface molten. This magma ocean would only solidify slowly as the bombardment wound down, and the process of solidification should have left a mark on the Moon's composition. So far, indications of this have been difficult to come by. But now, there are signals that the Chang’E-4 mission to the Moon's far side has finally spotted some of the Moon's mantle, which contains signs of its magma ocean.

The end of an ocean

At first glance, the end of a magma ocean might seem simple: molten rock solidifies, leaving behind a solid body. But different minerals have their own melting points and densities, which can cause the ocean to become stratified. Ultimately, it's thought that the densest minerals will solidify at the base of the ocean, while the crust would be formed from lighter material that could solidify while floating on top of the remaining magma. Thus, we'd expect to see certain minerals on the surface and a different group of minerals deep in the mantle.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Man who threatened to kill Ajit Pai’s children gets 20 months in prison

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 9:16pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Putra Kurniawan | EyeEm)

A man who threatened to kill the family of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was today sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Markara Man, a 33-year-old from California, pleaded guilty on August 31, 2018 after making threats to Pai because he disagreed with the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules. In one email to Pai, Man wrote, "I will find your children and kill them."

"Threatening to actually kill a federal official’s family because of a disagreement over policy is not only inexcusable, it is criminal,” US Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia said in a Justice Department announcement of the sentencing today. The case was heard at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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Xbox, PC get a little bit closer with the latest Xbox updates

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 8:16pm

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

The May 2019 update for the Xbox One's system software is now rolling out, bringing some small refinements to the friends list, messaging, and game/app list.

Starting with the last one first, the app list will now ignore "a," "an," and "the" when sorting or grouping alphabetically. This is the kind of change that makes me amazed that they weren't already doing this, as it almost always makes for easier-to-use listings. Video games don't even have The The to contend with.

The Messaging change is rather inexplicable. There's a sensible change: incoming messaging requests from your friends are now prioritized, with requests from non-friends put in a separate category. But for some reason, Microsoft is going to wipe all group messages as a result. You can save backups of the messages for a limited time at Xbox.com, and messages with individual users are safe, but the group messages are all going. There's no obvious justification for this change, as even if there were some significant change being made to group messaging, one would expect Microsoft to handle migrating the messages from old to new.

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