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Industry & Technology

The Raspberry Pi 4 launch site runs on a Pi 4 cluster

Ars Technica - 5 min 1 sec ago

As Ron Amadeo reported earlier this morning, the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B has launched. It's a pretty big upgrade from the Raspberry Pi 3, with the company claiming it can provide "desktop performance comparable to entry-level x86 PC systems."

Ok... but how does it perform as a server? Individually, the answer is just about what you'd expect. While the Pi 4B is an enormous all-around upgrade from the 3B+, it's still a Raspberry Pi at its heart. The former model's DDR2 RAM has been upgraded to DDR4, the new Cortex A72 CPU is anywhere from double to quadruple the speed of the older A53, and the gigabit Ethernet adapter isn't hamstrung by a USB 2.0 bus anymore, so it can actually push a gigabit worth of traffic. This is fantastic for a starting-at-$35, passively-cooled bittybox... but it's still very anemic compared to, for example, a humble i3-8100T.

Sysbench CPU is a decent metric for estimating real-world performance. Data drawn from Tom's Hardware for the Rpi 4B, and from OpenBenchmarking.org for the Intel i3-8100T. (credit: Jim Salter)

But where you can't scale up, you can scale out—and that's precisely what www.raspberrypi.org has done. The launch site for the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is running—mostly—on a cluster of 18 of the little devices themselves. Fourteen handle PHP code execution, two serve static files, and two run memcached. CloudFlare is still handling the brunt of the raw network traffic, though, and the database—by far the heaviest storage load on a WordPress site—isn't running on the little Pi cluster, either.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Review: Jessica Jones S3 is flawed but packs a powerful payoff in the end

Ars Technica - 32 min 7 sec ago

Enlarge / Last Defender standing: Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) ponders what it means to be a hero in the final season. (credit: YouTube/Netflix)

Jessica Jones makes its final bow with an imperfect but ultimately powerful and thought-provoking third season. The series finale—canceled before it even started streaming, along with the rest of the Marvel/Netflix Defenders series—expertly explored conflicting notions of justice, the possibility of forgiveness and redemption, and what it really means to be a hero through the lens of Jessica's fractured relationship with her adoptive sister, Trish Walker.

(Spoilers for all three seasons below.)

Along with the first season of Daredevil in 2015, Jessica Jones helped launch the Defenders shared universe on Netflix to broad critical acclaim. The show earned praise for its gritty noir tone (perfectly captured in the main title sequence), complex characters (shout-out to Carrie-Ann Moss's Emmy-worthy turn as Jeri Hogarth), and unapologetically frank depiction of a woman struggling with PTSD in the wake of an abusive relationship. It's hands-down my favorite of the Defenders series, although Daredevil's arch-villain Wilson Fisk will always hold a special place in my esteem.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ancient Peruvian engineering could help solve modern water shortages

Ars Technica - 1 hour 16 min ago

Enlarge / Diversion canals channel water into earth-bottomed infiltration canals like this one, where water can begin to soak into the ground on its way to a pond or basin. (credit: Musuq Briceño, CONDESAN, 2012.)

Rain seldom falls on the desert lowlands of coastal Peru, so people in the area have always depended on the water that flows down from the Andes during the rainy season. But streams in this part of the world come and go quickly, so indigenous people built a system of canals and ponds to channel excess rainwater and create groundwater. Now a group of researchers says that a scaled-up version could help improve Peru’s water management.

Ancient engineers (not aliens)

1,400 years ago, Chavin and Wari indigenous communities on the slopes of the Andes Mountains dug systems of stone-lined and earthen canals to channel excess rainwater from streams to areas where the ground could soak up more of the water. From there, the water gradually trickled through sediment and cracks in the rock until it reached springs downslope. “Water is stored in the soils and travels much slower beneath the surface than it would as overland flow,” Boris Ochoa-Tocachi, a civil engineer at Imperial College London, told Ars Technica. Water that would otherwise have been lost to flooding feeds springs that remain active even into the dry season.

Today, most of these once-widespread canals—called amunas in the Quechua language—lie abandoned or clogged. But in a few rural communities, like Huamantanga in the central Andes, people have used and maintained parts of the ancient amunas for centuries. 11 of the original canals still operate, feeding 65 active springs and 14 small ponds.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Missing YouTuber Etika's belongings found

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 22 min ago
The gamer, who has a strong following on YouTube, has now not been seen for five days.

Falcon Heavy rocket set to attempt SpaceX’s “most difficult launch ever”

Ars Technica - 3 hours 41 min ago

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket will attempt its most technically demanding mission yet on Monday night, with a rideshare flight organized by the US Air Force. Company founder Elon Musk has characterized the mission as "Our most difficult launch ever."

During this Space Test Program-2 flight, the world's most powerful operational rocket will attempt to deliver 24 different payloads into three different orbits, resulting in multiple re-lights of the Merlin 1D engine powering the rocket's second stage.

It is a critical mission for SpaceX and its Falcon Heavy rocket for a few reasons. First of all, this is the first time the Air Force has flown payloads on a Falcon Heavy rocket. And while this mission will not be carrying anything critical to national security—such as large satellites valued at $1 billion or more used for observation, communication, or other purposes to advance the national interest—Air Force officials will be watching closely.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Facebook: Nick Clegg says 'no evidence' of Russian interference in Brexit vote

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 11 min ago
Sir Nick Clegg says Facebook found no "significant attempt" by outside forces to sway the 2016 vote.

Presidential warnings 'easy' to spoof

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 13 min ago
Fake messages could cause widespread panic, the researchers who uncovered the flaws say.

Raspberry Pi used to steal data from Nasa lab

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 52 min ago
Lax security at a Nasa lab let a hacker lurk on the agency's network for almost a year, says report.

EE fined £100,000 for unlawful texts

BBC Technology News - 6 hours 6 min ago
The mobile network sent 2.5 million messages to customers about its app and handset upgrades.

The Raspberry Pi 4 brings faster CPU, up to 4GB of RAM

Ars Technica - 10 hours 17 min ago

Today, Raspberry Pi is introducing a new version of its popular line of single-board computer. The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is the fastest Raspberry Pi ever, with the company promising "desktop performance comparable to entry-level x86 PC systems."

The new model is built around a Broadcom BCM2711 SoC, which, with four 1.5GHz Cortex A72 CPU cores, should be a big upgrade over the quad core Cortex A53 CPU in the Raspberry Pi 3. The RAM options are the even bigger upgrade though, with options for 1GB, 2GB, and even 4GB of DDR4. The Pi 3 was limited to 1GB of RAM, which really stung for desktop-class use cases.

There has been some upgrades and tweaks to the Pi 4 I/O, too. The Gigabit Ethernet returns, as do the four USB ports, but two of them get an upgrade to USB 3.0. Power is now supplied via a USB-C port, instead of the aging Micro USB of the Pi 3. The headphone jack returns, too, and it's still a four-pole solution providing audio and composite video.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ransomware cyber-attacks are targeting large companies and demanding huge payments

BBC Technology News - 16 hours 16 min ago
A Norwegian aluminium producer is recovering after hackers took thousands of computers offline and demanded a ransom.

Review: Teenagers must ward off mischievous supernatural beings in Jinn

Ars Technica - June 23, 2019 - 3:30pm

Supernatural creatures threaten a group of high school students in the new Netflix series Jinn.

A high school field trip to the ancient archaeological site of Petra turns tragic, and supernatural creatures are unleashed to prey on the living in Jinn, the first Arabic language original series from Netflix. Forget the Westernized concept of genies found in our popular culture, like Aladdin or I Dream of Jeannie. This series draws on more traditional Arabian/Islamic mythology for its portrayal of the jinn, and it's all the richer for it.

(Mild spoilers below.)

Mira (Salma Malhas), a high school student in Amman, Jordan, is struggling with the recent loss of her mother and brother, and her mixed feelings for her jealous boyfriend, Fahed (Yasser Al Had), who is pressuring her for sex. When the high school class takes a field trip to Petra, tensions emerge, largely driven by Tareq (Abd Alrazzaq Jarkas), your typical high school bully with a broad misogynistic streak for good measure. He and his cronies torment the shyly anxious Yassin (Sultan Alkhail) because they think he ratted them out to the teacher for their many misdeeds.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Via the BBC, find out how Apollo 11’s Eagle actually landed

Ars Technica - June 23, 2019 - 3:00pm

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

With the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing fast approaching, there's a veritable deluge of programs, events, and media of various forms, all dedicated to recapturing an astonishing moment in humanity's collective history. All of these things face a serious challenge: the Apollo missions have been revisited so many times and from so many angles, it's difficult to say anything truly new.

Go for the obvious points, and you'll face telling a big chunk of your audience things they already knew. Aim for something truly novel, and there's the risk that you'll end up focusing on an aspect that's obscure simply because it's not that interesting or important. These problems are compounded for an audience like Ars', where most of us have spent a bit of time obsessed by the space program, and the hurdles to finding some novelty grow even higher.

The promise of a new angle on a familiar subject was what got me listening to a production by the BBC's World Service entitled 13 Minutes to the Moon. This multi-episode podcast focuses on what's really the key moment in Apollo 11: the final descent and touchdown of the Eagle lander that delivered Armstrong and Aldrin to the Moon's surface.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

It’s possible to build a Turing machine within Magic: The Gathering

Ars Technica - June 23, 2019 - 2:00pm

Enlarge / Assemble just the right deck, and draw just the right cards, and you'll get the equivalent of a universal Turing machine within the game, a new study finds. That makes it the most computationally complex real-world game yet known. (credit: Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images)

Consider this hypothetical scenario: Bob and Alice are playing a game of Magic: The Gathering. It's normal game play at first, as, say, Filigree robots from Kaladesh face off against werewolves and vampires from Innistrad. But then Alice draws just the right card from her customized deck, and suddenly Bob finds himself caught in the equivalent of a Turing machine, the famed abstract device that can simulate any computer algorithm. Thanks to the peculiarities of the rules of Magic, Bob can now only finish the game when he meets whatever condition Alice has programmed her in-game algorithm to accomplish—for example, to find a pair of twin primes greater than one million.

It may be a highly unlikely scenario, but a recent paper posted on the physics arXiv proves that it's possible in principle to build a simple computer within this massively popular tabletop game using just the right combination of Magic cards. While the inputs must be pre-programmed, "Literally any function that can be computed by any computer can be computed within a game of Magic," said co-author Alex Churchill, a longtime Magic fan who has been working on the problem for several years.

Furthermore, he and his co-authors—Stella Biderman of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Austin Herrick of the University of Pennsylvania—have concluded that Magic might be as computationally complex as it's possible for any tabletop game to be. In other words, "This is the first result showing that there exists a real-world game [of Magic] for which determining the winning strategy is non-computable," the authors write.

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Minnesota cop awarded $585,000 after colleagues snooped on her DMV data

Ars Technica - June 23, 2019 - 12:19pm

Enlarge / The most recent graduate from Ford's police academy, the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan.

In 2013, Amy Krekelberg received an unsettling notice from Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources: An employee had abused his access to a government driver’s license database and snooped on thousands of people in the state, mostly women. Krekelberg learned that she was one of them.

When Krekelberg asked for an audit of accesses to her DMV records, as allowed by Minnesota state law, she learned that her information—which would include things like her address, weight, height, and driver’s license pictures—had been viewed nearly 1,000 times since 2003, even though she was never under investigation by law enforcement. In fact, Krekelberg was law enforcement: she joined the Minneapolis Police Department in 2012, after spending eight years working elsewhere for the city, mostly as an officer for the Park & Recreation Board. She later learned that over 500 of those lookups were conducted by dozens of other cops. Even more eerie, many officers had searched for her in the middle of the night.

Krekelberg eventually sued the city of Minneapolis, as well as two individual officers, for violating the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which governs the disclosure of personal information collected by state Departments of Motor Vehicles. Earlier this week, she won. On Wednesday, a jury awarded Krekelberg $585,000, including $300,000 in punitive damages from the two defendants, who looked up Krekelberg’s information after she allegedly rejected their romantic advances, according to court documents.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Jedi: Fallen Order hands-on: Finally, a solid EA Star Wars game⁠—is that enough?

Ars Technica - June 22, 2019 - 4:10pm

LOS ANGELES⁠—How much is a solid single-player Star Wars adventure game from EA worth in 2019?

That answer might have been different six years ago, when EA's brand-new investment in the Star Wars universe had everyone wondering how epic its games would turn out. Since then, one huge project sputtered, then was outright canceled, while two Star Wars Battlefront reboots ranged from so-so to alarming.

Hence, at this point, you may breathe a sigh of relief to learn that this November's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order not only exists but feels quite good, based on my hands-on gameplay session at last week's E3. Or you may yawn while wondering where the heck your Knights of the Old Republic-caliber Star Wars adventure is. After my tests, I think both of those responses are valid.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Claims of Tesla hack wide of the mark—we dig into GNSS hacking

Ars Technica - June 22, 2019 - 3:00pm

On Wednesday of this week, an Israeli firm called Regulus Cyber issued a press release stating that "spoofing attacks on the Tesla GNSS (GPS) receiver could easily be carried out wirelessly and remotely." In the firm's demonstration attack on a Model 3, "the car reacted as if the exit was just 500 feet away—abruptly slowing down, activating the right turn signal, and making a sharp turn off the main road," according to Regulus. "The driver immediately took manual control but couldn't stop the car from leaving the road."

Tesla's official response could best be described as "brusque."

So, a company most of us haven't heard of tells us that it's demonstrated disturbing vulnerabilities in Tesla. Tesla, in effect, says said company is just looking for a buck and there's no problem, but it doesn't really provide any details. Where does the truth lie? That question necessitates a look at the merits of this specific Regulus-vs-Tesla claim—and then a broader glance into the history, technology, and possibilities of GNSS spoofing itself.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Sorcerer’s greatest trick? Shrinking a CCG experience into a single box

Ars Technica - June 22, 2019 - 2:00pm

Enlarge / From the animist deck. I hope you like spiders...

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

Card battle games are a cornerstone of analog gaming. From the venerable Magic: The Gathering to the recently departed Android: Netrunner, their addictive blend of brainy strategy and beautiful artwork have brought millions of players to the table. Their other big draw? The potential for personalization—players can spend hours honing and perfecting their decks, tweaking tactics and hunting for powerful card combinations.

It’s a rich, engrossing process, but it's not for everyone. If recent releases are anything to go by, a substantial audience of gamers would rather just skip it. Keyforge, the recent game from Magic creator Richard Garfield, removed custom decks from the equation, instead handing players pre-assembled, algorithmically generated collections of cards. And now there’s Sorcerer, the latest release from Star Realms studio White Wizard Games. The game takes a more low-tech approach to bypassing deck construction, throwing players straight into a battle of cunning, cleverness, and giant spiky demons.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Argentina’s blackout and the storm-battered future of the grid

Ars Technica - June 22, 2019 - 12:47pm

Enlarge (credit: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Early Sunday morning, all of mainland Argentina lost power in an “unprecedented” blackout event that left most of the country’s 44 million citizens in the dark until the evening. The blackout also extended to Uruguay (which is connected to Argentina’s power grid) and limited parts of Chile. Although the exact cause of the blackout is still being investigated, Argentina experienced heavy rains over the weekend, and there is reason to believe that the inclement weather played a starring role in the largest blackout in recent history.

Extreme weather events are a leading cause of blackouts around the world, and the blackout in Argentina is a reminder that our electric grids aren’t ready to handle the increasing intensity of storms resulting from climate change. Although the United States isn’t likely to see a nationwide blackout like the one that hit Argentina, localized blackouts in the United States have increased in both frequency and duration in recent years. This is due in no small part to massive forest fires, snow storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes that cause localized blackouts often affecting tens of thousands of people.

“There is clear evidence that extreme weather events have increased over the past 20 years, and so have the number of outages and the number of customer hours out of service,” says Alison Silverstein, an independent energy consultant and previous advisor to the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “We need to accept this and do a better job at helping customers and communities survive these growing outages and threats.”

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

X-Prize winner: Children are not a product

BBC Technology News - June 22, 2019 - 2:10am
The winner of Elon Musk's global learning award warns that children's data should be protected.

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