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Industry & Technology

Does it help to make industrial chemicals with captured CO2? Sometimes

Ars Technica - 50 min 43 sec ago

Enlarge / Huntsman Olefins petrochemical industry, manufacturer of ethylene and propylene, Wilton, Teesside, UK. (credit: Photo by Photofusion/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

When we think about climate change, we most often think about emissions from two sectors: energy and transportation. But industry makes a big contribution to climate change, too. Industrial emissions come from a lot of different things, including the manufacture of common chemicals. Often, these chemicals are made by reforming fossil fuels using heat that's also provided by burning fossil fuels.

Overall, the chemical industry consumes about 10 percent of global final energy, according to the International Energy Agency.

In a recent PNAS paper, researchers from universities in Germany and California tried to estimate how effectively the chemical industry could decarbonize and whether such a decarbonization is likely.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Optical neural network at 50zJ per op? Nope, but it’s still a good idea

Ars Technica - 1 hour 19 min ago

Enlarge (credit: BeeBright/Getty Images)

Artificial intelligence (AI) has experienced a revival of pretty large proportions in the last decade. We've gone from AI being mostly useless to letting it ruin our lives in obscure and opaque ways. We’ve even given AI the task of crashing our cars for us.

AI experts will tell us that we just need bigger neural networks and the cars will probably stop crashing. You can get there by adding more graphics cards to an AI, but the power consumption becomes excessive. The ideal solution would be a neural network that can process and shovel data around at near-zero energy cost, which may be where we are headed with optical neural networks.

To give you an idea of the scale of energy we're talking about here, a good GPU uses 20 picoJoules (1pJ is 10-12J ) for each multiply and accumulate operation. A purpose-built integrated circuit can reduce that to about 1pJ. But if a team of researchers is correct, an optical neural network might reduce that number to an incredible 50 zeptoJoules (1zJ is 10-21J).

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ajit Pai oks T-Mobile/Sprint merger, “requires” 5G rollout that’ll happen anyway

Ars Technica - 1 hour 37 min ago

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with his oversized coffee mug in November 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

T-Mobile and Sprint are one big step closer to getting the US government's approval to merge, as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today announced his support for the deal combining two of the four largest US mobile carriers.

Pai's announcement virtually guarantees that the FCC will approve the deal; FCC approval would be finalized after the Republican-controlled commission votes. But T-Mobile and Sprint still need to convince the Department of Justice, which hasn't yet said whether it will sue to block the merger on antitrust grounds.

Pai's statement on the merger said he's approving it in large part because T-Mobile and Sprint "committed to deploying a 5G network that would cover 97 percent of our nation's population within three years of the closing of the merger and 99 percent of Americans within six years." They also committed to deploying 5G to 85 percent of rural Americans within three years and 90 percent within six years.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Report: Sony employees caught off guard by Microsoft cloud partnership

Ars Technica - 2 hours 13 min ago

Enlarge / The kinds of Azure server racks that could soon play host to Sony content under a recent cooperation deal.

Following Microsoft and Sony's surprising announcement of a cloud gaming partnership last week, Bloomberg has a bit of behind-the-scenes analysis that uses unnamed insider sources to explain how the deal came about.

Though Sony confirmed to Bloomberg that talks between the two console giants had been going on since last year, the announcement still caught rank-and-file employees at Sony off guard, according to Bloomberg's sources. "Managers had to calm workers and assure them that plans for the company’s next-generation console weren’t affected," as Bloomberg summarizes the view from inside the company.

Sony has already spun its 2012 purchase of streaming gaming company Gaikai into over 700,000 subscribers for its cloud-based PlayStation Now service, which launched in 2015. But Sony's server and network infrastructure has proven insufficient to provide the "as good as local" experience promised (but yet to be proven) by major competitors like Google's recently announced Stadia service. That led Sony to reach out to other companies with more established cloud infrastructure to expand its streaming gaming footprint.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

NASA’s full Artemis plan revealed: 37 launches and a lunar outpost

Ars Technica - 3 hours 29 min ago

Enlarge / A Blue Moon lander, built by Blue Origin, with an ascent vehicle (built by another company) on top. (credit: Blue Origin)

In the nearly two months since Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to return to the Moon by 2024, space agency engineers have been working to put together a plan that leverages existing technology, large projects nearing completion, and commercial rockets to bring this about.

Last week, an updated plan that demonstrated a human landing in 2024, annual sorties to the lunar surface thereafter, and the beginning of a Moon base by 2028, began circulating within the agency. A graphic, shown below, provides information about each of the major launches needed to construct a small Lunar Gateway, stage elements of a lunar lander there, fly crews to the Moon and back, and conduct refueling missions.

This decade-long plan, which entails 37 launches of private and NASA rockets, as well as a mix of robotic and human landers, culminates with a "Lunar Surface Asset Deployment" in 2028, likely the beginning of a surface outpost for long-duration crew stays. Developed by the agency's senior human spaceflight manager, Bill Gerstenmaier, this plan is everything Pence asked for—an urgent human return, a Moon base, a mix of existing and new contractors.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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

Ars Technica - 3 hours 35 min ago

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

Update: Statements from Google and Huawei, other companies join the ban

Huawei sent a statement to Ars Technica and others about the ban, saying "Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally. We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally."

Trade War! USA v. China

View more stories Google issued only a terse one-liner, saying "We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications." On Twitter, the company's official Android account was a bit friendlier, saying "For Huawei users' questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US government actions: We assure you while we are complying with all US gov't requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device."

Meanwhile, other US companies have started to cut off Huawei, with Bloomberg reporting that Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Xilinx have stopped supplying chips to Huawei. Intel is a big one, as it means Huawei laptops are pretty much dead. Bloomberg also reports that Huawei apparently saw this ban coming, and has stockpiled three months worth of chips from US companies.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Huawei's Android loss: How it affects you

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 3 min ago
Google's move to end business ties with Huawei will affect current devices and future purchases.

Warning over using augmented reality in precision tasks

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 19 min ago
Those using headsets to complete tricky tasks over-estimate how well they perform, a study suggests.

Huawei's use of Android restricted by Google

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 57 min ago
New designs of Huawei smartphones are set to lose access to some Google apps.

Here is our super spoiler-y review of the Game of Thrones series finale

Ars Technica - 10 hours 53 min ago

Enlarge / The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones proved to be the most polarizing and controversial yet. (credit: HBO)

The series finale of Game of Thrones defied pretty much all the predictions as to who would emerge triumphant and sit on the Iron Throne, in what has proved to be the most polarizing and controversial season yet. (More than a million fans have even signed a petition demanding that HBO re-shoot the entire final season, which—c'mon, people. That's not how any of this works. Save it for the fanfic.) Personally, I thought the series as a whole provided a gripping, trope-bashing narrative arc that was imperfectly executed in the crucial last two seasons. Showrunners David Benioff and David B. Weiss got the plane on the ground in the end—but it wasn't a pretty landing, and there's bound to be a lot of grumbling from dissatisfied customers. Ramsey Bolton did warn us: "If you were hoping for a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention."

(WARNING: It's impossible to write a meaningful wrap-up analysis of this incredibly influential series without going into specifics, so there are MAJOR spoilers below, especially for the final season and last two episodes.)

Let's get the controversial plot turn from last week out of the way up front, since it drove much of what transpired in the finale and pretty much encapsulates the best and worst aspects of this final season. In the penultimate episode, "The Bells," Daenerys and her surviving dragon Drogon make short work of Cersei's forces to conquer King's Landing. (That showy Golden Company? Not so tough after all.) As the bells ring to signal surrender, we see a flurry of conflicting emotions play across Dany's face before hardening into steely resolve. She proceeds to not just incinerate the Red Keep where Cersei has been watching the battle from afar—which is what everyone expected—but to rain down dragon fire on all the innocent civilians whom Cersei brought in to serve as human shields. Her decision lit up Twitter and launched a thousand hot takes, as disappointed fans howled in rage at seeing the Mother of Dragons break bad.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Lloyds to create 500 jobs at new tech hub in Edinburgh

BBC Technology News - 18 hours 21 min ago
The banking group says it is responding to a shift in customer behaviour towards digital services.

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 full-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.

Read 2 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.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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

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

Enlarge / Both the new dark view and light view look good. (credit: Opera)

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.

Read 40 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Revenge porn laws 'not working', says victims group

BBC Technology News - May 19, 2019 - 12:19am
Victims should receive anonymity and laws need to include threats to share images, a victims group says.

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.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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’.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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