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Dragon aces final NASA review, now set for test flight on March 2

Ars Technica - 7 hours 47 min ago

Enlarge / It is nearly time for crewed flights on SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. (credit: SpaceX)

On Friday, key NASA officials gathered in a large meeting room at Kennedy Space Center. Here, for decades, NASA managers reviewed analyses about the next space shuttle mission and, more often than not, cleared the vehicle for launch. But after 2011, there were no more crew vehicles to review.

That changed this week when NASA convened a "flight readiness review" for SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft for its initial test flight, without people on board. By Friday evening, the meeting was over and, among the NASA and SpaceX officials, the verdict was in—Dragon was ready for its demonstration mission as part of the commercial crew program on March 2. Launch time for the Falcon 9 rocket is 2:48am ET (07:48 UTC), from Kennedy Space Center. “I’m ready to fly," NASA's commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders, said succinctly.

The mood was ebullient among NASA leadership as well as SpaceX's top official on the scene, Hans Koenigsmann, the company's vice president of build and flight reliability. He, too, had participated in the flight readiness review in the storied room where so many shuttle meetings had been held.  "It was a really big deal for SpaceX, and me personally," he said.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

NHS told to ditch 'outdated' pagers

BBC Technology News - 8 hours 16 min ago
The health secretary wants to scrap the “archaic technology” which costs the NHS about £6.6m a year.

Comic for February 22, 2019

Dilbert - 8 hours 57 min ago
Categories: Geek

Nike app for self-tying shoe comes undone

BBC Technology News - February 22, 2019 - 11:49pm
The Google Android app that controls the new Adapt BB fails to sync with wearers' feet.

Facebook Will Shut Down Its Spyware VPN App Onavo

Slashdot - February 22, 2019 - 11:45pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Israel Launches Spacecraft To the Moon

Slashdot - February 22, 2019 - 11:45pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

INF Treaty exit? Putin says he’s ready to escalate to Cuban Missile Crisis levels

Ars Technica - February 22, 2019 - 11:08pm

Enlarge / Go ahead. Make my day.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told members of the Russian media on Wednesday that if the US exits the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and deploys nuclear weapons to Europe, Russia will follow suit—by placing nuclear weapons off the coast of the US. The comments came on the heels of an announcement by Putin that a nuclear powered, nuclear-armed unmanned submersible vehicle (essentially a giant nuclear torpedo) was nearly ready for deployment. The Russian president said the first submarine equipped to carry it would be ready as soon as this spring.

"If they create threats to us, they should be aware of the potential consequences, so that they will not accuse us of unnecessary aggressiveness or whatever later," Putin said in comments following his February 20 address to Russia's Federal Assembly. "They have announced their decision," he said, referencing President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the INF treaty. "We know what can follow it. We tell them, 'Do the maths. Can you count? So, do it before making any decisions that would create additional threats to you.'"

To make that point clearer, Putin gave some of the numbers for "the maths." First, he would put nuclear-armed missiles on submarines or surface ships. "At a speed of Mach 9, these missiles can strike a target more than 1,000 km away," he explained. "Under the Law of the Sea, the exclusive economic zone is defined at some 400 km or 200 miles. Do the maths. The distance of 1,000 kilometers at Mach 9. How soon, in how many minutes, can these weapons reach their targets? Just compare, the flight time to Moscow is between 10 and 12 minutes. How long would it take to reach the decision-making centers that are creating threats to us? The calculation is not in their favor, at least, not today."

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The clearest images of Ultima Thule reveal a strange-looking object

Ars Technica - February 22, 2019 - 10:47pm

Enlarge / The most detailed images of Ultima Thule, obtained just minutes before the spacecraft's closest approach at 12:33am EST on Jan. 1. (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/SWRI)

Twenty-six minutes after the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve in Times Square, the long-range camera aboard the New Horizons spacecraft was hard at work. The probe was just six minutes from its closest approach to Ultima Thule, an object formally named 2014 MU69, which resides in the Kuiper Belt around the outer Solar System.

One, two, three—the images ticked through, each with an exposure time of just 0.025 seconds. Four, five, six—and now the spacecraft was less than 7,000km away from its target. Seven, eight, nine—these pictures had to be perfect, because New Horizons was passing Ultima Thule at a speed of more than 50,000km/hour.

Only recently were investigators able to download all of these images and cobble together a composite image of the contact binary. With a resolution of 33 meters per pixel, this is probably as good of a view as we're going to get of Ultima Thule. And it still looks something like a snowman, peanut, pancake, or combination thereof.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Frontier demands $4,300 cancellation fee despite horribly slow Internet

Ars Technica - February 22, 2019 - 9:50pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Bill Oxford)

Frontier Communications reportedly charged a cancellation fee of $4,302.17 to the operator of a one-person business in Wisconsin, even though she switched to a different Internet provider because Frontier's service was frequently unusable.

Candace Lestina runs the Pardeeville Area Shopper, a weekly newspaper and family business that she took over when her mother retired. Before retiring, her mother had entered a three-year contract with Frontier to provide Internet service to the one-room office on North Main Street in Pardeeville. Six months into the contract, Candace Lestina decided to switch to the newly available Charter offering "for better service and a cheaper bill," according to a story yesterday by News 3 Now in Wisconsin.

The Frontier Internet service "was dropping all the time," Lestina told the news station. This was a big problem for Lestina, who runs the paper on her own in Pardeeville, a town of about 2,000 people. "I actually am everything. I make the paper, I distribute the paper," she said. Because of Frontier's bad service, "I would have times where I need to send my paper—I have very strict deadlines with my printer—and my Internet's out."

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

FTC plans to examine loot boxes with public workshop later this year

Ars Technica - February 22, 2019 - 9:18pm

Unlike this ceramic replica, video game loot boxes are not filled with real candy. (credit: ThinkGeek)

In response to a request from Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), the Federal Trade Commission now says it will be convening a "public workshop on loot boxes" later this year.

The FTC said it hopes to attract "consumer advocacy organizations, parent groups, and industry members" to take part in the workshop, according to a letter from FTC Chairman Joseph Simons provided to Hassan. The short note suggests such a gathering could "help elicit information to guide subsequent consumer outreach, which could include a consumer alert."

Elsewhere in the letter, Simons notes the FTC's previous efforts to gauge the marketing and accessibility of violent video games (and other media) to children. And though the FTC in November revealed publicly that it is investigating the loot box issue, Simons also notes that he can't publicly comment on any potential law enforcement efforts in the space that might be ongoing.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Sackler behind OxyContin fraud offered twisted, mind-boggling defense

Ars Technica - February 22, 2019 - 9:07pm

Enlarge / BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 25: Families who have lost loved ones to the opioid crisis protest in front of Suffolk Superior Court in Boston as lawyers for Purdue Pharma enter the courthouse for a status update in the Attorney General's suit against Purdue Pharma. (credit: Getty | Boston Globe)

Richard Sackler turned to verbal acrobatics and leaps in logic to try to dodge blame in the fraudulent marketing of Purdue’s potent opioid, OxyContin. The contorted explanations—which at points involved creating new definitions of words and claiming an enigmatic level of politeness—were first unveiled Thursday, February 21 from a sealed, 337-page deposition obtained by ProPublica.

The deposition was taken in August of 2015 as part of lawsuit brought by the state of Kentucky, which alleged Purdue illegally promoted its potent opioid painkiller. Back in 2007, federal prosecutors made similar allegations against Purdue, resulting in the company and three executives pleading guilty to misleading doctors, regulators, and patients over OxyContin’s addictiveness. Numerous legal complaints have piled up against Purdue in the aftermath. Purdue settled many of them, including Kentucky’s, which it settled for $24 million.

Yet in all the court battles, the mega-rich, secretive family behind Purdue, the Sacklers, have largely gone unscathed. In fact, the newly disclosed 2015 deposition is believed to be the only time a member of the Sackler family has been questioned over the fraudulent marketing.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Halo Infinite now linked to next Xbox’s launch, rumor suggests RPG elements

Ars Technica - February 22, 2019 - 8:50pm

Enlarge / The Halo Infinite logo, as revealed at E3 2018. (credit: Xbox Studios / 343 Industries)

As rumors heat up over what to expect from this summer's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), one Microsoft-focused news site has tossed a few more logs on the next-Xbox fire. In today's case, that specifically means Halo rumors.

The news comes from Thurrott's Brad Sams, who's currently the leading resource for hints when it comes to Microsoft's plans for its next wave of Xbox-branded devices. On Friday, Sams pushed forward an unsurprising rumor: that the previously announced game Halo Infinite will be confirmed at E3 2019 as a "launch title" for Microsoft's next console (or consoles, more on that in a moment).

What makes this rumor a little more interesting is that Sams offered context we hadn't yet heard about the game:

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google Will End Forced Arbitration For Employees

Slashdot - February 22, 2019 - 8:45pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Hayabusa2 touches down on asteroid, shoots it

Ars Technica - February 22, 2019 - 8:05pm

Enlarge / The timeline of the approach and sampling process. (credit: JAXA)

Today, in an extended Twitter thread and ensuing press conference, JAXA's Hayabusa2 team announced that everything had gone well in gathering an asteroid sample for eventual return to Earth. While we don't yet know about the material it obtained, the Japanese spacecraft has successfully executed all the commands associated with the sample recovery.

Hayabusa2 has been in space since 2014, and it slowly made its way to an orbit 20km above the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. In late 2018, the spacecraft made a close approach to the asteroid and released two small, solar-powered robots that have been hopping on the surface since. This week has seen the first of what are intended to be several sample-gathering attempts.

The procedure for this is pretty straightforward: Hayabusa2 snuggles up to the asteroid and shoots it. The probe has a sample-gathering "horn" that it can place up against the asteroid's surface. Once it's in place, Hayabusa2 can fire a bullet into the asteroid's surface, blasting material loose that will be gathered by the horn and stored for return to Earth. JAXA, the Japanese space agency, calls its gun a "projector" but admits that the thing it fires is a bullet. JAXA has a webpage that describes some on-Earth testing of the whole system.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

SpaceX to European competitors: We’re not subsidized, you are

Ars Technica - February 22, 2019 - 7:55pm

Enlarge / A Falcon 9 rocket launches the Iridium-8 mission in January, 2019. (credit: SpaceX)

Last summer, the Trump administration announced that it was opening negotiations with the European Union to achieve "fairer, more balanced trade" on behalf of US corporations, workers, and consumers. Since then, the talks have proceeded in fits and starts, with the president threatening auto tariffs if he didn't like the deal struck by the current US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer.

As part of this process, US companies were apparently asked what grievances they had concerning current barriers to free trade with the European Union. The most prolific US rocket company, SpaceX, was among those that responded, and the company used the opportunity to complain about foreign subsidies propping up its competitors for commercial satellite launches.

Large subsidies

On Dec. 10, SpaceX director of commercial sales Stephanie Bednarek wrote to Edward Gresser, chair of the Trade Policy Staff Committee in the Office of the US Trade Representative. The letter was first reported on by a French publication, Les Echos. A copy was then shared in the NASASpaceFlight.com forums.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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