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Transforming Robot Gets Stuck In Fukushima Nuclear Reactor 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the bend-me-shape-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes with more bad news for the people still dealing with the Fukushima nuclear accident. "The ability to change shape hasn't saved a robot probe from getting stuck inside a crippled Japanese nuclear reactor. Tokyo Electric Power will likely leave the probe inside the reactor housing at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex north of Tokyo after it stopped moving. On Friday, the utility sent a robot for the first time into the primary containment vessel (PCV) of reactor No. 1 at the plant, which was heavily damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. 'The robot got stuck at a point two-thirds of its way inside the PCV and we are investigating the cause,' a Tokyo Electric spokesman said via email. The machine became stuck on Friday after traveling to 14 of 18 planned checkpoints."

A Data-Driven Exploration of the Evolution of Chess 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-does-the-horse-do-again? dept.
HughPickens.com writes Randy Olsen has a interesting article where he explores a data set of over 650,000 chess tournament games ranging back to the 15th century and looks at how chess has changed over time. His findings include:

Chess games are getting longer. Chess games have been getting steadily longer since 1970, increasing from 75 ply (37 moves) per game in 1970 to a whopping 85 ply (42 moves) per game in 2014. "This trend could possibly be telling us that defensive play is becoming more common in chess nowaday," writes Olsen. "Even the world's current best chess player, Magnus Carlsen, was forced to adopt a more defensive play style (instead of his traditional aggressive style) to compete with the world's elite."

The first-move advantage has always existed. White consistently wins 56% and Black only 44% of the games every year between 1850 and 2014 and the first-move advantage becomes more pronounced the more skilled the chess players are. "Despite 150+ years of revolutions and refinement of chess, the first-move advantage has effectively remained untouched. The only way around it is to make sure that competitors play an even number of games as White and Black."

Draws are much more common nowadays. Only 1 in 10 games ended in a draw in 1850, whereas 1 in 3 games ended in a draw in 2013. "Since the early 20th century, chess experts have feared that the over-analysis of chess will lead "draw death," where experts will become so skilled at chess that it will be impossible to decisively win a game any more." Interestingly chess prodigy and world champion Jose Raul Capablanca said in the 1920's that he believed chess would be exhausted in the near future and that games between masters would always end in draws. Capablanca proposed a more complex variant of chess to help prevent "draw death," but it never really seemed to catch on.

Generate Memorizable Passphrases That Even the NSA Can't Guess 267

Posted by timothy
from the exercise-for-the-reader dept.
HughPickens.com writes Micah Lee writes at The Intercept that coming up with a good passphrase by just thinking of one is incredibly hard, and if your adversary really is capable of one trillion guesses per second, you'll probably do a bad job of it. It turns out humans are a species of patterns, and they are incapable of doing anything in a truly random fashion. But there is a method for generating passphrases that are both impossible for even the most powerful attackers to guess, yet very possible for humans to memorize. First, grab a copy of the Diceware word list, which contains 7,776 English words — 37 pages for those of you printing at home. You'll notice that next to each word is a five-digit number, with each digit being between 1 and 6. Now grab some six-sided dice (yes, actual real physical dice), and roll them several times, writing down the numbers that you get. You'll need a total of five dice rolls to come up with each word in your passphrase. Using Diceware, you end up with passphrases that look like "cap liz donna demon self", "bang vivo thread duct knob train", and "brig alert rope welsh foss rang orb". If you want a stronger passphrase you can use more words; if a weaker passphrase is ok for your purpose you can use less words. If you choose two words for your passphrase, there are 60,466,176 different potential passphrases. A five-word passphrase would be cracked in just under six months and a six-word passphrase would take 3,505 years, on average, at a trillion guesses a second.

After you've generated your passphrase, the next step is to commit it to memory.You should write your new passphrase down on a piece of paper and carry it with you for as long as you need. Each time you need to type it, try typing it from memory first, but look at the paper if you need to. Assuming you type it a couple times a day, it shouldn't take more than two or three days before you no longer need the paper, at which point you should destroy it. "Simple, random passphrases, in other words, are just as good at protecting the next whistleblowing spy as they are at securing your laptop," concludes Lee. "It's a shame that we live in a world where ordinary citizens need that level of protection, but as long as we do, the Diceware system makes it possible to get CIA-level protection without going through black ops training."

The Internet of Things Just Found Your Lost Wallet 108

Posted by timothy
from the so-don't-lose-your-phone dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Ever forgotten your wallet in a coffee shop or restaurant? Now there's a way to ensure it'll never happen again: Woolet, which its creators bill as a "smart wallet." It features a rechargeable battery, Bluetooth support, and the ability to synchronize with a smartphone app; if you walk 20-85 feet away from your wallet, the app will make a sound and guide you back to it. The platform's being financed on Kickstarter, and attracted attention from TechCrunch and some other places, but it begs the question: is this yet another example of connected devices run amok—shiny and interesting as a concept but not nearly useful enough for the population at large? What would it take for a connected device, whether a wallet or a smoke detector, to gain mass appeal?

Comment: False savings (Score 1) 328

Yes, LEDs are far more efficient and use less electricity yada yada. However, it's pretty much guaranteed that this will not lead to cost savings.
Historically, every time a cheaper lighting technology came along, from candles to oil lamps to gas lamps to Edison bulbs to CFLs, people simply increase the amount of lighting and the length of time (into the night) that they keep the house lit up. I see nothing to suggest that conversion to LEDs will change this trend.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin