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Submission + - Chinese firm can now produce 500 cloned pigs per year 1

Sockatume writes: According to an article published by the BBC, Chinese firm BGI has refined cloning procedures to the point where they can produce 500 pigs per year, performing two embryo implantations per day with a 70-80% success rate. Much of the operation is concerned with producing genetically-engineered animals for research. The biotech firm's other work includes million-individual-scale animal and plant genetic sequencing.

Submission + - Japan to tax sales of content downloaded from abroad (

Qedward writes: Japan is planning to tax sales of foreign online content such as e-books, apps and downloaded music by late 2015.

Japanese who purchase electronic content from foreign firms like through overseas servers don't have to pay consumption tax, currently at 5% but slated to rise to 8% in April. That has made foreign content cheaper than apps, MP3 downloads, software, and e-books distributed domestically.

Physical products purchased from abroad are hit with consumption tax when they clear customs in Japan, but no such levy exists for online goods.

The government plans to close the loophole and make foreign vendors selling consumer goods register with tax authorities and pay the tax. Japanese corporations that buy foreign electronic content such as business software, however, will have to pay the tax directly to the Japanese tax authorities, Nikkei Asian Review reported this morning.

Submission + - Valve Launches SteamVR Beta for Virtual Reality On the Eve of Steam Dev Days (

An anonymous reader writes: Over the last few weeks, Valve has made some major advances in support for virtual reality. First was the announcement that they'd be showing prototype VR hardware that they believe is “what affordable VR hardware will be capable of within a couple of years.” ( Second, they've added a 'VR Support' category ( to Steam for Oculus Rift games. Third, they are soon to release a VR SDK for Steam developers ( And now they've finally launched SteamVR Beta, a Big Picture mode for the Oculus Rift, and presumably also for future virtual reality headsets (

At Steam Dev Days next week, Valve has three VR talks planned: 'What VR Could, Should, and Almost Certainly Will Be within Two Years,' 'Virtual Reality and Steam,' and 'Porting Games to Virtual Reality' — the latter by Oculus co-founder and Rift inventor Palmer Luckey.

Submission + - Tabletop roleplaying system for tablets on Kickstarter (

Slabtown Jake writes: Slabtown Games is Kickstarting a "digital roleplaying system" called Storyscape. It's like a paper and pencil tabletop roleplaying game, except instead of using paper and pencils, this one uses networked tablets that do all the math and record-keeping for you. The underlying game mechanics were written by award-winning game designer Robin D. Laws, and it includes a number of features designed to take advantage of the available processing power, while leaving the actual decision-making in the hands of the players and gamemaster.

Submission + - Mathematical model helps estimate optimal timing of cyber attack (

sciencehabit writes: Have you been missing the grim mathematical war games that strategists once used to map out possible nuclear confrontations? Don’t worry, the games are back—this time applied to computer security. Researchers have now mathematically formalized the strategy of computer hacking, potentially enabling anyone—governments, activist hackers, cybermafia—to determine the optimal timing of attacks.
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Submission + - Delaware To Permit Instate Online Gambling (

schwit1 writes: Delaware became the first state to enter the realm of legal online casino gambling Thursday with the governor's approval of legislation that allows for full-service betting websites offering slots play and games like roulette, poker and blackjack.

Federal law limits online gambling to players within the state's borders, which will be verified using geolocation software.

The state hopes to launch online gambling in 2013 and intends to make betting available on a variety of digital devices including smart phones and tablets.


Submission + - A Program Learns Oriental Ink Painting (

mikejuk writes: Using reinforcement learning to make a computer paint like an oriental Sumi-e artist isn't just a matter of shouting "well done" — and yet when you look at the results that's what you want to do...
Three researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have attempted to teach a computer how to do it using standard reinforcement learning. When the program used the brush to create a smooth stroke then it was rewarded. After it had learned to use the brush it was set to rendering some photos and the results look very good — one even looks like a sketch from Angry Birds but I'm sure this is a cultural thing...


Submission + - Is there a Titan Ocean? (

Stirling Newberry writes: "Luciano Iess and team have hypothesized that Titan joins Earth, Europa, and Ganymede as ocean worlds. They measure the size of the tidal bulges and find that the moon is likely not solid. Team member Jonathan Lunine points out that Titan's methane atmosphere is not stable, so needs some source, perhaps from outgassing. On earth, water means life, and in the future, ice covered ocean worlds are targets for human colonization, since as the late Arthur C. Clarke observed, water is the most precious substance in the universe to humans."

You don't have to know how the computer works, just how to work the computer.