Links of Interest – October 8

Facebook Unwraps a Gift Service

Facebook GiftsFacebook, apparently looking to join the e-commerce fray, is preparing a new service called “Facebook Gifts” that will encourage users to buy and send presents.

Initial items include gifts such as gift cards and cupcakes, but Facebook said it will add more options, according to The LA Times.

Users can send gifts from birthday reminders or when visiting a friend’s timeline.

Friends can enter their shipping information and swap gifts for different sizes, flavors or styles before the gift ships, according to Facebook.

Payments can be made as soon as users send the gift or they can choose to pay later. Their friends, meanwhile, can provide their address once they choose to accept the gift and it “will show up on their doorstep a few days late,” according to a news release from Facebook.

Ever conscious of privacy and security concerns, when you pay for a Facebook Gift, Facebook stores your credit card for future use. However, if you don’t want to have your credit card information stored on your account, you can remove it after making a purchase.

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Self-Driving Cars Bill

It seems California drivers may soon be able to catch a nap, finish writing that screenplay or do just about any activity one isn’t supposed to do while driving an automobile.

A bill sponsored by State Senator Alex Padilla will establish safety and performance regulations to test and operate autonomous vehicles on California highways, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

“Today we’re looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow’s reality — the self-driving car,” Governor Jerry Brown said. “Anyone who gets inside a car and finds out the car is driving will be a little skittish, but they’ll get over it.”

Google currently has a fleet of 12 computer-controlled vehicles that has logged more than 300,000 miles of self-driving without an accident, according to Google.

“I think the self-driving car can really dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone,” Google co-founder Sergey Brin said.

Newly Found Comet Could Look Spectacular in 2013

Who says you need a darkened sky to witness a breathtaking celestial phenomenon?

A newly discovered comet, first sighted by Russian astronomers, could put on an impressive celestial display next year. The comet will be bright enough to be seen in the daytime sky, according to Space.com.

The object, named Comet ISON, was announced Sept. 24 by Russians Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok. The new comet is officially known as C/2012 S1.

Comet ISON was 625 million miles from Earth and 584 million miles from the sun when it was first sighted. The comet is located in the dim constellation of Cancer. According to Space.com, it was shining at magnitude 18.8 on the reverse scale used by astronomers to measure the brightness of sky objects (the lower the number, the brighter the object). The comet is currently about 100,000 times fainter than the dimmest star that can be seen with the unaided eye.

Yet at its closest point to the sun, which is due Nov. 28, 2013, the comet has the potential to become a dazzling object, perhaps bright enough to be visible for a short time in broad daylight.

 

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