Obama floats $10-per-barrel oil tax to prep for clean, self-driving cars

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The Obama administration wants to make transportation not only more eco-friendly but also safer. And it wants oil companies to help pay for the transition.

On Thursday, the president proposed his so-called 21st Century Clean Transportation System plan. The proposal aims to integrate autonomous cars and cut both reliance on fossil fuels and also carbon pollution.

“The investments in vehicle research and deployment would get clean autonomous vehicles on the road more quickly and more safely, while ensuring electric cars and other alternative vehicles have the technology and the charging infrastructure they need,” read the plan. Read more…

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6-inch Mr. Spock looks so much like Leonard Nimoy it's scary

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Video: Mark Andrew Boyer

Without the original Star Trek television series, which first aired almost 50 years ago, there would be no “Next Generation,” no “original cast movies,” Next Generation films and certainly no J.J. Abrams reboot. It’s why, for a certain generation, the nostalgia remains and, this year especially, every new franchise product is treated like a precious gift.

Mezco Toyz has a long history of making hyper-realistic figures, especially for celebrities and movie characters, but it had never tackled Star Trek. Fortunately, some at the company, like Mezco Project Manager Pierre Kalenzaga, were already fans. Kalenzaga, 40, told me he remembered watching with his dad the original series in reruns on Channel 11. And so Mezco, with series rights holder CBS Television Distribution’s blessing, set out to make three iconic 50th anniversary figures. Read more…

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Visa takes on Stripe and PayPal with launch of developer platform

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SAN FRANCISCO — Visa is looking to take on Silicon Valley payments companies like Stripe and is turning to developers to jumpstart its efforts.

The company launched a far-reaching developer platform Thursday that will allow developers and other companies to access the company’s payments tools. The move marks the first time Visa has made its payments processing tech widely available to third parties.

Right now, Visa Developer consists of more than 150 application program interfaces (APIs) that enable everything from fraud prevention, mobile checkouts and person-to-person payments. These tools are open to any third-party company or developer who wants to experiment with using Visa’s infrastructure into its services. (Though developers can test the tools out for free, Visa will charge developers who launch apps using its APIs.) Read more…

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Find out how you're connected to every single person on Facebook

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In honor of its 12th birthday, Facebook has calculated the degrees of separation between you and every other person on the website

With a total of 1.59 billion users on the site, it’s mind blowing just how linked we are to one another — in most cases, you’ll be connected with others, even CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself, in far less steps than six.

In a blog post, Facebook said the average degrees of separation between everyone on Facebook through friend connections comes to 3.57, less than famed author Frigyes Karinthy proposed in his short story “Chains.”

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GoPro now sells just 3 different cameras

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GoPro announced it is discontinuing its older series of cameras alongside a pretty negative financial report for 2015The report describes an unexpected $57 million hit to the company’s revenues due to an excess of camera inventory and obsolete technology.

The new GoPro lineup starting in April will only include three cameras: the Hero4 Black, Hero4 Silver and Hero4 Session. Everything else will be discontinued, including the cheapest Hero GoPro, which the company describes as “the perfect entry-level GoPro.”

Following GoPro’s announcement, its stocks have taken a sharp fall, going down over 10% over the last day. Read more…

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Twitter is testing a button that serves up ready-made GIFs for users

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Twitter users may soon see more GIFs in their newsfeed, thanks to a dedicated button the company is quietly testing.

It appears the social network is currently working on a GIF button that would allow users to select from a pool of ready-made animated images, so it could be easily added to a tweet to help convey their current mood.

Various Twitter users have tweeted, naturally, that a dedicated GIF tool has popped up in between the photos and polls options on their mobile app. Twitter user Phil Pearlman, who was among the first to spot the update, told TechCrunch tapping the GIF button reveals a collection of GIFs that are trending or fall into certain mood categories. Read more…

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