Start up: Tim Cook’s stock question, Samsung’s pen trouble, bending the iPhone 6S, and more


Yeah, Sanford Wallace probably preceded you here. Photo by epSos.de on Flickr.

A selection of 10 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Apple CEO Tim Cook got 280,000 Apple shares the day of the market rout » Fortune

Philip Elmer DeWitt:

By coincidence or design, Tim Cook was scheduled to receive a boatload of Apple stock the same day he stopped a market rout.

Apple disputes it, but the note Tim Cook sent CNBC’s Jim Cramer Monday, could, in theory, have personally saved him millions of dollars in unvested Apple shares.

Here’s the background.

In August 2011, when Tim Cook was tapped to replace the ailing Steve Jobs, Apple’s board of directors awarded him 1 million restricted stock units (RSUs), half to vest in five years, the rest in 10. At the time they were awarded, the shares were worth $323 million.

At Cook’s request, the terms by which those shares are distributed were changed two years later; the shares now vest on a yearly basis by a complicated formula that includes a performance incentive tied to the company’s performance.

It’s complicated. Cook had better have got that email read by a lawyer before he hit send (some time between 0500 and 0600 – by which time he’d have been up for a couple of hours already). Else things could get ugly. Credit to Daniel Tello who first brought this up.

Update: Tello says that “the latest info on [the] Cook stock reveals he actually picked the only day he could NOT benefit, instead makes a rebound worse for him.” Storm over, looks like. (Though there will doubtless be some more back and forth over revealing details about mid-quarter performance to a journalist who also holds some stock.)

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Facebook ‘Spam King’ guilty for sending 27 million messages » Bloomberg Business

Joel Rosenblatt:

A Las Vegas man pleaded guilty to sending more than 27 million unsolicited messages through Facebook Inc. servers after gaining access to about 500,000 accounts on the social network, according to prosecutors.

Sanford Wallace, 47, known as the “Spam King,” admitted to his mass spamming in 2008 and 2009 while pleading guilty Monday to fraud and criminal contempt, San Francisco U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a statement.

Oh, but that’s not nearly enough context. Sanford Wallace has been a spammer for absolutely ages; he goes back to the neolithic age of the web. Read the Wikipedia entry. And reflect: once a spammer, always a spammer.
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Meet Wileyfox, an ‘edgy’ new mobile brand powered by Cyanogen » CNET

Rich Trenholm:

Among the new features offered by Cyanogen are security features that will appeal to consumers worried about their privacy. The unlock screen can scramble the numbers to make it harder for snoops to spy on your PIN. And if you’re alarmed by apps like Spotify that ask for access to unexpected parts of your phone, you can turn on and off individual app permissions. So for example, you can permit an app access to your camera but not your contacts, or require the app to ask each time it wants to use a different part of your phone. It also shows you the last time an app dipped into the further reaches of your phone, which is bound to be an eye-opening experience.

As a new brand, the company needs to carve attention from phone fans. “It’s an edgy brand,” says industry analyst Ben Wood of CCS Insight, “but it needs to be so it whips up a frenzy of social media interest. That’s the lifeblood for brands like this.”

Pretty standard phone (though it has dual SIM – unusual in western Europe). Cyanogen makes it more unusual: it’s not clear from the screenshots whether this is running Google Mobile Services (GMS) or not. Seems not, to my eye (but take a look for yourself).
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Nigerian network operators deactivate 10.7m SIM cards » Techpoint Nigeria

Yemi Johnson:

Dr. Tony Ojobo, Director of Public Affairs, NCC, speaking yesterday on Channels TV about the current SIM card deactivation being witnessed by network subscribers across the country said that about 10.7 million lines in the country have been barred from all GSM networks by the operators.

According to Ojobo, the commission had returned 18.6 million SIM cards data to MTN; 7.4 million to Airtel; 2.2 million to Globacom and 10.4 million to Etisalat for corrections back in September 2014, stressing that the returned SIM cards had one challenge or the other, including some that were pre-registered and others without the required biometric information. Yet, the Telcos failed to respond to the NCC’s warning to get those lines properly registered, even in ensuing meetings until now.

The call to deactivate unregistered lines however, came from the NCC, after its meeting with the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Department of State Security (DSS), the network operators. The parties present at the meeting had pointed attention to crimes committed in the country via unregistered telephone lines across various networks.

Odd: is this to do with Boko Haram, or something else?
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Aluminum and strength » All this

Dr Drang watches a video in which “Lew” tries to bend what seems to be the new iPhone 6S case, and then has it analysed by professionals:

While it’s obvious that zinc is the primary alloying element, which means the alloy is in the 7xxx series, the software didn’t find a good match in its database. Lew didn’t say anything about this in the video, but you can see it in the area I’ve circled at the top of the report.

I did a little looking around in my aluminum references, and I didn’t find a match, either. What’s weird is the tungsten (W) at 0.106%. I don’t have any aluminum specifications that call for tungsten, and in the 7xxx specs I’ve seen, “other” elements are limited to 0.05%.

In the video, Lew finesses this unknown by calling the new material “7000 series,” which is certainly true, but it’s not the whole truth. To me, the fact that the aluminum in the new shell doesn’t meet a standard specification is one of the most interesting findings. It suggests that Apple has developed its own proprietary aluminum alloy.

It wouldn’t be the first time Apple’s done this. The Apple Watch Sport uses a proprietary 7xxx alloy, which is mentioned on both the “Craftsmanship” page and in Jony Ive’s “Aluminium” video, which is where I got that splashy image.

The natural question is “Is this new iPhone aluminum alloy the same as the Apple Watch Sport alloy, or was it developed specifically for the iPhone?” Since I haven’t seen the chemistry of the Sport alloy, I have no idea what the answer is.

Is there any other company for which you’d get a lab involved for a leak of a shell of a phone? (That said, this stuff is so educational. Do read on for what he says about the difference heat treatment makes to aluminium strength.)
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Mobile ads: Media companies are losing the battle » Fortune

Mathew Ingram:

Is piggy-backing on Facebook’s platform the only way publishers can make mobile work? Perhaps. Entering into that kind of relationship also involves a significant transfer of power from the media outlet to the giant social network, something that has long-term risks. But for most publishers—and even for the New York Times—subscriptions aren’t generating enough revenue, and few people are paying for their apps.

For many companies that are watching the mobile chasm grow ever larger, in other words, there may be no other option. Their revenues are already so anemic that they can’t afford to build or buy anything that is going to move the needle. They can either play ball with Facebook and hope that will get them where they need to be, or they can stay on the sidelines and ultimately fade away.

The next year or two is going to be truly fascinating. Possibly ugly too.
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Reluctant licence fee payers don’t like life without the BBC after all » The Guardian

Roy Greenslade:

What would it be like to live without the BBC? How would people react to losing the chance to see the corporation’s TV channels, hear its radio programming or access its online output?

The BBC commissioned research to find out how people might cope (or not cope) without the broadcaster. So 70 families in 15 locations across the UK agreed to the blocking of all BBC services for nine days. Of those, 48 had previously said they were either in favour of not paying the £145.50 [US$227] annual licence fee (and doing without the BBC) or paying only a reduced fee.

According to the study, carried out on the BBC’s behalf by research agency MTM, by the end of the period of deprivation two thirds had changed their minds.

Those nine days “saved” them £3.60 (US$5.63). The BBC is a bloody bargain – especially after you get exposed to the repeatedly fresh hell that is US TV, which has the attention span of a gnat. (There are no ad breaks on the BBC.) As with mobile phones and medical bills, the US doesn’t know how badly off it is when it comes to TV in comparison to the UK.
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I Don’t Own, I Uber » Medium

Megan Quinn:

the move [from San Francisco to London, UK] meant [the car] had to go, and so it was sold for next-to-nothing to a really nice dad with two kids.

While I may have been sad to see my car go, I wasn’t concerned about being car-less because — when not on strike — public transportation is pretty good in Europe, and Uber is nearly ubiquitous in major cities. I knew Uber was more expensive in London, but everything was more expensive in London and I had factored that into my decision to move in the first place.

What I didn’t expect was that depending on Uber (UberX specifically) would actually be cheaper than owning and driving a car. Much cheaper. Yes, the company says this, but I didn’t think it was realistic yet.

Well, it is. At least for me.

About half the price, even allowing for the fact that petrol costs virtually nothing in the US compared to the UK. And that’s before amortisation of the car’s value. Mark this: it’s significant.
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Probable Note 5 design flaw can cause S Pen to break pen detection when inserted backward, or get hopelessly stuck » Android Police

David Ruddock:

On the Note 5, inserting the S Pen the wrong way provides exactly as much resistance as inserting it the right way. Which is to say: basically none at all. Once you insert the pen far enough in the wrong direction (again, which causes no strange resistance or feel than putting it in the right way), it will get stuck. It doesn’t even have to “click” in. At this point, of course, you will panic. And you will try to get it out – and most likely, you’ll succeed. The problem is that if you do succeed, there’s a very real possibility you’ll break whatever mechanism the device uses to detect whether the pen is attached or detached from the phone. Which is exactly what happened to our review unit.

Yes, seriously. Watch the video.

We’re really not sure how this made it past testing at Samsung – it seems like such an obvious thing to design into the S Pen slot, especially when Samsung has full reason to know that inserting the pen the wrong way can damage the direction-sensitive detection mechanism in the slot.

Android Police was the site that discovered this flaw (not “probable flaw” – it is, no question; and Ruddock does call it that in the comments.) It’s really quite a doozy. (“Antennagate” was easily solved with a bumper, and “Bendgate” seems to have been more about care of larger phones than anything.) Samsung’s response, reported by The Verge: “We highly recommend our Galaxy Note5 users follow the instructions in the user guide to ensure they do not experience such an unexpected scenario caused by reinserting the S pen in the other way around.” Recommendations don’t come much higher.
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A week without the Apple Watch » waitingtoDOWNLOAD

Lee Peterson survived:

I’ve missed notifications, workout tracking and the ability to control what’s playing on my iPhone the most – I miss the connivence of it.  Could I do without it, well yes and no – I mean yes I can live without it but now it’s opened up a whole new world I don’t think I could go without it.  It’s kept me in the moment more, stopped me from checking social media so much and for the first time I’m able to see how active (or inactive) I am allowing me to do something about it.

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