Tag Archives: Down

YouTube's Slow-Mo Guys Break Down Their Quick Thinking
June 7, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

High-speed cameras, commonly known as slow motion cameras, imbue milliseconds with the weight they’re so rarely granted. A balloon pops, with the water inside it still holding its shape; a bullet shot underwater leaves an attenuated cone of air in its wake. Daniel Gruchy and Gavin Free, known on YouTube as The Slow Mo Guys, have captured these moments and more than 150 others in painstakingly slow detail. (In one personal favorite, the duo recorded the fracture pattern in glass that was heated and then rapidly cooled. At 343,000 frames per second, five seconds of IRL action resulted in 19 hours of footage.)

“Everything looks cooler in slow mo,” says Free, who aside from his involvement in multiple RoosterTeeth productions also works as a slow-motion cinematographer on big-budget features (Dredd, Snow White and the Huntsman).

Since November 2010, the Slow Mo Guys channel has amassed millions of subscribers and nearly 1.5 billion views—which is a lot of frames, feats, and stories to share. In this Tech Support, the guys answer viewers questions about where they get all of the food they blow up, and which stunts were the messiest, the hardest and the most painful (like having a soccer ball thrown against your face). Gruchy shares that he’s tried much of that exploded food, and Free reveals his sound design technique for filling lapses in sound during the videos.

Watch the video to learn more. Don’t worry, it plays at regular speed.


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Elon Musk Calms Down, and More From Tesla's Shareholder Meeting
June 6, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

When Elon Musk was a kid, he had so much trouble managing his time, that his younger brother Kimbal would lie to him about the bus schedule. Elon would show up a few minutes after the supposed arrival—and have just enough time to hop aboard. A few decades on, the whole world knows about Elon’s habit of blowing deadlines. And he admits it can be a problem.

“This is something I’m trying to get better at,” he said from the stage of Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum on Tuesday afternoon, at Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting. “I’m trying to recalibrate these estimates.”

A few days after a Twitter rage fest aimed at the media, a month after refusing to answer questions about Tesla’s financial state during an investors’ call, and two months after getting in a public spat with the feds investigating a deadly crash in one of his cars, Musk’s attitude when he appeared before his fellow shareholders was conciliatory. He even seemed emotional at times. “We build our cares with love,” he said, with a slight quaver in his voice. And he noted how brutal the auto industry can be, especially to newcomers. “It’s insanely hard just staying alive.”

For an hour and a half, Musk patiently fielded questions on just about every part of Tesla’s sprawling business. He said the Model 3 production rate will hit the long-promised 5,000 cars a week rate later this month, predicted an enormous increase in battery production, announced upgrades to the Autopilot semi-autonomous system, and even appeased PETA. If you missed the meeting, here are the key takeaways.

Elon Retains the Reins

The official business of the meeting included voting on the reelection of venture capitalist Antonio Gracias, Elon’s bus-catching brother Kimbal, and 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch to Tesla’s board of directors. (Only a third of the nine board members come up for election at a time—it’s like the US Senate that way.) Last month, activist investor the CtW Group urged Tesla shareholders to replace the trio with people who had automotive and manufacturing expertise. Another investor, Jing Zhao, filed a proposal to strip Musk of his position as Tesla’s chairman, which he has held since 2004 (he took the CEO job in 2008). But the shareholders stuck with Musk, reelecting the board members and nixing the leadership change by an overwhelming majority. (Tesla will file the exact vote count with the SEC in the next few days.)

The loss didn’t surprise CtW executive director Dieter Waizenegger, who argues control of Tesla is too concentrated in people tied to Musk. “This opinion is shared by a significant number of shareholders of Tesla,” he says. “We expect the final vote tally to reveal that.” Even if he’s right, Musk remains fully in charge.

More Model 3

Musk’s acknowledgement of his timeline trouble didn’t stop him from announcing that, by the end of the month, Tesla will be building 5,000 Model 3 sedans every week, which should be enough to start turning a profit on the car. The uptick is thanks to Tesla’s rebalancing of the workload between humans and robots in its factory in Fremont, California, where the company is adding a third Model 3 production line. It is also planning to open a factory in China, to go with its plants in Fremont and the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Tesla is gradually expanding options for Model 3 owners, who so far have been limited to the version with an upgraded battery and premium interior, which starts at $ 56,000. By the end of this year, Musk hopes to start production of the version closer to the car’s $ 35,000 base price, with the smaller battery pack. Also coming soon: right hand drive.

New Products

Even as it struggles to build the Model 3, Tesla is planning on three new vehicles: the Semi truck, the revived Roadster, and the still mysterious Model Y. Musk told shareholders he’s hoping to start production of all three in the first half of 2020, though he has yet to specify where he’ll do that, or how. He’ll unveil the Model Y in March (it will be “something super special”), and expects the truck and the sports car to deliver better specs than the already very impressive numbers he announced last fall. Oh, and he’ll never build an electric motorcycle.

Autopilot Advances

Without getting into details, Musk said Tesla is making steady progress to improve its Autopilot feature, and is now working on adding the ability to change lanes and handle highway on- and off-ramps (Musk noted he was testing new software around 1 am this morning). For drivers who aren’t sure they want to spend $ 5,000 on the feature, Tesla will soon start offering free trials. Musk also reaffirmed his distaste for lidar, the laser shooting sensor most autonomous vehicle developers say is key to building a safe, capable robo-car.

SuperChargers

Tesla now runs nearly 10,000 Supercharger stations around the world, the stations where its drivers (and no one else) can plug in and charge a depleted battery to about 80 percent in 30 minutes. And Musk is working to keep improving charge times, saying a three- or four-fold improvement is possible. (That’s only true for relatively new cars, he added, disappointing the 2012 Model S owner who asked him about it.)

Going Vegan

Unlike many automakers, Tesla has been offering leather-free versions of its cars for years, appealing to its vegan and vegetarian fans. But it’s still using some leather in its steering wheels, and a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) rep took the mic to press Musk on it. He explained Tesla can make leather-free steering wheels, but the work has to be done it its design studio, making it something of a pain. But he promised it’ll be easier once the Model Y comes around. Now he’s just gotta hit that 2020 goal.


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The Airline Whose Planes Are Said to Break Down In Mid-Air More Often Than Anyone's Is About To Have a Big PR Problem
April 15, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

They say you should get out ahead of a bad story.

Present your version before the story hits, so that people can have good feelings about you before aspersions are cast.

I wonder, therefore, what Allegiant Air might do this weekend.

I wrote about this airline a couple of years ago, after it had been accused of having planes that break down four times more often than those of other airlines.

In mid-air, that is.

Of the airline’s 86 planes, it was said that 42 of them had broken down in mid-air the previous year.

The airline fought back and claimed that the accusations were “incendiary.” Indeed, its stock went up 24 percent soon after the original Tampa Bay Times article was published.

Now, though, Allegiant might have a bigger PR problem. 

On Sunday, it’ll be featured in a 60 Minutes segment, one that CBS teases will be twice the usual length.

Here’s the teaser.

Just those 48 seconds suggest that Allegiant should brace for something of calm, considered skewering.

I asked the budget airline what it thought of the upcoming exposé. A spokeswoman told me Allegiant would wait until the segment airs before offering a rebuttal.

One of the main issues with Allegiant’s record of breakdowns is that it flies old planes. Very old planes, some 22 years of age.

Recently, though, it has begun to replace these planes with Airbuses. Indeed, last May was the first time that Allegiant enjoyed the experience of fitting out a new(ish) plane.

The question, then, is how much Sunday’s 60 Minutes piece will reflect the whole current scenario.

The problem for the airline’s PR department, though, is that Allegiant will surely come out looking not so good on one of the most respected news programs in America, one that’s watched by 12 million people.

It’s inevitable, then, that it will instantly be associated with the sort of bad reputation that plagued United Airlines over the last year. 

Worse, perhaps, is the idea that instead of a brutal lack of customer sensitivity — as in the United case — Allegiant might be tarred with the notion that it’s simply an unsafe airline.

On Friday, the airline’s stock began to drop. What might happen to it on Monday?

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Tesla said to make 2,000 Model 3s per week, stock down
April 2, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) was reported to be making 2,000 of its Model 3 sedans per week, enough to ease stock market nerves around billionaire Elon Musk’s electric carmaker on Monday after a week dominated by news of a crash involving its semi-autonomous autopilot.

Musk told employees in a company-wide email on Monday that Tesla had just passed the 2,000 per week rate, according to auto website Jalopnik.

That was short of its 2,500 per week target but a big increase on the 793 Model 3s that the company built in the final week of last year. It produced 2,425 of the cars in the whole fourth quarter. [nL4N1OY42A

Slideshow (2 Images)

Tesla shares recovered from an 8 percent loss before the Jalopnik report filtered into markets to trade down 3.5 percent on the day. bit.ly/2uFdEBr

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jalopnik also quoted Musk in the email to employees as saying: “If things go as planned today, we will comfortably exceed that number over a seven day period!”

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru, Editing by Peter Henderson and Patrick Graham

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SpaceX Facebook page down after Musk promises on Twitter
March 23, 2018 6:06 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Rocket company SpaceX’s verified Facebook page disappeared on Friday, minutes after its founder and Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk promised on Twitter to take down the page when challenged by a user.

Elon Musk at a SpaceX press conference last month. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

“Delete SpaceX page on Facebook if you’re the man?” a user tweeted to Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) chief Musk. His response: “I didn’t realize there was one. Will do.” (bit.ly/2pDcu3l)

SpaceX’s Facebook page, which had more than 2.7 million followers, is no longer accessible. (bit.ly/2G8BGWo)

Musk had begun the exchange by responding to a tweet from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton of the #deletefacebook tag.

“What’s Facebook?” Musk tweeted.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru

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Virtual reality coronation takes dementia patients down memory lane
February 23, 2018 6:02 pm|Comments (0)

HINDHEAD, England (Reuters) – For 93-year-old Daphne Padfield, a dementia sufferer in an English care home, the arrival of a virtual reality (VR) headset offered a window back to the day in 1953 when Britain crowned its new queen.

“Those things don’t happen too often, so we were very privileged that day,” said Padfield, casting her mind back to the coronation.

The VR film she watched is the work of a project called The Wayback, designed to trigger memories and emotions in people with dementia and help them re-engage with relatives and carers.

The first film in a planned series saw filmmakers and a 170-strong volunteer cast recreate a street party held to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s coronation on June 2, 1953.

Users can view the film by downloading a free app onto their smartphone, which they then insert into an inexpensive virtual reality headset.

“It was born of frustration, really. I wished there’d been something around at that time that would have helped me and my family through a difficult period,” said co-creator Andy Garnett, who lost a family member who suffered from dementia.

    “Using VR just seemed like a really interesting way to perhaps create a memory …and spark a bigger conversation.”

Daphne Padfield, 93, tries out a specialist virtual reality headset at the Langham Court Dementia Home in Hindhead, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Matt Stock

    Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by strokes or diseases such as Alzheimer‘s. People with dementia can suffer from memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.

There are over 850,000 people living with some form of dementia in Britain, with that number estimated to rise to one million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, a charity.

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    At Langham Court Dementia Home in Surrey, The Wayback has been introduced for relatives and carers to use with some residents.

    Sarah Chapman, a director at the home, told Reuters that the film evoked detailed recollections in those who viewed it. “It was just amazing to see them so happy,” she said.

A senior researcher at a British dementia charity welcomed VR technology as a means of helping suffers, but cautioned the technology needed to be used with care.

“For instance, some people with dementia experience what are called misperceptions,” Dr Karen Harrison-Dening, head of research and publications at Dementia UK, told Reuters via email.

“…This can lead to confusion over which images are ‘real’ or not, and may prove unsettling for the person.”

The filmmakers are planning their next work around England’s 1966 soccer World Cup victory celebrations, and also hope to expand the project to other countries.

Reporting and writing by Matthew Stock and Mark Hanrahan; Editing by Tom Balmforth

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Why Is Apple Down 3% After Crushing Earnings?
February 3, 2018 6:01 am|Comments (0)

By Bob Ciura

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) stock whipsawed after the company posted quarterly earnings. After initially dropping 2%, shares turned up 3.5% in after-hours trading, only to give up the gains and decline nearly 3% on Friday, February 2nd.

Indeed, there is reason for the market’s mixed reaction. On one hand, Apple sold fewer phones than it did a year ago. And, after a massive 32% rally in the past one year, the stock is trading well above its average valuation.

On the other hand, Apple is still generating strong growth rates. Average iPhone selling prices continue to rise, and the services business is booming. Apple also has appeal for dividend growth investors. Since Apple re-instituted its dividend in 2012, it has increased its dividend by 10% each year. Apple is one of 331 stocks in the technology sector that pays a dividend. You can see all 331 dividend-paying tech stocks here.

There seem to be good reasons for both the bullish and bearish case for Apple. This article will discuss why the tug-of-war could continue.

Earnings Overview

For the fiscal 2018 first quarter ended December 30th, Apple had earnings-per-share of $ 3.89, on revenue of $ 88.3 billion. Earnings-per-share beat analyst forecasts by $ 0.04. Revenue increased 12.7% from the same quarter a year ago, and beat expectations by $ 670 million. Apple sold 77.3 million iPhones in the quarter, which was down from 78.3 million in the same quarter last year. Apple was expected to report 80 million iPhones sold.

At the same time, average iPhone selling price increased over $ 100, from $ 695 last year to $ 796 in the most recent quarter. Analysts were forecasting an average iPhone selling price of $ 737. This could be the reason why Apple stock jumped over 3%, after initially selling off. While Apple sold fewer phones overall, the bigger-than-expected increase in average selling price indicates a more favorable shift to higher-priced models. Stronger demand for upper-end iPhones, such as the iPhone X, would be a very good sign.

Once again, Apple’s cash mountain continued to grow. Cash, marketable securities, and long-term investments hit $ 285.1 billion, which represents an all-time high. Cash and investments totaled $ 268.9 billion in the same quarter last year. Apple’s current cash pile amounts to 33% of its market capitalization. This is a huge amount of cash, which Apple can use to reward shareholders with cash returns, and invest for future growth.

Growth Prospects

Overall, Apple had a good quarter. Revenue and earnings-per-share increased 13% and 16%, respectively. Both measures hit all-time records, and going forward, there is plenty of room for growth to continue. Apple continues to be hugely popular; its active installed base of devices reached 1.3 billion in January, a 30% increase in the past two years.

Earnings growth of 10%+ each year is within reach for Apple. Consumers love their Apple devices, and are willing to pay a premium for them. Apple is the most valuable brand in the world, and as a result, the company holds tremendous pricing power. Since the iPhone business is Apple’s most important by far, the ability to sell higher-priced iPhones is crucial to future earnings growth.

Another catalyst for Apple is its booming services business, which includes iTunes, the App Store, Apple Pay, and more. Services revenue is now a $ 30 billion-a-year business for Apple. In the most recent quarter, services revenue increased 18%, the highest-growth product aside from the “other” category. Services are now Apple’s second-largest segment, behind the iPhone.

Valuation & Expected Returns

Apple is a very high-quality business, with continued room for growth. But even after its strong quarter, the stock fell over 2% after earnings. After a huge gain last year, Apple seems to be taking a breather, which is confusing since the company is still generating strong growth. One reason for the market’s cautious tone toward Apple, could be the valuation of the stock, which has expanded significantly in recent years.

Apple had earnings-per-share of $ 9.73 in the past four quarters. As a result, the stock has a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.8. At first glance, Apple does not seem to be undervalued, relative to the broader market index. The S&P 500 trades for an average price-to-earnings ratio of 26.3.

But in a different context, it is reasonable why investors might be reluctant to bid the stock up even further. In terms of its own historical average, Apple’s valuation is at a multi-year high. Apple has not traded for a price-to-earnings ratio above 18 since 2009. According to ValueLine, over the past five years, Apple has held an average price-to-earnings ratio of just 13.1.

Apple currently trades at a 35% premium to its average price-to-earnings ratio of the past five years. A reversion to the mean would negatively impact the stock. For example, if Apple reverted back to a price-to-earnings ratio of 15-16, the stock would decline approximately 10% to 15%.

To be sure, Apple will generate positive returns, from earnings growth and dividends. In the past 5 years, Apple has increased earnings at a 10% average rate, each year. A potential breakdown of future returns is below:

  • 6%-8% sales growth
  • 3% share repurchases
  • 1.5% dividend yield

The combination of earnings growth and dividends could yield annual returns of 10%-13% each year. But even in this scenario, total returns could still be mediocre, if the valuation multiple declines. For example, if Apple’s price-to-earnings ratio declines to 15 over the next three years, contraction of the valuation multiple would reduce annual returns by 5% per year. In that case, total annual returns would be in the 5%-8% range over that time.

Final Thoughts

Apple is a fantastic business, and the company is growing revenue and earnings at impressive rates. The only significant risk for the stock moving forward, could be the valuation. While Apple is not overvalued relative to the S&P 500, it does trade at a much higher valuation than it has over the past five years. If the stock were to return to its average valuation, it could be a headwind for the stock.

Disclosure: I am/we are long AAPL.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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Down Syndrome Charity Dumps LuLaRoe After Shocking Video
January 28, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

LuLaRoe is no stranger to controversy. But the multilevel marketing women’s clothing company has really stepped in it after a battle with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) over a shocking video that mocked the disabled. Attempts to spin the controversy are challenging at best.

The company faced significant bad press during 2017, whether for changing return policies to the detriment of independent sales agents, trying to force a critical blogger to divulge sources, or reportedly using an artist’s designs without payment or permission.

A lawsuit last October alleged that the business structure was an illegal pyramid scheme. And founders and owners Mark and DeAnne Stidham have been accused of blaming the independent salespeople for problems that might have been the company’s.

This latest tussle is particularly ugly. For some time, LuLaRoe has been an official supporter of NDSS as DeAnne Stidham, who had a grandchild with the condition. Even that has some questions tied to it, as one promotion that tied a $ 1 donation for sales of two different special items would be more than offset by increased costs to the salespeople.

The latest situation came about when an independent sales agent mocked people with special needs, as reported by KXTV television, in a video posted to YouTube. The specific remark starts at about 55 seconds in.

NDSS posted on Facebook about the incident. The organization had received an apology, but apparently told LuLaRoe that it would not maintain relationships with the company unless the seller was terminated, which did not happen. Here is what NDSS posted on Friday evening:

Within the last 24 hours, it has come to the attention of the National Down Syndrome Society that an online video by a LuLaRoe independent retailer, which mocks a person with a disability, was posted on YouTube. This video is unacceptable and further perpetuates the stigmas we work to fight and end each and every day at NDSS.

While we appreciate the apology from this individual and the previous support from LuLaRoe, we must uphold our mission statement, and end our partnership and any further programming with LuLaRoe immediately.

LuLaRoe posted a response three hours later that said, in part, the following:

We are deeply saddened and disappointed to announce our decision to end our relationship with the National Down Syndrome Society. Our company and the Independent Fashion Retailers have embraced the NDSS and its important work, and have enthusiastically supported the organization’s efforts over the past year.

Regrettably, a LuLaRoe Independent Fashion Retailer exhibited unacceptable and insensitive behavior during a live sale, which understandably offended viewers as well as everyone at LuLaRoe. His bad judgment in no way represents the beliefs and character of LuLaRoe or Independent Fashion Retailers.

Immediately after his sale, the Retailer posted an apology. He also reached out to NDSS and said he and his wife have agreed to use the incident as a learning experience and expressed his intention to focus his business on support for the organization and its cause.

After speaking with the Retailer at great length, we believe his apology is sincere and accepted his assurance that this type of behavior would never happen again. We are also using this unfortunate incident as an opportunity to redouble our sensitivity and tolerance training efforts and policies for Independent Fashion Retailers.

Unfortunately, NDSS leadership is unwilling to accept the Retailer’s apology and has informed us that unless we terminate his contract with LuLaRoe, the organization will no longer associate with us. We do not believe the most productive response to his actions, which he has fully apologized for, is to close his business and threaten his ability to provide for his family.

Trying to decide who is “right” can be difficult. LuLaRoe claims that an apology that it thought was sincere should have been enough. At the same time, it would seem that NDSS would be the party to decide whether the apology was adequate, as its cause was the one injured and it has doubtlessly faced analogous situations over the years. Words of contrition in uncomfortable cases often are the result of people trying to avoid the consequences of their actions. Would NDSS essentially support the idea that everyone had one free pass to mock people with Down Syndrome? At a time when there seems to be zero tolerance for sexual harassment, why wouldn’t other concerns receive the same degree of respect?

Aside from those considerations, however, LuLaRoe handled the situation badly in three ways. When you employ independent people as agents of your company, you have tied yourself to them and their actions. By decided that “education” had already been achieved, LuLaRoe effectively handed itself a pass on the issue.

Not only did LuLaRoe forgive itself, it compounded that action by blaming NDSS through its choice of words. By saying, “Unfortunately, NDSS leadership is unwilling to accept the Retailer’s apology,” the company shifted responsibility to the organization by implying that NDSS was unreasonable in its approach.

Finally, the company’s navigation of cause marketing is problematic. To partner with an organization and gain some marketing advantage requires the following:

  • Your company’s values or interests should have an organic connection to the cause.
  • You need to understand the requirements and implications of partnering with an organization.
  • To be sincere, you then have to not only support the organization and cause, but meet the requirements going forward.

LuLaRoe should have identified any difference in philosophy with the organization before pledging support, no matter how much its founders believed in the cause. Had it done so, it would have known in advance the necessary course of action should a conflict arise and then known whether or not it could live with the conditions.

The seller in question may have been sincere in having learned a lesson, but NDSS had its own need to see that disrespect carried a penalty beyond momentary embarrassment. Ultimately, it is LuLaRoe’s fault for not having asked the right questions and then deciding that the organization should change its philosophy to accommodate the company’s.

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iPhone Battery Scandal: Apple Had Way Better Options Than Slowing Down Your Phone
December 22, 2017 12:55 am|Comments (0)

On Wednesday, Apple confirmed what many customers have long suspected: The company has been slowing the performance of older iPhones. Apple says it started the practice a year ago, to compensate for battery degradation, rather than push people to upgrade their smartphones faster. But even giving that benefit of the doubt, there are plenty of better ways Apple could have accomplished the same goal without betraying customer trust.

Earlier this week, John Poole, a developer at Geekbench, published a blog post indicating that a change in iOS is slowing down performance on older devices. According to Apple, factors like low charge, cold climates, and natural battery degradation can all affect the performance of its mobile devices, and the company confirmed that this policy was implemented last year to counteract these effects.

As much sense as that explanation may make, Apple could have made plenty of choices that would have benefited consumers instead of penalizing them. These same choices could have also saved the company from the public shaming it suffered this week.

Fresh Juice

In a statement to WIRED, Apple confirmed Poole’s findings, saying it was purposely slowing down older iPhones to compensate for the effects of age on their batteries. “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components,” the company says.

While many have speculated that the company has been doing this for years, Apple says the feature was implemented last year for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone SE. Now, with iOS 11.2, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are getting the same treatment, and the company intends to bring other devices into the fold down the road.

Rather than secretly hamstring the iPhone’s CPU, though, Apple could have simply educated users about the limitations of lithium-ion batteries, says Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, a company that sells repair kits and posts repair guides for consumer electronics. While Apple does say in the iPhone user manual that batteries degrade over time and should be replaced, you’d have to dig through a few links outside of the manual to learn that by 500 charge cycles, your phone’s battery will hold a charge of about 80 percent.

Another tactic Apple could employ is selling battery replacement kits to consumers, letting them pop a fresh battery into their aging iPhone. It would be an easily understandable solution to an easily understandable problem, rather than software manipulation that feeds into a long-running, planned obsolescence conspiracy theory. But Apple has actively fought against laws that would require it to provide a way for users to repair their devices. According to a report from HuffPost, Apple argues that allowing consumers to replace the battery could make the iPhone more vulnerable to hacks, and that letting people peek inside would make the iPhone easier to counterfeit.

“Apple won’t sell batteries to consumers, people should be furious about that,” Wiens says. “Your battery is a maintenance item, and everyone should expect to replace their battery fairly frequently.”

Apple does cover one battery replacement under its one-year warranty program, but only for “defective batteries,” a term that isn’t clearly defined on the company’s site. If your phone is out of warranty and you don’t have an AppleCare+ plan, the company offers a battery replacement for $ 79 plus a $ 6.95 shipping charge. The problem, Wiens says, is that Apple doesn’t advertise this policy to consumers, leaving iPhone users to believe that the only solution is to buy a costly iPhone.

Choices Choices

Direct battery fixes certainly would have made the most sense. But even allowing that a software tweak was the only way Apple could have proceeded—untrue, but just for argument’s sake—it had a much better option than making its software solution covert.

Rather than quietly push out an update that crimped older iPhones, it should have made that throttling opt-in. As it stands, there’s no way to avoid having your phone slowed down once the battery reaches its limits. By giving users the choice, and giving them the information necessary to make their own decision, Apple could avoid the frustrations many have expressed over the policy.

While making the throttling opt-in could cause performance issues for users who opt-out, it would give users a sense of control over the situation and avoid making them feel like they’re being tricked into buying a new phone. As it stands, Apple’s move comes off as deceptive.

Instead of leaving users confused about why their phones are suddenly slowing to a crawl, Apple could take user education a step further by providing a battery health monitor in the Settings app. That way, an iPhone owner could figure out if the battery is the issue, or if something else is going on.

Lay Down the Law

The damage, unfortunately, is already done. But it’s also unlikely that Apple will behave differently going forward. At the very least, the company almost certainly won’t shift gears and start selling battery replacement kits to consumers. For starters, the iPhone’s casing uses proprietary Pentalobe screws, which make it hard for average users to get inside to swap the battery.

Apple has also lobbied against right-to-repair legislation, which would allow third-party repair shops and typical consumers to more easily fix their broken phones. Proposed right-to-repair laws typically require companies to publish their repair manuals, as well as make the necessary repair tools available for purchase rather than requiring a specialist to make these repairs.

Wiens says that, ideally, right-to-repair legislation would pass and ensure consumers have the ability to fix their devices on their own terms without having to deal with warranties or acquire difficult-to-find tools.

Apple’s throttling is misleading, and it’s far from the best way the company could have handled the situation. Still, lithium-ion batteries are riddled with problems users should be aware of. The company isn’t likely to change its stance on the matter, but if you’ve noticed your iPhone getting slower over the last year, at least you know it wasn’t all in your head—and that a battery fix might bring your iPhone back up to speed.

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An Ex-Twitter Worker Claims He Shut Down Donald Trump’s Account
November 30, 2017 3:38 am|Comments (0)

SAN FRANCISCO – A German man has come forward as the former Twitter Inc (twtr) employee who shut down the account of U.S. President Donald Trump for 11 minutes this month on his last day of work at the social network.

The technology news website TechCrunch published an interview on Wednesday with Bahtiyar Duysak, whom it called a 20-something with Turkish roots who was born and raised in Germany. He was a temporary contract worker in San Francisco for Twitter, the website said.

Duysak, who had not previously been identified as the person behind the takedown, told TechCrunch that he considered Trump’s temporary silencing a “mistake” and never thought the account would get deactivated.

It was not a planned act, he said. Rather, he said, the chance to shutter the account fell into his lap near the end of his scheduled final shift, and he decided to take it.

“There are millions of people who would take actions against him if they had the possibility. In my case, it was just random,” Duysak said in a video of the interview posted online. He wore a gray sweater emblazoned with the American flag.

For more on Trump and Twitter, see Fortune’s video:

Twitter on Wednesday would not confirm whether Duysak was the ex-employee in question or answer other questions. Reuters could not immediately reach Duysak.

BuzzFeed News, citing two anonymous sources, reported separately that Duysak was the ex-employee responsible.

Duysak is a former volunteer security guard at a Muslim community center in California, BuzzFeed reported. Trump has been critical of Muslims, calling during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States.

The takedown of Trump’s account on Nov. 2 sparked concerns among Twitter users over how much power employees have over sensitive accounts and whether abuse of their power could lead to international incidents.

Twitter said in a statement on Wednesday: “We have taken a number of steps to keep an incident like this from happening again.”

Duysak did not shed much light on the incident. Near the end of his last day at the San Francisco-based company, an alert came to him that someone had reported Trump’s account for an unspecified violation, he said.

Duysak put the wheels in motion to deactivate it, TechCrunch said, although the account did not go offline until hours later. Neither Duysak nor TechCrunch explained the delay.

“I didn’t hack anyone. I didn’t do anything which I wasn’t authorized to do,” he said.

Tech

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