Boot up: James Martin dead, stingy Pandora?, Microsoft reorg and more

Plus the solar boat, amazing pencil facts (really), Wi-Fi pricing up in the air, rural broadband woes and more

A burst of 9 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

AT&T’s mobile chief: We’ve sold out of the Facebook phone >> CNET News

AT&T managed to get rid of most of its inventory, according to AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega.

A burst of 9 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

AT&T’s mobile chief: We’ve sold out of the Facebook phone >> CNET News

AT&T managed to get rid of most of its inventory, according to AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega. The move to a 99-cent price tag helped spur sales of the Facebook phone, which struggled to catch on with consumers.

“We sold a bunch more when we lowered the price,” he said in an interview on Monday. “We sold everything we had on that.”

It’s unclear how many HTC First phones AT&T had in its inventory, and the company wouldn’t discuss the actual number. And even if AT&T has sold out of the phone, it is by no means a success.

Worth a crouching ovation?

An inside look at the world’s largest solar-powered boat | The Verge

Last year it became the first ship to circumnavigate the globe on solar power alone. The 89,000 kg (nearly 100 ton) ship needs a massive solar array to capture enough energy to push itself through the ocean. An impressive 512 square meters (roughly 5,500 square feet) of photovoltaic cells, to be exact, charge the 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries that are stored in the ship’s two hulls.

The key difference from most boats of this size is that it has three-day forecasts for cloud cover. (Thanks @Technotrousers for the link.)

The long wait for rural broadband >> BBC News

Rory Cellan-Jones:

behind the excitable press release, there’s growing dismay about the whole process of delivering fast broadband to rural areas, with the word “shambles” making a frequent appearance. People in areas promised a share of the superfast future are growing impatient with the lack of progress.

Peter Green, who lives in the community of Eggesford in Devon, is typical.

He got in touch to tell me of the frustrations of trying to run a holiday cottage business on a 500Kbps broadband connection – “We tried to upload videos but it was pointless” – and his fruitless efforts to find out just when the Connecting Devon and Somerset organisation might take his village into the 21st Century. A contract with BT was signed earlier this year, but he’s still no clearer as to when or if that will help him.

Contracts are late, the 2015 target for Britain to be the “best” superfast broadband network in Europe looks likely to be missed (both for the “best” and the date). What a mess.

Update: Microsoft restructuring nears, as execs fret over their fate >> AllThingsD

Kara Swisher:

according to several people close to the situation, the new configuration could include larger roles for several execs, with business units being moved around into new divisions. But, sources noted, there could also be some significant departures.

Focus internally is especially strong on Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft‘s Servers and Tools division; Tony Bates, president of its Skype communications unit; and Don Mattrick, president of its Interactive Entertainment division. In addition, many are wondering how the job of Qi Lu, president of Microsoft’s Online Services unit, will shift, as well as that of Terry Myerson, who runs the company’s Windows Phone division.

But it’s unclear how their new and perhaps expanded roles, and those of others in top management, will shake out. That is, until Ballmer weighs in.

Which is expected to happen next Monday, 1 July. (Thanks @ClarkViper for the link.)

Dr James Martin found dead >> Bermuda News

Futurologist and information technology colossus James Martin has died at the age of 79.

The Bermuda Police Service said this morning that Dr Martin’s lifeless body had been found floating in the waters of the Great Sound near his Agar’s Island home at around 5.30pm yesterday by a kayaker.

A Police spokesman said an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dr Martin’s death is ongoing, but added: “There does not appear to be any suspicious circumstances.”

…During his extraordinary life, Dr Martin created some of the building blocks of modern IT systems, made hundreds of millions of dollars through a business founded to teach other businesses on how to benefit from computers, wrote 105 textbooks and became the largest benefactor in the history of Oxford University. He was ranked fourth of the 25 most influential people in computer science by Computerworld.

His 1977 book “The Wired Society” still remains pretty accurate about modern life.

The most insane television sets in history >> io9

We’re only shocked that none of them has yet featured in Mad Men.

My song got played on Pandora 1 million times and all I got was $16.89, less than what I make from a single T-shirt sale! >> The Trichordist

David Lowery (in annoyed mood):

Here’s an idea. Why doesn’t Pandora get off the couch and get an actual business model instead of asking for a handout from congress and artists? For instance: Right now Pandora plays one minute of commercials an hour on their free service. Here’s an idea!  Play two minutes of commercials and double your revenue! (Sirius XM plays 13 minutes and charges a subscription).

Doubling the number of ads might not quite double the revenue, but it has to be a good idea. (Thanks @ClarkeViper for the link.)

Gogo’s problem: inflight Wi-Fi is expensive, and no one uses it >> Businessweek

The immediate problem for [inflight Wi-Fi provider] Gogo is that most travelers don’t pay for Wi-Fi access when they fly. Only about 6% of fliers on Gogo-enabled flights used the service in the first quarter, the company says. So it raised its prices, looking for profit from a smaller base of business travelers who can pass that cost along to their employers. Surfing the web at 38,000 feet is now a premium product.

Gogo charges $14 for a daily pass, $34 monthly for a specific airline, and $42 for a monthly pass on any airline with its equipment; service sold onboard is higher. Part of the pricing Gogo sets is also designed to help negotiate the tricky issue that current technologies don’t allow 200 people on a plane all to connect wirelessly, due to bandwidth constraints.

Not enough people used it, so they raised the price? Literally a captive market.

The surprising history of the pencil >> Brain Pickings

An interesting question is to ask how long a straight line could be drawn with a typical HB pencil before the lead was exhausted. The thickness of graphite left on a sheet of paper by a soft 2B pencil is about 20 nanometers and a carbon atom has a diameter of 0.14 nanometers, so the pencil line is only about 143 atoms thick.

Fact of the day. (Or most days.)

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