Technology News Headlines for July 30 2012 ( Monday )

App Developers Get Access To Data Via U.S. Census Bureau's First Public API
Via The Verge: App developers for mobile devices and the web now have the opportunity to mine a trove of data on American habits via the U.S. Census Bureau's first public API that the organization released last week. Developers can tap into statistics from the 2010 Census and the 2006-1010 American Community Survey to build mobile and web apps that sort, display or analyze the (anonymized) population patterns stored there. For example, an app could trace the commuting patterns of every city in america, or display renter and owner information for a neighborhood, the Census Bureau news office explained in a press release. Two web apps are already up: The Age Finder app, built in-house, and the Poverty Status app built by the Cornell Program on Applied demographics.

Microsoft: Surface And Windows 8 To Arrive October 26

Microsoft has confirmed the release date for its new Microsoft Surface in a recent SEC filing. The device will start shipping on October 26 alongside the Windows 8 operating system. However, Microsoft has yet to reveal a price tag for the device. Lacking an official number, rumor vendors have suggested figures like $599 for the Windows RT model and a $999 price for the Windows 8 Pro version. The fact that a date has been set is good news, but there is this fact to consider: if the Microsoft tablet won't surface until the end of October, there's a chance Apple may have a smaller, cheaper, iPad mini out by then. Apple rumorologists have persistently dropped details that hint at a smaller Apple tablet, and the latest crop of rumors even set a date for the unveiling: September 12. (Apple, of course, is mum.) If the Surface is set to tackle a mini iPad head on, price may become even more of a sticking point. 

Limited Run Alleges 80 Percent Of Its Facebook Ad Clicks Were Bots

Limited Run, a digital distribution outfit specializing in labels, musicians and artists, has decided to take down its Facebook account after discovering through its custom-built "page logger" that 80 percent of the clicks on its ads that Facebook was charging them for came from bots. The company compared the clicks its ads were getting from about 6 name-brand analytics services before building a custom tool to verify the results. "They all lined up," Tom Mango, co-founder, told Fast Company. "Once that happened, we stopped our campaign."

Limited Run (formerly known as Limited Press) posted a message describing its discoveries on its Facebook page, including the following sum-up, which is careful to avoid blame: "Bots were loading pages and driving up our advertising costs. So we tried contacting Facebook about this. Unfortunately, they wouldn't reply. Do we know who the bots belong too? No. Are we accusing Facebook of using bots to drive up advertising revenue. No. Is it strange? Yes."

Limted Run explains that its custom platform recorded the number of page viewers who didn't have JavaScript enabled. According to the company's own analytics tool 80% of the clicks Facebook was charging for came from machines without JavaScript enabled. This confounds analytic software trying to verify the click is genuine, and, more importantly in the company's experience only one to two percent of its human visitors had the feature disabled. The conclusion: Bots in action.

Mango told Fast Company that the trouble started when the company decided to change its name from "Limited Press" to "Limited Run" and started experimenting with advertising campaigns on Facebook. Facebook did not responded to the company about the issues its raised about clicks (and has not responded yet), but an advertising account manager at Facebook did finally call in about the company's requested name change. The company didn't qualify for a name change because, per Facebook policy, a name is locked in for an account with more than 200 Likes the accounts person explained, but if Limited Run spent an extra $2,000 on advertising per month, the name change would be possible. At this point Limited Run balked and decided to shut down their account entirely.

Not before it got its message out, however. "We want to make sure that the people who do follow us on Facebook can see our post and why we're leaving," Mango says. "We'll shut it down in the next couple of weeks."

Peter Jackson Uses Facebook To Reveal Third Hobbit Film

Peter Jackson has been using social media a lot during his production of The Hobbit movie, keeping audiences engaged, informed and excited long before the Winter 2012 debut of the first part of his film adaptation of the famous novel...and today he used Facebook to reveal some incredible news: The Hobbit will be a three-film release, not a twosome as had previously been decided. Quoting J.R.R. Tolkien himself, who noted the story was "a tale that grew in the telling," Jackson explained he couldn't resist taking this unique chance to tell more of the story of hobbits exploring Middle Earth. 

Olympics Attendees Asked To Cool It With The Tweets

Social media, and Twitter in particular, is playing a big role in Olympics activity and coverage this year. Twitter had its designated page set up for curated audience and network presenter tweets via a high-profile deal with NBC, and even a plan to turn the London Eye into a giant mood ring, colored by the tweets of audience members at the events in London. Enthusiastic tweeters have been asked to cool off though, since a volley of tweets and text messages sent during the men's road cycling race clogged networks and cut off television commentators from GPS communication and timing information. (This prompted television viewers to turn to Twitter to tweet their disappointment.) An International Olympic Committee spokesperson said the issue was localized to one network, and the issue was being corrected, Reuters reports. He also asked fans to "take it easy" on the tweets and messages unless it was "urgent."

After South Korea Telecom Hack, 8.7 Million Customers' Details Sold To Telemarketers

South Korea's KT Telecom has suffered a protracted months-long hack attack that has seen hackers gain access to 8.7 million of its customers--about half its entire user base. Names, ID numbers, and phone numbers were taken by the hackers and then sold to telemarketers. Two hackers made around $880,000 in profits from the hack and sale. Both of the hackers and seven individuals who'd bought the data have now been arrested, which is why the event has been revealed to the world in the form of an official apology from KT to the public, and it's not expected that the data was used for more than the telemarketing stunt. But it's significant for being one of the few hack attacks that was used for profit, and also that led to arrests. KT's stock price has fallen in the time since the news was announced.
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