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FEMA Demands Use of IE To File Online Katrina Claims 1165

Posted by Zonk
from the small-but-annoying-details dept.
WebHostingGuy writes "As reported by MSNBC, if you survived the hurricane and are a Mac, Linux or Firefox user you cannot file a claim online. Further, you must have javascript enabled or face rejection. From the site: 'We are sorry for not being able to proceed your requests because you have failed our tests.' Opera and Netscape don't work either." Also reported at InformationWeek. From that story: "To file a claim online at FEMA's Individual Assistance Center, where citizens can apply for government help, the browser must be IE 6.0 or later with JavaScript enabled. That cuts out everyone running Linux or the Mac operating systems, as well as Windows users running alternate browsers such as Firefox or Opera. When TechWeb tested the site using Windows XP and Firefox 1.0.6, the message 'In order to use this site, you must have JavaScript Enabled and Internet Explorer version 6. Download it from Microsoft or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to register' popped up on the screen." Update: 09/08 13:48 GMT by Z : Added word 'Online' to title to clarify story.
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FEMA Demands Use of IE To File Online Katrina Claims

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  • you know... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shads (4567) * <shadus@sha[ ].org ['dus' in gap]> on Thursday September 08, 2005 @08:53AM (#13508292) Homepage Journal
    ... i'd just love to know what feature they're requiring that everyone else DOESN'T have... I wonder if opera using it's browser masking could do it?
    • Re:you know... (Score:5, Informative)

      by arkanes (521690) <arkanes@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Thursday September 08, 2005 @08:58AM (#13508339) Homepage
      It's using some retarded fucking captcha implementation using IE XML data islands instead of using one of the 40 million scripts that don't require brower support. Fuckers.

      I hate this stupid shit. And I know it's not even malicious, because I've seen it happen before at government agencies. It's out and out incompetence. Although it seems that given all the other crap FEMA has fucked up lately, this won't even register to most people.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:03AM (#13508400)
        Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
        • by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @10:10AM (#13509031)
          Either way, somebody's in line for another Medal of Honor...
        • Re:you know... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @10:14AM (#13509068)
          Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

          Actually, when the incompetence is deliberate (as in the loading of all of the top jobs with starkly unqualified political cronies) it is malice.

        • Re:you know... (Score:5, Informative)

          by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @10:20AM (#13509106)
          Before we go off the high board (ok, maybe while we're in the air before hitting water anyway...)

          Link [arstechnica.com] and the below snippet:

          This is a case many of us are all to familiar with. One where the 'product' is being used in an environment that it was not intended.

          "Mike Quealy, a FEMA spokesperson, explained to me that they are aware of the issue, and are currently working on a application that supports all of the most popular browsers. Quealy said that the application in question was originally an in-house tool, meant to be used by call center people. Internet Explorer was the official in-house browser, so the application was coded with IE in mind."

          So we have an *INTERNAL* app that was opened to the public, thus adding new browsers for which it was not designed to it's possible clients.

          It's also a good lesson for designing things even when you *know* the environment in which it will be used...that can change and it's best to work with standards rather than the easiest, but perhaps proprietary choice.


          • by mekkab (133181) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @10:49AM (#13509358) Homepage Journal
            It's also a good lesson for designing things even when you *know* the environment in which it will be used...that can change and it's best to work with standards rather than the easiest, but perhaps proprietary choice.

            Its statements like that which guarantees you'll never work in management.

            GBTW!!!
            • Re:you know... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @11:27AM (#13509699)
              It's statements like that which suggest you probably do.

              And (unless you're some kind of super-genius at every task they do) will be utterly despised by the poor fuckers who work under you.

              Say it with me:
              Unecessarily restricting your options is a Bad Thing.
              Vendor lock-in is a Bad Thing.
              Proprietary/nonstandard/deliberately-non-interoper able solutions almost always come back to bite you in the arse, which is a Bad Thing.
              Assuming you'll know the every single requirement placed on your system for the entire future of its lifetime is impossible, hubristic and stupid. This is a Bad Thing.

              Designing to open standards, avoiding unnecessary vendor lock-in and maximising interoperability are Good Things.

              Any questions?
          • Re:you know... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @11:20AM (#13509638)
            Exactly. I started my current job a little over a year ago, maintaining and developing a public website for a multimillion-pound company.

            The MD is a raving MS fanboy, and shortly after arriving I was informed in no small measure that I was developing for IE, and "if the site doesn't work in any of those other browsers, who cares".

            (One of the funny things is, we actually produce Mac versions of some of our products, but the MD apparently doesn't care that most of those users wouldn't be able to see our site (or assumes they'll download IE/Mac, because it's Microsoft, so it must always be the best option).)

            Happily (and because my boss(es) don't know any better), I've coded everything to standards and used a few quick CSS/markup hacks to get everything still looking nice in IE.

            Since I started we've had three "it'll never happen" situations with (potentially extremely profitable) users using different browsers or OSes, and happily the site's worked perfectly for them.

            We've also had one "it'll never happen" situation where I did actually give in and do it the way the Board specified (dynamic content served by ASP.NET instead of Perl, on a server too old to support ASP.NET reliably). Because our (cheap, crappy) hosting contract is on a Linux machine, we have to host all ASP.NET content on another (in-house) server, and seamlessly (heh, make that "as seamlessly as we can") transfer users between the main part of the site (static HTML on Apache/Linux) and the dynamic pages (ASP.NET/Windows Server).

            Predictably enough the tiny pipe into the inhouse servers went down, and we ended up with a convoluted sequence of events that lead to us needing to host an ASP.NET page on the (external) Linux server. Due to the crappiness of the hosting contract they were unable to offer (or the MD was unwilling to pay) for the service, so the site had huge sections missing for several days, mostly important advertising campaign landing-pages which provide the majority of marketing leads for the company.

            Had I been allowed to develop the content in the language I specified (Perl/PHP, simply for the portability), this would never have happened - we could have transferred the dynamic pages to the Linux server at no extra cost (in fact they would probably have already been there), and the site would have carried on as normal.

            The morals of the story are this:

            Never disobey your boss on technical matters, even when he has no fucking clue what he's babbling about. That's how you get fired.

            If you can possibly obey the letter of his instructions (but disobey the spirit) and do it the right way, go for it - just cover your arse and don't spend an unreasonable amount of extra time.

            People who know nothing about technical matters should let their fucking techies make technical decisions. You pay them for a reason, and if anyone could do their job why not fire them and hire a schoolkid for a fraction of the money?

            "It'll never happen" scenarios pop up 100% of the time, given enough time. Your techies know this, and will sensibly plan for it. With sufficiently good techies (and budget) you never suffer the consequences of a bad technical decision, so you don't and won't.

            In other words, get good techies, then get the fuck out of the way and let them do their job.
        • Re:you know... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by unitron (5733) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @11:12AM (#13509569) Homepage Journal
          " Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

          But what I fear is malice sufficiently advanced enough to disguise itself as incompetence.

      • by elrous0 (869638) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:09AM (#13508454)
        It's out and out incompetence.

        Would you expect any less from FEMA?

        I tell you, if they get any more imcompetent, George Bush is going to have to give them a medal.

        -Eric

      • by Sad Loser (625938) * on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:53AM (#13508892)

        Surely they can be nailed on the accessibility.
        There is a nice helpful link [fema.gov] on every page saying that they are committed to accessibility.
        There is even a email address, to allow people who think that accessibility to this site is sub-optimal, to contact them.
        If you know anyone who feels this way, maybe they should send an email to
        FEMAOPA@dhs.gov
        and I'm sure they will be pleased to sort it out.
    • Re:you know... (Score:5, Informative)

      by matth (22742) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:02AM (#13508380) Homepage
      Yes... there is no "feature" If you install a plugin that makes firefox read as "Internet Exploder" or use Opera's masking the site works.. so umm yeah this looks not good.
    • Re:you know... (Score:5, Informative)

      by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:03AM (#13508395)

      I wonder if opera using it's browser masking could do it?

      Don't know about Opera, but Firefox running the User Agent Switcher set to IE 6 works just fine (tested it myself), so I would assume that Opera with browser masking would work as well.

      Anyone out there with Opera installed that could give us a definitive answer?
      • by cgenman (325138) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:29AM (#13508669) Homepage
        Seems to work fine in opera 7 so long as you Identify as MSIE 6.0. No problem with the capcha or anything.

        Of course, I didn't finish the registration process fully, so I can't say for sure. But it looks like the broweser banning is just a choice on their part rather than a technical limitation.
    • Re:you know... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ramunas (771197) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:20AM (#13508571) Homepage
      the best part is that using IE7 gets you the same errorpage. Those guys just know everything about browsers, don't they...
    • by Alien54 (180860) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:24AM (#13508617) Journal
      is for Microsoft to release a version update, say to 6.2, that would automatically install through auto-update, and break on the site.

      As they say, not FEMAs fault

  • by irving47 (73147) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @08:54AM (#13508304) Homepage
    "George Bush doesn't care about Mac people!"
  • ADA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fossa (212602) <pat7@NoSPam.gmx.net> on Thursday September 08, 2005 @08:55AM (#13508311) Journal

    Doesn't the disabilities act apply to FEMA? And doesn't that require a certain level of website?

    • Re:ADA? (Score:5, Informative)

      by FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) * <fuzzybad&gmail,com> on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:12AM (#13508501)

      The Section 508 accessibility [section508.gov] guidelines are a requirement for all U.S. government sites. I have helped to develop several .gov sites, and we take 508 compliance very seriously. I think the people responsible for www.fema.gov are about to get dragged over the coals, and rightly so. Making their website work in one *one* browser is the antithesis of accessibility.

      • Re:ADA? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Iriel (810009) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:26AM (#13508632) Homepage
        Not only that, but I frankly find it deplorable that FEMA is treating its website from a business perspective.

        In a company, somone can find it most beneficial and cost effective (sometimes, wrongly so) to support the browser that has 80-90% market share (I'm probably off on that stat, but that's not the point). However, when it comes to providing aid to hurricane victims, the government is simply not allowed to only provide to 80-90% of the people.

        There should not be any development costs even considered. Make the website work for everyone because EVERYONE needs the help. This is aid, not sales.
    • Re:ADA? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by scottennis (225462) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:21AM (#13508586) Homepage
      From the FEMA website:

      "The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is committed to providing access to our web pages for individuals with disabilities, both members of the public and Federal employees.

      To meet this commitment, we will comply with the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from us, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on us. Section 508 also requires us to ensure that Federal employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on us.

      If you use assistive technology (such as a Braille reader, a screen reader, TTY, etc.) and the format of any material on our web sites interfere with your ability to access the information, please contact FEMAOPA@dhs.gov for assistance. To enable us to respond in a manner most helpful to you, please indicate the nature of your accessibility problem, the preferred format in which to receive the material, the web address of the requested material, and your contact information."
  • One line of code. (Score:5, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Thursday September 08, 2005 @08:55AM (#13508312)

    From TFA:
    Some people also have been having some success using Firefox and the User Agent Switcher extension and setting it to IE6. I tried this and was able to get a little further in the process, but stopped before actually having to fill out a form. I'll leave that to those who really need help.
    Hmm...I tested this myself, and with the User Agent Switcher set to IE, there's no problems at
    all. Seems to me that the problem with non-IE browsers is a purely manufactured one...one that could be fixed by editing one lne of code.
    • by stecoop (759508) * on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:12AM (#13508496) Journal
      one that could be fixed by editing one lne of code

      I think the problem and solution may not be related. Hang with me on this one. We are asking the browser to the website what brand of browser it is and then the website determines what you can and cannot see simply based on that one piece of information. It should be a little different, the web site asks, can you handle JavaScript and a reply of yes from the browser. The website will now send you JavaScript info. Can you handle frames, DHTML, CSS and the list goes on as new technologies are added. So your browser would have an XML sheet of the response it should give to questions. Don't like JavaScript edit it to NO and the website should handle the request properly anyway.

      I really think that the User Agent string should be abandoned to prevent poor coupling and cohesion of website and browsers. This User Agent string should be replaced with a list of browser capabilities.
      • Re:One line of code. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bogtha (906264) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:39AM (#13508757)

        We are asking the browser to the website what brand of browser it is and then the website determines what you can and cannot see simply based on that one piece of information. It should be a little different, the web site asks, can you handle JavaScript and a reply of yes from the browser. The website will now send you JavaScript info. Can you handle frames, DHTML, CSS and the list goes on as new technologies are added.

        This kind of thing already exists. You don't ask if Javascript is available, you code your HTML as if it weren't, and make your Javascript alter the document structure. If the Javascript executes, then the structure is how you want, if the Javascript doesn't execute, then it remains in the compatible state.

        Finer-grained control is possible too - Google for object detection versus browser detection. There's also DOM interfaces to check for support for certain things, but they aren't widely supported. "DHTML" is nothing but a buzzword - it's not something a browser can support, frames already have a fallback method, and so on.

        I really think that the User Agent string should be abandoned to prevent poor coupling and cohesion of website and browsers. This User Agent string should be replaced with a list of browser capabilities.

        The User-Agent header is important for working around actual browser bugs, e.g. not being able to cope with compressed content correctly despite claiming to do so.

      • Re:One line of code. (Score:5, Informative)

        by cgenman (325138) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:43AM (#13508792) Homepage
        On the one hand, I agree that such a system is how an ideal world would operate. On the other hand, I'm guessing a typical conversation would go:

        Server: "Can you handle PNG's?"
        Client: "Yes"
        Server: "Are you sure?"
        Client: "Yes"
        Server: "The entire spec?"
        Client: "Yes"
        Server: "...Are you I.E. 5?"
        Client: "Yes"
        Server: "You're a dirty liar."

        Oh, sure I.E. thinks it handles CSS properly. It will probably even tell you it handles tables properly. It just doesn't.

        I'll be happy the day we can ditch the user agent string. But then again, I'll be happy the day we can use alpha transparency in a PNG on the web.
    • by Monoman (8745)
      Try and explain to someone's grandmother how to do that. Try and explain to any clueless user.

      If it doesn't work by default then it is broken by most clueless user's standards.
  • It's not that they can't file claims without using IE... they just can't do it online. If you've ever tried programming javascript for client side error checking of complex forms, you know that standards are very non-existant in the internet world. I completely understand why they would only want people using IE to register, especially if they didn't have much of a tech support staff. It's near impossible to cater a web app to every single flavor of every browser for every OS.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:04AM (#13508407)
      If you've ever tried programming javascript for client side error checking of complex forms, you know that standards are very non-existant in the internet world.

      You shouldn't use clientsided checking, as the golden rule in web developing is that you can't trust the client, EVER. Clientsided checking should only be used as a convenience for the user (save the user a trip to the server and back because he forgot to fill in something), not for anything serious. You have to check input at the server script anyway, so why not allow non-javascript browsers?
    • I'm sorry, but that's not just true anymore. It's what I do, every day - and where JS/Client side scripting was hellish in the late 90's there are plenty of examples of complex and mature javascript driven apps. Claiming that it's all too hard is the easy way out, there are standards, they are supported, widely amongst modern clients and it's just lazy to say, "screw it, we'll make it work in IE and nothing else".

      You should also never be mandating error checking of complex forms on the client side because you can't control the client-side. If it's complex enough that you can't reliably deploy it in JS, you should be writing that logic into the server side code.
    • If you've ever tried programming javascript for client side error checking of complex forms, you know that standards are very non-existant in the internet world.

      Client-side error checking is an optional extra. It's not necessary. The only things that are necessary to take information down from people are standard HTML forms that work in any browser.

      Cross-browser client-side validation isn't exactly rocket surgery either though. Checking field values in anything more recent than Netscape 4.0 is e

  • by DanteLysin (829006) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @08:56AM (#13508318)
    That's quite okay. I'd rather FEMA spend resources getting their arses to help the people instead of designing a better web portal.
    • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:11AM (#13508478)
      That isn't the issue. The issue is that FEMA created a website for people to file claims and because if it's poor, incompetent and idiotic design (according to reports, the page works great with the IE user agent), people are barred from accessing that functionality. That's the problem. No one is advocating that the FEMA people stop all operations so that they can focus on fixing the site.

      When a public institution sets up a service with the tax payer's money for the tax payers to use and in the end there are clients which *UNNECESSARILY* can't access the service, that is just plain incompetence.
    • by nolife (233813) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:47AM (#13508823) Homepage Journal
      Your logic is seriously flawed. First of all, FEMA is a COORDINATOR of emergency services. This includes coordination at all levels from first aid and plucking from roof tops to getting people the information and help they need to get longer term assistance and aid across different agencies. FEMA is not providing helicopters, money or food directly. Again, they are cordinating emergency responders. Not every one of the million or so people effected by the storm in the area is at the same point or condition. You can not wait and devote every resource (including your contracted web developer like you suggest) until every single person is out of the city before you start working with the people that are already out. The emergency response is a parallel effort, not serial. Many people are at the next level and need to apply for assistance now. There is an artifical barrier in place that may make the application harder or more difficult for some people. I agree that FEMA is all jacked right now though.
  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tgd (2822) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @08:56AM (#13508319)
    If you think thats even in the top hundred things FEMA has gotten wrong on this, you haven't been watching the news.

    Its a non-issue. A tiny percentage of real users have heard of anything other than IE, and an even tinier percentage of people who need FEMA support have electricity, internet access or a computer anymore.

    If you all are going to get bent about something FEMA is doing, get bent about the fact that phone and internet is the only way to register and most refugees have neither. Or get bent about the fact that 90% of calls don't go through to the FEMA number.

    This is just rediculous to get worked up about. Who cares? If 1% of thet people affected have internet access, and 1% of those use Firefox (and happen to be using someones computer that has Firefox and not IE), then out of the million people affected, what? 100 might have a problem? 100 people tech aware enough to use firefox? They probably can find a damn cell phone.
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by digidave (259925) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:32AM (#13508686)
      1. A lot of people have Macs. A lot of people are stranded without easy access to multiple computer platforms.

      2. Aid workers are busy setting up computers for these people to use to contact relatives and fill out aid forms. They are not getting free Dell computers or free Windows licenses. They are setting up older computers that have been donated and may not run IE 6.

      3. FEMA's listed phone number will trigger an automated form delivery to your home address. In New Orleans. Not very helpful.
  • Wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The AtomicPunk (450829) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:00AM (#13508366)
    It's amazing, just a quick online form and they get a huge chunk of money I earned. I'm so glad the federal government decided to branch off into the free insurance business at my expense.
  • Annoying thing is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LarsWestergren (9033) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:05AM (#13508410) Homepage Journal
    9 times out of 10 when sites demand that you use IE, it works fine with other browsers as well and the check is completely unneccessary. Just damn lazy site creators who assume it will take a lot of resources and time to verify that the site works with other browers.

  • /. it (Score:5, Funny)

    by valentyn (248783) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:05AM (#13508415) Homepage
    Now we Linux and Mac users from all over the world can try to test the site. That will at least help stress the servers to the point that simply no one will be able to file their requests.
  • by salesgeek (263995) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:07AM (#13508441) Homepage
    This is an example of what happens when you remove the public from participation in routine activites. One reason the gov't especially on public information systems should invite citizens to give them feedback is to prevent this kind of problem: people with older computers can't file. (this is a much bigger problem than Mac/Linux)

    Back in the day, FEMA was drilled and had a civilian function though the Civil Defense program. FEMA was well drilled and practiced at large scale disasters because it was busy preparing to deal with what happens after a massive nuclear strike. In the 80s much of FEMAs prepositioned assets were sold off (as opposed to updated) - handy stuff like surgical kits, sealed ready for action truck-in hospitals, pre-built emergency clinics, ready to go tent towns and prepositioned ration reserves. I bought some stuff at a local government auction when it happened, too (nice tents, cots, surgical kits make nice fly tying tools).

    The cold war era FEMA would have easily handled this disaster. The military commad structure would not have been nearly so worried about waiting for approval from a clueless governor or a mayor who was stuck in a location with limited communication capacity. Sometimes it is better to ask forgiveness from the politicians than the public.
  • FEMA demands? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joshsnow (551754) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:09AM (#13508459) Journal
    "FEMA Demands Use of IE"

    Is this FEMA demanding? Or an ignorant IT services supplier supplying a solution which only works on the IE6 platform? Or (horror of horrors) is this system an in-house job?

    Maybe FEMA need to revist their IT procurement strategy - if they have one.

    In a situation like this, I would have thought that every effort would be made to make the application process accessible to everybody.
  • No, no, no (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monoman (8745) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:11AM (#13508483) Homepage
    This is exactly why I posted to Ask Slashdot (rejected) to ask what everyone thought about putting together some type of generic system for disaster victims.

    Disasters may be the worst time for requiring proprietary systems.

    There has been some discussion on isc.sans.org about the Red Cross needing IT volunteers to develop their system.

    My idea is that most of us have extra stuff laying around that could easily be used with a customized Knoppix type CD (no HD keeps the cost down and the system intact up). The systems could be used to get shelters online (some corp can provide the circuit for Internet access). On the backend there could be a DB for victims.

    Also, a lot of these people have lost EVERYTHING. A barebones computer that gets them online is better than no computer at all.

    And what better way to introduce more people the world without MS.
  • by xplenumx (703804) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:33AM (#13508702)
    For Pete's sake - let's cut the propaganda for once. I've been helping out at the Dallas convention center for the past five days and I can tell you first and that, for the people I've encountered anyway, they have very, very limited computer skills. Most of them were very poor prior to Katrina and owning a computer was never truly an option. It's not like they're sitting there, pulling out their self-built box, and saying "Ah shit - Damn FEMA for forcing me to install IE". I'd be shocked if more than a handful have even heard of Linux or Firefox, nevermind using it. The people that are affected by FEMA's choice certainly have the skills, knowledge, and ability to handle this very, very minor situation. The rest of us, quite frankly, don't really care.
  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:36AM (#13508731) Homepage
    Opera and Netscape don't work either.

    That's not true. Opera works. I spent last weekend volunteering at the Reunion Arena shelter in Dallas. We booted one machine with Knoppix because the Windows install was bad. Mozilla and Konquerer failed to load the page correctly. So I downloaded Opera and it worked. Unless FEMA have gone out of their way to eliminate Opera, you should be able to register with Opera. In other words, there is nothing on that page that Opera cannot handle. We've registered a few hundred people already and a few with Opera.

    The stupid site really ticks me off. Even with IE you will have problems. I think they did the stupid thing in ASP. Every stupid action you take requires exchange of states between you and the server. If you click before that's complete it will give you and error and you might have to start all over. There was nothing on that page that could not have been done with simple HTML

    BTW, yesterday was the first day FEMA started working fully in Dallas. Their computers couldn't network properly so they had to take over OUR PCs to register people by doing exactly the same thing we've been doing. Not only that, they only want those computers, which do not belong to them, to be used only for FEMA registration. In the words of a FEMA worker, "People need money not email or Internet." That would be great if they all knew where the family was or our government was competent enough to provide them with that information. Unfortunately, most people have to look for their family on their own on the Internet.

  • by dieScheisse (554308) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:52AM (#13508881)
    Just to add to this story...I was listening to a local talk radio station on my way home from work yesterday. They played an interview with a woman who was extremely frustrated, almost to the point of tears, with FEMA and their apparent lack of knowledge on the situation of people displaced by Katrina.

    She called them in order to make a claim and they asked her for her address so they could send her the required paperwork (not sure HOW she called them). She told them she no longer had an address as her home no longer existed. They then asked for her home phone number so they could call her back...she again informned them she no longer had a home. They then asked for her cell phone number. She again told them there was no cell phone service where she is located. They then asked her for her fax number...then her email address....you get the picture.

    FEMA's motto must be "Let's make it hard for people to get the support they need."

    Is FEMA living in a hole, in a cave, in the middle of a desert or what?
  • by xQuarkDS9x (646166) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @09:59AM (#13508948)
    If you are using Proxomitron [proxomitron.info] and Grypen's Latest Filters [on.net] for Proxomitron, then this sites "IE only requirement" becomes VERY easy to bypass.

    How do you we do this once Proxomitron and Gryphen's filters are installed? Easy! Open up

    User - Include - Exclude.txt

    Then add the following into this file.

    www.fema.gov $SET(keyword=.js.ajs.code.flash.popup.iesite.)

    Once this is done - you can now visit the site using any god damn browser you want. In my case I tested the registration page under Opera, Firefox, and Mozilla, and as far as FEMA site was concerned, this was my user agent.

    User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)

    So really, I don't know why moronic webmasters, especially for a government or government related site, want to pull shit like this for users whom may not know how to get around "IE only" requirements.
  • No whining, ...do (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beforewisdom (729725) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @10:21AM (#13509118)
    I have gone through this with a number of organizations.

    I have found that writing emails about the situation, the existence of the World Wide Web Consortium standards body, and the existence as well as compliance of "other browsers" with the w3.org standards.... politely, usually results in the site getting updated when the organization gets a chance.

    Nobody wants to have their organization as being seen as backwards technically or with regards to standards.

    Please do no just complain about this issue on slashdot. Send a polite not to FEMA.
  • by crivens (112213) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @11:18AM (#13509623)
    For the sake of the people who NEED to register, please do NOT Slashdot their site!!!

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete successfully in business. Cheat. -- Ambrose Bierce

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