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Pre-Dawn Wireless Emergency Alert Wakes Up NYC

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the first-world-problems dept.

Communications 382

New submitter SkiTee94 writes "Many people, perhaps millions, in and around NYC were loudly awoken shortly before 4am this morning by an activation of the Wireless Emergency Alert system. As the New York Times is reporting, the alert was related to an ongoing search for a missing child. Given that the alert asked people to look out for a 'Tan Lexus ES300' with NY Plate 'GEX1377,' many New Yorkers are questioning the logic of waking up the whole city to ask them to look for a car. Normally such alerts are reserved for road-side signs. While emergency authorities have yet to give a precise reason for why the decision was made to wake up the city, many have taken the step of deactivating these alerts to avoid future jolting mid-slumber alarms (likely not the intended result of last night's exercise)."

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Alert (5, Informative)

alphatel (1450715) | about a year ago | (#44311297)

The actual alert was even more cryptic due to texting truncation
"LIC/GEX1377 NY 1995 Tan Lexis"
Kind of a pre-dawn WTF. Told my wife it was my boss asking for directions to the strip club. Did NOT get a free massage.

Re:Alert (-1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#44311355)

1377

'Leet? Really? :-)

Re:Alert (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311403)

That would be "lett" though.

Re:Alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311429)

No, Lett.

Did they find the Lexus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311313)

That's what we really want to know.

Re:Did they find the Lexus? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311409)

Please, at least take the time to read the summary. It clearly mentions an "indented result", so, naturally, the car must have crashed and thus been discovered as such.

Either that, or Slashdot is having an unprecedented issue with proofreading the article summaries.

Re:Did they find the Lexus? (5, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | about a year ago | (#44311687)

Amber keeps getting into strangers cars. When will she ever learn?

Government at it's finest (5, Insightful)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44311317)

You would think in a city with thousands of cameras and surveillance assets, they could find a single car. It's not like the car could get very far, it's New York!

Re:Government at it's finest (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311487)

I don't get their game, since they have automated plate readers already in use, why can they not find the car? The only possibilities that come to mind are that they don't want to advertise the existence of the readers, but that doesn't seem likely as anyone who cares knows about them. So the only other thing I can think of is that it might be another case where one department is not sharing nicely with another. Not claiming I know the actual reason, just pondering out loud.

Re:Government at it's finest (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311581)

More likely the plate readers don't work for shit but they hope everyone doesn't realize that so when the prosecutor puts Joe Expert on the stand to tell everyone how the plate readers saw the guy's car at the scene they won't think to question whether the testimony really proves anything, or if the plate readers even identified the correct car.

Sort of like DNA evidence, and how prosecutors and their "expert" witlesses pushed it as the holy grail of proof, up until people started using it to prove someone else committed the crime and now suddenly prosecutors openly assert that DNA can't prove jack shit (when they're not in a courtroom snowing over 12 angry idiots with CSI technobabble).

Re:Government at it's finest (1)

ildon (413912) | about a year ago | (#44311547)

NYC is not London.

Re:Government at it's finest (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311639)

They may have traffic cams, but the ones with enough resolution to make out an actual plate instead of pixels are only triggered by red light runners. (And that's only at intersections with red-light cams.)

I disabled mine months ago (2, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44311331)

I can barely keep track of the cars around me in some traffic patterns, much less take the time to read each license plate. And seriously, a tan Lexus? Here in Texas, it's inevitably "white Ford Explorer" or "Blue black Chevy pickup" or some other horribly common vehicle. Maybe if kidnappers start driving more distinct cars, like an old VW painted like a ladybug or something, I'll be a little more alert to it.

Phone alerts (4, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44311333)

While emergency authorities have yet to give a precise reason for why the decision was made to wake up the city, many have taken the step of deactivating these alerts to avoid future jolting mid-slumber alarms (likely not the indented result of last night's exercise).

I don't live in NYC, but my phone settings were recently updated by AT&T to display Amber Alerts and weather alerts. The very first moment one of these went off while I was driving, I decided to shut it off forever as a menace. After all, I noticed that I wasn't the only driver wobbling a little in their lane right after it happened.

If I was woken in the early morning by one of these things, I just hope I'd have the presence of mind not to throw the damned thing out a window!

Re:Phone alerts (1)

swb (14022) | about a year ago | (#44311537)

I've gotten 3 weather alerts already. Living in Minneapolis I question the value of sending Flash Flood alerts; I think the number of people who are at risk from Flash Flooding in their homes is pretty small in this state (it may be larger in coastal or river delta areas).

Was it an AT&T update that did this? There's definitely software support for it in IOS as I can see where to turn it on/off in my iPhone settings.

Re:Phone alerts (5, Funny)

wooferhound (546132) | about a year ago | (#44311599)

How can you wake anybody up in the City That Never Sleeps ?

Re:Phone alerts (4, Informative)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year ago | (#44311685)

Do you know what a flash flood is? It has nothing to do with river deltas or coastal areas. A flash flood occurs when rain falls faster than it can be removed. This occurs when the ground is saturated and/or storm sewers are overwhelmed. Low lying areas quickly fill with water, which can be extremely dangerous, particularly if the low lying area happens to be a roadway. It is not a threat to your home, it is a threat to your life.

Re:Phone alerts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311615)

I noticed that I wasn't the only driver wobbling a little in their lane right after it happened.

Please tell me that you wobbled because you decided to check what the message said.

Sure, it's a stupid thing to do. But I don't know if I could handle the idea that the buzz alone is enough to interfere with your driving, nevermind how bad you might be if you actually picked it up and looked at it.

Not just NYC (4, Insightful)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | about a year ago | (#44311339)

Last week there was an Amber Alert in the Valley of the Sun. A bit later, I thought that such a system was too easy to abuse...imagine an Amber Alert that says it's for a kidnapped child but actually happens to be for a political dissident like Snowden...and that's when I turned off the Amber Alerts.

They've also been excessively over-zealous about thunderstorm alerts, but I'm not quite yet ready to turn those off. But if they don't clean up their act fast, I will.

b&

Re:Not just NYC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311513)

I 2nd this. I turned off Amber alerts (Chicago area) about 2 months ago when I get one at 1:30AM. Many people questioned it because it was for a child from Texas, looking for a car from Texas, but that was in the Chicago area (supposedly). The amber alert forgot to mention that last part....

And the thunderstorm/flash flood warnings constantly go off. Once is enough.

Re:Not just NYC (3, Interesting)

mariox19 (632969) | about a year ago | (#44311531)

[I]magine an Amber Alert that says it's for a kidnapped child but actually happens to be for a political dissident like Snowden...and that's when I turned off the Amber Alerts.

You do know that weather alerts and amber alerts can be turned off, but not alerts sent out by the President of the United States [fcc.gov] , right?

I don't know about you, comrade, but I sometimes wonder what's going on in this country.

Re:Not just NYC (2)

jandrese (485) | about a year ago | (#44311637)

An alert sent personally from the President of the US had better be something like "US under space alien attack, everybody hide!"

If he starts sending out campaign crap or something, then I'll get up in arms, but thus far it seems like a useful thing to be able to alert the entire country when some major major major shit goes down.

Re:Not just NYC (1)

awyeah (70462) | about a year ago | (#44311669)

I *think* that the Presidential message is probably the same thing as an Emergency Action Notification [wikipedia.org] , which has never been used before.

Re:Not just NYC (1)

1s44c (552956) | about a year ago | (#44311681)

You do know that weather alerts and amber alerts can be turned off, but not alerts sent out by the President of the United States [fcc.gov] , right?

I don't know about you, comrade, but I sometimes wonder what's going on in this country.

That seems reasonable to me. Our president isn't going to waste his time sending out alerts for every missing child. If he uses this system you know it's going to be at least a 9/11 scale situation.

INDIA FEEDING CHILDREN SOYLENT GREEN !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311341)

And that is people !! People who eat people !! Not good !! Not good at all !!

Re:INDIA FEEDING CHILDREN SOYLENT GREEN !! (-1, Offtopic)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44311375)

There's already animal-sourced soylent green for farm animals.

Loud? (1)

magarity (164372) | about a year ago | (#44311343)

What kind of alert system has device access permissions that let it be loud enough to wake everyone up? When I get Amber alerts, it's just a text message with a momentary vibrate.

Re:Loud? (2)

ThinkWeak (958195) | about a year ago | (#44311381)

I was surprised when the tornado warning alert went off on my phone last week here in Ohio. It was the second week that I have had the phone, a Galaxy S4. My Galaxy Nexus was more of a vibrate when one of the amber alerts or weather warnings went off. When the S4 fired, it was like a portable tornado siren. I kid you not, it rivaled the testing of the emergency broadcast system on televisions.

Re:Loud? (1)

SkiTee94 (2984671) | about a year ago | (#44311395)

This was sent via the Wireless Emergency Alert and not a text message. It's a special alert that sounds a loud continuous tone (similar to the tone on TV/radio when they test the "Emergency Broadcast System"). It was automatically "installed" on most modern smartphones (at least in the NYC area) earlier this year. The default setting is "on" although users can disable the alerts (which apparently many in NYC are now doing).

Re:Loud? (2)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#44311437)

Yeh, mine went off a couple of weeks ago for a flood warning. I was already in the office and my phone and a few others went off. They made strange tones as opposed to the normal email/txt/phone tones.

Meanwhile, my co-worker was still driving to work when his went off. He never heard it before, it apparently was piped through the car speakers via bluetooth, and scared the heck out of him. He joked that he could've had a crash/accident when it went off, but I don't think it's that far of a stretch to assume.

Re:Loud? (1)

MrP- (45616) | about a year ago | (#44311509)

It seems to respect the vibrate button on my iPhone.

Unless there's different types and the flood warning alert I got last week is one that doesn't trigger sound.

Re:Loud? (1)

MrP- (45616) | about a year ago | (#44311621)

I should probably add this happened at like 10AM so even if it did make a sound I was already up. Also I don't even think it rained that day so kind of a useless alert.

Re:Loud? (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#44311473)

The one the government mandated you can not even turn off some of them. Great way to keep em scared guys.

Re:Loud? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44311495)

The one the government mandated you can not even turn off some of them. Great way to keep em scared guys.

A strategy to keep people from paying attention to NSA eavesdropping news? Wow! And people keep saying how stupid government is -- time to wake up (ah-hum no pun intended.)

Wolf! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311353)

Wolf Wolf! Wolf!

for some reason... (5, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44311357)

...this reminds me of the scene in fahrenheit 451 (I believe, it's been awhile) where the TV coordinates the entire population to go and look out their front door to locate a fugative. I always found that part particularly scary.

Re:for some reason... (1)

c-A-d (77980) | about a year ago | (#44311493)

Better analogy than the wake up alerts from the telescreen in 1984 that I was thinking of.

Re:for some reason... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44311585)

That's a good one too. Life imitates art.

Same thing in Boston when the Alerts went live... (1)

Dr. Crash (237179) | about a year ago | (#44311359)

The same thing happened in the Boston area within a week of the alert system going live; we got two alerts in 48 hours, one at about 11 PM and the other at 2 AM; the whole Boston area got jolted awake by their phones shreiking at full volume.

Next day, everyone and their brother was scrambling to figure out how to TURN OFF THE $($(#( alerts.

Net result is that we've lost a possibly-useful resource. What should have happened is that there should be an "I'm mobile" test in the chain; Amber alerts should shriek at you only if you're actively moving right then.

Re:Same thing in Boston when the Alerts went live. (2)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about a year ago | (#44311679)

Or not, because moving often means driving and if I'm driving you really shouldn't encourage me to read my phone.

Good practice (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44311363)

Well, they know it works and are now ready for the Zombpocalypse!

which will be reported on /. the day after it starts

Re:Good practice (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311673)

and there will be a dupe a week later

can these be disabled after a jailbreak? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311365)

or is there a way to add these to a block list?

WTF? (1, Insightful)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about a year ago | (#44311369)

Let me get this straight? People are bitching because an alert for a missing child woke them up? So a child's life is less important to you then a few minutes of missing sleep?

Wow. That certainly puts some peoples priorities in place.

Re:WTF? (5, Funny)

philgp (584302) | about a year ago | (#44311405)

So what have you done with the real Lord Apathy?

Re:WTF? (3, Funny)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about a year ago | (#44311439)

I got a new girlfriend, she is much easier to inflate, so I've been getting laid more. Mellowed me out some.

Re:WTF? (5, Informative)

Dr. Crash (237179) | about a year ago | (#44311445)

If it means I get jolted awake by my phone SHRIEKING at the top of it's volume setting every third day sometime between midnight and 3 AM when I have to go to work the next morning, then YES, my sleep is more important.

Waking up five million people from a sound sleep once a week or so just isn't feasible; it's crying wolf and people will simply turn their phones off (which defeats the whole purpose of it). And it's not something you can set to low volume; at least on a Verizon Droid 3, even if it's set on vibrate, an alert blares at maximum alarm volume and with a particularly annoying shriek and you CANNOT set it to a lower volume; there is only "SHRIEK" and "ignore".

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311449)

So says Lord Apathy...

Re:WTF? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44311453)

Let me get this straight? People are bitching because an alert for a missing child woke them up? So a child's life is less important to you then a few minutes of missing sleep?

Wow. That certainly puts some peoples priorities in place.

Perhaps the biggest whiners were the most self centered.

Remember when you would hear of these small town children being lost and the whole town turning out to search for them or do everything they can to pull a child from a well?

Welcome to New York City, where it's somebody else's problem. An SEP field generator wouldn't even need a battery there.

Re:WTF? (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44311627)

Welcome to New York City, where it's somebody else's problem.

Exactly. It is someone else's problem.

People in a small town can do something useful. People in a big city are probably miles away from where they could do something useful. Sending out this kind of stupid message just encourages them to ignore all messages in future.

Re:WTF? (1)

Anrego (830717) | about a year ago | (#44311655)

Probably because in a small town, this wasn't a frequent occurrence. Drop a kid down a well every week and you'd have a lot less people turning up...

Obviously some folk are more self-sacrificing than others, but everyone draws a line somewhere, or else we’d all be living on the bare minimum possible and donating all our money to feed starving children/cure cancer/whatever.

Re:WTF? (4, Informative)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#44311459)

Missing is a bit of a loose term the child was removed from a state facility by there mother during a supervised visit.

Sounds a lot more like the state having egg on it's face and trying to clean it up asap. This is also 12 or so hours after the fact.

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year ago | (#44311471)

Yes. My sleep is more important than getting woken up at 4am with an alert telling me about a missing child in a city the size of NYC. Who is going to be looking out their window at that time of the morning?

Let's think about the math. Add up all those minutes of missed sleep. Work out how that equates to minutes of life lost (people dieing earlier), add the car accidents because some people can't get back to sleep if woken up at 4am, and are drowsy when they drive/step off the curb.

Adds up to more than one child's life is worth.

Fuck the child. No wait. Forget the child, it's going to be fucked anyway (presumably that's why it got kidnapped?).

Re:WTF? (1)

hjf (703092) | about a year ago | (#44311545)

BUT BUT BUT... crowdsorcing!!!

Re:WTF? (-1, Troll)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about a year ago | (#44311589)

Yes. My sleep is more important than getting woken up at 4am with an alert telling me about a missing child in a city the size of NYC. Who is going to be looking out their window at that time of the morning?

Oh horse shit. Your just trying to justify your own selfcenteredness and lazyness. They are not asking you to look out the window at 4 am or go looking for a missing child. They are putting the information out there so you will know a child is missing. So maybe sometime during your travels you will be aware of it and perhaps might notice it.

Fuck the child. No wait. Forget the child, it's going to be fucked anyway (presumably that's why it got kidnapped?).

Fuck the child? No, fuck you. Go back to sleep you self centered bastard.

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44311643)

They are not asking you to look out the window at 4 am or go looking for a missing child.

Then what's the point?

They are putting the information out there so you will know a child is missing.

So why are they doing it at 4am? The breakfast news would be more effective.

Re:WTF? (2)

SkiTee94 (2984671) | about a year ago | (#44311479)

The Wireless Emergency Alerts system was intended mostly to be for major emergencies where everyone needs to be notified (e.g. there's a tornado coming your way seek cover). Sending an alert to everyone in the middle of the night to look out for a license plate number is a poor use of the system. The net result is that many people got annoyed and are now deactivating what could be a very important resource in the future. Information such as "look our for a Tan Lexus" is best directed at people in a position to make use of it... e.g., notifying those out on the road via electronic road signs and radio broadcasts. Waking a city of 8 million up to give them information that is totally useless will just annoy people.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311489)

I think you might be due for a new handle. Yours doesn't seem too fitting.

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | about a year ago | (#44311511)

Amber Alerts are worthless and do absolutely nothing in over 95% of cases. In the US, there were less than 400 reported stranger abductions, but over 40,000 amber alerts were issued.

Several police studies have shown them to be quite nearly worthless, but the economic cost of putting up thousands of road signs, deploying massive international tracking and notification systems has counted in the tens of billions of dollars.

You do realize how many MORE children's lives could be saved by $10 billion in health care and nutritional supplements... or even in mental health, considering the suicide rate amongst children is a factor of TEN higher than the abduction rate.

Holy crap....

Re:WTF? (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44311519)

They're bitching because at 4AM in bed there's not a damned thing they could have done about it. Alerts should be confined to situations where being alerted is helpful.

In prior events, the amber alerts were simply displayed on street signs so that people who might actually have the possibility of spotting the car were told and nobody else.

To put it in perspective, as sad as it is, if they alert everyone for everything, it will be just one long uninterrupted alarm. people have to prioritize.

Re:WTF? (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44311523)

Well yes it could.

People need sleep to function well in society. If you wake up a large portion of NYC and break their sleep. They could be less alert during the day where they may affect the lives of others.

The alert system really should be information that you really should get kicked out of bed for.
Tornado, Hurricane, Earthquake, Approaching Fire, Flood, Nuclear Explosion. You know stuff if you stay in bed and sleep in, you could be dead before your normal wake up time.

It isn't that Amber Alerts are bad, however it shouldn't be on the emergency, get the fuck out of bed alerts.

Re:WTF? (2)

Soluzar (1957050) | about a year ago | (#44311549)

The police exist to handle such situations. I do not. There is probably nothing I can do to help, and certainly not while I'm trying to sleep. If this happened to me, I'd have to start turning off my phone at nights.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311575)

... child's life is less important ...

How does harassing 5 million people protect the child? Sleep deprivation is a real problem in modern cities and can easily endanger lives. Waking everyone to look for a car in their bedroom is ridiculous. What's next? Telling everyone to look for a naked man.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311583)

Unless the Tan Lexus is driving through their bedrooms, they were woken unnecessarily and believe it or not people often have their own kids to look after, jobs etc and need their sleep.

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311613)

There are several problems with the alert as it was issued:

It conveyed information in an arcane, effectively incomprehensible manner.

People who were asleep aren't going to be useful for finding a car, and pretty much everyone at that particular time of day is going to be asleep, or on a night shift at work.

People who are driving a car will either have to ignore the message or endanger themselves and everyone around them. Or get shouted at by their car's speaker system, apparently, which is an accident risk itself.

There's a reason these alerts are traditionally issued via roadside signs and the TV/radio. This was stupid and whoever issued the alert should be fired, because now people are just going to turn off these alerts entirely rather than have to deal with useless, uncommunicative, and potentially dangerous alerts that they can't do anything about anyway.

Re:WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311647)

Yes, my sleep IS more important than yet another alert that someone's kid is missing at 3 AM. I'm not about to get up and go searching for him...that's what the search and rescue teams do. And the police. And the parents and their friends, NOT millions of other people who should be sleeping so they don't get too tired that they run over some kid while driving to work later that AM.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311677)

Yes. That's the answer you want right? Children go missing every day, you don't rouse hundreds of thousands of people for it

Re:WTF? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#44311683)

I think you are making a false analogy here. This isn't "a childs life" vs "Sleep" unless you assume that there is reason to believe that, at 4 am, a significant portion of the population may be on the roads and able to look (perhaps still stuck in traffic from the day before?)

What is the expectation that some portion of the population, from their vantage point in bed, is able to spot the vehicle?

So since there is no expectation it can help, why is the mere appearance of caring about a childs life more important than an entire cities sleep?

Re:WTF? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44311697)

People are bitching because an alert for a missing child woke them up? So a child's life is less important to you then a few minutes of missing sleep?

If you wake me up in the middle of the night to ask me if I've seen a car, my response is going to be a good solid "fuck off".

Bad things happen all of the time, I don't need a personal notice of every damned one of them -- and nowadays they'll trot out an amber alert if a kid is 10 minutes late getting home from school.

I'm not on the taskforce to protect children, and I'm not willing to be dragged into the weeping and gnashing which happens every time anything happens and people panic over it.

All I hear is "ZOMG, a child is missing, quick everybody stop what your doing and look for it". It might serve to keep the populace in near panic most of the time, but I'm betting it does very little else.

Another Bogus Amber Alert (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#44311383)

Not only was it stupid to send this alert to everyone's phones, it was yet another example of Amber Alert scope creep.

Amber Alerts are meant to be restricted to cases where "the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death." [amberalert.gov]

This was just another case of a non-custodial parent running off with the kid. The child was not in any imminent danger. She lost custody because of violence in her home (none of which was ever directed at the child).

Re:Another Bogus Amber Alert (1)

hardtofindanick (1105361) | about a year ago | (#44311503)

The full article says she was bipolar and had violent issues in the past.

Re:Another Bogus Amber Alert (2)

Albanach (527650) | about a year ago | (#44311533)

Amber Alerts are meant to be restricted to cases where "the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death." [amberalert.gov]

From the NY Times article:

"A spokesman for the Police Department said that the so-called Amber Alert was requested after officers determined that the child could have been in imminent danger, but that it was the state police that approved and sent out the alert."

Re:Another Bogus Amber Alert (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#44311631)

Of course they are going to say that, else they would have to admit they broke the rules which there is absolutely no way they would do given how stupid they already look with the 4am wake-up call to everybody.

The woman lost custody because she was fighting ("brawling") in front of the child. [nydailynews.com]

Simply being bipolar doesn't make someone a risk for killing their kid.

Re:Another Bogus Amber Alert (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311603)

Where is the "-1, Wrong" mod option?

LINK IS NOT WORKING (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311387)

Link link is not working unless you are registred (and paid) to that newspaper. Please stop linking such articles that are impossible to read (what's the point?!)

Not the indented result? (1)

sharkey (16670) | about a year ago | (#44311407)

likely not the indented result of last night's exercise

Really? People are getting all worked up over paragraph formatting when there's an emergency going on?

Re:Not the indented result? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311559)

"indented result?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311415)

Even by the standards of Crappy Slashdot Typos, that's a Crappy Slashdot Typo.

My previous comment (4, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year ago | (#44311435)

Right here on /. I predicted (and was shot down) that this alert system was going to be used badly. The simple reason is that every bureaucrat thinks their job is so very important. Thus any government weenie who got their hands on it would start sending out "helpful" messages. A missing child is not the worst use for this but per usual the government did it about as badly as they could; The message being basically useless.

What they need to do is to make an opt in system with levels that you can opt into. Level 1 would be for situations where nearly everyone's life is peril. Say a poison gas leak where going outside will kill you. The Boston bombers manhunt would not count as level 1. Level 2 would be a warning about something that could kill you such as to stay away from an area as there is a poison gas leak there. Level 3 would be Lost children who have been taken by bad people (not a custody case) Level 4 would be things like weather alerts.

But my guess is that the government is going to be captain obvious with most of their alerts and tell people that a storm is coming (that has been in the news for 3 straight days), then it will be political messages of grief and loss (i.e. "My heart goes out to those who...") , and eventually things like reminders to vote and recycle.

But being the government they believe that their mission is so very important that people should not be able to opt out of this crap. The key is that people need to not be treated like children and the government should not have any special rights. If people want to opt out then they are clearly stating "I don't want your crap".

Re:My previous comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311645)

... every bureaucrat thinks their job ...

I think of it as 'my needs are more valuable than your needs'. It a common attitude made more dangerous since bureaucrats don't have to worry about losing their 'customers'.

Re:My previous comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311665)

What they need to do is allow you to turn off the annoying sound it makes, SEPARATE from turning off the alert. Pretty simple, but Android developers just can't seem to figure these things out.

Already done (2)

SIGBUS (8236) | about a year ago | (#44311689)

There already are levels to the alert system. I wasted no time turning off Amber alerts after receiving one, but I'm leaving the the other ones activated for now. I think it's a bit stupid to use the EBS tone for Amber alerts, in any case; it should be reserved for things like severe weather, zombie apocalypse, etc. If a tornado is heading for my area at 2 AM, I want to know about it.

There's a "Presidential alert" that can't be disabled, though. Hopefully, it won't ever be used (because it's likely that it will mean that World War III has started).

Phone Alerts (0)

agrisea (877522) | about a year ago | (#44311467)

Do none of your phones have an OFF button? You know, turn the phone off at night or must you be reachable 24/7/365?

Re:Phone Alerts (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#44311505)

Do none of your phones have an OFF button? You know, turn the phone off at night or must you be reachable 24/7/365?

Many have started relying on the cellphone as their only phone. Between high minute offerings and how more electronic forms of communication have replaced the phone call.. it's not outlandish. Though you're asking for trouble if you have an emergency to phone in while the cells are down (like during hurricane Sandy).

So people tend to leave the phone on and plugged in overnight for use the next day, and take advantage of the alarm clocks feature.

So it going off early as heck would be a problem: on, plugged in, waiting to wake up the users a few hours later.

In this case, the new "feature" added to some phones recently are on my default and most don't even know about the feature or that it was pushed to them.

I think they even make the town if you put the phone on silent... but I'm not sure about that one.

Re:Phone Alerts (1)

aamcf (651492) | about a year ago | (#44311569)

There are some people who must be able to reach be 24/7. I'm not particularly important (except to those people, I guess) so I expect that most people are in that position too.

Re:Phone Alerts (1)

hjf (703092) | about a year ago | (#44311571)

Yes, but new pones don't have the ability of wake up from poweroff for alarms.

Re:Phone Alerts (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about a year ago | (#44311595)

There are plenty of New-Yorkers who have iPhones...

Re:Phone Alerts (1)

DanTheStone (1212500) | about a year ago | (#44311607)

My phone is my alarm clock. It's certainly been more reliable than any dedicated alarm clock I owned in the past (which would run out of either electricity or battery power. It wouldn't work very well if I turned it off at night.

Re:Phone Alerts (2)

Proteus (1926) | about a year ago | (#44311675)

First, yes dammit, I must be reachable as much as possible. If a friend or family member needs help in the middle of the night, I'm not gonna be the guy who says "sorry, I had my phone off."

Second, I must be able to make a call at any time. My mobile is my only phone, and if something happens where I need to call 911, I'm not going to want to wait for the damned thing to boot.

Stupid ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44311475)

So they're going to forcible alert everybody for everything now?

People will rapidly start tuning them out or finding ways to disable it.

Do not go straight to "notify everybody every time anything happens" -- because then you're just crying wolf.

What next, go beyond wireless and automatically phone every land line? This is so incredibly stupid it isn't funny -- if you have a missing child, don't call me about it.

Citys / counties to big for the system (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44311485)

Citys / counties to big for the system?

I used deal with BS like this on cable floods and other stuff any where in the same big county used to trigger the sound cut off / on screen text. (added by the cable co and not the local tv channels)

Meany years ago and only on the SD channels. I have directv now so I don't get this stuffed added by the cable co.

Nothing wrong with alerts (1)

hardtofindanick (1105361) | about a year ago | (#44311491)

But clearly the phones need to provide better software so that people can block alerts by time of occurence. e.g., all those naysayers could block alerts between 10pm-7am had the software allowed.

Re:Nothing wrong with alerts (1)

Proteus (1926) | about a year ago | (#44311695)

If there is a real civil emergency, you need the system to notify people whether they want the notification or not. The problem is that the city used this emergency notification system to tell people about a risk to one single individual.

Crying Wolf (2)

ki85squared (778761) | about a year ago | (#44311517)

This has happened at least four times in the last year or so in Atlanta. Amber alerts get treated by many phones as any other emergency alert, and they happen to go out between 1 and 4 am to the entire metro area, so the missing child could be up to 50 miles away. A lot of my friends have turned off emergency alerts completely because of this.

too many "crying wolf" (2)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#44311521)

Too many custody battle child-nappings or teen runaways. When you get a rare stranger kidnapping, how would you know then?

Misleading title and the summary didn't clarify (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311525)

I read this and thought the Amber Alert system was more alike an air-raid siren, y'know actually waking up the whole city, not sending an over-zealous text to subscribers. I had a V for Vendetta moment there thinking you had bull-horns on poles broadcasting propaganda and subliminal messages but then I remembered you have Fox for that.

A group-text was sent by mistake. News for nerds? Stuff that matters? Really?

Two Minutes Hate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44311557)

Participation is not optional citizen.

Never got the alert (1)

Lew Perin (30124) | about a year ago | (#44311667)

Not that I'm complaining, of course, but I never got the alert, and I live right across the street from NYC's Office of Emergency Management. I'm curious about why my phone never got the message, because who knows, I might want to get alerted the next time something like Sandy blows into town.

Speaking of Sandy, I did receive a text message alert or 2 during the storm, which presumably means my phone is capable of getting the messages. Could the reason be that I switched carriers around New Year's? (ATT to T-Mobile, if it matters.)

Wait till we starte getting OBAMA ALERTS! (-1, Flamebait)

WCMI92 (592436) | about a year ago | (#44311691)

The "presidential" alerts CANNOT be disabled, and no doubt will share the same LOUD EBS tone the Amber Alerts do.

OBAMA ALERT! "Some TEA Partier in YOUR vicinity has been TAKING MY NAME in vain!"

In my area we were getting spammed with Amber Alerts for a non custodial parent who took his child in Cleveland, OH.

Cleveland, OH is 300 miles from where I am! What is the sense in that?

I did turn them off, but a friend of mine with kids shamed me into turning amber alerts back on.

It happened in New York? (2)

slugstone (307678) | about a year ago | (#44311693)

I thought it was the city that never sleeps.

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