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FEMA Demands Use of IE To File Online Katrina Claims

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the small-but-annoying-details dept.

Internet Explorer 1165

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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Virtual PC (-1, Redundant)

ChrisF79 (829953) | about 9 years ago | (#13508288)

What if you're running virtual PC on a mac? Still no luck?

Re:Virtual PC (2, Interesting)

cached (801963) | about 9 years ago | (#13508299)

From TFA: If you're running Mac OS X, you could run Virtual PC 7 and then access Windows and Internet Explorer.

Re:Virtual PC (0, Flamebait)

ChrisF79 (829953) | about 9 years ago | (#13508387)

Exactly, now read the sentence from the summary. "if you survived the hurricane and are a Mac, Linux or Firefox user you cannot file a claim online." That is blatantly incorrect, as you pointed out from the article. Just a poorly worded article and and an even worse summary in my opinion.

Re:Virtual PC (4, Funny)

m4dm4n (888871) | about 9 years ago | (#13508435)

I think in the end you're probably better off just using the telephone. They're more likely to understand technology thats been around for more than 100 years.

"MS-Internet" is confusing to them.

Re:Virtual PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508384)

Easy Change your Browsers reported User-Agent and tell Fema to suck it.

you know... (4, Interesting)

Shads (4567) | about 9 years ago | (#13508292)

... 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... (5, Informative)

arkanes (521690) | about 9 years ago | (#13508339)

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.

Re:you know... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508400)

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

Re:you know... (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | about 9 years ago | (#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.


Re:you know... (4, Informative)

matth (22742) | about 9 years ago | (#13508380)

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... (4, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 9 years ago | (#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?

And... (4, Funny)

crow_t_robot (528562) | about 9 years ago | (#13508293)

...FEMA certainly knows how to get things done! (efficiently too!)

Conspiracy Theory (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508294)

I can feel it coming already

lame (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508300)


Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508302)

The title pretty much sums it up. This is such a none issue that I cannot believe that it is on the front page.

Look at the destruction in New Orleans and Biloxi. Do you really think that there are any/many people filing FEMA claims via the internet?

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (1)

aug24 (38229) | about 9 years ago | (#13508320)

What do think they're going to be using? Their cell phones? Their land lines? The mail?



First hand experience. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508467)

Having endured very similar circumstances, last year with hurricane Ivan, I can tell you that cell phones worked a month before any land lines or internet.

I can also tell you that the people waist deep in this disaster really appreciate the media and Slashdot slashdotting the FEMA site right when they need it the most. But, at least you worthless bastards are doing your part by whining about their choice of browser, stuff that really matters! The browser debate was really important to me when I had no water or electricity for a month!

Re:The problem (3, Informative)

symbolic (11752) | about 9 years ago | (#13508418)

This just one of a growing number of complaints against the FEMA. It's so bad that some are calling for its director, Micheal Brown, to be fired. Apparently, he's had problems in prior positions as well, as described HERE []

Also, to address your point, I'm guessing that people will be filing their claims OUTSIDE of those areas.

IE on Mac (1)

PickyH3D (680158) | about 9 years ago | (#13508303)

What stops those people, other than there probably are not many people using it?

Re:IE on Mac (4, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | about 9 years ago | (#13508336)

Microsoft doesnt support IE on mac like it does PC so there isnt the latest version of IE for the mac, which is what FEMA demands.

Likewise M$ stated that they will no longer support the Mac period because basically they have Safari.

Re:IE on Mac (1, Troll)

Picard102 (803951) | about 9 years ago | (#13508443)

clever use of the $ sign

Re:IE on Mac (2, Insightful)

TobascoKid (82629) | about 9 years ago | (#13508363)

IE on the Mac stopped at 5.5. There is no IE 6 for the Mac.

You knew it was coming... (5, Funny)

irving47 (73147) | about 9 years ago | (#13508304)

"George Bush doesn't care about Mac people!"

Re:You knew it was coming... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13508352)

So if you're a black mac user you might as well shoot yourself as far as he's concerned?

Thread over! (2, Funny)

Throwman (898079) | about 9 years ago | (#13508359)

You win!

Re:Thread over! (1)

ottergoose (770022) | about 9 years ago | (#13508379)

I agree. I tried a joke along the lines of "Educated rich Windows users..." but crap, that's really funny.

Re:You knew it was coming... (5, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | about 9 years ago | (#13508386)

Quite frankly, if a Mac-using Bush voter exists, I don't wanna hear, much less think, about it.

Re:You knew it was coming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508477)

Sorry. I am both

Re:You knew it was coming... (2, Funny)

glug101 (911527) | about 9 years ago | (#13508411)

Likely because the previous administration installed a bunch of macs in the whitehouse. Macs are for Democrats and Commies. Not for decent Americans.

Re:You knew it was coming... (1)

Chocolate Teapot (639869) | about 9 years ago | (#13508437)

He knows that us Mac people have flippers instead of 5 digits on each hand. What harm can a flood do us?

One more reason to fire chertoff (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508308)

Imagine a bewoulf cluster fuck of chertoff

ADA? (4, Interesting)

fossa (212602) | about 9 years ago | (#13508311)

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

Re:ADA? (1)

Peden (753161) | about 9 years ago | (#13508438)

Are you hereby saying that everyone using a Mac are disabled, if you only knew :)

Unless they've suspended it (1)

tizzyD (577098) | about 9 years ago | (#13508472)

ADA should apply to any web site the government puts together that cannot be declared protected in this War on Terrorism. But then, we all know that the terrorists hate our way of life, so they will hate us helping each other. Thus, I expect rampant attacks to start any day now. Not like the good old American criminals setting up bogus contribution sites, no, these attacks will be merciless. They will fill out forms for dead people, moo ha ha ha!

One line of code. (5, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 9 years ago | (#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 that could be fixed by editing one lne of code.

Re:One line of code. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508397)

and suprise, the website was made by a codemonkey that cant code his/her way out of a bag.

typical for government jobs. given to the lowest bidder which means some moron in his basement with a copy of frontpage. and these people dare to call themselves "developers"

they are not. and never will be.

Re:One line of code. (2, Insightful)

'nother poster (700681) | about 9 years ago | (#13508479)

Now the question... Why should I have to do ANYTHING special to access a website that was created by a government agency that used moey that was supplied by your and my tax dollars?

They are building services for american Citizens, not Windows or Mac or *nix users. There are industy standards out there so that websites can be created that all browsers that any citizen uses should be able to access.

Hey your house was just destroyed and you lost everything, and they let you stay in this nice school gymnasium. Sorry, but you can't file with FEMA using the computers in the library because they decided to use Linux with Opera as the default install. Maybe you can use on of the systems in the administrative offices? They have Windows 98. Oh, sorry. You'll have to download IE6 since they were still using IE 5.x. Maybe you can go use the computers at the big company down the road you lazy git, or just mail in the paper forms. It's not my fault you don't use windows.

Re:One line of code. (2, Informative)

pasamio (737659) | about 9 years ago | (#13508490)

Well it worked for me until I needed to validate my identity. Does this mean that FEMA has direct access to all residents SSN's and details? This raises security concerns for me. It didn't once stop me because I was using a .au ip address, not sure if thats a good or bad idea... Firefox 1.0.6 'IE6 Windows XP' and Debian Sid. Only one element (dropdown) failed to update properly and it fixed itself when I clicked submit and it complained it was empty. Appears to be three years old though, so I guess that they've done alright with it!

Sorry but the subject of this article is misleadin (3, Interesting)

unborracho (108756) | about 9 years ago | (#13508313)

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.

Re:Sorry but the subject of this article is mislea (1, Insightful)

Cat_Byte (621676) | about 9 years ago | (#13508358)

Agree. I'm also pretty sure they have other things to do right now other than make cross-platform code. The author seems to have forgotten that.

Re:Sorry but the subject of this article is mislea (5, Insightful)

BusterB (10791) | about 9 years ago | (#13508489)

Yes, I'm sure that they have their web developer out in a helicopter right now scanning for survivors. Give me a break. Someone is paid to maintain and support this website, and he or she is not doing his job well.

Re:Sorry but the subject of this article is mislea (1)

arkanes (521690) | about 9 years ago | (#13508374)

This is incorrect, because the things you need to implement complex JavaScript validation are actually some of the few areas where there is a well implemented standard. Unless you decide, intentionally, to make your validation only work on IE because you want to use XML data islands or modal dialogs or any of the other slews of crap. But as long as you don't do that, and there's no good reason to, all you need to implement JavaScript validation is a W3C DOM implementation. And *maybe*, if it's very complicated, which this form is not, some AJAX techniques.

Re:Sorry but the subject of this article is mislea (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#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?

Re:Sorry but the subject of this article is mislea (4, Insightful)

onosendai (79294) | about 9 years ago | (#13508428)

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.

Re:Sorry but the subject of this article is mislea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508436)

They should be doing the validaton on the server anyways...

Re:Sorry but the subject of this article is mislea (1)

cortana (588495) | about 9 years ago | (#13508473)

Actually, as I understand it, if you try to register by telephone, it arranges for FEMA to mail you a form to your home address... ...something tells me the mail might not get through to New Orleans addresses for a while...

Re:Sorry but the subject of this article is mislea (0, Troll)

bpbond (246836) | about 9 years ago | (#13508488)

Oh, boo fucking hoo. I know basically nothing about "programming javascript for client-side error checking of complex forms," but I bet there are other options. Lots of other organizations and companies seem to accomplish this task, using browser-agnostic methods (server-side checking...).

Sorry, I file this under "FEMA, Incompetence of, Further Examples."

Just Another Asinine Hurdle (1, Interesting)

Lord Grey (463613) | about 9 years ago | (#13508317)

This is just one more hurdle in the maze of idiocy that FEMA has managed to erect. The tales surrounding this agency's handling of Katrina have taken on an almost surrealistic quality: So much stupidity, too little compassion, and an obsessiveness for correct paperwork that border on the insane.

I live in the United States and pretty much like it here. But this kind of stupid shit, coupled with all the freedom we've given up for the sake of "greater security," makes me want to bitch-slap the entire Federal government.

Re:Just Another Asinine Hurdle (0, Flamebait)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | about 9 years ago | (#13508394)

I know. I mean requiring a piece of software that 99% of people have access too. I mean, it's just insane.

And to also offer an offline alternative. Wow, what were they thinking.

Re:Just Another Asinine Hurdle (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | about 9 years ago | (#13508412)

makes me want to bitch-slap the entire Federal government


FEMA's web portal design is the least of our probs (3, Insightful)

DanteLysin (829006) | about 9 years ago | (#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.


93,000 (150453) | about 9 years ago | (#13508446)

Exactly right.

Re:FEMA's web portal design is the least of our pr (5, Insightful)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | about 9 years ago | (#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.

So? (4, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | about 9 years ago | (#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? (1)

Angostura (703910) | about 9 years ago | (#13508414)

I really have to agree. I'm right up there with the next guy when it comes to companies ensuring that their Web applications are multi-platform/multi-browser usable. But to be honest, I find the whining about FEMA's web-site screw-up pretty unpalatable give the scale of the disaster and the number of deaths.

The guys give you a phone number. The Web application arguably isn't there to make YOUR life easier, its there to make FEMA's scarce resources go further by reducing the amount of data entry they have to do.

Perhaps they screwed-up, perhaps they made a rational decision about the amount of testing required v the amount of data entry they were likely to require given n% of the disaster-hit population use Macs/Linux/Firefox.

I don't know. But frankly my greater antipathy is for the whiners, rather than the people who (no matter how incompetently) are trying to help the homeless, injured and dispossessed.

Wait a second? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508321)

When did Bill gates buy Fema?

Re:Wait a second? (1)

marcantonio (895721) | about 9 years ago | (#13508399)

It came bundled with the rest of the government.

American citizens must use windows... (2, Informative)

frinkacheese (790787) | about 9 years ago | (#13508322)

Next you guys will have to use Windows to be considered citizens, get passports, a social security number...

How can a government possibly limit it's services to people who use a certain software package? Is this discrimination? What would happen if it said "Sorry but because you're black you can not use this website" ?

Yeah, that would be an issue...

Re:American citizens must use windows... (0, Flamebait)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13508447)

What would happen if it said "Sorry but because you're black you can not use this website" ?

Yeah, that would be an issue...

I hope that last line was sarcastic, because to be honest, George Bush simply doesn't care about black people. [] Except when they pose a threat to him, in those cases, he'll deny them their legal rights. []

Some may think this is flame-bait, but I'm being deadly serious. When he doesn't care about black people, what makes you think he's going to care about an even smaller minority (the non-IE users) of America?

Re:American citizens must use windows... (1)

swab79 (842256) | about 9 years ago | (#13508456)

It's not just American government sites. Looking for employment on the UK government site also requires internet explorer! []

Re:American citizens must use windows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508466)

Sorry but because you're black you can not use this website

I wouldn't use it, of course... but as a programmer I'd LOVE to see the implementation of a validation like that.

Uhm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508325)

How do people without electricity and no computers after having a hurricane ravage their homes and lifestyles, goto a website to make a claim?

If they use public terminals, at least here in the NW, the majority are Windows OS with IE.

Low budget/lazy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508329)

... contractors who hacked something together to do FEMA's webpage. Probably ripped them off while doing it.

We're from the Government and we're here to... (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 9 years ago | (#13508331)

help you--as long as you're using Microsoft Windows. Pp>Of course, with that type of help, it makes me happy to be a Mac user.

So what (1)

BeesTea (580793) | about 9 years ago | (#13508335)

Then call the damn phone number.

FEMA's new slogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508337)

Incompetent in more ways than you can imagine!

Why is this under the "politics" section? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508338)

I swear the politics section of slashdot was the worst idea ever. Now you're putting articles that have nothing to do with politics in this section just to try and induce non-applicable political debate in a non-political issue.

Let FEMA know! (1, Informative)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about 9 years ago | (#13508342)

You can contact FEMA and ask them why they don't support Firefox, Mac or Linux here [] .

from the above link:

Written Correspondence: FEMA P.O. Box 10055 Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055 Fax: (800) 827-8112

If FEMA has requested information from you in writing, you may send it to the address or fax number listed above. Please include your name, social security number, and Registration ID number on all correspondence.

Technical Assistance: (800) 745-0243 Monday- Friday, 8:00am - 5:00pm ET The technical helpdesk provides technical support for the on-line registration and user account creation applications and cannot answer disasters assistance related questions.

Please though, remember these people are a federal aid agency working overtime. PLEASE BE CORTEOUS when asking them.

Re:Let FEMA know! (1, Flamebait)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | about 9 years ago | (#13508481)

Great, the biggest natural disaster in this country's history, and you're encouraging people to waste their time with complaints about browser support issues that really won't affect anyone.

Way to show that this community has a handle on what is important right now.

No more IE please (1)

Sharp Rulez (799059) | about 9 years ago | (#13508346)

I just switched to Linux, and i' a little bit afraid how many companie still asking "only" IE? Since i've swiched on linux, i'm no longer able to connect to my online banking.

What we should do to force those companie to make their website more W3C complient?

Re:No more IE please (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 9 years ago | (#13508463)

Try using Firefox with the User Agent Switcher [] installed and set to IE6.

Odds are fair to good that the only reason you can't connect to a given site is because a line of code explicitly denies all browsers except IE6.

The Inquirer (1)

LkDotCom (912073) | about 9 years ago | (#13508348)

Ars Technica [] has a good article. Another one on Macworld []

Ok, if you want in-depth perhaps you're in the wrong place, but if you happen to want it.... ;)

Cleary the government doesn't care about... (2, Funny)

ottergoose (770022) | about 9 years ago | (#13508353)

Clearly the government doesn't care about minorities. Only educated, rich, Windows users can apply for aid online.

(Funny, not flamebait)

Should wait until the site is cross compatible (2, Insightful)

ReformedExCon (897248) | about 9 years ago | (#13508354)

They should not put anything up until the site is 100% cross-browser compatible.


I'm surprised this is even an issue for anyone. There is a huge disaster recovery effort going on and they need to have things working as soon as possible. If it requires IE, then that's just how it's going to be for the time being. There are other methods to file your claim (and let's face it, if you're online, you've got it better than 99% of the refugees who are stuck in a shelter).

Re:Should wait until the site is cross compatible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508461)

I don't disagree, except that they clearly did no contingency planning and had no systems in place - not for this, not for housing refugees, not for emergency communications, not for emergency evacuation of the poor who lack transportation, nothing.

"That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight.... there will be plenty of time to go back and say we should hypothesize evermore apocalyptic combinations of catastrophes. Be that as it may, I'm telling you this is what the planners had in front of them. They were confronted with a second wave that they did not have built into the plan, but using the tools they had, we have to move forward and adapt."

- DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff

Given MS's buyout of Claria... (1)

Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) | about 9 years ago | (#13508357)

It appears that FEMA is requiring victims to make themselves vulnerable to Gator attacks in order to file a claim.

Oh, wait. If they live in the bayou, they already are vulnerable...

whwere is the stupid part ... (1)

mbaudis (585035) | about 9 years ago | (#13508360)

a) stupid site programming, so that really nothing but IE6 works
b) stupid testing; other browsers would work just fine, but they don't want to know

this is a 90% solution. fits into the picture, like to be happy that 90% (or whatever number) of the NO populace made it onto dry ground.

apparently, not only the chain of command at the FEMA and above should be fired, but their developers, too.

Wow. (2, Insightful)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | about 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508487)

If your house and everything you own is ever destroyed by an act of god and your insurance refuses to pay up, I hope you remember this.

So what? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508367)

If you're dumb enough to go to the Superdome, you're dumb enough to use IE.

Alternative solutions (1)

webphenom (868874) | about 9 years ago | (#13508368)

Mac users can use the Mac version of IE.

Linux and other minority OS's can go to their local library and file the claim there.

The least of the survivors concerns is whether or not their "favorite browser" is supported.

Kudo's to FEMA for quickly putting up a web site for assistance that serves almost 90% of the web browsing community. I am glad that no time was wasted in making a "perfect" portal that could take weeks to satisfy the needs ot (likely) 1% of the interested parties.

Peace, love, and happiness.

lawsuit (1)

CaptainPinko (753849) | about 9 years ago | (#13508369)

that rediculous. having such a lousy system must be neglingence or violate some accessiblity laws or something. this is the kind of piss poor design thast can't be tolerated.

The bad old days (1)

jimktrains (838227) | about 9 years ago | (#13508371)

"Anyone who slaps a 'this page is best viewed with Browser X' label on a Web page appears to be yearning for the bad old days, before the Web, when you had very little chance of reading a document written on another computer, another word processor, or another network." - Tim Berners-Lee (in Technology Review, July 1996)

It just sickens me whne people do this. At my company, I'm not alloud to even show my boss an idea if it doesn't work in at least 4 browsers... (IE and F must be 2 of them).

Similarities? (1)

bassgoonist (876907) | about 9 years ago | (#13508378)

This is somewhat similar to a state regulation in Iowa that all government forms are only available in English. They are obviously too 'busy' or too cheap to hire someone who speaks spanish for the large hispanic population... and in this case their just too stupid to write a webpage that can work in both IE and real browsers.

Microsoft at it again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508385)

I sincerely have to say MS must have a big hand in FEMA's pocket. Dont tell me that far superior browsers cant do the job.

And this a problem How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508401)

90% of the users out there have windows with IE not to mention if your filing a claim most likely your pc and/or house just got flooded or blown away and on top of that yous till have the option of calling it in if you still have phone service.

Re:And this a problem How? (2, Insightful)

SumDog (466607) | about 9 years ago | (#13508486)

Because a lot of users will be at libraries trying to file their claim on public computers which are probably not running IE6 and will probably be running Win98

Costs of buying Windows (1)

dekropisvol (801636) | about 9 years ago | (#13508403)

I hope you can claim the costs of buying Windows. When you can't, type the claim in your favorite editor and post it :D

Phone mails formto 'registered address' UNDERWATER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508405)

So you can't use anything but WIN IE and there's a captcha just in case your visually impaired - but hey you can phone...
Xeni de BoingBoing a_to_mac_linux_us.html [] blogs that when you try to register by phone an automatic voice says it will send a form out to your registered address ...i.e. UNDERWATER.

Boing Boing report (link above) that OPERA or any modern browser works so long as it spoofs that it is IE6.

FEMA, more like FUBAR

Annoying thing is (3, Insightful)

LarsWestergren (9033) | about 9 years ago | (#13508410)

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 (4, Funny)

valentyn (248783) | about 9 years ago | (#13508415)

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.

Daffy says ... (1)

CaptDeuce (84529) | about 9 years ago | (#13508429)

When reached Tuesday afternoon, a FEMA spokeswoman said they were aware of the problem and had passed it along to their tech guys to try to resolve the issue. The spokeswoman I spoke with declined to venture a guess on when the problem might be solved, however.

I'll let Daffy [] speak for me.

User Agent Swithcer let me in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508432)

I used the user agent swithcer extension with firefox. Switched it to IE 6 and was able to get to the registration form and fill out some info before quiting.

In other news FEMA missed the cluetrain (3, Insightful)

salesgeek (263995) | about 9 years ago | (#13508441)

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.

What Do You Expect? (1, Flamebait)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 years ago | (#13508444)

After all, this is a major branch of the Federal Government being run by a political hack whose main experience is running the National Arabian Horse Association.


FEMA demands? (4, Insightful)

joshsnow (551754) | about 9 years ago | (#13508459)

"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.

MS monopoly (1)

aroundsomewhere (244353) | about 9 years ago | (#13508469)

Sounds like one monopoly enabling another.

No, no, no (2, Interesting)

Monoman (8745) | about 9 years ago | (#13508483)

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 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.

STOP WHINING! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13508484)

They're offering a telephone number..... so who gives a rat's ass ... fill in the form on someones PC... it's an emergency!!!! DUH!!!!

  Non-MS users quite probably have access to printers, faxes, postboxes and probably telephones as well.... maybe they even have pens too (shock, horror).

The way things are going Americans are soon gonna be complaining because their government didn't wipe their asses properly (or in time). What happened to individual responsibilty? Get a grip!

In Sudan women have been gang-raped and seen thier entire families cut to death. Do you think they would give a flying F$#% if they couldn't fill in their "Compensation for having my entire life fucked up" form in Opera, Firefox, Netscape, Lynx or any other dumb-ass browser???

Get some perspective people.
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