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35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

DERoss Debts of a Dead Person Sent to Collection (310 comments)

My son died in early April 2013 without a will. Sufficient funds to pay his bills remained in his bank and credit union accounts, but no one could touch them. I sorted through all his bills and contacted all his creditors, informing them of the situation -- that they would indeed be paid if their bills were legitimate but that they might have to wait a few months for me to access his funds.

I finally got a court order to access his funds seven months later. In the meantime, three bills had already been sent to collection -- bills from creditors that I had previously contacted.

One bill in collection was for a major balance on a Discover credit card. By the time I got the collection notice, I had already sent a check to Discover. That problem was quickly resolved with no further problems.

Another bill in collection was for Time Warner Cable, for TV, phone, and Internet. I notified them shortly after my son died that they had to discontinue his service. They had billed him for the entire month of April, including the weeks following his death. I sent a check for a lesser amount to the collection agency with a cover letter detailing how I computed a pro-rata amount of the bill for the short part of the month before my son died. The collection agency returned the check with a letter informing me that they had returned the account back to Time Warner Cable. I never heard again from either the collection agency or Time Warner Cable.

The third bill sent to collection was for a medical group that supplies emergency room doctors to a local hospital. The explanation of benefits from my son's health insurance indicated that they had paid the medical group and that no further payment was due from my son. My further investigation revealed that, while the hospital and its emergency room were in-network for my son's health insurance, the hospital had out-sourced their emergency room doctor service to a medical group that was out-of-network for ALL insurance plans except Medicare. The medical group wanted payment for the difference between what the insurance allowed and what they billed. I wrote a letter to the collection agency (having already sent a similar letter to the medical group) informing them that the hospital chose my son's doctor and, since my son had no choice in the matter, they would have to deal with the hospital for any further payment. I also informed the the credit agency that my son's estate was not large enough to require probate and, if they insisted on payment, they would have to initiate probate at their own expense. I never heard again from either the collection agency or the medical group.

While all this was being resolved, we received several phone calls from the collection agencies. They insisted on knowing where my son was, so my wife gave them the address of his cemetery.

We also received insurance explanations of benefits indicating several medical providers were not being paid because they submitted their claims too late (more than 6 months after the dates of service). I have not heard directly from any of those providers. If they do send me a request for payment, I will reply that I am not responsible for their failure to submit timely claims. In any case, my son's estate is now "closed". All remaining funds were transferred into a blocked guardianship on behalf of my grandson. It will take a court order -- at the creditor's expense -- to unblock the accounts.

I am quite sure that my son is well beyond caring about black marks on his credit history. It seems, however, that no black marks have appeared. More than a year after his death, offers of new credit cards for large credit limits still keep arriving in the mail for him.

7 hours ago

$10 Million Lawsuit Against Wikipedia Editors "Stragetically" Withdrawn

DERoss Yank's Legal Team Is Deficient (51 comments)

I notice from the Web site of the Superior Court in Ventura County that the legal team representing Yank was at least twice on the verge of being sanctioned for failing to provide legal filings in a timely manner. Ventura County's judges do not tolerate sloppiness. Most are former prosecutors. I have been on trial juries there three times and served two consecutive years on the Grand Jury.

about two weeks ago

India's National Informatics Centre Forged Google SSL Certificates

DERoss Not a Problem with Mozilla-Based Applications (107 comments)

This is not a problem with Firefox, SeaMonkey, or other Mozilla-based applications. They use a certificate database separate from Microsoft's, a database that does not contain the certificate used in the forgery.

The certification authority at fault (NIC) has an open request to have its root certificate added to Mozilla's database. However, NIC has failed to respond to requests for further information, requested over a year ago by the Mozilla person who is in charge of the process of approving certificates. Furthermore, Mozilla persons -- both staff and users -- are aware of NIC's problem; some have suggested that NIC's request be rejected and NIC be permanently banned from the database.

To see the discussion, see

Some certification authorities and some of their subscribers complain that Mozilla takes too long to approve root certificates and then to add those certificates to Mozilla's database. At least in this case, delay served to protect users. The delays are significantly caused by Mozilla's requirement for independent audit reports and for a period of public review and comment on each request. Hooray for Mozilla!!

about three weeks ago

India's National Informatics Centre Forged Google SSL Certificates

DERoss Re:Scoped certificates (107 comments)

That is an existing capability within the SSL process. NIC will be restricted to issuing certificates only for a set of domains that are specific to India. Just be careful if you want to have financial transactions over the Web with institutions based in India.

about three weeks ago

YouTube Issuing "Report Cards" On Carriers' Streaming Speeds

DERoss Re:Some Problems (110 comments)

I have never had a problem specifically with YouTube. However, my statement about blaming servers stands. YouTube is just not a target for such blame.

about three weeks ago

YouTube Issuing "Report Cards" On Carriers' Streaming Speeds

DERoss Some Problems (110 comments)

The vertical scale in the charts has no indices or any indication of what is measured. I see the statement to the right "Daily video activity is averaged
over 30 days.", but it does not say what is really averaged. Is this MB/sec, percentage of available bandwidth, or what?

In any case, the throughput of a broadband connection is not the only issue in moving large amounts of bytes. I am having a problem with software for an HP printer. Today, HP advised me to download the entire software package for that printer, approximately 1.4 GB. However, HP's server could not deliver event 300 KB/sec into my 15 MB/sec broadband connection. There are servers delivering video that cannot keep up with playback speeds.

When I cannot get downloads a MB/sec rates, I generally blame the server at the other end and not my broadband provider. After all, I can immediately try a different download from a different source, and get my full 15 MB/sec.

about three weeks ago

Goldman Sachs Demands Google Unsend One of Its E-mails

DERoss Unsending E-mail (346 comments)

The ancient Roman Horace (65-8 bce) said: "Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled."

More recently, Omar, the Tentmaker (died ca 1123 ce) said:
"The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety or Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it."

about a month ago

Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year

DERoss The Wind Does Blow (441 comments)

About 30 years ago, "wind farms" were built in several places in California where the wind seems constant, not intermittent. One is in the San Gorgonio Pass along I10 between Beaumont and Palm Springs. Another one is in the Altamont Pass in the hills near Oakland. In both places, with what was then primitive technology, the constancy of the wind still justified the construction of these "wind farms". I have seen both installations, and I have never seen them idled by a lack of wind.

Similarly, there are places where sunshine is so prevalent that solar power would have few interruptions during the day. Unlike wind power, however, storage of electricity during the day is needed for use at night.

In the meantime, Southern California Edison has outages at all times of the year. These are not the result of unreliable generation sources. Instead, these are the result of not performing any kind of scheduled preventive maintenance on local portions of the distribution system.

about a month ago

Facial Recognition Might Be Coming To Your Car

DERoss Will Not Work With Me (131 comments)

I see the the following problems --

For at least 20 years, I have had a full beard. Since I am mostly (not entirely) bald on top, I do not get a haircut more than once in two months. When I get a haircut, I also get my beard trimmed somewhat short. Will facial recognition allow me to drive home from the barber shop?

I do not have a mobile phone, smart or dumb. When I leave my house, I want to leave my phone, computer, garden, etc behind me. Where would this feature send the photo?

about 1 month ago

Microsoft Suspending "Patch Tuesday" Emails

DERoss Never Got MS E-mails (145 comments)

I never got E-mails from Micro$oft about updates, vulnerabilities, etc. Instead, I have an RSS feed from US-CERT (computer emergency response team), an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (Yes, they do have a few useful functions.) US-CERT not only notifies me about Micro$oft's alerts and provides links to them, but that agency also notifies me of alerts from other companies.

The link to subscribe to the RSS feed is

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

DERoss Pocket Watch (427 comments)

I bought a new Hamilton Railway Special conductor's pocket watch with the first paycheck I earned as a computer programmer in 1962. Since then, I have never worn a wrist watch and do not plan to wear one.

I retired the Hamilton when I got a pocket Casio with a calculator, alarm, and count-down timer. I now have an electronic pocket watch with a round dial and hour, minute, and second hands; it also shows the date (but not the month or year). I have to reset the date when a 30-day month ends. When that happens, I recheck the time against a global array of atomic clocks that are tied to the Internet; I find it keeps excellent time.

Yes, I was a computer geek in the early days of geekdom and remained so until I retired. I do not own a smart phone or even a dumb cell phone. When I leave the house, I prefer to leave it entirely -- phones, computers, etc. But I do carry a watch in my pocket on the end of a chain attached to my belt.

By the way, during much of my career, I was the go-to person for issues relating to time-keeping and the rotation of the earth on which time-keeping is based. This was for various projects involving earth-orbiting, military space satellites.

about a month ago

MP Says 'Failed' Piracy Warnings Should Escalate To Fines & Jail

DERoss False Warnings? (135 comments)

How about a fine and prison for making a false complaint or warning about a copyright violation?

about a month ago

I suffer from jet lag ...

DERoss Sunshine is the Cure (163 comments)

Exposing your skin (arms and face are sufficient) to sunlight is supposed to reset your body's clock when you travel. Even with such exposure (including on my bald scalp), I suffer the equivalent of jet lag when we change our clocks between standard and daylight-savings time (summer time for those outside the U.S.). It sometimes takes me 2-3 days to adjust to a 1-hour change.

about a month ago

Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

DERoss Re:Strategies to Defeat Age Discrimination (370 comments)

There are no falsehoods involved in what I said (other than perhaps using hair dye to hide the gray). Omitting information such as the date of a college degree is not lying if you really received the degree.

In any case, a prospective employer is lying if they say you are not qualified for the job when they really mean you are too old.

about a month ago

Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

DERoss Strategies to Defeat Age Discrimination (370 comments)

When seeking employment, there are strategies that can be used to help defeat age discrimination.

Remove the gray before an interview. Clairol and Clairol for Men (and other such products) can be your friend; alternatively, visit a good barber or hair salon. Pick a natural-looking color. Men should remember to color their beards and mustaches. This should be done several days in advance so that accidental coloring of adjacent skin can be washed away. DO NOT persist in coloring hair, however; this is suspected of increasing the risk of cancer. Do not wear false hair; it is too easily detected.

When describing education, do not mention in what years your degrees were granted.

When describing employment history, only go back 10 years.

Do not mention spouse, children, and especially grand-children.

Do not mention expertise in obsolete computer languages or hardware.

If you are a victim of age discrimination, however, think very carefully about legal remedies even if you have solid proof. There is a U.S. Supreme Court justice who previously was the head of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While in that earlier post, he deliberately sat on over 20,000 age-discrimination complaints until the statute of limitations expired and prevented action. (Anita Hill was merely a side distraction.)

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Bequeath Sensitive Information?

DERoss How I Am Doing It (208 comments)

First of all, I assume you are serious and not trolling (as some others who replied have asserted).

My son died in April of 2013. He lived with cancer for four years and then took four months to die. During that time, he ignored my pleas to create an estate plan with an attorney. I am still trying to unravel his estate. Divorced and without a will, his son (my grandson) is his sole heir. My grandson is 6 years old. After my son died, it was too late to create a trust for my grandson. Instead, I had to go to court (several hundreds of dollars in court fees, legal fees, and even appraisal fees) to be appointed the guardian of my grandson's inherited estate. (His mother is the guardian of his person.) I will then have to return to court every two years to report on the status of the guardianship. In the meantime, NO ONE had authority to pay my son's final bills. It took seven months after my son died before I had legal authority to collect his credit union accounts, IRA, Roth IRA, and multiple 401(k) accounts, by which time several bills had already been sent to collection. All the legitimate bills have now been paid, and all known assets have been collected (the last, just a week ago). In July, I will transfer the balance of my son's estate into my grandson's guardianship. That will not end the hassle as I will have to report the status to the court for the next 12 years.

I am thus on a campaign that every adult needs an estate plan. Even if you have no heirs, even if your estate is small, you need to provide binding instructions on how to handle your assets after you die.

Before my son started actually dying of cancer, my wife and I started a complete overhaul of our own estate plans. With the exception of our IRAs and Roth IRAs, all our assets are in trusts. We each are the other's beneficiary of the IRAs and Roth IRAs, with the trusts the contingent beneficiary. The trusts require two trustees, currently my wife and me. If one of us dies or becomes incapacitated, the replacement trustee is already identified in the trusts. When we are both dead, the replacement trustee must appoint another trustee to have two. CONTINUITY IS VERY IMPORTANT. Our credit unions, bank, and mutual fund group all have copies of the relevant portion of the trust documents to ensure they accept this continuity.

Now for the original question: In California, where my wife and I live, a bank safe deposit box is NOT sealed if one of us dies. The box remains available to the other persons who are listed at the bank -- with their signatures -- as having access to it, which includes our daughter and will eventually include our replacement trustee. The complete original documents for our estate plan are in the safe deposit box. Right now, I can see a ring binder with a copy. The replacement trustee has a copy. A list of all our accounts is in the safe deposit box. An inventory of our mutual funds (IRAs and Roth IRAs) is in the safe deposit box.

In a sealed envelope in the safe deposit box are a floppy disc, a compact disc, and a printout of my OpenPGP public and private keys and my OpenPGP passphrase (the latter otherwise exists only in my brain). (I chose three media since I have no way to predict what formats might become obsolete before I die.) That envelope also contains a list of all my important Internet passwords, which are encrypted on my PC.

I have an unencrypted list on my PC titled "Where Is It?" that describes where everything should be found: checkbooks, bank statements, insurance policies, durable powers of attorney for health care, mutual fund statements, deed to our house, etc. When I update this list, I E-mail a copy to our daughter; another copy is in the ring binder with our estate plan. Also in the ring binder is the paperwork for our purchase of burial plots.

about a month ago

The Sudden Policy Change In Truecrypt Explained

DERoss Re:If It Is Private, Keep It Private (475 comments)

I have accounts at four different financial institutions. To serve a search warrant, they would have to know which branch of which institution houses the particular safe deposit box containing the "magic" envelope. If such a search warrant were successfully served, they would still have to find my external hard drive or serve another search warrant on my house to access my files. Since none of my files contain evidence of a crime, such warrants could easily be challenged.

As for keeping my master pass-phrase in my head, the 5th Amendment protects me in the U.S. I understand that in the U.K., however, failure to give the police your master OpenPGP pass-phrase can result in a lengthy prison term.

about 2 months ago

The Sudden Policy Change In Truecrypt Explained

DERoss If It Is Private, Keep It Private (475 comments)

I never use cloud resources. Too many users have been severely inconvenienced if not outright burned by cloud services that have been hacked, suppressed by some government, gone out of business, or gone down for several hours. I keep all my data where I can access it, either on my PC or on a removable hard drive that I store remotely from my PC but easily reached.

I encrypt my most sensitive data. No, I do not rely on some corporation's declaration: "Trust us. We are good. We will protect you." Instead, I use an OpenPGP application that has been reviewed by outside experts and that I have installed on my PC. The data on my removable hard drive are encrypted. Some of my PC files are also encrypted. My pass-phrase, without which my private key is useless for decryption, exists only in my head and in an envelope in my safe deposit box at a bank. My private key is on my PC in a non-standard location. If somehow someone else were to access my private key, I have a much greater problem than the compromise of my sensitive data.

See my

about 2 months ago

Is It Really GPS If It Doesn't Use Satellites?

DERoss Re:depends. (298 comments)

If the earths magnetic field moves (and it does), then won't this system also be affected?

I was going to ask the same question. It's bad enough that the earth's poles of rotation describe circles, loops, and spirals some meters across over a year. The earth's magnetic field is even more dynamic. Responding to solar storms, the magnetic field lines can shift many meters in a few hours.

In my lifetime, the north magnetic pole has shifted several kilometers, from an island in the Arctic Ocean to a peninsula in Canada. Furthermore, shifts by the south magnetic pole are not synchronized with shifts by the north magnetic pole.

From the description, the device would say that you are moving while you are actually standing still.

about 2 months ago



Regional Concentrations of Scientists and Engineers in the United States

DERoss DERoss writes  |  about a year ago

DERoss (1919496) writes "The National Science Foundation has publish a research paper with the subject title, which may be found at The lead paragraph contains the sentence "The three most populous states—California, Texas, and New York—together accounted for more than one-fourth of all S&E employment in the United States."

According to the 2010 census, however, those three states also contain more than one-fourth (26.5%) percent of the U.S. population. In other words, there is NO concentration beyond how the general population is concentrated."

Question: How do I obtain enforcement of my copyr

DERoss DERoss writes  |  more than 2 years ago

DERoss (1919496) writes "I have a personal Web site with many, many pages. One of the pages — one of my very first from before 1999 — describes the community in which I live. As with most of my Web pages, this one carries a copyright notice.

Often, my community page is plagiarized by real estate agents and brokers without my permission. Can I get the U.S. government to enforce my copyright. Or is enforcement limited to the MPAA , RIAA, and their allies."

Link to Original Source

PGP Vulnerability -- No Fix for Freeware Version

DERoss DERoss writes  |  more than 2 years ago

DERoss (1919496) writes "PGP Desktop — used to encrypt or digitally sign E-mail and files — contains a serious vulnerability in current versions 10.0.3 and 10.1. This vulnerability allows a signed message or file (or sometimes a signed and encrypted message or file) to be altered without invalidating the signature. This makes it impossible to use a digital signature to verify the integrity of a message or file. While many individual, non-commercial users of PGP Desktop use the freeware trial version, Symantec will not provide a fix except for the purchased version. For non-technical details, see []."
Link to Original Source


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