Thursday, September 08, 2005

To apply for FEMA aid online, Katrina survivors will need IE 6 - Computerworld

Jagoffs smell.
To apply for FEMA aid online, Katrina survivors will need IE 6 - Computerworld To apply for FEMA aid online, Katrina survivors will need IE 6 Mac and Linux users will have to seek FEMA help by phone.

Just a few minutes ago I wrote a letter to the Creative Commons talk list with an update. I'll put that in the comments of this post.


Anonymous said...

To apply for FEMA aid online, Katrina survivors will need IE 6
Mac and Linux users will have to seek FEMA help by phone

News Story by Linda Rosencrance

SEPTEMBER 07, 2005 (COMPUTERWORLD) - Hurricane Katrina survivors looking to apply online to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance better make sure they're running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system and using Internet Explorer Version 6 or higher. Internet Explorer 6 is required for the aid applications, according to information on FEMA's Web site.

That means people using Macintosh or Linux computers are unable to file a claim online -- although they can do so by calling the emergency agency by phone. A statement online says, "If you would like to apply for Federal Disaster Assistance by telephone, you can contact us at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or for the hearing/speech impaired at TTY: 1-800-462-7585. The current hours and days of operation are 24 hours per day 7 days per week. Currently the lines are quite congested and the best time to call is 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. EDT."

The FEMA limitations for non-Windows users prompted one user, Gary Mullins, to weigh in on the issue on Monday at the MacInTouch Web site.

"My 90-year old mother sat out Katrina in her brother's home next door in Diamondhead, MS, about eight miles from the Mississippi coast where the hurricane's eye hit. They survived without injury, but with massive destruction to their homes, and my mother has lost most of her possessions. I brought her to my home in California yesterday and this morning went to the FEMA Web site to register to start the assistance process.

"To my dismay, our federal emergency agency requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, and only IE 6, to use the Web site for disaster assistance. I don't want to be political about this, but this smacks of a serious leadership failure that the use of the Internet is reserved for only the Windows community. I will reserve my opinion of the administration for the op-ed pages, but I want to vent my dismay about this to the rest of the Mac community. I hope other Mac users let their political reps, newspapers and other media know of this marginalization."

Another MacInTouch reader, Todd Del Priore, wrote, "In order to use this site, you must have JavaScript Enabled and Internet Explorer version 6. I tried the latest Safari, IE and Firefox, none work. Heaven help all the Mac users in the South... assuming they have power."

A Computerworld Mac user who tried to access the FEMA registration site was unable to do so.

Asked about the online limitation, a FEMA spokeswoman said the agency is aware of the problem and has asked its IT department to address it. Further attempts to reach FEMA's IT unit for more specific information were unsuccessful this afternoon.

Last month, the World Wide Web Consortium protested a proposal by the U.S. Copyright Office that could temporarily require online forms to be submitted using only the Internet Explorer or Netscape Web browsers (see "W3C objects to U.S. Copyright Office's browser plan").

Mark Rauterkus said...

My posting to another list:
From: Mark Rauterkus
Date: Sep 8, 2005 8:27 PM
Subject: suggested the CC license for the Katrina People Finder database

Hi All,

I just subscribed to this list today to face an interesting challenge
that sits as an URGENT matter. Some interesting issues have been
unfolding in the wake Katrina.

A group of volunteer netizens pulled together to make an open standard
(PFIF) and web application / database helping people find each other.

Lots of heavy lifting has taken place -- and today (or yesterday) the
big boys came into the game.

I had suggested on the dev (or was it the volunteers list) that the CC
license be used for the data.

Some snips follow from a thread elsewhere (

- - -
What if we put the database into a CREATIVE COMMONS license that is
intended ONLY for NON-Commercial uses?

See this URL:

That might cover some of the fears.

Is there such a license effort / discussion in place?
-- snip --

> But there is one problem, It appears the data is already copyrighted by
> a commercial enterprise:
> The end of each results page already ends with:
> Katrina List: (c) Copyright 2000-2005, inc. All rights reserved
> Which makes it appear that the data is owned by

-- snip --

That problem is NOT a FATAL problem.

Salesforce should take a copy of the data -- put it into a TAR BALL --
and put that tar ball into the public domain.

They can keep ownership -- and others can pick it up and use it too.
MS or others as well.

Then this effort could proceed.

Does it sound like Salesforce wants to exit anyway? Smooth exits are great.

-- snip --

Wait, if they put the tarball into public domain, what stops evil
Spam Lord from picking up and populating his/her new "Victims List"
database for telephone, email and mass-marketing campaigns?


-- snip --

Both common sense and the ATTORNEY GENERAL.

Oh well. The air seems to have come out of the sails of some of the
players in the community and volunteer ranks. It was a classic
opportunity to fork -- and poision pills -- and perhaps some other
backroom dealings that I'll never know. But, it all started with the
copyright on the darn data. Oh well.

The next bit of muscle might be to go to the big boys (FEMA, Red
Cross, Microsoft) and ask them to put the data into a Creative Commons
license. Or, perhaps we go right to the White House.

I think that there are some spent folks that could use some help from
the calvary -- such as you all. Well, to be exact, don't help the
folks -- go after the final outcomes.

Sorry if this isn't understood ....