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Comment: Debts of a Dead Person Sent to Collection (Score 1) 512

by DERoss (#47563135) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

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.

Comment: Yank's Legal Team Is Deficient (Score 1) 51

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.

Comment: Not a Problem with Mozilla-Based Applications (Score 4, Informative) 107

by DERoss (#47427739) Attached to: India's National Informatics Centre Forged Google SSL Certificates

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!!

Comment: Some Problems (Score 3, Insightful) 110

by DERoss (#47404187) Attached to: YouTube Issuing "Report Cards" On Carriers' Streaming Speeds

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.

Comment: Unsending E-mail (Score 5, Interesting) 346

by DERoss (#47376307) Attached to: Goldman Sachs Demands Google Unsend One of Its E-mails

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."

Comment: The Wind Does Blow (Score 2) 441

by DERoss (#47347589) Attached to: Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year

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.

Comment: Will Not Work With Me (Score 1) 131

by DERoss (#47344495) Attached to: Facial Recognition Might Be Coming To Your Car

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?

Comment: Never Got MS E-mails (Score 4, Informative) 145

by DERoss (#47339065) Attached to: Microsoft Suspending "Patch Tuesday" Emails

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

Comment: Pocket Watch (Score 1) 427

by DERoss (#47324969) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

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.

Comment: Sunshine is the Cure (Score 1) 163

by DERoss (#47303599) Attached to: I suffer from jet lag ...

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.

Comment: Re:Strategies to Defeat Age Discrimination (Score 1) 370

by DERoss (#47298135) Attached to: Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

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.

Happiness is a positive cash flow.