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Old 04-08-2006, 11:13 PM   #1
mark_alfred
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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Windows-only gov't site


Hello folks. A local government site in Toronto, Canada, has an on-line means for people to apply for subsidized housing -- but only if people use the Windows operating system. The site is http://www.housingconnections.ca

I find it both irritating, and a little ironic, that people in need of subsidized housing are required to have expensive proprietary software to utilize the on-line application process.

I'm asking that people email them, at ask@housingconnections.ca, and ask how you can apply on-line using Linux. Feel free to be either polite, or however you feel.

Mark

PS, I'm hoping that the same passion often shown for dumb flame wars about the different distros can be shown here for this issue. Have fun with the issue if you like. Be creative.

Thanks.
 
Old 04-09-2006, 12:31 AM   #2
spooon
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How do they require it? If they only block based on the user agent, you could try something like User Agent Switcher to make them think it's IE or Windows.
 
Old 04-09-2006, 01:16 AM   #3
mark_alfred
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Uhg!

You're the tenth person to suggest that. I should not have to tinker and change my system. People, and especially governments, should create websites that work on all present day platforms. Open source web scripting solutions such as php, or perl, work on Windows, Mac, and Linux browsers; so, web scripting solutions from Microsoft should not be made to work only with IE. And sites using such things should get constructive complaints.

Coincidentally, I did try User Agent Switcher, and it did not work. The site was fooled enough to start the process, but not enough to successfully run the process.

In conclusion, I do not want to hear how I should change myself. I have Debian Sarge, with numerous browsers. I have a java runtime environment set up. My cookies are enabled. My system is fantastic. It's the sites that do not work with my system that are doing something wrong, not me.

So, this is what I want to hear: "Yes Mark, I agree with you. I wrote them, and requested that they make their online application process workable for users of Linux."
 
Old 04-09-2006, 02:23 AM   #4
Nylex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_alfred
Open source web scripting solutions such as php, or perl, work on Windows, Mac, and Linux browsers;
PHP doesn't run on your browser, it runs on the server. All your browser sees is the HTML (and other stuff) that's generated by the PHP scripts.
 
Old 04-09-2006, 03:19 AM   #5
mark_alfred
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Do you all have OCPD or something?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nylex
PHP doesn't run on your browser, it runs on the server. All your browser sees is the HTML (and other stuff) that's generated by the PHP scripts.
Thanks, it's just so important to make sure that's correctly phrased. True, all my browser sees is stuff that's generated by the PHP scripts. Now, feel free to go to http://www.housingconnections.ca
and observe how much you see generated in your Linux browser by their ASP scripts. Have you done that? Have you noticed how different your browser's view of "HTML (and other stuff)" generation for http://www.housingconnections.ca is from, say, http://www.linuxquestions.org (a PHP site)? Eh? Huh?

Well, if so, then ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by myself, from post 3
So, this is what I want to hear: "Yes Mark, I agree with you. I wrote them, and requested that they make their online application process workable for users of Linux."

Last edited by mark_alfred; 04-09-2006 at 03:31 AM.
 
Old 04-09-2006, 03:36 AM   #6
XavierP
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Hmm, the site does suck. I get to make an application before a popup shows
Quote:
* Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or above.
* Active scripting enabled on the browser.
* Cookies are enabled on the browser.
I have moved this to the General forum as it's not a Linux technical question, is only really of use to Canadians and is about a site. If anyone in Toronto does see this thread, you could do worse than to contact the Association. Those of us outside Canada would probably not have our votes counted.
 
Old 04-09-2006, 08:58 AM   #7
dalek
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Site works fine for me and I didn't change anything on my end.

Later

 
Old 04-09-2006, 09:27 AM   #8
ntubski
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I visited the site, nothing seems to be wrong with it. There is a popup about them closing April 14-17, but the site seems normal...
 
Old 04-09-2006, 09:33 AM   #9
phil.d.g
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Is it worth boycotting the system because it won't work in firefox, when you think about how much money it could save you if your accepted on the scheme? Now, stop whining, boot up your old Windows machine, or if you don't have one borrow a friends, or go to your local library and be thankful that your government offer subsidized housing in the first place.

I can start the application process, but 2 or 3 steps in I get the error message XavierP posted.
 
Old 04-09-2006, 09:56 AM   #10
sundialsvcs
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Well, for a government site especially, that kind of limitation is a problem. The taxpayer's dollars being spent on a site that might not be usable to all of the taxpayers. There could be valid security concerns as well: if the site depends that much upon client-side processing, how do we assure that confidential data is being handled securely?
 
Old 04-09-2006, 01:53 PM   #11
TuxSurfer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundialsvcs
Well, for a government site especially, that kind of limitation is a problem.
I wouldn't call it a "problem". Fact of the matter is most government computer systems are using Windows, including those the general public may use for free in just about any library. Maybe they figure if you're getting your software and operating system for free you can pay your own rent.

Let the flame wars begin!
 
Old 04-09-2006, 02:03 PM   #12
PTrenholme
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phil.d.g
Is it worth boycotting the system because it won't work in firefox, when you think about how much money it could save you if your accepted on the scheme? Now, stop whining, boot up your old Windows machine, or if you don't have one borrow a friends, or go to your local library and be thankful that your government offer subsidized housing in the first place.

I can start the application process, but 2 or 3 steps in I get the error message XavierP posted.
Did you notice that they require "cookies" to be enabled? Do you really think it's wise to use cookies on a library computer system? A M$ library computer systems, at that?
 
Old 04-09-2006, 02:14 PM   #13
mark_alfred
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Thanks for your responses.
re 7, 8: The site works fine, but the online housing application process does not work in Linux (it may work on Linux if IE can be run using Codeweavers, I don't know).
re 9: You and I perceive whining differently. Advocating having choices other than big business monopolies, is, in my opinion, the antithesis of "whining".

I have housing, and am a shelter worker with homeless people (I work in the broader public service). We had a donated computer, and I noticed an available adsl port in our office. I wanted to give the shelter users the same option at high speed internet that we staff have, and so set up this computer with Debian Linux, using Dansguardian on a hidden Squid proxy to filter out smut (I modified Mozilla so that it could not be switched from the proxy to a direct internet connection -- this got me the okay from my peers, and from management). My motivation was to give the same opportunity for information, that the staff have, to the shelter dwellers. Equality is important to me.

I was a bit irked when I discovered that the online housing application process did not work with Mozilla on Debian, however. That said, yes, I assist the shelter users via my crappy office Win98 computer to access the online application.

Re 6: I feel we're all part of a small global village, and should speak up against big business establishing monopolies in our public sphere. We should advocate choice for all citizens, rich or poor, in all parts of the village. Keep sending those emails.

Thanks.

PS, I think for the technologically minded, it would be great if you could send them some technological advice on improving their site.

Last edited by mark_alfred; 04-09-2006 at 02:16 PM.
 
Old 04-09-2006, 06:42 PM   #14
thorn168
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I recommend that you tell your story to the local newspaper rather then to us. Inviting foreigners into a local Canadian issue is probably not the best solution for your local problem.
 
Old 04-10-2006, 01:39 PM   #15
glidermike
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Sent off a mail to them today!
Mepis linux
Firefox browser
no access to aplication on website!
 
  


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