Sophie
my journal
September 2016
 

Date: 2014-08-01 12:47
Security: Public
xposthttp://soph.livejournal.com/237593.html
Tags:big posts, internet, link, nsa, privacy, request for comments, skype
Subject: Skype - and why I'm not going to be using it any more

If you use Skype, you may have noticed the number of people online on your contacts list dwindling a little lately.

I myself was signed out of Skype last night. I can no longer log in; my old version of Skype, 5.10, is now considered to be too old.

I can't say I'm *entirely* surprised about this; I was given ample warning that this would happen, and I just didn't heed it because the older version still worked long past the cutoff dates given to me. Unfortunately, this has left me with the problem of how to tell everybody that I'm probably not going to be using it any more. This is a shame, because I actually used it quite a lot.

Why will I not be using it any more? Why can't I just update to the newest version?

Well, for some people the answer will be that they're still using Windows XP, which the newer versions of Skype don't support. That's not the case for me, but if you know that a contact of yours has Windows XP and you haven't heard from them for a bit, that may be why.

But no, the thing for me is that I've been hearing a lot about how Skype is connected to the NSA. I probably don't need to explain why this is a bad thing, but it's possible some people reading this may not realise that the NSA collects data about you in bulk, including recording audio of phone calls, recording IMs, web sites you visit, and a lot of other things. Recently news came out that they were targetting the privacy-conscious.

To put it lightly, the NSA are violating your privacy quite deliberately and knowingly - even if you live in the US. (The NSA's states that it only applies data gathering to foreign countries, but I'm willing to bet that there are sites you visit that aren't sited in the US. Same applies if you live outside of the US and thought you were safe; if you use sites sited in the US (note: Dreamwidth is such a site), then the NSA is interested in you.

The NSA also lies about how much data is collected. It was thought that the NSA "only" recorded metadata about phone calls such as time/date, phone numbers of each party, etc. Turns out that's untrue; apparently, "At least 80 percent of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US". I am a little doubtful about that figure (and there is no evidence for this, unlike with Edward Snowden's leaked files), but if the figure is off then it probably isn't off by much. Even if the figure was 60%, that's still a frighteningly large amount.

I see no reason to believe that Skype is exempt from this, especially as there are news stories about Skype being connected to the NSA. (The linked article is just one such article.)

I also found out today that Skype comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1, which follows their phase-out of Windows Live Messenger (also known by many as MSN Messenger). This makes Skype an incredibly attractive target for not just the NSA but also for hacking/cracking groups. Mostly the NSA, though.

So what is someone to do? I believe I can no longer use Skype as a permanent solution. Note that using an alternative Skype client will not solve the problem; any recording of data would be server-side, so it really doesn't matter what client you use to connect to it. (Not that Skype has exactly had the best of compatibility with third-party clients anyway.)

Does anyone have any ideas?

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Date: 2012-01-19 06:52
Security: Public
xposthttp://soph.livejournal.com/228656.html
Tags:big posts, pipa, politics, sopa
Subject: SOPA/PIPA: The current situation

My journal over at Dreamwidth is now back to normal. I'm glad to be back. :)

So, did protesting against SOPA/PIPA in this way work? Well, I'm sure that me blacking out my journal probably had very little impact in the scheme of things; for the most part I'd be preaching to the choir. (In fact, the only real reason I did it was because I know that I've been popular recently because of my Greasemonkey script to add a Preview button to the new LiveJournal comment form. If it hadn't been for that, I probably wouldn't have done it.)

But it wasn't just me. Many other people and companies also protested against SOPA and PIPA by blacking out their websites. Of these, the site with the most influence was undoubtedly Wikipedia. While Google did put up information about the bills and encourage people to write, they didn't go black, nor should they have done. Wikipedia did go black (although there were deliberate workarounds for emergency access), and reading Twitter it was very easy to see just how much influence Wikipedia had on the day's events (though I disagree that it was 'hilarious' to see the reactions).

But did all the blacking out achieve anything? Yes, it did - very much so, in fact. Several sponsors of the bills dropped their support, and as of right now the support and oppose figures stand at 67 and 71 respectively, which is a vast improvement over the earlier figures of 80 and 31 (according to a comment on Reddit).

For those who can view videos, I also found this interview with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to be good viewing.

The fight isn't quite over yet, because much of the opposition is in regard to SOPA (the House bill) rather than PIPA (the Senate bill). PIPA is almost as dangerous as SOPA, with little difference in regard to how it works, as I understand it. That said, the awareness built up from this massive campaign has done a *lot* for us, and it will probably make things easier.

I'm glad I was able to play a part in that, even if my own individual contribution was only a drop in the ocean.

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Date: 2012-01-19 06:37
Security: Public
Tags:big posts, pipa, politics, sopa
Subject: I'm back!

[posted to Dreamwidth only]

You may have noticed yesterday that this journal had been set to Deleted. If you went to the journal directly, or to the profile, you'd have seen the custom message I set up:

Blacking out this journal for 24 hours to raise awareness of SOPA (which is still a threat; see bit.ly/xQ3DGZ for why) and PIPA (which has always been a threat). See soph.livejournal.com for more information.
Fear not - nothing was lost. As the message says, I was blacking it out for a cause - raising awareness of SOPA and PIPA, which are both dangerous bills with the power to radically change the Internet for the worse.

I kept my LJ up for a few different reasons, which I outlined in a public post there. I didn't like posting to only one service, but I felt it important. My intention was to repost it on DW after the blackout, and this is what I'm doing with this post. (Which is not being crossposted because then people on LJ would see it twice.)

I'll make another post after this one regarding the current situation, which will be crossposted.

My LJ post during the blackout:
[this is a public post]

Today, I've blacked out my journal over at Dreamwidth for 24 hours in order to raise awareness of SOPA/PIPA, alongside many other websites, including Wikipedia.

Please note: SOPA is still a threat, despite the news reports recently that it was shelved indefinitely. (Lamar Smith plans to resume SOPA's markup in February.)

I'm only doing this on DW, for two reasons:

a) DW is now my primary home. Most people are watching me there, as far as I know, and keeping LJ up allows me to make posts like this one (which I'll repost to DW after the blackout);
b) LJ doesn't have any way to specify *why* a journal was 'deleted'. This would mean that people might worry about me.

Why am I doing this, even though I'm located in the UK and the bill is a US one? Because most of the sites I use on the Internet are based in the US.

But Sophie, the bill only affects sites overseas! (Answer: No, it doesn't.) )

(TL;DR: A "site dedicated to theft of US property" is one located in the US and where the owner(s) have taken 'deliberate actions' to avoid confirming 'a high probability' of copyright infringement. The 'deliberate actions' are left undefined, as is what 'a high probability' means, and this is what makes the bill so dangerous.)

So what happens to a 'site dedicated to theft of US property'? Namely, a complete cutoff from anything that could provide financial support to that site - payment merchants such as PayPal or 2Checkout would be forced to deny payments to the site from its members/subscribers, and advertising networks would be forced to deny the site any ads.

Combine the unspecific nature of the bill with the financial cutoff penalty, and you have a perfect recipe for governmental censorship. And no, of course the government wouldn't use it to shut down YouTube, but they wouldn't need to. Services like YouTube simply cannot afford to fall foul of a law like this, and if the bill passed, it would give the government a *reason* to shut YouTube down. That's all they need, because with the threat of that hanging in the air, they could ask YouTube to do damn well anything and they'd have to comply. Blackmail, in other words.

I'll probably write more on this topic later, but for now, I hope I've given a good explanation of why this would be bad for the Internet as a whole, and why I've chosen to black out my journal for the day.

[edit 9:49pm GMT: For people in the UK, here's a petition on direct.gov calling on the UK government to condemn SOPA and PIPA: https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/26143 ]

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Date: 2012-01-02 07:18
Security: Public
xposthttp://soph.livejournal.com/228251.html
Tags:big posts, math, steam
Subject: Musings on a math problem before sleep

I had problems getting to sleep today, because I was thinking about an interesting mathematical problem. My brain isn't going to let me sleep unless I post about it here.

For the past two weeks, Steam (the game distribution platform run by Valve) has been having a sale, as it has been doing every year at this time. This time around, there are also giveaways to encourage people to play the games it has on sale. These take the form of extra achievements for certain games. When you manage to get one of these achievements, you'll get something for your trouble. Prizes come from what Valve calls "The Great Gift Pile", and it includes games and coupons.

However, there's only a 25% chance that you'll actually get something from the GGP (as I'll call it from now on). 75% of the time, you'll receive coal instead. Coal isn't completely useless, though; if you collect 7 coal, you can 'craft' them into a random item from the GGP. In addition, each piece of coal that remains in your inventory at the end of the promotion (which is tomorrow) will count as one entry into the "Epic Holiday Giveaway", which is a big raffle which takes place at the end. The prizes for this raffle can be seen at the bottom of http://store.steampowered.com/holidaysale/details . Since the page is no longer online, the prizes were as follows:

  • Grand Prize (1 winner): Every single game on Steam
  • First Prize (50 winners): Top 10 items on wishlist
  • Second Prize (100 winners): Top 5 items on wishlist
  • Third Prize (1,000 winners): Valve Complete Pack
The Steam forums have had an interesting discussion going on about this last raffle. One person (whose name was "X01" on the forums) casually mentioned how having 100 coal would hardly increase your chances to win, and that you wouldn't be 100 times more likely to win. Another person replied to say that 100/<number of entries> is 100 times bigger than 1/<number of entries>, so yes, you would be 100 times more likely to win. From there, there was a big argument between X01 insisting they were correct, and most of the other people on the forum saying that, c'mon, this is basic math. It eventually ended up with X01 deleting their comments in anger and disappearing from the thread.

(If you're interested, this is the thread in question. The fun begins at post #9, but remember while reading that X01 deleted their posts, so the quotes are all there is to go on.)

At first, the answer seems really obvious. After all, with 100 coal you're 100 times more likely to win than someone who only has 1 coal... right?

Think about that for a second and how this relates to the whole, and decide for yourself who's right. Then, if you like, expand the cut to see my take on it. )

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Date: 2011-06-12 01:21
Security: Public
xposthttp://soph.livejournal.com/221425.html
Tags:big posts, link, pseudonymity
Subject: Being truly pseudonymous

So, I read a post in [personal profile] synecdochic's journal just now discussing the geolocation feature that LJ had added to its IP logging feature to tell you where commenters were from (the feature is now removed), and it got me thinking that too many people don't really know how to truly be anonymous on the Internet. Tor, which is mentioned in the post, is good, but it's not nearly good enough if you just use it and do nothing else to protect yourself.

So what do you need to do to be truly anonymous on the Internet?

It is possible, but the answer to *that* question would sound very far-fetched to most people here. That's because most people don't really understand the concept of what anonymity actually is. As I ranted about in my post about 'real' names, anonymity means to not have a name. The trouble is, if you have an account on DW or LJ (which you probably do if you're reading this), then you do have a name - your username - and thus you are not anonymous. At the very best, you're pseudonymous - writing under an assumed name.

So for this post I'm actually going to cover an angle which is probably more relevant to people here, and that's how to make absolutely sure that nobody can connect your pseudonym to any of your other identities (which is what most people think anonymity is anyway). Most of these points are prerequisites to being truly anonymous anyway, and a lot of people will find even the list in this post to be over-the-top. That said, I'll cover being truly anonymous (or at least as anonymous as you can get) in another post at some point.

How to successfully maintain a completely separate pseudonym )



So, yeah, being truly pseudonymous is tough - tougher than being truly anonymous. In another post I'll talk about that. In the meantime, though, I'm kind of tired and need to rest. :D

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Sophie
Date: 2011-04-26 00:56
Security: Public
Mood:frightened frightened
xposthttp://soph.livejournal.com/218838.html
Tags:big posts, gender identity clinic, transgender issues
Subject: Two weeks to go.

Only 2 weeks to go until my appointment with the Gender Identity Clinic.

You'd think this would be a good thing. Instead, I've been getting increasingly anxious and I've been crying at the possibilities of what might happen.

To explain why, I'll need to explain some things. To be able to get access to the GIC, you need to be referred by a psychiatrist - they don't accept self-referrals. Then, the PCT for the area you live in has to approve the funding based on that referral. After those two things are done, the actual appointment could take months to arrive. (Recall that even disregarding the first attempt at getting a referral which ended disastrously and took up half a year by itself, it's taken about nine months since my second, successful (as in, actually sent) referral to get to this appointment.)

Needless to say, I do *not* want to have to go through all this again - I've waited far too long already. But the trouble is, I started this whole process while I was in Reading, and it's the Berkshire PCT which approved the funding. In the nine months that have passed, however, I've had to go live back with my parents, so I'm no longer in Berkshire. I was hoping to be able to go back to Reading (or at least somewhere in Berkshire) as soon as I could, but I wouldn't be able to cope living on my own, and while I have two friends who may be able to live with me, one of them isn't certain about where exactly he'd want to live (and I haven't heard anything back from him yet), and although the other is ready and willing to live with me, neither of us are any good at the whole "organising ourselves" thing (by our own admissions), and I'm concerned that the whole thing would come collapsing down on top of us. I just don't feel I'd be able to live with that sort of constant stress. :/

(And now, of course, it's far too late to consider moving anyway; with two weeks to go, just moving will generate its own stress regardless of the circumstances, and what I need now is less stress, not more.)

Anyway, the point is, I've been crying about what I consider to be the most likely possibility - that I'd go to the GIC, they'd ask me to confirm where I live, I'd need to say to them that I've had to move outside of the PCT's area and have been living outside their area for about 8 months now, and they'd be left with no choice but to close my case and ask me to go through the whole process again. After all, I haven't been living in Berkshire for 8 months, so why should they be paying for me? And presumably any new PCTs won't fund it until I've seen a psychiatrist...

It's the stuff of nightmares. (I'm honestly surprised I haven't had nightmares about it yet, just thinking and crying about it in the daytime.) But there's more, because of course I don't even want to live here, which means that if I did do that and moved to Reading or somewhere else again...

...well, I think you can see where I'm going with this. I guarantee you that if the GIC has to close my case, I will break down in tears right there and then. (I'm almost at that point just thinking about it while typing this entry.) This is so not what I want.

But I can't lie about where I live; that would almost certainly carry much harsher consequences, because it would be seen as me stealing money from another county and would most likely lead to a jail sentence or something like that. So I can't do that.

This is not going to be fun. At all.

(This isn't what my previous post was about, by the way. That was regarding something else, which I'm not going to go into here.)

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Date: 2011-03-15 16:52
Security: Public
xposthttp://soph.livejournal.com/217771.html
Tags:big posts, facebook, names
Subject: On 'real' names, and why it's not a good idea to be forced to use them.

As many of you know, I'm 28. I grew up during the development of the Internet, and by the time the Internet hit for home users around about 1995, I was 13.

One if the things I was told emphatically not to do back then was to give out any personal details on the Net. No real name, no address, nothing. I didn't quite stick to that - I did use my name sometimes - but I did learn the importance of why it's not a good idea to use offline identities all the time. And in the early days of the era of home users using the Internet, doubtless many people learned the same thing.

Fast forward to today. Facebook is easily the largest social network, and it requires you to use your full name; if you don't, you're violating their Terms of Service and they reserve the right to make your acccount go poof.

"But Sophie," you say, "Just don't use Facebook if you don't like their policies!"

Great idea... except for two things:

a) More sites are now using Facebook's Comments Box 'social plugin' to enable commenting on their site.
b) There are some people (for example, Scoble of scobleizer.com) who think that people should be forced to use their 'real' names, or else they don't regard their comments/opinions as valid.

It should be noted here that when people like the above refer to 'real' names, they invariably mean 'offline' names, but word it that way because they feel that any other names are not 'real' and are thus 'fake'. The only real name you have is the one that legally applies to you, apparently.

(Okay, so I guess they have a point in that names are how we identify people, and if we didn't have names we'd all be numbers instead. But although I'm sure some people probably would prefer being known as such if it stopped people using their 'real' name, those same people will probably find it infinitely preferable if other people used whatever name that they *wanted* other people to use. Names have meanings, whether they're given by the origin language itself or simply by emotional attachment.)

What I'm trying to say is that not every deviation from a 'real' name is done to make us anonymous. In fact, it's quite the opposite - people can still be identified by whatever name they choose in a particular environment; that's what names are for, and that goes against the very definition of 'anonymous'.(*) Instead, most individual people I know (that is to say, even individual members of a plural system can do this) who are using a different name are doing it in order to separate various identities. Note that this isn't always the same as trying to *hide* the other identities. For example, in some religions, people can have completely different names from how people might know them outside of their religion, but they don't go out of their way to hide their legal name from people.(**)

Then comes the question - if you're not trying to hide your other identities, why not just use the other identity's name in the first place? Hopefully that question has been answered for you by way of the example I gave, but in case it hasn't - it very much depends on context. If someone has a different name on the Internet than they do in real life(***), then they're probably going to want to use that name, because it's part of their identity, and it's only polite to use whatever name they're going by in that context, not least because it may cause offense (or even danger) otherwise.

Of course, there are people who don't mind, or whose choice of name is restricted by availability - which is a particularly common problem with usernames on the Internet. Some of those people might like their username better; some may prefer another name. In both cases you should refer to them with whatever name they *want* to be called. (And if you don't know, you should ask.)

Hopefully I've made my point clear; when it comes to names, there is no single 'real name' for a lot of people. And this is why I don't like the Facebook Comments Box, since it would force you to use a real name even on sites which otherwise have nothing to do with Facebook. Like, say, TechCrunch. (See also this response to the rollout.)

One more thing. The 'danger' I referred to above may have got some of you thinking that's a bit overdramatic and not common at all, certainly not in an environment like I'm journalling this entry from.

But the truth is, as much as it might sound overdramatic, it's really not. People are in danger all the time from people who think that if they know someone's 'real' identity, that they're allowed to enter that side of their life. This is particularly true when the person whose 'real' identity was revealed is a member of an unprivileged group, because often the prevailing attitude is that unprivileged groups are inferior or subordinate to privileged ones. (If you're not aware what I mean by "unprivileged groups", you may want to take a look at [livejournal.com profile] brown_betty's post A primer on privilege: what it is and what it isn't, as it gives a good introduction to it.)

I actually use Facebook occasionally. However, Facebook is not the Web, and it shouldn't try to become so. I hope this entry has made clear why I believe that.

(a big thanks to [personal profile] marahmarie for her posts prompting me to write this epic entry. It's not often I agree with her, but on this point I do.)

[edit: [personal profile] vampwillow points out in the comments that Etsy has recently exposed people's legal names to the world without telling anyone, and people can now connect your purchases to your legal name simply by searching on your legal name, something which was previously impossible. If you use Etsy, you may want to follow the instructions in the linked article to prevent this.]



(*) According to answers.com, the three definitions of 'anonymous' are:
  1. Having an unknown or unacknowledged name: an anonymous author.
  2. Having an unknown or withheld authorship or agency: an anonymous letter; an anonymous phone call.
  3. Having no distinctive character or recognition factor: "a very great, almost anonymous center of people who just want peace" (Alan Paton).
(**) I am aware that a religious name might not actually be chosen by the person who receives it, so the implications probably are going to be a bit different. I would definitely appreciate input on this from people who might have more insight into this than I do!

(***) Discussion on exactly how "real" 'real life' is is outside of the scope of this journal post, but may prove to be an interesting exercise for the reader.

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Date: 2010-10-17 00:32
Security: Public
xposthttp://soph.livejournal.com/210564.html
Tags:big posts, christianity, film reviews, religion, religious discussion
Subject: Religulous

I'm writing this from my bed in [livejournal.com profile] the4thcircle's house, where I'm staying overnight.

Today has been mostly good! We made some good progress with the filking (which I forgot to mention includes composition as well as transcription) and it's been wonderful to see both Stacy and Becky again; I love being with them, and I believe the reverse is also true. (Although I do sometimes worry that I put undue stress on them both unintentionally; I seem to goof up a lot. They tell me everything's okay, though.)

We finished off the evening by watching a film called Religulous, and to be honest it made me a little uncomfortable. I want to use the rest of this post to explain the reasons why. This is going to contain religous discussion, so I'm going to put it under a cut in case you don't want to see said discussion.

Talk about Bill Maher's 'Religulous'... )



And since I know that both Stacy and Becky will be reading this, I should say that I am happy that you put it on to watch; I try to be very open-minded about these things and it was good to see another's point of view! So please don't take any of this as a criticism of you or the decision to put it on; my criticisms are purely aimed at the film itself. :)

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Date: 2010-06-09 16:28
Security: Public
Tags:big posts, futureme, self-reflection, transgender issues
Subject: I was told to do this.

Someone I know is staring at me;
and when I look into her eyes,
I see the girl that I used to be;
I hardly recognise.
'cuz in the space of a year,
I've watched the old me disappear;
All of the things I once held precious
just don't mean anything, anymore,
'cuz suddenly...

You came, and changed the way I feel;
No one could love you more,
because you came and turned my life around;
No one could take your place.


-- Kim Wilde, "You Came"

I just got an email that I want to share with you. Although I haven't specifically asked the sender for permission (and I can no longer do so), and they never explicitly gave me permission, I think I'm allowed to do this.

You see, it's from myself in the past.

The email from my past self )



I had forgotten I had written this email to myself using FutureMe. I kind of wish I could reply and tell myself all about what I've been through this past year. Of course, I can't, so I'll do the next best thing: doing what my past self asked me to do and reflecting on this past year, and on how things are now.

Reflections )

I finished off the post I linked in the email by saying:

This move, in short, is going to be extremely stressful for me, and will be the cause of a lot of stress, anxiety and pain... but ultimately it's the right thing to do.


And indeed it was. A lot has changed in a year. In fact, when I realised that the song "You Came" by Kim Wilde fit perfectly into this situation, I just had to go add it to the start of this post. It describes things so well.

Now I've just got to keep rolling, and see where I end up next.

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Date: 2010-03-29 08:53
Security: Public
Mood:worried worried
xposthttp://soph.livejournal.com/200038.html
Tags:big posts, dreamwidth, google, google summer of code, livejournal, programming
Subject: DW and the Google Summer of Code

I've been hesitant to post about this, as I know that both Mark and Denise read this journal, but this issue is important enough to me to post it.

So, the application phase for students to apply to organisations participating in the Google Summer of Code begins today. Dreamwidth is one of these organisations.

From the start, I haven't liked the idea of DW taking part in the GSoC, and that's because GSoC, by definition, focuses on the code. Students enter the GSoC to code, and to get money from Google for doing it. They're not there to spend ages learning about the culture.

Thoughts on DW's community, passion and culture... )

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Date: 2009-12-25 21:14
Security: Public
Mood:content content
Tags:big posts, christmas, gender identity, gender identity: meeting people, parents
Subject: Christmas Day at my parents' place

Updating from my parents' place!

So, things are going much better than I could have hoped for. There were no disgusted looks, no comments on my appearance. There are name slip-ups, but that's to be expected and while I correct them on it each time (otherwise it won't sink in), it's obvious that they're really trying and I'm not angry at them.

My big Christmas gift was actually sent to me about a week prior via Amazon - a new GPS receiver to replace the old one that I lost! It's a really nice one, too. I knew it would be coming because my parents asked me what I wanted/needed for Christmas and I explained about how I lost my old one. (I wouldn't normally have asked except that they had said they were willing to spend more than usual on me this year as I was away from home.) I did give them a bunch of different options, and said that while I'd prefer the 550t, it was their money and I would be happy with the others I listed. They were happy to go for the 550t, so that's the new GPS I have. :D

So, for obvious reasons, when I came down there wasn't much else in the way of gifts, but I did get a lot of chocolate from different people (I had brought the Christmas presents I'd received from others down with me, unopened, so I could open them here). And my parents have evidently told my aunt and uncle about things as their card and present were addressed not only to the right name but the right title, too, as well as the card being correct. When I wrote an email to thank them for the present, I also made sure to thank them for this, as it means a lot more to me than they might realise, and I'm so glad that they're apparently cool with it.

Anyway, back to my parents... I haven't felt uncomfortable or stressed at all, and I haven't noticed any stress on Mum's part either, though she tends to be good at internalising it, I think. Dad says that he doesn't think she's stressed either, though, which is good. And like I say, it's so clear to me that they're trying.

So, I'm going to be staying here overnight. I wasn't originally planning to do this; I felt that one day would be enough as any more might stress us both out. And while it's true that I didn't bring any makeup with me for tomorrow, I'm also not going to be seeing anyone else tomorrow when I go back, and anybody who would see my face is going to do so as my car goes hurtling past them, so I don't really feel there'll be *too* much of a problem there. But I feel comfortable being here for the night. (It's also nice to be in my bed; the things you miss!)

That said, I still wouldn't be comfortable staying for too much longer, and I think it would be asking too much of my parents anyway. Sure, Mum isn't stressed right now, but she could become so given a day or two more. And I wouldn't want to stay in any case right now... so I'll go home tomorrow. But it's still longer than I planned to be here. :D

In short, all seems to be well and good. I cannot tell you how relieved I am that this is the case, seriously. I didn't know what to expect, really, but it wasn't really this. <3

A good Christmas day, for sure.

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Date: 2009-10-30 13:48
Security: Public
Tags:big posts, gender identity: changing name, gender identity: my name, my name, paypal, transgender issues
Subject: PayPal fail

So, in shocking news that I'm sure everybody will be surprised at (not), PayPal is being stupid.

I wanted to get my name changed on my PayPal account, which is still currently in my old name. They have a process for doing this, which requires that they have the documentation for the legal name change plus a form of government-issued ID - passport, driving license, etc.

Technically, I can get new government-issued ID with the new name. However, I cannot change the gender marker on the new ID without a letter from my GP to confirm that I'm seeking treatment for gender dysphoria - a letter that my GP refuses to write without hearing back from a psychiatrist which he's referring me to, even though he doesn't have to write *anything* that's not true. I do not want my ID to show the wrong gender with another name, because that would be stupid; it's not my identity.

So, I wrote to PayPal to explain this:

My letter to PayPal )



Today, PayPal replied:

PayPal's reply )

So, not only are they committing an offence by refusing to acknowledge my name change without ID, but they add insult to injury by insisting on addressing me via my old name in the greeting, despite that they *have* the statutory declaration.

Has anybody got any ideas on how to proceed with this?

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Date: 2009-09-18 19:51
Security: Public
Mood:exhausted exhausted
Tags:big posts
Subject: What a day.

Well, today was a comedy of errors. I'm going to copy and paste from a monologue I made in an IRC channel about it; it really needs to be seen in detail and I don't feel like rehashing what I already hashed out in IRC. ;p

IRC log goodness! Almost all a monologue, though. )

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Date: 2009-08-26 01:39
Security: Public
Mood:optimistic optimistic
Tags:big posts, corin, ferret, life, moving out, nall, the big move
Subject: (no subject)

On Monday, we finally got our phone line working, and with it, our Internet connection, which had been activated on Friday but had lain dormant until the phone line was fixed. (Turns out this place had two separate phone lines running to it, and BT had activated the wrong one. We were completely unaware that this was the case, having not found the socket for the second line - which was in my room. Apparently that one had been working all along. The engineer who came out got it all fixed for us, though, by switching the service from one line to the other.)

Which means I have Internet access now - real, full Internet access. :D I'm currently having some technical issues, but I have a workaround for them, so it's all good. )



In other news, [personal profile] nall and [livejournal.com profile] eclective arrived last week - Corin on the 17th, and Nall on the 18th (bringing an [livejournal.com profile] explodingferret with him). Ferret's been here all week and is still around for now, so we haven't yet seen how everything's going to go with just the three of us. Ferret has sorted several major problems for us so far, though, which I'm not sure we'd have been able to do ourselves. (Including replacing a hardwired wall socket in the kitchen with a standard three-pronged one, allowing us to replace our current washing machine with a washer/dryer that we had ordered and then failed to have connected due to the hardwiring.)

The graphics card in my computer is on the blink and has been since before I moved; I tried to get it fixed before I moved, but there doesn't seem like there's much that can be done. I do, however, have workarounds for this that allow me to carry on a semblance of a normal life, as long as I don't actually use my video card for anything more than basic functions. (So, no 3D, essentially, which rules out most games; even the ones which don't use 3D, because most of them use something like OpenGL, which has to be done in software rather than relying on the hardware acceleration I would normally get.) I also have disturbing patterns on the screen but I can live with those until I get a good card.

Examples of stuff I can do given the above:

* I can watch movies and YouTube, but I can't scale them without experiencing a drop in frame rate. Meaning, no full-screen movies for me. (The drop isn't actually too bad because I have a pretty good CPU, but it's definitely noticeable.)

* I can (as far as I can tell so far) play games in DOSBox fairly normally, though again I have the frame rate issue if I go full-screen. Scratch that; it depends on the game. Curiously enough, Quake is better in this regard than an old Mille Bornes game I have for DOS. It makes sense when you realise that Quake by default uses a lower screen resolution, whereas my Mille Bornes game uses a high-resolution mode. (DOSBox scales to get it to *my* full screen, though, so I still have that problem.)

* I can't do anything involving OpenGL at all without experiencing a massive decrease in frame rate from normal. This is because I'm having to rely on OpenGL from the software renderer included with Mesa, and while my CPU is good, it's not designed for this sort of thing; that's what hardware acceleration is for. (for those wondering, when glxgears is maximised on my 1680x1050, 32-bit colour screen (but with a bit of space taken up by the window decorations, kicker, etc), I get 14fps. You can imagine how much slower it'd be with a *real* app...)

* I can do everything that I could before that doesn't involve the card's advanced functions - IRCing, browsing the Web, Skype'ing, using virtual machines, etc. Most things, in other words.

So for now you can consider me back as normal for purposes of online-ness. I may be offline more than usual in the new home anyway because I have things I can do now rather than being on the computer all day. For example, I need to find laser hair treatment places, and I need to go shopping more, and such. (We're currently out of toilet paper, we're running out of milk again, I need to buy a dressing gown and some more shampoo...)

So, yeah, life's pretty busy. :)

I'll probably write more later but make it access-only for various reasons. For now, though, I'm off to sleep as it's now 2:40am and I've apparently spent a whole hour on this entry. ;p 'night!

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Date: 2009-08-12 19:28
Security: Public
Tags:big posts, moving out
Subject: Update from the new home!

So, I guess people are wondering how I'm doing, hmm? There's a lot to talk about in this post, so I'm doing something rare and putting it under a cut. Do read it if you can, though.

This is a repost; I originally composed and wrote this on my phone, but for some reason all the newlines disappeared, making it unreadable when it was posted. I sent this from my phone to the laptop and leeched off an unprotected wifi signal for a second to post this. >:D

Summary: Clothes and shopping and toilets, oh my! )



Anyway, that's my big update of doom. As I said before, I'm posting this from my phone. We don't yet have a landline service as far as I know, therefore no Internet. (Hence my note in the last post.) We'll start to have useable Internet on the 17th though, yay. :)

Anyway, signing off now. *salute*

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Date: 2009-06-16 15:20
Security: Public
Tags:big posts, iran, politics, public, reposts
Subject: The Iran election - reposted from others

[this is a public post]

A photo of protesters in Iran, taken from above. The crowd protesting goes back as far as the eyes can see.


If you are reading this right now, you have more luxury than someone in Iran could ever hope for right now. If you are watching TV or a video on youtube, updating your status on Facebook, Tweeting, or even texting your friend, you are lucky. If you are safe in your home, and were able to sleep last night without the sounds of screaming from the rooftops, you need to know and understand what is happening to people just like you in Iran right now.

Another photo of protesters in Iran, this photo having been taken from the ground. People dressed in green, waving green flags, and wearing green headbands, make their voices heard.


They are not the enemy. They are a people whose election has been stolen. For the first time in a long time, a voice for change struck the youth of Iran, just as it did for many people in the United States only seven months ago. Hossein Mousavi gained the support of millions of people in Iran as a Presidential candidate. He stands for progressiveness. He supports good relations with the West, and the rest of the world. He is supported with ferver as he challenges the oppressive regime of Mahmoud Amedinejad.


On Friday, millions of people waited for hours in line to vote in Iran's Presidential election. Later that night, as votes came in, Mousavi was alerted that he was winning by a two-thirds margin. Then there was a change. Suddenly, it was Ahmedinejad who had 68% of the vote - in areas which have been firmly against his political party, he overwhelmingly won. Within three hours, millions of votes were supposedly counted - the victor was Ahmedinejad. Immediately fraud was suspected - there was no way he could have won by this great a margin with such oppposition. Since then, reports have been coming in of burned ballots, or in some cases numbers being given without any being counted at all. None of this is confirmed, but what happened next seems to do the trick.

The people of Iran took the streets and rooftops. They shout "Death to the dictator" and "Allah o akbar." They join together to protest. Peacefully. The police attack some, but they stay strong. Riots happen, and the shouting continues all night. Text messaging was disabled, as was satellite; websites which can spread information such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and the BBC are blocked in the country. At five in the morning, Arabic speaking soldiers (the people of Iran speak Farsi) stormed a university in the capital city of Tehran. While sleeping in their dormitories, five students were killed. Others were wounded. These soldiers are thought to have been brought in by Ahmedinejad from Lebanon. Today, 192 of the university's faculty have resigned in protest.

A young Iranian woman holds her fist high, shouting in a street.

Mousavi requested that they government allow a peaceful rally to occur this morning - the request was denied. Many thought that it would not happen. Nevertheless, first a few thousand people showed up in the streets of Tehran. At this point, it is estimated that 1 to 2 million people were there. (Note: There have been reports that it might have been 3 million-- but nothing is confirmed at this point). Mousavi spoke on the top of a car. The police stood by. For a few hours, everything was peaceful. Right now, the same cannot be said. Reports of injuries, shootings, and killings are flooding the internet. Twitter has been an invaluable source - those in Iran who still know how to access it are updating regularly with picture evidence. Women are being brutally beat.

Tonight will be another night without rest for so many in Iran, no older than I. Tonight there is a Green Revolution.

For more information:

PICTURES:
Here - from Boston.com
Here - on Flickr

NEW INFORMATION:
Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish - near constant updates
ONTD_political live post - Collated information, pictures & etc in the comments

ON TWITTER:
@StopAhmadi
@ProtesterHelp
@IranElection09
@IranRiggedElect
@Change_For_Iran <-- no tweets for a while, which is worrying :(
@NextRevolution <-- absolutely heartbreaking

Also: SIGN THE GLOBAL PETITION! 25,000 signatures and growing! http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/protest-against-the-june-2009-coup-detat-in-iran.html


v6u8hw
دنیارابگوییدچطورآنهاانتخاباتمان دزدیده اند
Tell the world how they have stolen our election




(original post by [livejournal.com profile] one_hoopy_frood here, slightly modified by Sophie to add more links and add ALT attributes to photos.)

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