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?
It's been a while since I've written anything here (excluding the mashups and status update) and I'm kind of wanting to get back into writing stuff. Only thing is, I don't know what to write.
So, consider this an AMA (Ask Me Anything)! I saw kaberett doing this and thought it was a great idea. Basically, feel free to ask me anything in the comments and I'll do my best to answer. If you want to know more about me, or if you have requests for things I should write, or even if you just want to say hello, here's the place to do it! Anon commenting is enabled on Dreamwidth (though IPs are logged), so if you need to go anonymous, feel free to do so. (If you're watching me on LJ, you'll need to click the link just below this post where it says this has been crossposted if you want to go anonymous - otherwise feel free to ask on either LJ or DW.)
Looking forward to answering your comments. <3
So, it seems that for the last few days I've been losing mail in my Google Apps mail account. This is pretty much my fault, probably; I have a weird mail system setup. But I don't know how best to solve it.
Does anybody happen to know/be a Google Apps dev/admin and can put me in touch with them? This is something of an emergency for me (losing email is serious business for me) and I need to be able to fix it.
I've been meaning to make this post for a few days now.
I have finally - *finally* - managed to get an appointment at the Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic. It's on the 10th of May with Dr Andrew Davies.
Before I go there I'd like to get as much information on what to expect as I possibly can. Does anybody reading this have experience with Dr Andrew Davies at all? I've been searching and from what I've read, my initial impressions are not favourable. :/
I'm also getting concerned again about the NHS and the Charing Cross GIC. People alternately tell me good and bad things about it and I'm not sure who to believe. I'm sure they're all telling the truth about their own personal experiences - why would they not? - but it doesn't really help me much. If anything, it makes me nervous about going into a place where basically anything can happen, from what it sounds like.
Does anyone have any knowledge of any of this?
On Monday I went to have my hair styled with a cut and blow dry, at Electric Hairdressing's salon in Reading.
This was in many ways a new experience for me. Firstly, I haven't had my hair styled before, probably mostly because I never had the hair length for it. However, this brings me to my next reason why it's a new experience: I haven't had my hair cut in over two years, since I've specifically been growing it out. My hair's now at a decent length, and I was ready to play with it.
Thirdly, it was my first introduction to how pricey it can be, and the different pricing scheme for styling. Rather than setting a price for the type of haircut or style, the price was set based on who you wanted to cut/style your hair. There were five options increasing in price, from "Stylist" to "Art Director". Since I didn't want to go for a too expensive one on a first go (and probably I wouldn't anyway), I went for the second option out of the five, which was "Senior Stylist". Even that was something like £40 or so IIRC, so, yeah.
Now, as you may all know, I've got naturally curly hair. I've always wished I could have straight hair, although I know it's probably not worth the effort and expense to keep straightening it. However, I did mention that I wanted it straight to the stylist, whose name was Emma. I also said that I didn't really know how I wanted to look, so I said to do it however she thought would look best on me.
( And this was the result... (2 images) )
Now, I'm never any good at judging hairstyles, but so far everybody I've shown this to online has loved it! So I thought I'd post and see what everybody else thinks; do you think it looks better good straight, or would curly be better?
[comments are screened]
I must admit to being intrigued as to the religions or spiritual paths that my friends take, for a few reasons.
So, I'd like to ask you all - if you're okay with telling me, what do you consider your spiritual path or religious leaning? If you don't have one, I'd like to hear that too. (I know that at least a couple of my friends identify as "militant atheists", for example.)
To make it more comfortable to share, I'm screening comments on this post - and this should apply to both DW and LJ, so no need to worry about that. It's just that I both want people to be able to have privacy if they choose, and also I don't want any bashing going on in this post.
If you choose to share, thank you!