listening-glass-630Facebook is to release a new feature on its mobile app that ‘listens’ to what music you’re streaming or what you’re watching.

Oh god, I can hear the paranoid already: “It’s a trap! The government is watching!”

Apparently, it is an opt-in service, can be turned off at any time, no audio is stored, and the device cannot pick up on any background noise or conversation. Be that as it may, I’m not really comfortable with it.

It’s just the way it is sold: ‘your device uses microphones to ‘listen’ to any nearby TV or music playing’. It’s like personifying my phone. When does it decide to ‘listen’? Is it ‘listening’ all the time, just hoping for a snippet of the newest Sam Smith tune?

When the device recognises a song or TV show, the user has the ability to share the information with the rest of their Facebook gang. They can either choose or have it automatically posted. However, automating the service has left some users cold. One Facebook user said: “I have no interest in Facebook ‘observing’ what I’m up to. I feel like there’s no trust anymore.”

As well as this weirdly intrusive new feature, Facebook has finally begun making posts automatically private for naïve new users. In the past if you signed up to a new account, all of your ‘personal’ details, i.e. date of birth, where you’re from was deemed private immediately. However, all of your status updates, pictures uploaded of your Gran or your breakfast were automatically shared as ‘public’. This meant you had to go into your privacy settings and change everything to ‘friends only’. Not rocket science, but many users didn’t know about this, not realising everything they posted was posted to the whole world.

I’ve been caught out a few times. I used to make some posts on my feed ‘public’. This means that when someone searched for me, they could see only my profile picture, the fact that I’m female, and any posts that I had made specifically public.

BUT. If I posted something as public, automatically everything else I posted afterwards was public, unless I remembered to change it back to ‘friends only’. I’ve had a few messages from my mother (who is a privacy fanatic) saying: “Your Facebook is open to the world again!”

I love keeping my Facebook ‘exclusive’. Keeping my friends list down to people I actually like, and speak to. I’m still searchable though, and although I’m pretty careful these days, some of my family members have taken it to the extreme, unable to be found unless they choose to be.

How anonymous can we be on the internet?

 Think back to the days when we all first started getting the internet in our homes. This was before all the (correct) worry and panic about predators on the net, and chatrooms were commonplace. I started using chatrooms immediately, and I believe I was about 10.

Make up a user name (something like xxxcoolgirl2003xxx, come on, I was 10!), and the messages start flooding in.

‘A/S/L?’ – age, sex, location. In other words, who are you? I always said I was 14, from America. Nothing sinister ever happened, but I do remember speaking to many older men. Regardless of the fact that I was hiding behind my username and fake information, they still knew they were chatting with someone who at 14, was underage.

I did feel anonymous though. Nowadays, our digital identities are more adhered to our real lives. Linking accounts, logging in to something ‘via Facebook’, and updating in real-time. I believe we leave much more permanent imprints online today than we ever did in the past.

I don’t believe you can ever be anonymous on the web. The apps promoting anonymity, such as Whisper, Secret could still identify you if they needed to, I reckon. It’s a marketing gimmick – you can’t really advertise something as being ‘semi-anonymous’!

Just be careful, don’t give away too much! Tighten your inner circle, get rid of so and so from 10 years ago who keeps asking you to play Jelly-bloody-Splash.

And DON’T ever be as ridiculous as this girl:

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Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you.

Dennis Waitley

I’ve done it! I’ve stressed and strived and have finally landed myself a real-life job, in my preferred field, utilising my degree. To say that I’m over the moon is an understatement. I am bursting with energy and happiness. I am so appreciative of all of the people who have supported me during my search, and who have kept me going when I got low. I start in a week. My own desk – a nice pantsuit – a LUNCHBOX!

I’ll keep you posted.

E.

My partner and I have an ongoing disagreement over my obsession with true crime documentaries and books. I can’t count the amount of times he’s given me a ‘look’ after hearing, once again,  the dramatic voiceover of the latest real murder documentary I’m watching. Or a sly: “Oh, are you reading another death book?”.

I get it. It’s morbid. Why would I immerse myself in someone else’s misery? Why don’t I read a nice chick-lit, or even just a good classic?

Since I’ve had my Kindle, I’ve been able to gain access to a huge amount of different genre of book. I’ve found I enjoy memoirs and true accounts most of all, so true crime was an easy transition to make.

I’ve read dozens of true crime and true account books, as well as multiple documentaries. A lot of these are well known crimes like The Soham Murders, Jaycee Lee Dugard and the mystery of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. Others are less well-known – a serial killer in a tiny American town, or a poor Nigerian girl forced into a marriage with an older man. I find all equally fascinating, but am always aware that I am not ‘enjoying’ reading about horrific acts that have happened to others.

According to author Gary Provost (1991) the essence of true crime is ‘…normal people, who commit abnormal acts’ and readers of the genre constantly question their own potential for such behaviour.

This is something that makes perfect sense to me. Many times have I pondered over someone’s character after reading/watching their horrific act. Did they know they were going to commit that crime? At what point did they lose it? Could I ever, in a million years, get so messed up that I’d feel like stabbing someone? Or kidnapping a child?

Researchers conducted studies to try to determine why women are attracted to true crime.  Their conclusion was that women are drawn to true crime books out of their own fears of becoming a victim of violent crime.

According to the researchers, women are drawn to true crime books for these reasons:

  •  To learn how to prevent becoming a victim
  • To learn how to survive being a victim.
  • To learn warning signs to watch for.
  • To learn escape tips and survival strategies.

In 2012, crime lecturer Judith Yates compared reading true crime books to riding a roller coaster, suggesting that we find both experiences equally titillating and thrilling, albeit slightly scary. She concluded: ‘Crime is real, guttural, and nasty – but perfectly safe when you are curled up in a chair reading’.

It’s the age old misconception of ‘that will never happen to me’. Have I been reading these books and watching these programs, densensitised? Focusing on the hard-hitting story but forgetting about the people, real people who were affected. Someone’s mother, daughter, father, son. If something happened to me or my family, I’m not sure I’d want to be on someone’s reading list for the reader  to plow through before moving onto the next exciting murder mystery.

 

 

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See more at: http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/index.php/updates/Why-do-people-enjoy-reading-true-crime-books/#sthash.YHpvBZkq.dpuf

http://crime.about.com/od/women/a/women_books.htm

It’s 8:45am: I’m sitting in a coffee shop bumming off the free wi-fi.

Even when I’m sitting down, I feel like I’m still spinning from the changes that have occurred in my life over the last couple of months. I don’t think I’ve exhaled yet. Breathe.

Today is a new day. Hiding from your history only shackles you to it. We can’t undo a single thing we have ever done, but we can make decisions today that propel us to the life we want and towards the healing we need.

Steve Mariboli

I’m not one for airing my dirty laundry for all and sundry, (although more than a few people may have seen my knickers from my falling over on a drunken night out!), but I’m inspired today to share a little bit. Not too much, just enough.

From the outside looking in, I may look like a girl who knew where she was going in life, and threw it all away. I had the friends, the guy, and very almost the new life in the sun with a job, home and car.

This, however, is not the case. It may be June in London and I’m sitting with a coat on trying not to freeze when someone opens the door. I may be serving people to pay my rent (still), not ribs anymore, but a waitress nonetheless. I may have come no closer to achieving my five year plan – but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. I didn’t throw anything away.

I’m starting again, and I finally feel 21 again.

People often say this when they are a lot older, and have experienced a moment which takes them back – a new lease of life to remind them of how they used to be.

I am 21 years old. However, I have felt weary for too long, like I’ve already lived a much older life. Now, I’m being dragged backwards through time – stripping off the wrinkles and worries of the middle-aged life I was living previously. I feel ‘dragging’ has negative connotations. Dancing back through life to how I used to be, perhaps. Some kind of time-warp Moonwalk.

I don’t really know what I’m getting at.

Yes I do. I feel that my life had stopped and slowed to a trickle. The road was set out for me. And I couldn’t handle it. Now, I’m not one of those Pocahontas types; a free spirit who goes where the wind takes me. No, I write lists about the lists I need to make. I absolutely have to know the plan for a night out. How are we getting home? Who’s staying where? What are we having for tea? What am I going to wear on the 15th March 2018? However, this plan I couldn’t go through with.

I can’t say I wasn’t happy. Parts of this period were deliriously happy times for me. And most of the time, I was sure that was the road I wanted to take, I was positive. The worst thing about writing this post is that certain people may read it and might try and read between the lines of what I’m saying. Please, please don’t. I was happy and don’t regret a single second of my life. However, it took some time alone to give me some clarity: to take a step back and get some perspective.

I know I’m the bad guy. I know it will take certain people a long time, if ever, to forgive me. However, I’m not looking for forgiveness, because that would suggest intent to hurt; a wrongdoing. If people should be punished for being honest, then I’ve been taught wrong all my life. If people want to punish me for being honest, then so be it. I’ve learned to let go of anger and hurt and understand why humans act the way they do.

I’ve also learned that I don’t need to justify myself to anyone. I’ve spent too long making excuses, going along with things for an easy life, smiling blandly as I watch my life take shape. No more. I haven’t made myself number one priority for years. It’s my time now. That sounds incredibly selfish written down, but anyone reading this who has gone through a similar period may comprehend what I’m saying.

There’s a lot more I want to say, but I’m aware of the risks of going too far.

I’m happy. I’m living with my best friend in a little flat we’ve made our own. I may be serving people for a living still, yes, but I tell you what, it’s bloody fun, and my German is coming along spectacularly. I haven’t given up my dream of Journalism, and I’m well on my way to achieving it. Just need to sell a few more bratwurst first.

Most of all, I feel like a new person. My skin in brighter, I’ve lost weight, I’m nicer to myself and everyone around me. The aches and pains of the elderly life I was living are falling away day by day. I’m learning to be myself again.

Although I’ve said I don’t need to justify myself, let me reiterate that my intent is not to hurt anyone. Anyone who knows me well can well understand that. I just don’t have to capacity to maliciously affect someone. However, hurt is a factor in many situations in life, and unfortunately it has featured very prominently in this one.

It’s the argument of the greater good. Should I have carried on with the way I was, inevitably hurting multiple people in the future? Or hurt one person now? To me the answer is clear.

I’m closing this book now. Yes, I’m not merely starting a new chapter, but a brand new book.

Wish me luck.

home-road

What is your idea of happiness?

A husband, children, and happy home. Or a RAAAAGING career. Haven’t decided yet. Do I have to?

What is your greatest fear?

Losing my hair.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Biting the inside of my lips when I’m anxious. Being anxious in general.

What makes you depressed?

Rudeness, rain, criticism (if it’s not constuctive), racism, narrow-mindedness and doing things I don’t want to do.

Most embarrassing moment?

Oh god. I’d broken up with a long-term boyfriend SO DON’T JUDGE ME. Drank a lot. A lot. A LOT OF WINE. Didn’t eat too much food. Started fainting onto the ground. Rather than grabbing me, this guy puts his leg between my thighs to stop me falling. Know what happens when you fall unconcious? Pissed on him. Still can’t look at him. Ever. Ever again.

What is your most treasured possession?

My friends and family. Forever.

What is your favourite smell?

Cinnamon

What is your favourite book?

‘Kate’s Story’ by Billy Hopkins. I need to meet/write to this man.

Guiltiest pleasure?

McDonald’s cheeseburger. Always.

Greatest regret?

Not continuing with Ballet or dance in general… 🙁

Most unappealing habit?

Smoking. Swearing. I have a mouth like a sewer. Panicking.

How do you relax?

Tea. With milk, or fruit tea. Reading. Reading, always,

What would your motto be?

Calm the FUCK DOWN. It’s going to happen anyway.

How would you like to be remembered?

Kind. Friendly. Not a f-kin idiot because I’m a blonde who gets her nails done. Intelligent and confident.

What has life taught you?

Learn. Learn. Learn. Nothing is ever ‘it’.