Lift, Turn, Accelerate…

Team O'NeilI’m confirmed and paid up for the Team O’Neil Rally School 2-Day Advanced Winter Driving Clinic the weekend of February 19th. For the low, low price of just $600 (normally $1,650) I’ll get to toss Chris Brenton’s WRX STi around on the snow-covered rally circuit with a professional instructor sitting shotgun. I won’t be driving the rally car since a back seat is required for passengers.

This will be my third year at Team O’Neil, and the course has saved my ass on more than one occasion. Tim O’Neil’s mantra of Lift, Turn, Accelerate repeats itself over and over again in my head whenever I’m racing or driving in inclement weather.

Video footage is available of both the Novice Winter Driving Clinic and the 2-Day Advanced Winter Driving Clinic.

Model Release Resources and Samples

A month or two ago I was having a discussion with Andrew about model releases and subjects of photographs having federal protection against the use of their likeness in a commercial context. Although I incorrectly insisted that model releases were federally required, technically I was correct about subjects having protection at a federal level.

Taken from Chapter 10 of Dan Heller’s Profitable Photography in the Digital Age:

It should be stated right up front that a model release is not required or mandated by any federal or state laws in the United States. However, as will be discussed thoroughly, individuals have a “right” to choose certain conditions under which someone may use a photo of them, and if those rights are violated, that person could bring a “civil” lawsuit against the photographer and/or others that may be culpable. What those conditions are is where this entire issue gets sticky and is the basis for many barroom brawls.

Even if someone uses a picture of someone else in a way that would require a model release, no one but the subject of the photo can do anything about it. There are exceptions to that, such as movie stars or other celebrities who are under contract with representation who would move lawyers swiftly in your direction, but the important point is: the government isn’t going to hunt you down if you use a photo of someone without their permission.

Sample Model Releases:

iStockPhoto.com

I’ve started uploading random photos from my collection to iStockPhoto.com in hopes of bringing in a steady flow of nickel and dime cash. Am I whoring myself out below market cost? Yes. Would my Father ridicule me? Probably. Is it enough cash to treat my wife to dinner that I otherwise wouldn’t have? You bet!

So check it out and tell me what you think. Heck, why not purchase an image or two? Be your best friend!

I’d love a fake Rolex, just not from you…

I was the only kid in Junior High School with a Rolex. Of course it was purchased from a desperate street vendor in the middle of a torrential downpour in NYC who marked it down from $500 to a bargain $15, but that’s besides the point. With that said, that fake Rolex was the best watch I ever owned. Dead-on accuracy, pimping style, and it outlived my copious collection of Swatch, Timex, and Casio timepieces. The Rolex eventually disappeared, and I’m quite sure where it went; probably tossed away and forgotten in a box or bin somewhere in my Mom’s basement.

Regardless, the recent influx of spam for genuine replica Rolexes piqued my interest, so I started doing Web searches. I’d never purchase from a spammer, but spam routinely tickles my interest to search for a product elsewhere. It was during this exploration of my curiosity that I ran across Replica Center, a Web site that lists and rates fake Rolex suppliers and hobbyists. Not that I’m in the market right now, but it amused me to track down the cheap Chinese knockoff I used to proudly wear as an adolescent.

So, if you’re in the market to pimp out your wrist, ignore the spam; most of them are scammers anyway.

Olympus SmartMedia Card Error: Repairing/Recovering Corrupted Cards

Quite a few months ago my Father gave me a pile of large SmartMedia cards that stopped working in his Olympus digital camera. After a few months of use, each card slowly started reporting CARD ERROR on the camera LCD. I was able to use the cards in various other devices, but they never worked again in Olympus digital cameras.

This weekend while visiting friends in Maryland, I was presented with the same conundrum: yet more SmartMedia cards that had become corrupted and made effectively useless in Olympus digital cameras. After doing some research, I finally ran across Sally and Steve’s SmartMedia Repair Guide. All the information presented on their page is available by scouring various other resources, but it was the first page I ran across that made the modified SMPrep (smprep.exe) binaries available:

The basic gist is that some PC card readers can erase the Olympus low-level header, and running smprep1.exe intentionally breaks the low-level formatting of the card so smprep2.exe is forced to restore the Olympus low-level formatting and Panoramic mode.

The process is time consuming, but has successfully repaired all of the corrupted SmartMedia cards! Looks like I’ll be mailing a pile of SmartMedia cards back to my friend in Maryland!

Marketscore.com truly frightens me…

I noticed quite a few hits on my various domains from proxy servers at Marketscore.com, so I decided to do some digging. According to articles at Wired and Slashdot, Marketscore is a marketing and trends firm that installs tracking software on your machine that basically acts as big brother and watches every single Web site you to go including encrypted sessions.

Marketscore monitors all of your Internet behavior, including both the normal web browsing you perform, and also the activity you may have through secure sessions, such as when filling a shopping basket or filling out an application form that may contain personal financial and health information. Marketscore’s proprietary and patent pending technology allows us to see the details of secure pages while protecting such content from parties other than the site to which you are connected.

And people happily consent to this! Be afraid. Be very afraid.

useradd: invalid user name ‘first.last’

Starting somewhere around the migration from Red Hat Linux 9 to Fedora Core, useradd (adduser) stopped allowing dots in usernames. This was all well and good to fix some of the problems that dots can cause under certain circumstances, but it left some systems administrators high and dry when it came to creating new users where company policy dictated a firstname.lastname username scheme.

For the past few months I’ve been using a quick and dirty hack with no ill effects. Create the user as firstname_lastname, rename their home directory to firstname.lastname, and then run vipw and vigr to modify the password and group files to change all instances of firstname_lastname to firstname.lastname.

It sucks, but it works…