Deep learning tool lets you pick your pastiche: Mostly Monet, a dab of Doré and a pinch of Picasso


For years we’ve been skeptical, and rightly so, of the “art filters” you can put on your photos, webcam videos and so on. But Google may have made them relevant again — or at the very least, interesting — by letting you mix and match them in real time using a single specialized neural network.

If you painted your cat in the style of Van Gogh, first of all, congratulations, that’s great. You might call it a “pastiche,” which is a conscious application of an existing style or creator to a new work.

image04Pastiche is difficult because you really have to learn the style of the original artist, and make it recognizable in the new work. Difficult tasks like this are irresistible to artificial intelligence researchers, who deep in their hearts believe there’s nothing a human can do that a computer can’t do better — or at least faster.

Systems have been created for “style transfer,” neural networks trained on big databases of an artist’s work or analyzing a single work in great detail. But it proved to be difficult computationally, as well, requiring lots of number crunching to interpret a single new image in the style of, say, Claude Monet.

The latest work from Google Brain, however, makes style transfer almost trivial to compute, making it possible not just to apply in real time to video, but to mix different styles together.

While normally the neural network would repeatedly recreate the target image (your cat) until it elicited a similar feel to the source image (the painting), the new system moves up a level. Instead of learning the look of a single painting, the new style transfer network learns the style shared by multiple paintings by the same artist.

Several Monet paintings and their effects on several examples - the system keeps track of the underlying similarities.

Several Monet paintings and their effects on several examples — the system keeps track of the underlying similarities.

For Monet, that might mean a certain color palette, or stroke style — that sort of thing. It may not be as specific as making something look just like one work in particular, but it still manages to capture the overall feel.

You may be thinking, wait, don’t I already have this on my phone? And certainly Prisma and other apps create a similar effect. The difference is that those apps use a separate, specialized network for every art style — you select it, the app’s servers do the calculations on the Van Gogh system and spit out the result. In this case, it’s all being done by one super-efficient neural network that knows and can combine dozens of styles based on lower-level features. That may sound academic, but it’s actually a major step forward — a highly generalizable model.

And as you can see in the video, it can be done quickly and mixed together with other styles — though whether impressionist and cubist techniques ought to be blended is another question altogether.

The paper describing the new technique is available to read on Arxiv; hope you like Brad Pitt! He’s in almost every example image.

from TechCrunch

Vine founder says don’t sell your company



Vine founder Rus Yusupov has some advice for the next generation of founders. 

"Don’t sell your company!" he warned on Twitter Thursday after news broke that Twitter would shut down Vine

Don’t sell your company!

— Rus (@rus) October 27, 2016

Yusupov founded Vine, a mobile app that records six-second video loops, in 2012. Twitter bought the app that same year for $30 million. 

While the app developed a unique community of creators that was unlike almost any other on the internet, it drained money and struggled against competitors like Instagram video while under Twitter. 

Rest in peace, Vine.  Read more…

More about Twitter, Vine, and Business

from Mashable!

Apple’s big new Netflix-style TV app is missing Netflix


Apple’s pitch is that the future of TV is apps. Its fancy new home for all those apps has a pretty big hole.

Netflix and Amazon are not a part of Apple’s new TV app, which the company is calling “TV.” The new app is designed to by a one-stop place for consumers to find shows, sports, events and whatever else they want to watch without having to jump between apps. The TV app debuted at Apple’s event on Thursday.

Netflix is the biggest holdout, and a sign that the growing rivalry between Apple and Netflix has become serious enough to create an impasse on Apple’s biggest TV play yet. 

Amazon’s Prime Video service is also becoming a major player in the streaming video world, second to Netflix but growing rapidly

Amazon’s lack of participation is not entirely a surprise, as the company has not yet reached a deal with Apple to have its content on Apple’s streaming TV devices at all.

The lack of Netflix, however, came as something of a surprise considering its app is available on Apple TV already. The two companies had relatively aligned priorities for years, but are starting to become competitors as Apple looks to break into the content space. 

There has also been speculation that Apple could launch its own subscription service either around live TV or a library of content.

Apple’s new TV app is also a play by the company to become the go-to place for people to access content, a role that would give it more power when negotiating with content providers like Netflix and Amazon. 

The running joke that quickly emerged was that Apple had gone ahead and created its own version of Netflix, only without access to Netflix content.

from Mashable!

A deeper look into Twitter’s history



Twitter has been in the headlines lately after a failed deal to sell the company to Salesforce and even rumors of a Disney bid. Get to know the company a little better with "Hidden History."

More about Mashable Video, Video, Twitter, and Social Media

from Mashable!

The Ultimate Guide to Street Photography


Phil Steele is a well-known and respected photography educator. In this video tutorial he walks you through exactly how he works through the post-processing of an event he has just shot.

Learn tips on importing, rating, culling, organizing in Collections, exporting, and delivering the photos as Phil goes through his entire event photography workflow step by step.

If you enjoyed that and want more you can check out Phil’s courses here:

In this extensive article, I will help you understand more about street photography, how to do it, and all the things you need to think about including equipment, ethics, and even legalities. This is the ultimate guide to street photography to help get you started in this genre of photography.



  1. What is street photography?
  2. Ethics and overcoming your fear.
  3. The law and street photography.
  4. A few of the most important tips to get you started.
  5. Equipment.
  6. Camera settings.
  7. Composition and light.
  8. Advanced tips.
  9. Content and concepts of street photography.
  10. Editing.
  11. Master street photographer research.

1 dior 5th avenue nyc


Street photography is an inherently clunky term, and because of this, there are many street photographers that dislike it. They consider themselves photographers, plain and simple.

The first image that typically comes to mind for the term street photography, is an image of a stranger just walking down the street in a city like New York, London, or Tokyo. This is a huge part of street photography of course, but it is only one part, and it can cause confusion over the true meaning of what street photography really is all about, and how it can be done.

Street photography is candid photography of life and human nature. It is a way for us to show our surroundings, and how we as photographers relate to them. We are filtering what we see, to find the moments that intrigue us, and to then share them with others. It’s like daydreaming with a camera.

2 prince and broadway

People do not need to be present for an image to be considered a street photograph. The photograph does not need to be taken in a city, or in a busy market. It can be taken anywhere and can portray nearly anything, as long as it isn’t posed or manipulated. It can be shot at a family barbecue, or in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York City.

While many may consider the term clunky, there is an elegant side to it as well; that I think is often missed. The street is the most public and accessible of places. Street photography is the most public and accessible form of photography. Anyone can do it. You do not need an expensive camera. You do not need a big studio, professional lighting, or beautiful models. We all have the same content out there, and it’s up to us to figure out how to capture that and bring it home.

In addition, while technical quality is always important to every form of photography, it is not celebrated in street photography in quite the same way. A nature or landscape image needs to be sharp. It usually needs to be able to be printed at large sizes with great technical quality. In these genres, you can pick the perfect location, frame it the perfect way, choose the perfect equipment and settings, and continue to come back until you get the perfect lighting.


With street photography, on the other hand, the best image of your life can pop right in front of you on the way to get your morning coffee. This spontaneity is what’s celebrated. That is why grainy images, slightly off-kilter framing a-la Garry Winogrand, or imperfect focus will not always ruin a street photograph. Sometimes they will, and we must aim for technical mastery, but other times they can add to the realness of the moment. Sometimes these deficiencies may actually improve the image.

But these are decisions that can’t be taught. Many of them are spontaneous and instinctive. That is why you can’t buy or read your way into mastery of street photography. You are on the same plane as every other photographer. The only thing standing between you and them is the time spent out there paying your dues, waiting for those intriguing moments to occur, and improving your ability to notice and bring them back with you.


Let’s not sugarcoat this – street photography is an intrusive form of photography, and sometimes it can be creepy to the subjects. Photographing people candidly usually means that you do not have their permission beforehand.

3 smiley face soho

This is something that you will have to come to terms with to do street photography. For every image you capture, no matter how beautiful or interesting, there is the chance that the subject may not like seeing it. Some will, but there are some that will not.

This is the moral cost of doing this type of photography. Most of us do this because we like people, and we like exploring, and capturing culture. The camera is just a way to bring back moments that we see and enjoy. These images have value – both current, and historical value. When you look at images from the 1920s, 1950s, 1970s, or even from fifteen years ago, what are the most interesting images? Usually, it’s the ones that people and culture. These are the photographs that so many find fascinating because there is a lot of cultural value to them.

Fear is one of the toughest obstacles to overcome for beginners, and these moral quandaries can make it even tougher. The main idea to keep in mind is that getting caught does not have to be that bad.

4 shades of red

Think about the first time that a comedian bombs on stage, and how important it is to get that out of the way for the first time so that they no longer have to worry about it. Similarly, it’s an important moment when you speak to someone, after having taken his or her candid photograph for the first time.

Keep in mind that when done right, this will usually happen infrequently. But, you want to be confident, and comfortable in what you will say if someone asks you what you are doing. I will say that I am a photographer who is doing a project capturing the culture and people of New York, and I thought they looked fabulous (flattery is key). If they ask further, I will explain more and tell them that I did not mean to make them uncomfortable and that I’m happy to delete the image if they prefer. Only twice, have I ever had to delete a photograph when the person asked me nicely. Those are pretty good odds.

You do not need to delete the photograph of course; that’s a decision you need to make for yourself. I do this type of photography because I like people, and if they seem truly uncomfortable in the moment, then I have decided to delete the images for their benefit and my conscience.

Joe soho

If someone catches you, own up to it. Do not be combative. Even if it is in your legal right, you do not need to use that as your argument. You don’t need to argue at all. Make sure to keep a smile on your face no matter what.

Stealth is obviously good for street photography, since if every single person noticed you taking their photo, it would just make things immensely time-consuming and difficult. However, keep in mind that the stealthier you try to act, the weirder you can actually look. Sometimes, being obvious and taking photos in a direct way can be the least confrontational strategy. The more obvious you look, the less people will think that you could possibly be doing anything wrong. If so, why be so obvious?

Finally, consider starting somewhere busy, such as at a fair or a market. If you are just learning, go where there are a lot of people, so that you will be less noticeable. This is a great way to get over the initial hump, and as you improve, you can then maneuver to completely different places.


5 police manhattan and brooklyn bridges

Disclaimer: Regarding the law and street photography, do your own research into your local laws, as I am not an expert in this matter. Do not hold me (or dPS) accountable for what is said here, but these are just my own beliefs, based on my research. Do your own due diligence, and get familiar with the laws in your area, or places where you travel.

All countries have different laws, and street photography without permission is illegal in some places. Some make it impossible to do street photography at all, while in other areas photographers may decide to ignore the laws. In some countries, street photographers will continue to take candid images, but only images where the person’s face is unrecognizable.

In the U.S. and U.K., there is no right to privacy in public. This means that you can legally take photographs of anyone in a public place. On private property, that right goes away, but many street photographers choose to ignore that and do not differentiate.

Graffiti selfie

Note: the very definition of that term, public place, may vary from one country to the next – but generally includes things such as’ parks, sidewalks, roads, outdoor common areas of office buildings, and other similar places. Most indoor locations would be considered private spaces such as; shops, churches, schools, and office buildings.

You can use photographs taken in public places for artistic purposes, without the need for a model release. This means you can sell them as fine art prints, or as illustrations for books or cards. However, you cannot use these images for commercial or advertising purposes without a model release of any person in the image. You cannot use the image to promote a product, and you cannot use it in any way that may insinuate something against the person that is untrue.

Legal rights aside, it can also be smart to research an area that you are traveling to so that you can find out what practicing street photography is like there. In some places, it is much easier to do this type of photography, while in others people may be much more confrontational. One of the reasons that New York is a great mecca for street photography is because the people are very used to seeing cameras.

6 canal street

You also want to assess people before you decide to take a photograph of them. It’s usually not worth it to photograph anyone who looks very angry, or who might have some mental disability. Use your judgment, and if your gut says no, then wait for the next one. There are a lot of opportunities out there.


We will cover more technical concepts regarding street photography later on, but I want to start you off with a few of the most important tips to consider when you walk out the door. These are the ones that I think can help you out the most.

The best tip I can possibly give you is to find a good spot and just wait there. If you only shoot while you are walking, you will come across many wonderful locations, but will only give yourself a brief moment to capture the right image there. Instead, find the right location, and then just wait for the right moment to happen. By hanging out in one area, you will be able to funnel more of your attention towards observing, and your coordination with your camera will be faster. Finally, people will be entering your personal space instead of you entering their space. It makes a big difference to capturing good shots, in a way that is comfortable for both parties.

7 pushups rucker park

The next very simple tip refers to the camera snap, which is something that most photographers do instinctually. Try it, and take a photo. The second you take a photograph; you will likely immediately move the camera away from your eye slightly. This is what tips off people, to the fact that you have taken their photo. Instead, after you capture an image, hold the camera there until the subject leaves your scene. It will lead the person to think that you were just photographing the background and that they were in the way, or will confuse them enough to leave you alone.

Next, consider photographing within your everyday life, near where you live. It’s a common misconception to think that you can only do street photography well in the most interesting of areas, or that you will get better photographs if you travel to New York. That is not true. The best photographers can take good images anywhere, and it doesn’t have to be a highly populated area for you to be able to take interesting images. In fact, it may give you an advantage, because you do not have as much competition.

I want to take this point further and have you try an exercise. Think about the least interesting areas, near where you live to photograph. Go there and force yourself to figure out how to take good photographs.


8 yosemite soho

You can do street photography well, with really any type of camera. You can do it with an SLR and a long zoom lens, and you can do it well with a camera phone.

However, different equipment will have different advantages. A zoom lens will give you more obvious opportunities at different distances but will be heavier, more noticeable, and more cumbersome. A prime lens will constrict you to images at a specific distance from the camera, but will also be light, freeing, and fun to use.

Traveling light will give you a lot more flexibility. Mirrorless, micro four thirds cameras, or even a camera phone, will allow you to take images more easily, in places where a large camera would stand out too much. They are lighter and thus more fun to shoot with, which will allow you to enjoy photography in situations where you normally wouldn’t take your SLR.

Prime lenses, while constricting you to a specific focal length, will actually give you a big advantage. You will begin to see the world more intuitively with that focal length, and while the limitation will stop you from being able to capture certain shots, you will become even better at capturing images within the constraints of that focal length. Because of this, you will become quicker, and more spontaneous with your camera.


9 sample sale

Many photographers shoot in completely different ways for street photography. There is no correct way, but there are some factors to consider. Also, if you have photographed in the same manner for a long time, I would consider being open to trying other ways of shooting to get out of your comfort zone. It can be good to switch things up every once in awhile.

Some photographers choose to have a lot of bokeh in all of their images. This is a fine way to shoot, but you also have to consider that in the fast moving genre of candid photography, if you are photographing at f/2.8 and you miss the focus slightly, you will probably ruin the shot. It will be tougher to capture images with multiple subjects at different depths shooting wide opened. By choosing to blur the surroundings; you will also remove some of the context and background from the image, which can take away some of the meaning or storytelling.

For these reasons, I usually try to shoot with as much depth of field as possible. I find that with the variety of situations that you can come across suddenly in street photography, this strategy allows you to succeed more often than not.

10 bike messenger

It is important to pay strict attention to your shutter speed, much more than you would for genres of photography where your subject is not moving. You need a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of people. I prefer to use 1/250th in the shade and 1/400 or 1/500th in direct sunlight. In darker situations, I will go to 1/160th and sometimes 1/125th.

Now imagine that you are trying to squeeze as much depth of field as possible out of your camera. What is the ideal way to set up your camera to achieve this? The first thing to do is to set your ISO. You should not be afraid to raise your ISO up to high numbers. Grain (or noise if you prefer) is good here. Test your camera out to see how it looks at high ISOs, not just on the monitor, but in different sized prints. With newer cameras, you can easily go to ISO 1600, 3200, and for some even 6400.

With a digital camera on the more advanced of the spectrum (e.g. the Fuji X100 line), I will typically set my camera at ISO 400 in sunlight, 800 in light shade, 1600 in dark shade, 3200 at dusk, and 6400 at night. With entry-level digital cameras, I would probably cut a stop out of that, so 3200 at night, 1600 at dusk, and so on.

11 canal street

The reason for a higher ISO is that it will allow you to have both a fast shutter speed to freeze motion and a smaller (higher numbered like f/8 or f/11) aperture, so that there is as much depth of field as possible in the image.

Finally, I will set my camera to shutter priority mode. You can shoot manual, but I prefer shutter priority because you will often be shooting into the sun one moment, and away from it the next, so the necessary settings will be completely different. I prefer not to have to change my settings every time I turn my body. In consistent lighting situations, indoors, or at night, I will go to manual mode, and for the photos where I want a very shallow depth of field, I will shoot on aperture priority at a low number (like f/2.8), and choose a much lower ISO.


12 blonde soho

Composition for street photography works the same way that it does for every other genre, but there are a few things that I want you to consider. Compose your street photographs the same way that you would compose your landscape images. Assess the scene and arrange all of the elements together. Instead of a tree here and a mountain there, you might place a fire hydrant here and a ladder there. Every element counts just as much as they do in a traditional landscape, no matter what it is, and the best street photographers have a way of bringing everything together in just the right way.

Sometimes, the subject alone is all that counts, and you will want to frame it, or blur the background away, forgetting about everything else. But that’s only sometimes. A lot of photographers will shoot this way 100% of the time, especially when first starting out, but that’s a mistake. Try to see beyond the main subject, and see if you can combine it with other elements to create a more complex scene. Can you create relationships between subjects to add new meaning to an image? Whether or not you decide to make the surroundings prominent, you always need to be aware of them. I would prefer that you intentionally decide to not include elements of the background, rather than to not notice them at all.

Construction workers

You always want to keep an eye out for your main light sources. How does the light hit your subject, and where is it located in relationship to that subject? How is it hitting the background? What color is the light, and are there multiple light sources? These are ideas that you will usually pay attention to for every type of photography, but it is important to understand for street photography that there is no best time or lighting. The harsh midday light will be just as beautiful and interesting as the warm, even dawn or dusk light. Since you are at the whim of your environment, it is very important to be able to see and maneuver yourself to get the most out of the light in any location. The beauty of street photography, though, is that it will teach you how to work with light very quickly.

Some photographers will use a portable flash to illuminate their subjects and separate them from the background. This can create a great look, but also keep in mind that flashing a stranger in the face can be very confrontational. Also, when the flash is too strong, it can take away from the feeling of reality in the photograph, which is a look that some photographers desire, so it is a decision you will have to make. A surreal look might be something that you are going for, and in that case, a flash could be a big asset.


13 youth soho

Facial expressions and gestures

When capturing images of people, photographing them just walking down the street, or standing in place, is not enough. To take your image to the next level, that person needs to have a strong facial expression or gesture in their body.

As humans, we feel what another person is feeling, through their facial expressions. When you’re out shooting, one of the first things you should be doing is paying attention to people’s eyes and the expressions they show. Similarly, you can see subtle cues from a person’s body, so keep an eye out for how a person may be expressing themselves through their body, hands, legs, and feet.

The beauty of street photography is often in its imperfections. You do not need to try and make a photograph perfect in every way. Strong grain (or digital noise), an image that is slightly askew, an element that is slightly in the way, or imperfect lighting, are all examples of what can make an image feel real. While any of these things have the ability to ruin a photo, sometimes they can get in the way just enough to make it feel like a natural moment. So while you should always aim for technical mastery, realize that imperfections can be beneficial, and even necessary.

14 selfie soho

Zone Focusing

Zone focusing is simple to learn, fairly difficult to master, and agonizing to explain in writing (it’s much easier to just show someone how to do it). Basically, zone focusing is the strategy of turning your autofocus off and using manual focus. When done well, it can allow you to capture consistently sharper images in a variety of situations.

The goal is to pre-focus your camera to a certain distance. I typically choose between eight and 10 feet away, which is the most common distance where I like to capture my subjects. Then, when subjects enter the range that you are pre-focused for, you can click the shutter without having to waste any time focusing. The fraction of a second that it will save, and the added freedom this allows, will take you a long way.

I usually only zone focus at 35mm and wider, although sometimes I will do it up to 50mm on bright days. The reason for this is because the further you zoom in, the more accurate you have to be with your focus to get your subject sharp. It becomes very difficult to zone focus over 50mm.

Jerry delakas astor newsman

Zone focusing is very easy to screw up at first. If you do not gauge the distance correctly, you can easily miss the focus entirely. It is much easier to start off in bright sunlight, because with a 35mm or wider focal length, and an aperture of f/11 to f/16, there will be a huge depth of field. So if you miss the focus by a bit, your important subjects will still be sharp.

You can, and should learn to zone focus in darker situations, and at apertures up to f/2. It’s much more difficult, though, so take your time getting there, but it’s very possible and it just takes practice. When zone focusing at shallower apertures, you can even learn to move the focus ring without looking, so if you are focused at 10 feet and a subject appears five feet away, you can move the focus instinctively to that distance without even looking (this is how sports shooters did it before autofocus existed). This is the pinnacle of skill with zone focusing and takes a lot of practice, but it is very possible to learn to do well.


15 cellphones

The toughest step in all of this is to figure out what it is that you actually want to capture and create. What do you want your photographs to be of, and what do you want them to look like?

If you look at the works of any great street photographer who has done it for long enough, there will be many consistencies in their work. Maybe these consistencies last throughout their entire lifetime, or maybe it changes in different bodies of work, but they are there and should be studied to help you find your own.

The longer you shoot, the more you will begin to understand what you are drawn to. You will begin to see types of photographs that you are attracted to, and you will begin to seek them out when you are photographing. Think about what you are trying to portray with your photography. Occasionally, you will have big ideas right away, but often it will take a lot of time for these ideas to grow and develop naturally.

Sequencing is also important to many photographers. While it is not a necessary aspect of street photography, it is a way to place unrelated images together, to create a larger narrative. This is why the book has become, in my opinion, the best way to show street photography. Each image takes on even more importance and meaning when surrounding by other photos. There is a lot of power in how you decide to display your work.


16 soaring eagle grand central

Editing is half of the battle for becoming a good street photographer. When you are out photographing, it is best to be spontaneous and to get lost in the moment, but editing is when you begin to really think about your work in a larger setting. It is where you can explore themes and ideas as they start to pop up in your photography. It is when you can combine similar images to create a larger story. It is where you can develop a style in both look and content. Because of all of this, the time that you put in editing will then help you when you are out shooting. You will notice more because you will have a better idea of what you are looking for, and this will make you a much better photographer.

Consider using Lightroom’s star rating and collection system to organize your best work, and to put photographs with similar themes together. Find consistencies in your work, and images that play well off each other, and create collections for them. Constantly tinker, add, remove photos, and change the order in these collections.

Technically, when editing your work it is important to consider how vital realism is to the genre. Yes, many photographers celebrate the surreal and the extraordinary moment, but they do this only if those moments actually happened. Street photography obsesses over realism, and a made up moment is not a true street photograph. Similarly, an image that is over-edited, so as to make it look fake, will kill the spirit of street photography. The image does not have to be perfect. You do not have to have every detail in the shadows and highlights. While you should do enough post-production to make it look right, always take a step back and consider whether or not you’ve overcooked it.


17 bubble soho

The final step is to research the work of other street photographers. This is something that you should start from the very beginning to gain inspiration and to understand more about what you are capable of achieving in this genre. Consider the work of photographers who shoot in a variety of locations, including big city, rural, and suburban. Purchase books on a consistent basis, as learning from the book format is still very important. There are many affordable street photography books, to go alongside the expensive ones.

Take special notice to the street photographers whose work you do not like at first. Many people will immediately disregard a photographer at first glance, without delving deeper. The issue with street photographs is that they are often different and weird, and it can be impossible to truly get a sense of what a photographer is trying to portray by seeing just a few photographs. Read about the history and location of the photographer, look through as much of their portfolio as you can, and then try to figure out what they were trying to say. Sometimes you will find yourself with a completely new appreciation for the photographer, and see things in their work that went right over your head with your first look.

18 mona 5th

Here is a list of photographers to start off with for your research. It is not an exhaustive list, but it will help get you going:

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • Garry Winogrand
  • Robert Frank
  • Helen Levitt
  • Lee Friedlander
  • William Eggleston
  • Walker Evans
  • Daid? Moriyama
  • Martin Parr
  • Elliot Erwitt
  • Joel Meyerowitz
  • Mary Ellen Mark
  • Bruce Davidson
  • Saul Leiter
  • Trent Parke
  • Alex Webb
  • Vivian Maier
  • Bruce Gilden

19 polka dots and pink shoes

I hope this ultimate guide to street photography has answered some of your questions about this genre of the craft. If you have any others that haven’t been answered or have some comments to add, please do so below.

Now go out and photograph as frequently as possible, and have fun with it.

The post The Ultimate Guide to Street Photography by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School.

from Digital Photography School

Can’t Find Two Trees to String Up Your Hammock? Just Use Your Car


What’s the point of going camping if at some point you don’t get to lazily lounge around in a hammock? It’s an essential part of escaping to the great outdoors. But what if you can’t find two suitable trees to hang your hammock? As long as you brought your car along, you’ve got a backup.

The Roadie Car Stand, from Eagle Nest Outfitters, is actually a pair of vertical supports held in place by the weight of your vehicle. You simply place each one in front of the tires on one side of your car, and then drive it forward so that the tires are resting on each base.

Assuming you’re not driving a tiny smart car, the Roadie Car Stand supports should be far enough apart to string up a hammock, and they’re angled away from the vehicle so you can swing back and forth without hitting its doors. At $200 it’s a pricey solution to a first world problem, and you’ll want to make sure you pack all your camping gear on the other side of your car so it’s still accessible when someone is lounging.

[Eagles Nest Outfitters via GearJunkie]

from Gizmodo

BrainCheck raises $3 million for app to monitor brain health


A Houston-based startup called BrainCheck has raised $3 million in seed funding for an app that helps users understand if they, or a loved one, may have suffered a concussion by simply playing some games on an iPad.

Founded in 2014 by Dr. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, BrainCheck adapts commonly accepted assessments that neuropsychologists and neurologists administer to patients, offline, to an interactive format.

If concussion sounds like a health problem limited to pro-football players, it is not said Eagleman, and BrainCheck CEO Yael Katz, who has a PhD in biological informatics herself.

There are 1.6 million to 3.8 million sport-related concussions, also known as mild traumatic brain injuries, in the U.S. every year that are sports-related, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And older adults suffer from a high rate of concussions due to falls, as well.

In 2009, Washington state became the first state to attempt to stem this public health epidemic with its Zackery Lystedt Law, requiring policies for the “management of head injury in youth sports.”

Since then, the issue has gotten more notice thanks to a PBS Frontline documentary in 2013, League of Denial, and a Hollywood film called Concussion last year, starring Will Smith.

Now, the President’s 2017 budget proposal requests $5 million for the CDC to establish and run a concussion surveillance system which would allow the organization to more precisely grasp how mildly traumatic brain injuries are effecting the U.S. population, including kids and adult recreational athletes.

Data gathered by BrainCheck could contribute to such studies and our collective understanding about neurocognitive health, the founders said.

While BrainCheck has seen early traction in the U.S. among athletic trainers and families whose kids participate in sports the company is seeking to expand internationally and beyond concussion monitoring.

Specifically, BrainCheck is developing features and functionality to assess older users at risk of dementia.

There are 46.8 million people suffering with dementia worldwide, today according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. “This is projected to double over 20 years,” Yael said, reaching 74.7 million by 2030. Dementia assessments will be accessible through BrainCheck as of January 2017, she said.

Featured Image: Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock

from TechCrunch

How to Use Nessus To Scan a Network for Vulnerabilities



When it comes to network security, most of the tools to test your network are pretty complex. Nessus isn’t new, but it definitely bucks this trend. It’s incredibly easy to use, works quickly, and can give you a quick rundown of your network’s security at the click of a button.

This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Sometimes evil is justified, and other times, knowing evil means knowing how to beat it. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.

If someone wanted to hack your local network, the first thing they’d do is run a vulnerability scan, then they’d run a penetration test. A vulnerability scan digs through the various devices on your network and looks for potential holes, like open ports, outdated software with known vulnerabilities, or default passwords on devices. If they find anything, a hacker would test those vulnerabilities, then find a way to exploit them. Testing these vulnerabilities is a two-step process because a scan just reveals the possibility of problems, a penetration test verifies that the problem is actually exploitable.

Nessus is commercial software made to scan for vulnerabilities, but the free home version offers plenty of tools to help explore and shore up your home network. It also point you to a variety of different tools to then penetration test a network if you want to learn more. Here’s how to use it.

Step One: Download and Install Nessus

In order to download Nessus, you’ll first need to sign up for an online account so you can download the software and get an activation code.

  1. Head to the Nessus Home landing page, enter a name and email address, and then click the Register button. You’ll want to use a real email address here because Nessus sends you an activation code that you’ll need in a step later.
  2. Click the Download button, then download Nessus for your operating system. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  3. Once the download is complete, run the installer package and follow the on-screen instructions to finish installation.

Nessus creates a local server on your computer and runs from there, so don’t be surprised that the installation process is a little different than you’re used to.

Step Two: Set Up Your Nessus Account and Activation Code

Once Nessus is installed, point your web browser to: https://localhost:8834/ This is where we’ll complete the signup process and activate your copy of Nessus.

  1. When you launch Nessus for the first time, you get a “Your connection is not secure” warning from your browser. Click “Advanced” and then “Proceed to localhost” to bypass this warning.
  2. Create an account on the Account Setup screen, leave the Registration as “Home, Professional, or Manager,” and then enter the Activation Code from your email. Click “Continue.”

Next, Nessus will download a number of tools and plugins so it can properly scan your network with updated utilities. This can take a few minutes, so grab a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable.

Step Three: Start a Vulnerability Scan

It’s time to actually test your network. This is the fun part. Nessus can actually scan for quite a few different problems, but most of us will be content using the Basic Network Scan because it offers a good overview.

  1. Click the “New Scan.”
  2. Click “Basic Network Scan.”
  3. Name your scan and add a description.
  4. In the “Targets” field, you’ll want to enter IP scanning details about your home network. For example, if your router is at, you’d want to enter This will make it so Nessus scans all the devices on your network (unless you have a ton of devices this is probably as high as you’d need to go). If you’re not sure about the local IP address for your router, here’s how to find it.
  5. Click “Save.”
  6. On the next screen, click the Play icon to launch the scan.

Depending on what and how many devices you have on your network, the scan takes a while, so sit back and relax while Nessus does its work.

Aside from the Basic Network Scan, you can also run an Advanced Scan that includes more parameters to narrow your search, a Badlock Detection scan, which hunts down a security issue with SAMBA, a Shellshock scan that looks for vulnerabilities in old Linux or Mac machines, a DROWN scan that looks for computers hosting sites susceptible to DROWN attacks, and a few other more acute scans. Most of these issues will also get picked up with the Basic Network Scan, but if you’re doing anything beyond just maintaining a normal home network, like running a private server that’s exposed to the Internet, then you’ll want to double-check that everything is up-to-date using the more specific scanning modes. The rest of us will be fine with the Basic Network Scan.

Step Four: Make Sense of the Results


Once Nessus finishes, you’ll see a bunch of color-coded graphs for each device (referred to as hosts) on your network. Each color of the graph signifies the danger of a vulnerability, from low to critical.

Your results should include all the devices on your local network, from your router to your Wi-Fi-enabled printer. Click the graph to reveal more information about the vulnerabilities on each device. Vulnerabilities are listed as “plugins,” which is just Nessus’ way of discovering vulnerabilities. Click on any plugin to get more information about the vulnerability, including white papers, press releases, or patch notes for potential fixes. You can also click the Vulnerabilities tab to see an overview of all the potential vulnerabilities on the network as a whole.

Take a second to click the link on each vulnerability, then read up on how a hacker could exploit it. For example, I have an old Apple TV with an ancient firmware installed because it’s never used. Nessus found it and marked it as a “High” priority vulnerability, then links to Apple’s own security update page for more information. This lets me know that a hacker can exploit the Apple TV’s firmware by setting up a fake access point. The vulnerability page also helpfully lists exactly what software one would need to penetration test and hack that vulnerability. For example, Nessus lists Metasploit as the toolkit needed to exploit this weak point and with that knowledge, you can search Google for instructions on how to take advantage of the vulnerability.

There’s a chance some of these vulnerabilities will be a bit obvious. For example, Nessus picks up on any device still using a default password or points out when a computer or device is running an outdated firmware. Most of the time though, you probably won’t understand what the heck you’re looking at with these results.

Step Five: What to Do Next

Nessus gives you all this data, but what exactly are you supposed to do with it? That depends on which vulnerabilities Nessus finds.

After your scan is complete, click the Remediations tab. Here, you’ll find the biggest potential security holes in your network. In my case, alongside that Apple TV, this includes an ancient version of Adobe AIR installed on my laptop, an old version of Firefox, a Raspberry Pi running an old version of Apache, and a few others. All of these issues are easily remedied by either updating or deleting old software. You might think you’re vigilant about updating your software, but so do I, and yet I still had plenty of weird old software I never use sitting around creating potential access points for a hacker. You mileage will of course vary here, but regardless of your results, Nessus provides the information you need to close any holes.

While all this might sound a little scary, it’s worth noting that while Nessus gives you a lot of the potential ways into a network, it’s not a foolproof guide. On top of needing to be in your network in the first place (which of course, isn’t terribly complicated), they’d also need to know how to actually use the variety of the exploitation tools Nessus suggests.

While the exploit on my Apple TV could potentially grant someone access to the device, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be able to do anything once they’re there. Regardless, as an end-user who’s simply trying to shore up a network, Nessus is a great starting point for finding the most obvious vulnerabilities that could make you an easy target, or to just explore your home network. With very limited searching on Google, Nessus will lead you to tons of different hacking tools and a wide variety of software, so dig in and learn as much as you can.

from Lifehacker

Cruel restaurant’s Wi-Fi password is the answer to this ridiculous math question


Some things in this world should be hassle free, and Wi-Fi is one of them. 

YaYa’s Thai restaurant located in San Antonio, Texas, created a brilliant way to make sure that nobody camped out at their restaurant for free Wi-Fi, but still gave its customers the ability to log on to their network. If they’re a super math nerd, that is.

Redditor Joshua_Glock submitted a photo of a sign at the restaurant to Reddit, asking the site’s math nerds for help decoding the ridiculous-looking equation.

We’re not even going to attempt to figure out the equation, but a few Redditors think they may have found the answer.

After all that the password is probably just “password.”

Bonus: Harry Potter with hamsters 

from Mashable!