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CSUN Assistive Tech Conference 2018: Second Sight

Allison interviews Duane Tsutsui from Second Sight about their implants that help some blind people “see”. The first device, called Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, provides electrical stimulation to a retinal implant to induce visual perception to blind individuals with severe to profound Retinitis Pigmentosa. The Argus II System is comprised of a miniature video camera housed in the patient’s glasses that captures a scene. The video is sent to a small patient-worn video processing unit where it is processed and transformed into instructions that are sent back to the glasses via a cable. These instructions are transmitted wirelessly to an antenna in the retinal implant. The signals are then sent to the electrode array, which emits small pulses of electricity to the retina. Patients learn to interpret these visual patterns with their retinal implant. Argus II is being used by over 300 patients and is receiving Medicare approval across several states across the U.S.

The second system called Orion Cortical Prosthesis is intended for individuals who do not have functioning eyes or optic nerves but who have had functional vision at some time earlier in life. The Orion System is similar to Argus II except that it bypasses the eye and optic nerve altogether. Instead, it sends electrical pulses to an array implanted directly on the surface of the visual cortex of the brain. Patients learn to interpret these visual patterns with their cortical implant. The Orion System has begun clinical trials with the first cortical implant performed in January 2018.

The setting is CSUN Assistive Technologies Conference in San Diego, CA. Learn more at

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Eiffel Tower

Tech on Travel in France

After a big trip, I generally like to chat a bit about how tech worked out while traveling. I’ve got a few new observations this year.

Project Fi

Google Fi showing 8 73GB usedBack in 2016, Mike Elgan came on the show to talk about tech he uses as a digital nomad. In that episode he told us about a SIM card you can get from Google called Project Fi. I won’t go into all of the gory detail again about how to set this up because I wrote an extensive post on it in March of 2017. The basic idea is that you have to buy a Fi-capable phone (I bought a Nexus 5X for $303 at the time) and then after you use it to initialize the SIM card, you can pop it out and put it in any phone, including an iPhone.

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Fantastic Auto-HDR Mode on Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

It’s easy to get caught up in the rush to buy the newest gadget to replace your old one. The NosillaCast specializes in making you want to do it. When I got the Olympus OM-D E-M10 micro four-thirds camera in 2014, it was a delightful upgrade to my giant DSLR camera. It was light and very small and easy to throw in my bag or even in my purse.

Lately, I’ve been wondering though if I’m ready to graduate to the next model up in the Olympus line of micro four-thirds cameras. Olympus numbers them backward, the top of the line is the E-M1, the middle is the M5 and the beginner is the M10. I originally chose the M10 because it was the smallest and lightest, and compromised on some features because those were my highest priority items. But now I had my eye on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

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Made for iPhone Hearing Aids – by Gretchen Macdowall

This is a product review of the Made for iPhone hearing aid interface. It covers the usability of iPhone integration features but only touches on the particular hearing aid I have, since there are several Made for iPhone hearing aid models.

I’ve had the telltale signs for awhile now – not hearing timers go off, comically misinterpreting words in a conversation, turning up the volume on everything to 10. It was time for hearing aids. In typical geek fashion, I was not concerned about how they would look, but I did care about how they would connect to my phone and my car.

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Security Bits – AMD Bugs (AMD Gets Its Turn in the Spotlight (RyzenFall, MasterKey, Fallout & Chimera) & GrayKey

Spectre/Meltdown Update

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CES 2018: Wonder Workshop Educational Robots for Kids

Allison interviews Bryan Miller from Wonder Workshop about their robots and apps that help kids learn. Bryan describes the educational robots Dash and Cue. Dash teaches children from kindergarten up to 5 to 6 years old how to code to control a small robot using block programming. Wonder Workshop’s latest robot, Cue, takes kids from block programming to JavaScript programming. Cue comes with sensors, motors, accelerometers, gyros and a free iOS or Android app for programming and control. The setting is Pepcom at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. Learn more at

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How to More Quickly Sync a 70,000 Image Apple Photos Library

iCloud Photo Library is a glorious thing. With a few dollars a month, you can have all of your photos swooshing up and down to the cloud, resident on all of your devices. On each device, you can choose whether to keep the originals or to let Apple use their algorithms to optimize your photo library. This optimization means you’ll never run out of space on your iPhone, iPad or your Mac.

If you choose optimized photos, some images will be stored locally in full resolution and some come down on demand when you tap on them. At all times thumbnails are available to be tapped, and as long as you have an Internet connection your vast library is always available to you. Any edits on one device are magically reflected on all other devices. Life is good.

My Photos library is giant by any measure, with more than 70,000 images taking up over 500GB of space. And yet I have access to all of these photos on my iPhone and iPad, which certainly don’t have 500GB of storage. I can even get to all of my photos by logging into It really is a wonderful thing.

Except when it’s not. Continue reading “How to More Quickly Sync a 70,000 Image Apple Photos Library”

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Rings app icon

Rings by Kamil Kucma

Rings app icon

UPDATE: Since I wrote this post (and recorded for the podcast) an update for Rings has appeared which claims to fix the in-app purchase bug and also streamlines some other parts of the app.

I’m not a “gamer” by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like to while away some time playing logic games – usually ones that don’t have a focus on speed or timing.

I recently came across the game Rings, by Kamil Kucma. The premise is very simple. You have a three by three grid of points onto which you place coloured rings. There are three sizes of ring and each spot can accommodate one of each size. So if a spot already has a large and a small ring, you can still place a medium ring there.

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