Raul's Blog

Random thoughts longer than 140 characters

Category: Uncategorized


Have you listened to that audio clip that’s been circulating the Internet? Whatever you do, don’t play it more than once. Laurel, Yanni… they are both the same name for the demon that God sent to smash the Tower of Babel. We are talking about some Old Testament evil. Repeating the name over and over summons the demon. This isn’t like the movies, you don’t need pentagrams or a blood sacrifice to summon a demon. All it takes is enough people invoking the demons name.
You’ll know you’ve been cursed by the demon when you hear the names switch.

Yanni becomes Laurel.

Laurel becomes Yanni.

It’s only a matter of time until the curse gets worse. You won’t understand the world around you. You’ll doubt what others say. The words will come out, but the message presented won’t make any sense. Nothing will make sense. But there is hope, chicken car flash windy cabbage. Embarrass pen hour tooth panoramic impress. Convictions helmeted Ontario afternoon tar snapping.

The Future Of UI: The Surface Dial

The Surface Dial

Last week Microsoft introduced a new product, the Surface Dial. It’s a fascinating device that mixes the tactile feel of a a dial with the flexibility of a contextual display. You place the dial on your Surface tablet and get different behaviors depending on what app you open. You can control the volume via the dial when Spotify is open or mix colors while you are in paint.

Why Go Physical?

I was surprised by this announcement. Going physical seems like a step backwards in a world dominated by soft keyboards and touch screens.

So why develop this hockey puck controller in the first place? Here are two theories about the Surface Dial and the future of UI.

Testing User Interfaces For Virtual Reality

The Surface Dial is a stepping stone on the way to a consistent language in VR. It’s a physical representation of what may become a common user interface in virtual reality.

We haven’t really figured out a consistent way to do user interfaces in Virtual Reality. We have devices like the Kinect and Leap motion that can determine hand motions associated with rotating a dial. Hopefully devices like this will give us a controller-less virtual reality experience. The physical Surface Dial can be a way to test a dial based user interface that can transition into a 100% virtual interface. It gives developers the opportunity to work and experiment with this UI today, with the applications users are already familiar with.

A Suite of AR Tools

It was hinted that the Surface Dial is the first of many products in this new category. I imagine a future where these devices are completely independent and used as a way to enrich augmented reality. I could easily see the Dial used as a virtual padlock in a game. Or perhaps the dial could be used to increase the size of a virtual screen. The use cases for the dial are limited to your own imagination. I am willing to bet money that the Surface Dial will become a companion product to the HoloLens as well, and not be isolated to the Surface tablet.

The Future Is Almost Here

The Surface Dial is more than just an expensive hockey puck, it’s a bet on the future from Microsoft. I can’t wait to see what creative use cases Microsoft and third party vendors will use the device for.

The Last Hat

Are Robots Going To Steal My Job?

No, not anytime soon. I propose a new phrase to define a key reason why your job is safe for now. I’d like to introduce you to “The Last Hat.”
Continue reading

Intent and Consequences 

I like understanding why people do the things they do. The 2016 US election is ripe with people who are making a big decision and has piqued my curiosity. I want to talk about something I observed from both parties that I believe contributes to their decision making process. I think many of the opinions about canidates this election season can be derived from one question:

How do you interpret the intentions and consequences of a canidate’s actions?


Intentions say a lot about someone. What was the purpose of their action? What was their goal? I’ve observed that interpreting intention is the first point of contention for many voters this election.

Defining intention seems to be impossible. Canidates do what they can to define their intention, only to be bombarded with alternative narratives from all sides. The narrative voters go with starts to shape their opinion of the candidate. Here’s an experiment! Fill in the blank for these examples:

Trump is withholding his taxes because _____.

Clinton used a private email sever because ______.

Ask this to 5 random people and you’ll probably get 5 different answers.


The next part of the question is crucial. How do you interpret the the consequences of a canidates action? What were the positive and negative results of their actions? Everyone’s interpretation of the results are different. Factor in the unintended consequences and we’ve got enough spin to get a tornando started.

Defining the consequences starts to reveal more and more of the voter’s position. What facts are important to them? Are they even facts in the first place? What do they value and what do they shrug off? You’ll discover a lot about a voter when they articulate what were the results from a canidate’s actions.

Building Bridges

I am all about building bridges between people. I think it will be crucial that we put work into mending relationships in the years to come. Understanding what people think the intention and consequences of a canidate’s action is the first step to any type of real dialog. After we get an answer to the question we can really start separating facts from fictions. We can start finding the positive outcomes instead of trying to concoct a negative outcome for the sake of dragging someone down. Or, we can plant our feet in the ground and refuse to acknowledge fact based evidence. I would prefer that citizens of the US find ways to move forward together as a country, rather than push each other further apart.

© 2021 Raul's Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑