Every week, a new and interesting human being tackles our decidedly geeky take on the Proustian Q&A. This is the Engadget Questionnaire.
In the return edition of our regular session of inquiry, Moog Music product manager Amos Gaynes discusses sound synthesis, tolerance for poor battery life and shares his love for BB10. For the entire collection of answers, take a quick leap to the other side of the break.
What gadget do you depend on most?
On a daily basis, probably the (mid-2010) MacBook Pro on which I'm replying to this question.
Which do you look back upon most fondly?
My parents bought a beige Apple //e computer when I was about 5 or 6 years old; I played my first games and learned to program in BASIC on that machine.
Which company does the most to push the industry?
It's hard to say. In a broad sense I'd say that all of the companies making evermore powerful, lower-powered processors and microcontrollers are really enabling the rest of the gadget industry to expand and innovate. Names like Silicon Labs, Atmel and Cypress may not be as well-known as Intel or AMD, let alone Apple or Microsoft, but the competitions and collaborations between companies like these create a fertile climate for innovation.
What is your operating system of choice?
I spend about half my workday on Windows 7 and half on OS X; my playtime is about 50/50 between these two as well. I genuinely like unique aspects of both, and harbor specific grudges against both. I've always home-built PCs due to the price/performance ratio. I'm a fan of open OS distribution in the abstract, but never tried running a Linux box at home because I've always relied on Windows audio software and / or hardware in my home studio.
"I like the modern trend of simple real words, like Ableton Push or Google Glass. I think this is a better direction to look in for gadget names."
What are your favorite gadget names?
I like the modern trend of simple real words, like Ableton Push or Google Glass. I think this is a better direction to look in for gadget names, rather than the clumsy portmanteau words or meaningless neologisms we've had so many of in the last couple of decades.
What are your least favorite?
ThinkPad would definitely fall into the category of clumsy portmanteau words; I've always thought that name was awkward.
Which app do you depend on most?
Definitely e-readers... Stanza on iOS and MobiPocket Reader on my BlackBerry both get a lot of use.
What traits do you most deplore in a smartphone?
Autocorrect. I'd rather have an "autosuggest" where the default action was to assume I meant what I typed, and I'd have to go out of my way to accept the suggested "spelling."
Which do you most admire?
I'm just old enough, I guess, that really accurate voice-activated search still seems pretty fantastic to me. When it works.
What is your idea of the perfect device?
I think the perfect device would be one that embodied its function intuitively, so that its operation was self-evident. Barring that, it at least should never fight or contradict a reasonable user's attempts to figure it out.
What is your earliest gadget memory?
Probably the 1970s Hewlett-Packard programmable calculator at my grandfather's house. It had something like a vacuum fluorescent display and a slot for reading strips of magnetic tape that you fed through by hand.
What technological advancement do you most admire?
Tough call. I like electricity, and written language is really good. So are general-purpose computing, amplified sound and, of course, sound synthesis.
Which do you most despise?
What fault are you most tolerant of in a gadget?
Low battery life -- I don't mind being plugged in most of the time.
Which are you most intolerant of?
User-surliness; not letting me change a setting that I know exists.
When has your smartphone been of the most help?
Real-time mapping while walking in unfamiliar cities is awesome.
"I'm only 100 percent disconnected for a couple of weeks out of the year, when I go off the grid for transformational arts festivals deep in the mountains of western North Carolina."
What device do you covet most?
As a developer, I've spent some time with a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha, and I really want one for myself now.
If you could change one thing about your phone what would it be?
Aside from changing it to a BB10 :) if I could change anything, I'd probably move away from the handheld design altogether and more towards a wearable / heads-up display. I've always been a cyberpunk at heart so naturally I like that evolution.
What does being connected mean to you?
Constant access to "the Oracle" -- answers to questions from the trivial to the arcane, always on tap. Idle wondering is now obsolete (or the domain of the terminally incurious).
When are you least likely to reply to an email?
I used to email from my phone a lot, but I found that my quality of life improved when I imposed at least that small limitation, to do email only on a laptop or larger machine. So for now anyway, if I'm out on foot or away from a computer, I actually won't be replying to that email until later. I'm still guilty of too much business email on the weekends.
When did you last disconnect?
I'm pretty constantly online, usually in multiple ways simultaneously. All of my home media is interconnected; all the devices are on the network and the TV is just a video switcher in between them. There were a few years in the '90s where I maintained a 24/7 dial-up internet connection on my home phone line, which was relatively uncommon at the time. I'm only 100 percent disconnected for a couple of weeks out of the year, when I go off the grid for transformational arts festivals deep in the mountains of western North Carolina.