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Next3D CEO David Cole on his first PalmPilot, gadget hell and the Oculus Rift

Billy Steele

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 latest installment of our weekly collection of queries, Next3D CEO David Cole -- also know as the gentleman making 3D TV and movies for the Oculus Rift -- chats up punitive email measures and iPhone dependence. Join us for the full gamut of responses residing on the other side of the break.

Next3D CEO David Cole his first PalmPilot, gadget hell and the Oculus RiftWhat gadget do you depend on most?
My iPhone. The iPhone set the limit-case for acceptable functionality and usability. Once you've used one, anything less than an iPhone is simply not acceptable. It's a go-to tool for so much of my communication that I have no idea how I left the office before I had one.

Which do you look back upon most fondly?
My first PalmPilot. I'd tried Newton and other pen computing products, so a simple pen-driven UI that actually accomplished something was pretty revolutionary.

Which company does the most to push the industry?
Apple (but Red kicks ass in their own space). Apple gets the timing right every time. When everyone else is adding features, they focus on performance and stability. When other companies are busy with maintenance releases or iterative updates, Apple creates a new category of product.

What is your operating system of choice?

What are your favorite gadget names?
TiVo, GhostPro (night vision-modified GoPro) and Red Epic.

What are your least favorite?
Most camera name + model number combinations (e.g., Sony HXR-NX3D1).

Which app do you depend on most?
iPhone Mail (with the app coming in a close second).

What traits do you most deplore in a smartphone?
UI that accepts input when I'm not intending to provide input (e.g., butt-dial proclivity). Short battery life.

Which do you most admire?
Responsiveness and stability. I haven't crashed an iPhone in a good, long while.

What is your idea of the perfect device?
Wow... If I had but one wish... It would have to be a dual-optical-path Red camera for stereoscopic shooting. Stereo is such a kludge at the moment.

"There is a special place in hell for, um... cameras that fail to record in the heat of battle, but work fine on the test bench."

What is your earliest gadget memory?
Playing with a RadioShack 100-in-1 Electronic Kit that my parents purchased for me well earlier than the age recommended on the package. I grew up in a central Florida neighborhood that had several retired Apollo space program engineers and therefore I had world-class tutelage in my early electronics explorations. With a nod to my true inner-geek, I can actually remember my first calculator. It was [an] RPN job with a horrible segment display. I loved it.

What technological advancement do you most admire?
The microprocessor. I'm astounded to this day that they actually work. I'm also incredibly happy to be alive during the era when the planet wired itself together with the internet.

Which do you most despise?
Bloatware operating systems.

What fault are you most tolerant of in a gadget?
Minimal or even missing features. I can live with most beta releases, as long as there is some path to make productive use of the device. I have an electric drill with no reverse... but it's powerful as hell driving forward. I love it.

Which are you most intolerant of?
Inconsistent results. If something is going to fail, it needs to fail reliably. There is a special place in hell for, um... cameras that fail to record in the heat of battle, but work fine on the test bench.

When has your smartphone been of the most help?
My iPhone (Google Maps) Map app got me back to JFK after a Long Island meeting, in time for an impossibly tight flight that I needed to catch.

What device do you covet most?
At the moment, my Oculus Rift VR headmount. I could absolutely gush about the wide field of view and extremely low tracker latency. I'm still blown away with every cool demo. In fact, I'm a Rift demo junky. I can't wait to try new worlds.

If you could change one thing about your phone what would it be?
Battery life. My iPhone 5 isn't quite getting me through the average day.

What does being connected mean to you?
Checking email, at least, every 15 min.

When are you least likely to reply to an email?
When I'm pissed at the sender. I tend to punish with delay. If I'm really pissed, I'll delete the first instance of the message. It's childish, but true.

When did you last disconnect?
Severely disconnect? On a boat touring the Bahamas a few months ago. Had days of no signal and the sat dish tracker was down.

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