Interview with David McClelland – Tech Broadcaster & Journalist

David McClelland, a well known tech broadcaster and journalist talks to TeckComesFirst about where his passion for tech came from, his thoughts on Windows Phone, his advice to new journalists and more.

 

 

 

 

 

1)   Can you introduce yourself and say what you exactly do day to day?

I secretly dread being asked what I do, so tend to say something glib along the lines of how I talk about, write about and do things with technology – I think that covers a multitude of sins. I’ve worked as a consultant technologist since the late ‘90s for the likes of IBM, DELL and Reuters, but I balance that now with work as a journalist and broadcaster. I’m a Consulting Editor at Computing where I host or speak at many of its IT industry seminars and summits; I also write about consumer technology for titles including Computer Weekly, CNET and Wired. On television I’m a technology expert for BBC One’s consumer affairs show Rip Off Britain, the regular guest gadget guy on Challenge TV’s Planet of the Apps and I pop up as an industry commentator on Channel 4 News, CNN and Bloomberg. Online I host Fast Forward, a monthly show about future technology for O2 Guru TV.

2)   Where did your passion for technology stem from?

I think I can trace my passion for technology back to my 6th birthday when my parents bought me my first computer, a BBC Micro model B. Growing up in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s science fiction was king and home computers weren’t all that commonplace. Getting a computer for my birthday felt like owning a slice of the future – and in many ways for me that’s exactly what it turned out to be. Back then there was no internet and relatively few places to buy games. Instead, me and my friends would painstakingly type in pages and pages of BASIC games from the back pages of magazines such as BBC Micro User or, when we got bored of those, write our own. That, and of course Tomorrow’s World on BBC One every Thursday. Man, they need to bring that back.

3)   What’s your daily driver (phone and tablet) and what are your thoughts on them?

I’m carrying three phones around with me at the moment: an Apple iPhone 5, a Samsung Galaxy Note II and a Blackberry Q10. My iPhone is my main handset with the majority of the apps I use for work, play and particularly for being creative. iPhoneography and iFilmography are subjects I particularly enjoy writing about and I presented a popular show called Smartphone Creativity for the Gadget Show Live earlier this year. For me, iPhone still beats Android hands down in terms of camera accessories, but the app-gap is shrinking and it’s great to see a growing Androidography community now too.

4)   What’s your preferred computer operating system and why?

I jumped out of Windows about 4 years ago and made the switch to Mac. On the whole I’ve found the cliché to be true: stuff just works. What’s more, it just carries on working – I can’t imagine a Windows system as heavily used as mine lasting 4 years without needing an OS reinstallation, let alone hardware upgrades and so on, in order to remain as reliable and performant.

5)   What’s one feature that you’d like to see in your ideal smartphone?

I’m waiting for user input on smartphones and tablets to go beyond the simple touchscreen and to embrace near-field gestures. Samsung went a little way towards this with Air Gesture on the Galaxy S4 but I think there’s still a long way to go. In truth Kinect and Leap Motion have yet to take desktops and living rooms by storm, but I’ve a hunch that when integrated into mobile devices this technology will be an enabler for an exciting next generation of user interfaces.

6)   Windows Phone has had a bad rep due to not a great selection of apps and this has caused many consumers to sway away from it, what are your thoughts if you’ve tried it?

One of my first smartphones was the terrific Treo 750v running Windows Mobile. Although it was widely maligned I was actually rather fond of Microsoft’s earlier smartphone OS, particularly in the face of the poor competition elsewhere at the time. Of course, Apple changed all that with iPhone OS. I think Nokia’s Windows handsets are, in their own right, great devices. The Windows Phone user experience is intuitive and aesthetic, and the Nokia hardware is solid, stylish and bold. Nokia successfully treads the line in making its handsets stand out without sending them way out there. The PureView camera technology in its flagship handsets is one of Nokia’s key differentiators. In my hands-on with the Nokia Lumia 925 I was very very impressed with the camera, particularly its low light capability, which surpassed anything I’d seen before on a smartphone. But as good as Nokia’s Windows Phone handsets may be in isolation they’re currently no match for the integrated hardware, software and app ecosystems of Apple and Google (along with Motorola its partners such as LG and ASUS). Nokia’s PureView cameras are great, but they’re not that much better than the cameras sported by corresponding iOS and Android devices, particularly when factoring in the number of terrific photo processing apps that are also available for those platforms.

7)   What will the next paradigm shift be in technology?

I worked on a film for O2 Fast Forward earlier this year in which I investigated the potential of 3D printing. Mind blown. You can see it for yourself if you visit places like the iMakr Store in London, the world’s largest 3D printer store – from the showroom upstairs to the hands-on lab downstairs, the store has become a creative hub for the 3D printing community. MakerBot is one of the companies attempting to consumerise 3D printing. Alongside its range of 3D printers MakerBot has also just started shipping a consumer 3D scanner called the Digitizer, making 3D ‘photocopying’ both real and affordable. Combine availability of technologies such as these with the growth of online 3D model stores, from which you can download and print 3D objects such as mobile phone cases or spare parts for household appliances, and the huge potential for 3D printing begins to becomes clear.

8)   What would be one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring tech journalists?

Just a single piece of advice? Write. Lots. If you don’t have a blog then start one. Be brave, don’t be afraid to express opinions. Use social media to get your stuff out there, and remember that Twitter is a great place to learn from and socialise with other people in the industry.

9)   Aside from tech, what are your main hobbies?

Family and freelance life means that hobby time is at a premium. I do enjoy playing and watching tennis and football, and I’m still pretty handy with a guitar too.

10)   What made you get into pantomime?

Damn, are there no secrets on the internet? Despite my background in tech, I actually trained as a professional actor. I spent 3 years studying at drama school in Guildford and then the next 10 years working all hours to pay back the fees. It might sound like an odd mix but I found that acting jobs worked very well alongside IT contracts and writing. Back in the day I appeared in the West End and on Number 1 tours, did more Shakespeare than you can shake a speare at, and even travelled to Dubai to appear in the Middle East premiere of Blood Brothers. That was all many years ago; acting is a precarious profession and touring around the country for months at a time is no fun when you’ve a young family at home. However, I do still make an exception to direct or appear in pantomime every Christmas. I’ve worked on professional panto pretty much every year since the ‘90s and it has become part of what Christmas is about for our family. Last year I directed Peter Pan starring Nikki Sanderson from Hollyoaks and Joe Chambers from CBeebies, also appearing myself as Captain Hook. This year I’m appearing in Beauty and the Beast at The Cresset Theatre Peterborough (as The Beast, before you ask) alongside Ricky Groves from EastEnders. I should add, I’m far from the only tech/thesp on the scene, David Phelan successfully combines writing about technology for Time Out, The Independent and The Telegraph with numerous roles in TV dramas.

11)  What is your biggest regret and accomplishment?

I’ve nothing of note to share.

12)   How can people reach you online?

 David McClelland is on Twitter @davidmcclelland and online at www.davidmcclelland.co.uk
David McClelland, Tech Broadcaster & Journalist. © Michael Wharley Photography 2012

David McClelland, Tech Broadcaster & Journalist. © Michael Wharley Photography 2012

Look out for a new interview every 2nd Tuesday of the month here on TeckComesFirst! #TalkToTCFTuesdays

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Thanks to David McClelland for participating in this interview. Questions were chosen by both co-founders of TeckComesFirst; Purav and Usman.

Feel free to share in the comments below what you thought of this interview as well as anything new or interesting you learnt about David and his tech career so far.

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I’m a 23 year old Maths Graduate, who has a great passion for technology and in my spare time I make videos on YouTube to show my passion. I'm also co-admin here at TeckComesFirst and I joined this site back in January 2012.
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  • VirensPocket

    Awesome interview guys! It really helped me for my blog and also it was really interesting! Good job

  • Awesome interview. Three phones is a lot.

  • Wise Gadgets

    That is really awesome interview, I enjoyed the smart questions. I watched his 925 Lumia video, and as I see from the video, he is very positive and nice person. But you Purav made great questions and I can not believe that you have done these interviews quite long time. Like consistently and that it really amazing. Keep it up and be great 🙂
    PS! I like his shirt in that last picture 🙂 #geeky

  • Gareth Bayard

    Awesome Interview Guys! Wow, from the age of 6… That’s the best age to get into tech too, from a young age. I feel this interview has made me more motivated and realise that becoming something big is achievable with a bit of hard work behind it.

    Keep up the good work guys! 🙂