Blogger of the month: Kate Russell

Image of Kate Russell
Kate Russell – she knows tech (Photo: Adam Leach)
"I believe that crowdfunding has the power to democratise entertainment, giving us the power to choose what we want to see funded by putting our own money into the project"
  • | by Victoria Cao

Our latest blogger of the month is Kate Russell who loves to talk all things tech.

As well as running a hugely successful blog, Kate regularly appears on TV as a technology expert and is an author of both fiction and non-fiction novels.

We grabbed Kate for a quick natter about her favourite gadgets and what's going to be the next big thing for tech-lovers…

Hi Kate! How are you? When did you start blogging, and what got you interested in tech?

I've been a technology reporter for 20 years. I was first interested in tech when we got a BBC Micro (an early personal computer) at home in 1984 and I started playing a game called Elite.

For the last 11 years I've reported weekly on the BBC tech show called Click, but the problem with TV is you have a very limited amount of time to talk about a story. I started blogging seriously about five years ago as a place to put extended features and information for my readers.

What's your favourite piece of tech you own, and why?

'Favourite' is a tough word when it comes to tech.

I use my phones the most and would probably miss them above all other tech. The piece I enjoy using most is probably my HOTAS Warthog Flight Stick (a type of joystick), but that's likely to be more about the games I play with it than the tech itself.

When I have friends round we also have a lot of fun playing with my VR One virtual reality headset, which works by playing apps on my iPhone 6.

What do you think is the biggest tech flop, and surprise success story to date?

Smart watches are still (in my opinion) a solution looking for a problem. I cannot see the point in spending so much money on a thing that will be out of date every couple of years and if not paired with a £400 phone is just a worthless piece of plastic and circuit boards.

I think the Raspberry Pi (a small computer which plugs into a monitor or TV) would stand out for me as the most surprisingly successful tech in recent years, not that I was surprised it found a market. But they've now sold over five million of the £30 tiny computers, which shows a much more 'mass market' appeal than I would have expected.

What will be the next big thing in tech?

Virtual reality. It's now a very viable entertainment add-on and there are some really great products coming out next year, with a lot of developers making content.

Which one do you prefer: Android or iOS?

That's like asking a mother to choose her favourite child! Actually, it's also an unfair comparison to make since there are many dozens of makes and models of Android phone and some are better than others. I've started to see a much more balanced selection of apps in the marketplaces too.

I have both an iPhone 6 and a Motorola Moto X right now and they both perform perfectly well.

Tell us about your latest novel, Mostly Harmless.

When the developers of Elite (the game that got me into technology) ran a Kickstarter to fund making the 21st century reinvention of the space trading game, Elite: Dangerous, they offered licenses to write a piece of fiction based in the game world.

I funded my purchase (£4,500) of this by running my own Kickstarter and was supported by my readers and fans of the game to the tune of £17,000 to write the novel and produce it as an audiobook.

The story is about a hapless space trader who gets sucked into a life of crime and falls from one disastrous experience to the next.

It's quite gory in places as I like reading horrors, so subjected some of the characters to very gruesome deaths (it was particularly fun figuring out inventive ways to kill people in zero-gravity environments!).

As part of the licence reward I got to name a planet that appears in the actual multiplayer game. I called it Slough, and each Sunday at 4pm I stream gameplay around the planet on, which is a lot of fun.

Do you think Kickstarter and similar sites have the potential for other people to turn their ideas into reality, and do you have any tips?

Absolutely! I have written a couple of features on the subject on my blog.

Publishing houses and the businesses that finance movies, books and video games tend to put their money into the project that is most likely to earn them a profit, which means anything with a proven track record is more likely to get funded than a completely new, untried idea.

It's why we see so many repeats of the same entertainment franchises (Die Hard, Final Fantasy, Call of Duty etc). I believe that crowdfunding has the power to democratise entertainment, giving us the power to choose what we want to see funded by putting our own money into the project.

Congratulations on being nominated for the UK Blog Awards this year! What would you say is your proudest achievement so far?

It was a real honour to be voted the top UK tech blog, especially as a woman in a male-dominated field.

I hope it inspires other girls to be more prominent in tech careers. I think my proudest moment to date though has to be publishing my first sci-fi novel, and I am finishing off my second novel right now.

What other blogs do you enjoy reading, and why?

Geekanoids is a good one I read a lot. Also, a fellow finalist from the blog awards, James Pickett, [who writes] Dependent on Gadgets, I've got into reading lately.

When you're not blogging or working, what do you get up to?

That is literally all I do! I play video games when I can as well, but I really do work and write all the time, especially when it comes to writing novels as you do those without pay in your spare time until they're published.

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone who's thinking about setting up a blog?

Stop thinking and do it! I have also written a piece on my blog about building an audience, which gives a lot of practical tips, but if you have a passion about something and want to share that with the world, what have you got to lose?

Do you know someone who should be showcased as our blogger of the month? Could you be that person yourself? Drop us an email on to tell us why and you could be featuring on these pages in the coming months...

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