Getting to Know Claire
Claire is a freelance technical writer and editor. She works with us through Red Robot Media, which she runs along with her associate Mathew Dixon. In addition, Claire is an accomplished musician who has toured the world with her band Printed Circuit. She lives in the United Kingdom.
In 1989, Claire produced a school project about the internet, before she knew what it was called. She was just 10 years old at the time. She created her first website in GeoCities in 1996, and drove her parents crazy with huge phone bills due to dial-up charges. In her teens, she never missed an issue of Smash Hits or Computer Shopper, a tech magazine the size of an old phone book.
In her 20s, Claire created her own solo electronic music project: Printed Circuit. As such, she toured the world — playing shows across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. She also made her own music videos. Printed Circuit has played shows with Max Tundra, Kid606, Le Tigre, Dat Politics, and Stereo Total. And it has released records on Tigerbeat6, Darla Records, 555 Recordings, and Elefant Records.
Claire worked in tech support for many years, and is a trained technical writer. Her music connections resulted in her running a local gig-listings website from 2006 until 2010. This doubled as an immersion course in WordPress and PHP. She still uses WordPress on a daily basis.
Shortly after becoming a technical writer, Richard Kershaw saw the Lego video for her song “Brick It.” And the rest is history…
Claire has written many software user guides, as well as a book on Camtasia Studio. These days, she does most of her writing for the web.
Our Interview with Claire
Here is our interview with Claire about her life and history.
Where are you in the world?
I live in the UK, in the suburbs outside Leeds. We are about half a mile from the countryside, even though we technically live in a city. My husband chose our house because it was cheap, but I liked it because it’s under a flight path and we get to see lots of interesting aircraft.
When did you first use the internet?
I used to bug my older sister to take me to her computer lab at university when I was about 8 or 9 years old, mainly to use IRC. Talking to people thousands of miles away felt kind of magical. We got the dial-up internet at home when I was about 16.
How did you get into technical writing?
I worked in tech support for many years, and was doing a bit of non-technical blogging as a hobby. When I trained as a technical author, I realized that I liked indulging myself in technical topics, but wanted more freedom. So I started Red Robot Media, and now, we have three writers working on business and technical content. My technical author training is useful, but I prefer writing for the web. Now, I write almost exclusively for WhoIsHostingThis.com.
What’s the hardest thing about being a technical writer?
I’m constantly trying to improve my American English, so that I can write more accessible for a global audience. It’s difficult to flip from British to American English, because there are so many quirks of the language that we take for granted. I also wish I could think about writing a bit less. Sometimes I dream in hosting reviews. I should probably ask for a bonus for that, actually.
Name one weird fact most people don’t know about you.
I ran the Reeves and Mortimer fan club for a while when I was 16. It’s a very strange thing to have done. I still have boxes of their old fan mail in my garage. I can also play the flute and the bassoon, which is weird compared to the music I make.
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek. But my husband is the sci-fi buff, really. He wanted to name our son Leto Atreides II. Sadly, Leto got the veto.
When you aren’t sitting in front of a computer, what are you doing?
I have my son, three cats, and two pug dogs to play with, so I’m never short of things to do. We have a static caravan on the North Yorkshire coast, so we try to go there and replenish our vitamin D levels whenever we can.
What was your first computer?
An Acorn Electron, which was a less powerful clone of the BBC Micro. It was a hand-me-down from my cousin when I was in infant school, and I used to write BASIC and make little tunes on it. When I was 11, my school had a computer with some kind of huge CD-ROM drive on loan, which seemed very exotic at the time. For some reason, I was put in charge of it, which was very exciting. My first PC was an Amstrad PC1512, and soon after, a PC1640. They had 5 1/4″ floppy drives, and I used to sit there for hours programming MIDI versions of songs that I liked.
Mac, Windows, or GNU/Linux?
We have computers all over the house, and more tablets than a pharmacy. For writing, I just need the OS that bugs me the least, so I always use a Mac. The Air is my Fisher-Price computer.
What do you like to watch on TV?
I’m not so keen on fiction nowadays. But I will watch any documentary, and any movie based on a true story. So The Dish, Citizenfour, You’ve Been Trumped, and Milk are all at the top of the list. I have always been a comedy fan, and In The Loop, Four Lions, Veep, Brass Eye, and The Thick of It are perennial favorites. If I were to recommend one video on YouTube, it would be Tetris: From Russia With Love.
Selected WhoIsHostingThis Writing
Claire has been writing for WhoIsHostingThis.com longer than anyone besides Richard. So she’s written on every subject we cover. These days, she focuses a lot of her attention on our blog where she writes some of our most popular articles.
Everything We Know About North Korea’s Bizarre Internet: a deep dive into the tech that real North Koreans use every day. Claire reveals the country’s internet infrastructure, its secret closed intranet, and its super-secure operating system.
The Investigatory Powers Act: Ultimate Guide: the Investigatory Powers Act is a new UK law that makes mass surveillance legal, lets the police hack your phone, and gives the government backdoors to encrypted services. If you think Edward Snowden’s revelations were shocking, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Now 16,318+ British Cops, Suits & Spooks Can See Every Website You Visit: this follow-up to the Investigatory Powers Act article involved extensive research including the filing of almost a hundred Freedom of Information requests to get the minimum number of people who have access to everything you do online.
Netiquette: From RFC 1885 to Today: RFC 1885 was the first attempt at creating a code of conduct for the internet. Claire takes the content of the original RFC 1885, and updates it for the modern web. On the way, the article covers the myriad ways the internet has changed since its inception.
33 Plugins to Put WordPress on Auto-Pilot: there are lots of clever ways to automate WordPress, and take the hassle out of running a blog. This article reveals 33 simple plugins that lighten the load, and free up more time for fun stuff, like creating content.
8 Ways Your Drone Could Land You in Jail: experts believe it’s only a matter of time until a drone causes a serious aircraft accident. But there are many ways a fun drone flight could end in tears. This article includes some of the most amazing and terrifying things people have done with drones, from delivering drugs to prisoners to flying into a commercial jet and breaking off part of its wing.
SiteGround: one of many hosting reviews by Claire.
Elsewhere on the Web
Claire can be found elsewhere on the web:
Learn more about the WhoIsHostingThis authors and editors here.