Review 2448

When I signed up as a reviewer for TWR, Brent told me I would need “about an hour” to do each review. Although this has held true for many reviews, every now and again I come across a blog where I don’t want an hour to review it at all, I want a week. “Pop Culture – Consider The Source” is one of those sites.

Now I think it is only fair to point out, before I go any further, that this weblog has many good points. Many. BUT…it is perhaps not for the faint hearted. Although according to one article, the content has actually been toned down recently. There is nothing illegal here (I don’t think), nothing explicitly pornographic but there are issues and pictures which would appeal probably to the more broad minded amongst you. Ok, now I have that cleared up, on with the review.

My first impressions were extremely favourable- the design is the most impressive I have seen so far for a weblog- in fact it won “The Golden Web Awards” as a result, by the looks of things. Effective use has been made of Flash, (the menu buttons are way cool) and the general theme of “SpeedMonkey” (the primary author) is prevalent throughout the site including a nifty logo and even merchandise. There are polls, photos, a map, a chat room, a forum and even a media centre, (though I couldn’t get it to work, but that may have been due to my own stupidity). So, top marks for design then.

Now on to the content. It is curious amongst weblogs because it is not organised by date at all, but by category. Incidentally, to view the archives, you must either select read more from the posting or click on a category title in the menu bar. This will then take you to the most recent posting (if going through the menu) and a list of all the other posts in that category can then be found above the post itself. There are many, many postings, some by another author (Dr Tom) but most of them by SpeedMonkey. Of the articles I read, all were funny, most of them personal and very honest and it was easy to get a clear picture of who the author is. There are movie and music reviews, including live gigs, articles about sex and relationships and also quite a few rants about various issues- politics, the ineffectiveness of large corporations and the like. Also the author clearly doesn’t like “pop culture”- a man after my own heart I must admit. I think the rants may get a bit tiresome after a while, though most are interesting and intelligently argued. My only gripe with this blog is that there is a fair bit of negativity to be found, and this can be off putting after a while.

So overall there is loads of content to be found here and most is very funny and intelligently written. When I have that spare week I will be spending more time here, as I quickly grew rather fond of the author. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, hence the 4.5, but I loved it.
Pop Culture – Consider The Source

Review 2463

At first I was a little hesitant about this blog since I automatically categorized it as what I would like to call “Teen Girl Blog.” You’ve seen them. They’re all over blogspot and LiveJournal. Basically the online equivalent of a diary, Teen Girl Blogs contain random nonsense about boys, school, and the occasionally “What ____ Character Am I” quiz. Let’s just say I’m not the biggest fan of Teen Girl Blogs. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that while the author of In Character is a sixteen year old girl, the blog content goes far beyond your standard Teen Girl Blog fodder. The background image alone (a cool but bizarre drawing done by the author) told me that I was in for something unique.

Like I said, the blog entries go way past your standard diary entries. Most are pretty long and tell a great story, such as this one about Vanessa’s adventures at an Anime convention. Vanessa is also a graphic designer, so she writes about that often. Yeah, there are some Teen Girl Blog type entries here, but that’s to be expected from a 16 year old girl. My biggest problem with the blog is that it isn’t updated very frequently. As of this writing, Vanessa hasn’t posted since October 21st. Maybe she’s working on her to-do list. In order for me to want to come back to a blog, the first thing it needs is frequent updates. Otherwise it becomes just like that stagnant homepage you might have at Geocities. However, I think the length and depth of the entries are enough to keep a visitor occupied for some time.

The main characteristic that distinguishes this blog from your standard Teen Girl Blog is the design. It’s rather nicely done and you can tell that a lot of effort was put into it. My biggest beef about the design is that the text is rather small and hard to read. Also, there’s a whole column dedicated to the Tag-Board, which doesn’t get used very much anyway. If I were Vanessa, I would get rid of the Tag Board (or put it in the second column) and give the blog some more space. Also, the very top of the blog overlaps slightly with the background image, which makes the blog hard to read since it is white text on a white image. That’s just me being nit-picky, but it shouldn’t be too hard to fix. Other than that, I think the design is very creative and fits the blog and the author very well.

Overall, this blog is a great read. The only problem is, it’s rather difficult to read because of some design issues. These can be fixed though. Also, infrequent updates make a blog stagnant and turn away visitors, so blog often. Like I said in my intro, don’t let the age of the author fool you. This isn’t your standard Teen Girl Blog. It’s much better than that, and has the potential to be something character

Review 2403

Templated sites of any kind generally don’t get me too excited visually. As Megalthic Portal is a Post-Nuke site it certainly qualified. It is clean and functional, but nothing has really been done outside of color to really spice it up visually… (Mega what? I had to look it up, mega·lith : a very large usually rough stone used in prehistoric cultures as a monument or building block’)

The site is about megaliths, prehistory and archaeology of Great Britain and Ireland. If this interests you, you’ll likely think you hit the jackpot, there is a ton of information here.

Photos, articles, maps, a forum, downloads, guest book, recommended books on the subject, chat…it is rather overwhelming. Some pages seem very busy indeed. A few sections display poorly, with too many font colours, sizes on one page they border on being an eye-sore…Possibly a result of the template limitation.

The closest I found to a blog was the news section which contains megalthic related news snippets from local newspapers (with some written articles). Which are truly excellent for locating megaliths in Britain. An example:

County: Co. Mayo Type: Wedge Tomb

Alternate Name: Tobernahaltora

Nearest Village: Louisburgh

Map Ref: L793746 NEW: Megalith Map Square L

Discovery Map Number: D37 – Order this map

Wedge Tomb in Co. Mayo

9.6 km S of Louisburgh, immediately NE of the road and Lough Nahaltora (Altar Lake), this well-preserved sepulchre is in a very beautiful situation by the roadside. A single large roofstone covers most of the main chamber of the gallery, which is 4.2 metres long. Double-walling, a fine large septal slab, and traces of the cairn survive. As ‘The Altar Well’ (Tobernahaltora) it was formerly venerated as a holy well!

There is no question if megaliths, prehistory or archaeology interest you that you’ll find this site an amazing resource. It has monumental resources for those interested in talking about, visiting, learning or protecting these treasures of the past. In spite of the over zealous nature of how the data is presented… clearly the work and passion that went in to this site is apparent, and that must be commended. A great resource.
The Megalthic Portal

Review 2334

Apple Coda is the weblog of Duckwing, who, if he had his way, would have us all doing this: Take your hands, or just one so that you have one left to scroll the screen with. Now bend your thumb and little finger down into the palm of your hand so that your three middle fingers are left sticking up, kind of like E.T’s hand. Now you’ve definitely got three fingers up, not two? Good, because two fingers would make a peace sign, and we all know how horrible peace is, don’t we? Now spread out those three fingers to make some sort of a W and wave them above your head. Feeling stupid? A lot of you will be, because that’s how Duckwing tells us we should show our support for George Dubya.

Duckwing loves Bush. He’s also darned proud to be American. And he thinks we should all be just as patriotic as he is. As I’m English I’m not sure where that leaves me. He mocks one of his links, World War Bush , saying, “We hate George Bush. We like childish name-calling. Perfect.” Meanwhile, he calls liberals,”hippy bastards.”

If whilst perusing Apple Coda you forget where Duckwing’s true loyalties lie, there’ll always a reminder along in the next post. This more than bizarre entry, for example, “I kicked the guy on the ground a few times as he started to get his bearings…and I left the scene, full of pride for being an American.”

The sad thing is, I don’t think he’s joking. What a waste, because if his opinions and perceptions were intended to be humorous or ironic, he’d have all the material he ever needed to rival The Simpsons.

There is no page about the author, which I really felt was needed, considering how full of personal opinion the site is. A standard Blogger template is used because it reminds him of painter Wit Piet Mondrian, and so he chose it over a custom layout. It’s nice to have this explanation, because at least this way it gives the template a connection with the author. The page did take several minutes to load, although the author mentions that he is aware of this problem.

If my reaction to Apple Coda seems a little strong, it’s only a reflection of the how strong the opinions on the site are. And there is very little else but political opinion. Duckwing states everything as fact. There is no room for those who see it differently. Those that do are stupid. The emperor is wearing clothes. So if you didn’t enjoy all the finger waving, my feeling is that you won’t like what you find at Apple Coda. But if you’re an avid supporter of Bush and you feel that kicking someone in the head is what American pride is really all about, the link’s right there. Go nuts.The Apple Coda

Review 2277

(Un)surprisingly enough, Sarah describes the site as the “weblog of a weed-eatin’ herbalist”.. whatever that means..perhaps a short description of that would have helped? The layout, simple as it is, was too simple for my liking, and although the colour scheme is relevant to the title of the weblog, I’m less than keen on it.

Whilst reading through the weblog, I progressively noticed that there were a fairly even mixture of rants, poems & also featured an extended letter and reports regarding the likes of pharmaceutical companies, the legalisation of cannabis, and the legitimacy of war. Some of which I would have appreciated if I was tempted not to skim-read the rest due to the sheer length. Highlighting the key points and then clearly stating your thoughts on them would have provided me with a concise & clarified take on the situation.

I admire Sarah’s capacity to write several entries a day and appreciate her ability to paint a seemingly precise picture of particular days; namely the Eugene Saturday Market, which almost reminds me of Camden Town. I’ve noticed she quotes in detail, exploits conversations effectively & some of the poems & lyrics published are varied in content, depicts her somewhat whimsical manner, but again, fairly long. Although there are a month’s worth of entries on the index page, it would be advisable to cut down the number, simply because some of her entries are particularly extended & some people prefer things in small portions!

Although there is no commenting system available, Sarah interacts with some of her regular visitors via a forum. It is fairly difficult to follow subject conversations as each entry is ordered chronologically, and if you wanted to reference a particular entry from the weblog, there are no titles, only dates, and remember that she posts several times a day on average.

The archives are collated in weeks rather than months, which I find odd, as it would be more appropriate to have the index page in weeks, and the archives in months. Unfortunately there is an error in the template for the archived entries, resulting in visible broken links. The entries themselves give you more of a clue on what a herbalist is, and follows the consistency of her interest in current affairs regarding herbalism.

In summary, the content itself is good, however Sarah needs to focus on the presentation of some of the material (ie. letters, reports) and shorten them. In addition write a separate section about her general background and perhaps some links to other sites on more information about herbalism. I wouldn’t necessarily return to this website, however I’m sure that if you have a keen interest in herbalism, it may be something that will attract you.herbivorous