Review 3434

The first look at the Bsketti blog confuses me. It is just Bsketti (whatever it may mean) in the title, a less mysterious subtitle – ‘I am not Spartacus’, and a paper crane in a header picture. What the hell is this about? Well, these were my initial thoughts.

However, there are other things I noticed immediately. This is a standard wordpress blog – from the address, to the design. We can even see a ‘Meta’ list at the bottom of the page (login, and stuff).

This leads us to the topic of design. Well, it is clear, easy-to-read, has a nice header picture and an ‘About Me’ page. These were all of the good points. The rest is just terrible. There are no archives and no categories! In return we have a lot of ‘WordPress Snapshot’ links which makes it difficult to surf the blog and irritates me. Generally, The design is neat, simple, boring, typical, and lacks elemental features.

Well, let’s take a closer look at the content of the blog: ‘What is it about?’. In the ‘About Me’ section we can read that the author is Rebecca and probably lives in Germany. Nice. She likes nature and some minstrel stories. Cool. So, what is so interesting about it to make us read?

Not much. I admit I am not a fan of ‘personal’ blogs and that is what Bsketti is. It tries to be a travel blog, but it is not. Of course, this does not have to mean it will not be interesting. We can read about her work, travels, flat, thoughts, observations and other typical stuff. Some of her thoughts are more interesting and original while others are not.
But, there is one thing that I do not like: the style of writing. Rebecca tends to write long sentences (like 50+ words) and use plenty of adjectives. Some people will like it for sure, but I don’t.

So, what have we got here for now? A not very attractive design and a bit difficult style of writing. Time to find some advantage for the balance.

And there is one. Some of the photos Rebecca adds to her post are ugly and not very well taken. But some of them are just brilliant. I don’t know if she had taken them herself or simply copied, but some of pictures of nature are beautiful. I recommend putting one of them as a header image.

Despite my great sympathy for Rebecca, her blog at the current state is not worth visiting. If I were her, I would work on the design and concentrate at her travels, nature, the minstrel stories, because it seems that is what she likes most, and there is not enough of this. Because of this, I give the blog a 2.NULL

Review 3409

This is a website designed and run by an outfit called First Release Homes, to link together their builders and with buyers of new homes. The look and feel of the blog actually made me laugh. The blonde most-likely-affluent woman with the construction hat on gazing dreamily up into the air as I guess she is picturing how wonderful her new home is going to look just simply cracked me up. The little finger to chin thing, the grin… ech.

It is the worst graphic ever. Moving on to the rest of the site and getting over the annoying header graphic, the blog lists out city-by-city places where you can find new release homes. This feature is hardly useful. I live in the Metro Boston area and there are two homes listed by Clayton Homes in “Boston.” But based on the photos I can honestly say those houses aren’t in Boston. I have no idea where they actually ARE. And there is a big difference if I’m shopping for the Boston Area between Revere and Quincy. So this was pointless.

The New York City section was a lot more interesting, as I stood at the base of the William Beaver house on a recent trip into the city and pondered (without construction hat and finger to my chin, but yes — looking up dreamily) what it would be like to live here. It is my favorite section of Manhattan, within walking distance to my favorite bar. If I ever have 2 million dollars, maybe I’ll buy a condo there.

The blog portion introduces new cities and builders and announces new developments. It was dull and not at all interesting.

I find no use for blogs like this. I think that First Release Home’s website is fine on its own, and they don’t need a blog at all. Plus, there are a lot more pictures of the affluent blonde woman and her somewhat younger-period Alec Baldwinesque looking husband in their five steps to home ownership.

I’m giving this one a rating of 2. NULL

Review 3434

Rebecca is an ex-pat living in Germany and while it is not quite clear, I believe she works in an environmental sciences field or is just someone passionate about global warming and reducing her carbon footprint in daily life.

Wait, wait… don’t click away. Stick with me. I love this blog. In June of this year, Rebecca packed up and moved to Bonn Germany from Bath England. She

She states “Aah, a fresh new blog, ready for me to crumple and soil with imperfect English.” After reading each entry, I want to know if she wrote BEFORE June 11, 2007 because I would love to read those journals and know what she was up to, what prompted the move.

Her journal is a mix of personal views such as “my new city looks like a Playmobil set” and articles and theories on global warming, all woven together with wonderful observations and humor. The global concerns portion of her blog isn’t preachy or boring. She even takes on the Queen of Pop, Madonna, and ponders the song Madge wrote for Live Earth this year. “The glaciers aren’t really retreating, species aren’t really becoming extinct, and that guilt you feel when filling up your car is an unreal emotion to be shrugged off. Why is it that with Madonna, even a song about the planet becomes a song about loving yourself? Unreal.”

It is actually interesting and very well constructed so that someone who isn’t exactly of the same philosophy doesn’t feel like a finger is being pointed at them. Rebecca writes with a keen sense of humor and a slice of cynicism. She talks about her new daily life in Germany, the piles of drunks in the Bonn train station, and about the crazed German bikers who run the banks of the Rhine.

Daytrips around Germany on her days off help her get out of Bonn and see the German Countryside. She treks to what used to be East Germany and writes about Martin Luther and religion and the unification of the country… which sometimes I forget only happened a few years ago (thank you David Hasselhoff!). She goes to Mainz and talks about how the buildings there are as pink as the ones in Bonn are yellow. She treks to an Indian/Hippie music and love festival near Leverkusen where she feared she’d soon be swept up by braless, yogariffic, smiling, zombie dancers.

The only complaint I have is with the layout of the blog. There isn’t an easy way to access archives so one can start at the very first entry and proceed forward. I clicked backwards through “previous entries” and luckily this is a young blog or I probably would have stopped right around the time her blog begins, and just review from that point onward. A good archive section that links out the entries from the beginning would be a great asset as the content of the blog grows and time goes by. The look and feel of the journal is easy on the eyes, but sometimes the quoted sections from articles that she selects have too light a grey color and the font isn’t easy to read. The rest of the site moves easily, with lots of photographic evidence that Bonn really is a city filled with way too many yellow buildings.

I will revisit Rebecca, and will probably blogroll her… I don’t know what brought her to Germany, what made her pick between this job and another one offered to her in the South of France. I am not quite clear what her relationship status is… but I am enjoying reading about her life. And I do hope she can get back to the shop and get that toilet seat. That is awesome. I give her a 4 on the scale, and look forward to reading more.NULL

Review 3374

The initial colors are muted and classy. They are simple gray and black, with a main image featuring the settings of a digital camera and title, “Tom Sheehan: A digital photo blog.” The title and image led me to expect a general photo blog, featuring a wide variety of unrelated images. I was pleasantly misled, however, because most of the images in Tom’s blog stick to one of a few themes. If you enjoy the images on the main page, you’ll probably enjoy all of his work.

The right column lists relevant information by topic, starting with Tom’s website, followed by a brief welcome and “About,” recommendations, archives, and so on. Archives are listed by subject, for example, “Abandoned Buildings.” This makes entries easy to browse, since images are integral to this blog. These entries, or articles, are then listed by description, and the reader can choose from among them. A thumbnail image accompanying each description would make browsing easier. Also, it would be nice to have an additional option for reading archives, such as a standard monthly archive, so that one could browse through archives chronologically.

The images are not all the same size, so while some images are large enough to view comfortably and appreciate the details, others are too small, and could leave a viewer straining and desiring to see more. Each photo has a border that is colored to compliment it. However, the blog itself doesn’t have a border, so that the title image and black entry backgrounds end abruptly where they meet the gray main background. More subtle borders there and in the right column would give this already shiny blog a more polished look.

The photos collect moments and spaces from historical and small town Massachusetts. Some subjects featured are landscapes, nature, architecture, and coastal towns. The images are peaceful, mood-evoking New England scenes. Posts contain descriptions and some contain thoughts or background information, particularly concerning images of historical buildings. Another great thing is that Tom includes the technical information about the shots, adding another dimension which other photographers will appreciate.

Tom Sheehan’s photo blog is the best kind of photo blog. It has images that can be enjoyed with or without captions, descriptive titles, and enough information in the posts to give readers fuller appreciation of the images. Images fall into one of several themes, so that his blog cohesive, focused, and impassioned. His passion for his subject matter shows in every entry.

Review 3374

Tom Sheehan is a digital photo blog. Tom Sheehan is also the man responsible for all the pictures on the blog.

These days, everyone with a digital camera is a “photographer”. People will easily drop a grand on the latest and greatest digital camera and claim to be well on their way to the land of professional photography. Because of this, I was a bit leery upon loading Tom’s blog. Shortly after it loaded, though, my uneasiness was laid to rest. Tom really is a true photographer.

The layout is very simple. It’s a standard two-column design, with a customized header that features the top of a digital camera. The sidebar is not only lists the archives of the site by category, but also provides links to various other places on the web photography enthusiasts might deem useful or just entertaining.

Tom typically posts a photo every day. Like every blogger, though, there’s sometimes a day or two between posts. From time to time, he’ll also post a rant or write about the memories that go along with a specific photo he posts. The entries mainly consist of one of Tom’s photographs and a brief description of its composition.

A somewhat unique addition to each individual post is a poll of sorts that lets readers choose whether or not they liked the actual post. It’s places between the text of the post and the area where readers can leave comments, so it’s not as obtrusive as it may sound. It’s also a great tool in giving the author direction on where to take his blog in order to maintain (and potentially grow) his fan base.

As someone who finds great interest in photography, I enjoyed the times when he included the settings he used for a particular picture.

Tom Sheehan is a good blog. You don’t have to be a professional to enjoy a good picture, and Tom does a good job of making sure his photo details don’t shoot over the Average Joe’s head.NULL