Review 2042

Having only begun on October 31, this is a relatively new weblog. In its infancy, however, the site is on its way to a tremendous start.

Shital, the author at this weblog, is clearly on top of things when it comes to our technology era we’re all going through. And in true form of the techno-geeks out there, Shital wants all of the latest and greatest things that hit the market and has clearly done thorough research on each item. I bring this up as an added bonus to reading this weblog.

It’s hard to find ones self too attached or enthralled in a weblog that’s only in its infancy, but Shital’s weblog certainly has the potential to keep readers coming back. There’s such a broad range of topics Shital covers on a consistent basis that there’s sure to be something that will grab anyone’s interest – music reviews, traveling adventures, and the previously mentioned updates on the latest technology.

The rest of the site is also worth exploring. In “Stuff 2 Do”, you’ll find a plethora of different sites to visit and new things to try out. You’ll also find cool books, some very cool various downloads, a current list of Shital’s favorite music, and the list basically goes on and on.

Visually speaking, this site looks just fine. It’s a simple design with very easy to use navigation. It’s nothing special, but it doesn’t need to be. The weblog speaks for itself without the need of any flashy graphics to make people want to come back.

Review 2036

Just like books and covers, I try not to judge a blog by its splash page. But when I first got to Paul Jeong’s site Blackhand I was worried. Blogs with videogame metaphors tend to be done for the sake of their own design with little in the way of readable content. However, Blackhand turned my preconceptions on their head. Blackhand is a well-written blog, with a fun interface.

Blackhand’s journal is engaging, funny, and accessible for the wider non-Peter-Jeong-knowing public. My favorite posts seem to start off as journal entries but turn into short stories. He writes on life in Atlanta, cubicle hell, church, his parent’s diner, and of course Super-Soakers. Paul recently worked for the company that makes Super-Soakers. (You can see his cool water gun designs under the Visuals section of the site).

The design is fun, with the old-style 2D fighter game metaphor extended throughout. I especially like how the main nav remains “Player 2”, but “Player 1” changes depending on what section of the site you’re in. He’s got several past iterations of the design available for viewing, with “director’s comments.” (His current is my favorite, but hey that’s just my taste). He’s done a smart thing that more blogs should do — a direct link from the splash page to a no-frills version of the journal. Another nice touch: click on the name of a month on the journal page, and the calendar scrolls up for you. Extras include Paul’s comic artwork, industrial design work, pictures, and some old pieces he wrote for the late Swanky ezine.

In all, I’d say Blackhand is a well-written blog with a great design. The only drawback, really, is that Paul doesn’t update his journal that often, making this a weekly read, not a daily one. Go there and see the emergence of a new fist

Review 2040

I’m not really sure what to say about “THE” Experience. The design is the ultimate in basic necessity. To be honest, without The Weblog Review specifically telling me that the name of the blog was “THE” Experience I would have thought it was called the “JHE” Experience – the font is not particularly easy to decipher. I wasn’t really expecting much.

The writer of “THE” Experience doesn’t seem to have much to say. His entries are very short, and several of them didn’t make sense to me. Perhaps this blog is meant as a way to keep in touch with his friends, who would know what the writer means. As someone not in the writer’s circle of friends I was bored. The content just wasn’t meaningful to me. The writer’s intermittent use of capitalization was a distraction.

Commenting on the design of “THE” Experience is difficult – there is barely a design to comment on. The brick tiled background is overwhelming and makes it slightly distracting to read the text over top of it. Even if the writer doesn’t have good knowledge of HTML, there are plenty of sites with free blog templates available. I highly recommend a visit to one of them just for the sake of making it easier to navigate “THE” Experience. Navigation is completely confusing.

“THE” Experience has plenty of extras: polls, guestbook, forums, a collection of poetry, a page that lists the writers random thoughts throughout the day as well as lists of people he likes and doesn’t like, things he likes and doesn’t like, etc., a page devoted to things the writer thinks of when he’s drunk, a page devoted to a few essays on the writer’s opinion, a page with lyrics to the writer’s favorite songs, and a page with movie lyrics the writer likes. I’m not really sure why so many of these things are broken down into separate sections – it seems as if “THE” Experience would be better served by incorporating some of these things into his main blog.

Apparently I missed “the” experience I was supposed to have at “THE” Experience. Unless you’re a friend of the writer, I don’t really recommend a visit.

THE Experience

Review 2039

Studied Authenticity is a template site that has not been modified at all. It looks the same as hundreds of other blogs, and so I wasn’t expecting anything remotely unique about the writing. Studied Authenticity’s FAQ claims the blog “will chronicle a real life.”

Studied Authenticity does chronicle the writer’s life – he reads a lot, sees movies, plays video games. He’s interested in sports. In between the posts about the writer’s day-to-day, there are some interesting entries. There’s this whole thing with the writer’s drug use and his family finding out that is thought-provoking stuff. The blog could be improved measurably if the writer would write more about how he feels about things and less about his activities on a daily basis. The entries he has that are fleshed out are pretty good.

As noted, this blog needs some personality added to the design to make it stand out from other sites. In the FAQ the writer mentions that he thinks people should be drawn to his blog for the content alone. In an ideal world, yes, people would come to read the words. But it certainly helps to have an attractive design. And unfortunately, there are some problems with linkage. All links open in a new window, which makes it necessary to keep closing windows and that can get annoying. None of the links to the FAQ, poetry page, or any archives are valid from older entries. Perhaps the writer did some maintenance work and didn’t change the URLs. Whatever the reason, it makes it very difficult to read through the archives. Some of the graphic links are broken in older entries.

There aren’t a lot of extras at Studied Authenticity. The writer has a link to some of his poetry. There is commenting capability. There are also links to other blogs the writer reads, links to sites he frequents, and links to books, movies, and music that he’s interested in. Studied Authenticity’s FAQ isn’t particularly revealing about the writer.

Overall, Studied Authenticity does what it claims to do – it chronicles the writer’s life. The design, while common, is functional. I’m not sure that I would return for another read, however.
Studied Authenticity

Review 1957

Throbert McGee’s blinkin’ blog looks like someone hit it with the cute stick – a lot. It’s an organized layout but really cutesy in a quasi-Hello Kitty kind of way, so I was really expecting the ramblings of a teenage girl in love or something like that. How I love to be wrong about things like this: Throbert McGee’s blinkin’ blog is incredibly well written and entertaining.

According to Rob [author of Throbert McGee’s blinkin’ blog], the site has been reclaimed and abandoned several times. It’s easy to see when that happened. I usually start reading blogs from the beginning, and Rob had me giggling before I even started reading his first entry simply by the hee-larious graphic used, and the religion-themed first entry was amusing. Then there was the part with the weird deformed baby storyline that was just not that entertaining. And now there is the current incarnation, which focuses on world events. It’s news, but it’s delivered with an accompanying commentary that is both unique and funny. Anyone who compares the U.S.’s role in foreign affairs to Adam Baldwin’s role in the 1980 movie The Bodyguard has got my vote.

The writing deserves a better design. It’s not that the design is unattractive, but it does nothing to promote the blog on looks alone. The logo graphics are, as mentioned above, really cutesy and don’t really fit the tone and style of the excellent writing. There are some small problems throughout the blog – font size jumps throughout entries, which is kind of distracting. Alternative incarnations of the design are still posted with some entries.

There are some great aspects to this blog, other than the well-written entries – Rob keeps an excellent and entertaining FAQ page and has some really funny links. Rob also links to a Wallpaper Gallery, which is filled with great photographs that he has taken. Something that is kind of off-putting to me is a writer who pumps his readers for money. This is just a personal preference of mine. If a blog owner want to ask for donations, I would recommend making a separate page for it and putting a link that says “Support me” or “Fund the Writer” or something like that on the template page. It detracts from my reading enjoyment, knowing that there’s someone begging me for spare change every time I visit the blog.

I highly recommend a visit to Throbert McGee’s blinkin’ blog. I enjoyed reading the blog from start to finish, and will be back for another visit!
Throbert McGee’s Blinkin’ Blog