Review 2470

From the very start I found surfing this site extremely frustrating. I arrived to a find a standard three column design in black and green, which is fair enough except the background and font color of the navigation columns are both dark, in fact the only way I could make out what was in the side menu’s was if I moved the cursor all the day down highlighting each link. I could not find any real introduction to the site or its author, and so went in search of the archives, which I finally discovered to be half way down the left hand column.

From my endeavours searching for the archives I managed to discover that this blog goes back to May, and so finally I headed off in search of the blogs first post. The site is in every essence of the word a personal blog, a conglomeration of everyday occurrences in the life of someone still in school – references to examinations, classes and other events likely to feature in the life of a teen. As far as teen blogs are concerned the writing style wasn’t bad, it was simple and easy to follow, and didn’t isolate its appeal by adopting ‘teen’ speak. Its content however is another matter, issues to do with school and exams, and the daily occurrences in the life of a teen is likely only to appeal to others within their age group and / or social circle.

Although the design and colour scheme in theory are not all that bad I found this site extremely frustrating to navigate. The side menu’s are made up of dark text on a dark background, and the only way I could find the archives and associate links was to hover my mouse cursor down either side waiting for each link to appear. The centre column in the archives is far too narrow, while this may work with short posts, anything longer is made difficult and frustrating to read. I didn’t find any broken links however, and I imagine if the background or font colors of the side menu were adjusted this site may well be easy to navigate around.

Overall I believe the blog was what I would generally expect from a teen, references to school, exams and usual teenage activities lack appeal to anyone outside that age range but may well appeal to people within it, especially if they are within the readers own social circle. I found the site extremely frustrating to navigate however, and this was mostly due to the author’s chosen color scheme – in my browser the links were the same color as the background, which made finding the archives and external links extremely difficult. I award this site a 2 even though I experienced difficulties navigating the site I do believe with minor adjustments it has the potential to really appeal to a teen audience.

The Kamikaze Archive

Review 2395

I had no idea what to expect going in to my first review. The title gave me a tiny bit of apprehension — was this going to be one of those that go on and on about the author’s extreme self-involvement like that is something new? Or maybe it was more on the order of a charming, but small, joke. I hoped for the latter, but you never know…

She does post daily, since 2001, and seems to have developed a following, since most of her posts have several comments in response. Since the first thing one sees today is a post containing two pictures (maybe the same woman?) of an overweight, middle-aged lady and a bodybuilder, and the second post concerned menopause, I got the mistaken impression this was the author. Earlier posts suggest someone much younger.

Problem is, she shoots herself in the foot with the profile, which says, “this is a site about regular stuff, I’m a regular person…” Unfortunately this gives no insight into who this person might be, or why potential readers would be interested. Early posts are just fragments of observation on events in her life, with not really enough information on just what happened to set her off ;>) Later on this improves, but most of the posts are still depressingly “regular.” It’s almost like the author really doesn’t want her readers to get too close. Still, this is a typical newbie mistake. People without much writing experience tend to presume a lot about their readers, thinking that some things should be obvious to the reader when they’re not. It’s only after writing for a while that newbies recognize you can’t make your readers work to understand what you’re saying.

Technically this site isn’t one I’d personally visit too often, as it takes a long time to load on my 56k modem. Perhaps this is at least partially the result of the graphics up top, which I didn’t see until after I gave up waiting for the start page and started reading through the posts. It’s been constructed using a template, which gives the site an unobjectionable, but bland appearance, and none of the links in the links section work as they should. They either send you to dead sites, or sites with so many pop-ups you lose track of what the original link was supposed to be. It’s got both guest book and guest map. There are a lot of bells and whistles here that don’t contribute to the overall quality of the site. She has joined a lot of webrings and seems to have done a lot of online promo for her site, offering many chances to vote for her in one place or another. But this set of “Extras” has its own confusions, so I didn’t go too far into those.

If she could clear up some of the confusion as to who she is and why she’s chosen this venue, and possibly give a new or casual visitor something more to go on, the writing does show some promise, which is why I’ve rated it the way I did. Otherwise, this site is destined to stay firmly among the “legions of unknown bloggers.”Trinity Sixty-Three – The Escapades of me

Review 2211

I didn’t have very long to wonder whatdaheck a “Chirish” is, because the instant I had the URL in my browser, Ka-BAM! There it was.

This is a no-frills, fast-loading blog done by an 18-year-old who clearly knows what he’s doing. The appearance is minimalist for a reason; this blog is all about the journaling. It’s the words and the communcation here that matter. It’s well-written, and gives a lot of insight into the daily life of a kid starting college in New York. You learn that he’s one of the “smart kids,” probably always has been, but he talks enough about friends and other things he does so that you know he doesn’t sit home with his new computer (which he discusses in detail) all the time. He can make a shopping trip seem interesting, and you find yourself hoping the new school works out well for him. There’s no teenage angst here. This guy has his priorities in order, and I’m willing to bet this won’t be the last the world will hear from Brandon Ng!

There isn’t overkill in the “other” sections — the links and portfolio are both empty, but the about section and photos, along with his full class schedule give you everything you could possibly want to know. The photos let you see that here is a happy, hopeful, teenager, which these days is refreshing to say the least. He’s a lot more than just a ‘puter nerd. He’s worked at the Brooklyn Public Library as well as on the stage crew helping with the lighting for school productions. Everything loads blessedly fast, which encourages readers to take some time and look around, anyway. You get the impression these extra sections are really just supportive material; if those sections were missing entirely, it would all be just as interesting.

The title of the site comes from the fact he’s half Chinese, half Irish. You find that out almost by accident in the About section, because by then you’ve forgotten you wondered about the name of the site. There’s a lot going on here.

I’ve been wondering lately what’s up with kids these days, since mine are all grown up and making their own marks in the world. So I’ll be looking in on this one from time to time. But this is really a great example of what a good blog can be. My only regret is that from the looks of things, Brandon probably won’t be a writer; everything points to a career in technology. But he seems to understand that technology needs the human side; so literature’s loss will be technology’s gain. He mentions in one post the site doesn’t get much traffic; the site’s been up since May and out of 50 posts there have only been 148 comments. Well, writers consider themselves lucky to get any comment at all most of the time, so I think that’s pretty good.

I hope he can get a lot more traffic; both kids and aging, leftover hippies like me can get a bit of inspiration from this well-done

Review 2361

One thing that I am sure after three years of reading my reviews you, the reader, would figure out certain pet peeves of mine. So now all of you loyal readers are going, “Uh oh. Which one is this?” The splash screen. Why? Someone explain to me the purpose of a splash screen on a blog, or any site for that matter. On the plus side the splash screen doesn’t look bad.

Onto the blog. We have your stereotypically blog by a twenty year old male who is at home for the summer. I am assuming he is at home because he is talking about how school starts soon and all that fun stuff. Recent posts are about how much work sucks and guess what, a year before, he posted very similar stuff. No big surprise.

The gems of the weblog itself however fall under the lyrics for songs. He writes his own songs, and while most of them I cannot imagine the music that would go with, others I could. I can hear the point of the songs which is really cool. I am glad that Zach is sharing his talent with us the reader.

The design of the site is interesting. Remember that splash screen? Yeah the image on there is at the top of the main page. We have a three column layout with the center column being used for the blog and other content of the site. The problem is that the center column is in an iframe which can be annoying for scrolling. There are some broken links in the navigation area which is somewhat annoying.

The archives unfortunately do not carry the same design as the rest of the site. They are in your standard Movable Type archive template: white background, black text. The only plus was that it was very easy to navigate through the archives as at the top they had links to the previous months.

Overall we have a standard blog with a little bit of flair. If the links actually all worked, and the design was consistent I would be able to give it the 3.5 or 4.0 rating it could earn. But unfortunately there was too much inconsistency to grab my attention to want me to come back for more.
words: in search of something more

Review 2344

I didn’t vote for Bush, don’t ever plan on voting for Bush, and find myself smacking my forehead in embarrassment when listening to him speak, so I’m not offended by the jabs taken at President Bush. In fact, I figure any American that didn’t vote for Bush in 2000 has just as much of a right to make fun of him as the next person. After all, we do have freedom of speech in the U S of A and mocking the leader of the free world is something that falls into that category. But a 21 year old man living in England, never to have voted in an American election? I’m not so sure it jives the same way.

For starters, I really can’t stand the layout of the site. It’s hosted by Lycos, so all the annoying ads they throw on the site are placed in a frame on the right hand side of the site. It looks like background was originally supposed to be white, but the background of the actual weblog text is black, as is the space around the header image. It’s pretty distracting to say the least.

There are several links at the bottom of the site that you have find only if scrolling the past 17 entries. The format and layout of these links appears to be provided by an automated script from another site, but the script doesn’t seem to be too accurate, as the same series of links are listed four different times.

I have no idea how the archives are set up. There are a couple of months of archives listed on the front page to read through initially. The titles of other posts are listed down the right side of the main blog area. Clicking on those titles takes you to a separate page, where you’re greeted by huge red text on a black background. Sure, I could use the options of my browser and shrink the text temporarily, but if I’m going to have to go back and forth between text sizes while visiting a website that has a lot of text to read, I’m not likely to come back.

The writing on the site is good. Some entries are a bit too trite and, in my opinion, some can be quite tasteless. Comparing the young boy that American soldiers maimed and murdered his parents to the likings of Spiderman and Batman isn’t exactly something that I would consider a rant or anything that has something to do with George Bush, which is what this site is geared around. It’s a casualty of war, perhaps something that could be blamed on the former Iraqi leader and not American soldiers that are trying to defend and protect.

I found some entries to be very funny. The “Diary of a Bodyguard“, which is a mockery of a fictitious journal kept by one of Bush’s bodyguards is a prime example. Modeling the majority of the entries after this one would be beneficial to the site. It’s funny, it’s satirical, but it’s not going to offend anyone or throw blame into somewhere it doesn’t belong.

Writing a weblog that focuses on someone you hate, as mentioned in the FAQ of this site, is a task that can’t really have any other point or focus other than bashing that particular person. Adding some humor in the entries would be a great plus with this site if that humor was just prevalent in each entry. Instead, it turns into the author berating every move that Bush makes, every word that he says, and blaming every negative action in American news on Bush. I think the only people that would benefit from this site or even enjoy coming back more than once would be those that, like the author, have an extremely deep hatred for Dubya. Otherwise, readers aren’t missing much.