Review 2365

Blogspot templates can be pleasing to the eye, despite the ad sitting right on top of the page. Color co-ordination sometimes makes a page more boring than anything else, but in the case of Life Under the Pear Tree(green, of course) it’s charming. Actually it’s more about pears than pear trees, seeing that there’s a quote about pears and a picture of a pear. But then again, ‘Life Under the Pear’ wouldn’t really work. Perhaps ‘Life On the Pear’? Hmm.

Life Under the Pear Tree is written by a girl who calls herself Phenol, aged fifteen. Like pears(you had to have seen this coming), her blog is refreshing. Phenol is an articulate writer, recording actual happenings with perfect clarity and expressing abstract thoughts in her own special, sometimes zany way. Also like a full-figured pear, her entries are long and filled with details. Fencing is featured frequently, as is her habit of self-analysis. Phenol’s success is that she writes in a lively, imaginative way, injecting humor in all the right places. There’s the usual teenage angst, but over here it’s in a prettier package.

As mentioned, the page goes by a basic Blogspot template. Everything is green, on a white background. It all comes off as rather fresh and innocent.

Life Under the Pear Tree also has an extra feature that can either be a pleasant surprise halfway through the blog, or further indication that it is a teen blog that you’re reading. When you click anywhere on the page, tiny pears in different shades of green sprinkle out of your cursor. They remind me of a fountain emitting tear-shaped pears. Either that, or a fountain of pear-shaped tears.

To sum it up, Life Under the Pear Tree is a model of squeaky clean teen blogs – delightfully interesting, void of subversive or negative elements(no comments on Bush or any wars, no mention of drugs, no word about sex), and self-indulgent in a charming way. Like a pear, it’s healthy. Even if you’re not a teenager, this is a blog worth checking out, because the voice telling the story is clear instead of muddled by confusion. If you’re a crabby old person who shakes his/her head and asks “What is the world coming to these days?” when you read about how fourteen-year-old Mike wants to slit his wrist, head over right now and get your dose of hope. Don’t miss the hilarious entry about learning how to drive.

Life Under the Pear Tree

Review 2366

Once you get into this blog, you’ll be rewarded with a sometimes ascerbic, usually humourous and good-natured insight into the life and interests of a thirty-something homosexual American who did, yes – really, eat paint when he was a kid.

Jason Ate Paint is a mess though. There’s no consistency to the design at the moment, with about a half dozen reasonable ideas for an aesthetic competing with one another for your attention. Unless you’re a designer, the design shouldn’t matter – it should be transparent and keep out of the way, allowing you to leisurely peruse the content on offer.

The weblog itself isn’t particularly accessible from the get-go. The latest post is shown, not in its entirety, but only with the first paragraph leading into the story as a whole. It’s a good idea in theory, letting you get a glimpse of a story before choosing whether or not to follow it; however, there need to be more entries to choose from on the first page for this to work.

The site is laden with neat ideas – almost bogged down, you could say – a poll, a random movie quote section, a glossary of terms (worth reading – some are quite hilarious), a random picture of the week, an events calendar and an announcements section, all on the front page clamouring for space.

You can, and will, get past the idiosyncratic navigation and discover the worthy areas of the site (and even then, the content is not as easy to get around as it is on sites with more conventional means of archiving). You’ll find yourself, as I did, continuing onto the next post just after deciding that the last one would be the last for the time being. You’ll identify with some of the glossary terms regardless of your background; for example, “I don’t know… Internet?” works on so many levels.

There’s not much missing from this site; maybe that’s because it’s all right there, on the first page you see. More likely, it’s because there isn’t much missing at all, and you should just settle back and enjoy an interesting read.

Jason ate Paint

Review 2362

Kaizoku-Ou is ostensibly devoted to the Japanese comic form, anime. As well as the blog, which is the focus of the site and runs back a year in archives, there are also some anime character sketches, a potted history of the art form in 1990s America, a few photographs, links and, strangely, the author’s resume.

The first thing that you will notice on arriving at the site is that the blog is not on the front page. Rather inappropriately this is given over to a list of updates to the site – for example, on the 18th of July the comment reads ” New blog entry, updated links section.” Furthermore, once you select an area to browse, such as the blog itself, there’s no way to get back to the first page (in the unlikely event that you would need to).

The weblog itself is well-written, though at the moment it seems to be going through a dry spell. In previous months blog entries were more regular and numerous, concerning the author’s life and personal events, as well as comments on entertainment and anime. A neat feature of each post is that it begins with a title, giving the entry a theme of sorts, followed by the writer’s mood at the time, and what he was listening to (or watching).

Most of the posts follow personal events and so it makes for good reading, going through and watching a story develop. Readers not particularly interested in anime itself will still find content worth their while; unfortunately, comments on anime are aimed at the hardcore, with some knowledge of the subject presumed.

The language and tone of the blog makes it relatively easy reading, but the site isn’t helped by the design. Older entries still have white text on black, and considering the length (and width) of each entry, the long paragraphs, the small text and line-spacing, whereas the newer ones still suffer from the usual problems you’d expect of anime sites. Individual posts don’t have permalinks, so linking to a particular story is a terribly hit-or-miss affair.

Navigation is something of a problem too. The archive links are temperamental, mostly everything is targeted at a frameset that is anachronistic to modern weblog design. Perhaps the worst part of the design is that this is supposed to be an anime-oriented site. The author has a good handle on penmanship and it is strange that he has not chosen to decorate the site proper with more of his work.

Kaizoku-Ou is missing a few items that would certainly elevate its rating above what I have given it. For a start, a design with far more eye-candy is needed to compete with other anime sites. An about section, for the site and the author, would give new readers the opportunity to learn about the site without having to start at the beginning and work forwards. Otherwise, this is a competent, interesting read that I am certain will continue to improve in the future.

Review 2392

I knew right away with GGSearch that I was going to have to start from the beginning of the archived entries and work my way to the most current entries just to get an idea of what the heck GGSearch actually is.

GGSearch is a search tool with Google power. Now, as mentioned on the site where you can download GGSearch, the GGSearch software is not a product of Google, nor is it related to everyone’s favorite search engine. “The application only makes use of some of Google’s goodies”.

Pieter, the mastermind behind GGSearch, is from The Netherlands and uses this weblog as more of a newsboard to keep viewers and users of the search tool abreast on what’s going on in the development phases of his creation. If I were to use this downloadable software on a regular basis, I know I would definitely appreciate being able to read straight from the creator what was going on behind the scenes.

The GGSearch weblog is hosted on Blogspot’s servers and the design is that of a standard Blogger template. Of course, with that in mind, the navigation is easy to follow, the colors all mesh well together, and everything is in working order as far as the technical aspect of it goes.

Most of the entries I found over the last two months were geared primarily towards the progress and updates being made to GGSearch. Every now and then, you can find a sporadic link to another site more likely than not having something to do with the Google search engine.

I would highly recommend this site to anyone that’s been stereotyped as one of those good ol’ computer geeks. For the average weblog surfer, this site might not be too interesting.


Review 2392

GGSearch. I have no clue what this blog is going to be about so I might as well dive right in. Oh wait, I know it should be something to do with computers, and my guess is something with searching but other than that, I have no clue. After entering the weblog, I know what GGSearch is – a search tool that uses Google to do the searches. More on what GGSearch is later.

So the weblog itself is rather interesting. It is mainly dealing with some issues with the GGSearch software, and what the author wants to do with it, and those sort of things a developer would ask. But then there are some random semi-personal but still kind of professional posts to liven it up a bit. The weblog is fairly well written, but I think the author does not speak English as a primary language. For the most part you would never know, but there are little hints and clues that you pick up. Oh yeah, his other site is named Fry Asian Fools which might give some insight.

The design itself is pretty boring. It has a standard two column layout with a colored line separating the columns and an all white background. Of course, I really can’t complain too much because most programmers are not designers. At least he takes advantage of the space properly with the design and it doesn’t hinder the use of the weblog.

So what is GGSearch exactly? Well its a piece of software you can download for your PC (sorry no Linux or Mac version) that will perform searches for you. But wait, that is what Google is for, and the Google toolbar. True, but this was created originally when the Google Toolbar would only work on IE. This will use any browser you chose. This is good for those people that need to be searching and searching and searching some more. Oh yeah, it is free.

Over all we have a good weblog. It has a specific point to it which gives it just that much more appeal. I know what I am getting into by reading this blog, and I like that. The only downside I see to this blog is what happens when development stops on GGSearch? The weblog will probably go down too. But until that happens, you can follow the development of a search tool.