Review 2471

From the title displayed in our sites to review ‘Countdown to the 2004 Presidential Elections’ I wasn’t exactly sure what I would find at this site, I was not really sure either whether I would be the right person to review since I am not from the US. On arrival at Indigo Bleu’s Journal you are immediately greeted with a generic looking two column blue template with a short menu in the left hand column and content in the right. There is an interesting friends list, a couple of external links, a short profile and a link to the previous entries. Although listed as a ‘news/links’ site based on first impressions I would have said this belonged primarily within the personal category.

The site’s content was a simple mixture of news links, personal opinion intermingled among entries of a more personal nature. The central topic from early on is the Iraqi war, at first giving the impression that it was mere opinion of an American on the war itself, it was soon revealed in a later entry that there is a more personal reason for interest – her husbands family are from Iraq. Although the vast majority of posts can amount to just a few words on each link, there are some real gems to be found here, especially when the author lowers her guard and writes. You may not agree with everything she has to say, but you have to appreciate that she has the will to say it.

The sites template is a simple two column template in blue and white, with the content on the right and the navigation on the left. Although on the surface this site is easy enough to navigate I did find it rather frustrating on occasion. Not wanting to look for the author’s first posting via the ‘previous 20 postings’ links, which for all I knew might take a while I headed off to the calendar. I found the first posting in August easy enough, but quickly discovered that scanning through each individual entry was to be a little frustrating – the link actually takes you to the next day whether there is an entry there or not, this would be fine for someone who posted every day, but for someone who posts more spasmodically it can be a little annoying. The links to previous or next 20 entries to be found at the top and bottom of each page were the best way of navigating this site after all.

Another point which springs immediately to mind when I think of the left hand menu is the links – in its current state it is impossible to fathom which are internal or external links until the reader clicks on it. Some re-organisation in this area, separating external and internal links would really help bring some definition here.

Although listed as a ‘news / links’ site, and despite the fact that many of its entries are of this nature I would still be likely to categorise it as personal. Based largely on the Iraqi war and the Bush administration in the early weeks, the vast majority of entries are opinion intermingled with posts of a more personal nature. Its target audience is perhaps going to be drawn from those who share her opinions on the war, and are likely to come back occasionally to read up on what else she has to say. With amendments to the side menu I think this site has real potential to appeal to this section. Although I personally found some of her posts interesting, especially when she lowered her guard and actually wrote a heart felt entry I wouldn’t visit this site on a regular basis. For these reasons I award this site a 3, some real interest here but nothing to make it stand out from the ordinary.

Editors Note: Site was originally title “Countdown to the 2004 Presidential Elections” but the athor changed directions. I have thus changed the title of this blog to its correct title of “Indigo Bleu’s journal”.Indigo Bleu’s journal

Review 2435

Jeff is training to become a high-school Physics teacher, and for that he deserves our respect and commendations. He also writes an interesting blog focussed on his journey; as a niche site, it remains true to its purpose throughout, whilst occasionally looking elsewhere for additional content.

When Jeff’s site began, way back in August ’03, the majority of entries were focussed on his teacher training, with tangential writings on science and scientific issues. He made good points about the creationism vs. evolution debate and how it is still raging; he wrote about how he used Apple’s movie software to (theoretically) introduce students to difficult concepts in science; his gripes about having to manage a classroom with 37 children in it are understandable and touching.

In September Jeff started teaching; the account of his first week is well narrated, neatly drawing the reader along. Afterwards the writer comments on the state of funding in schools, and relates the tale of the egg and the bottle, a marvellous little experiment that illustrates some of the finer points behind the science of air pressure.

The blog has its darker overtones. Jeff remarks often about the poor state of funding, how political concerns affect the use and judgement of textbooks. However, we are reminded near the end of September of just how bad things can get in American schools, with the story of another school shooting.

Jeff’s design is simple and appealing, with easy to read text, and a brief download time. My only concern is with the “About” page, which opens in a new window without scrollbars, making parts impossible to access without resorting to looking at the source. Otherwise, the design accomodates its content very neatly.

The site is still in its infancy. Already there is enough for an hour or so’s leisurely reading, and I hope that Jeff maintains his form for the duration of his training; perhaps this effort represents Volume 1 of an ongoing story. I hope so.

So you want to be a science teacher…

Review 2434

The author of has no idea why she is blogging; she openly admits this at the top of the page. I wonder if it is true that to be treated you must first admit to having the disease.

Scarlet’s site has been around since March of 2003, and has done well to establish itself within that period. Posts are frequent and involving, and are classical blog material, true to the essence of the blog: links to external articles, with commentary. This is one of the major uses of blogs: in the early days, a weblog was a way to comment and share opinions on news items, popular editorial columns, other sites, and so on. Networking was big – huge even. Nowadays, many blogs have moved away from their roots and have become personal and limited in their scope.

Scarlet is an Australian, so a good deal of the news reports are relevant to her hemisphere; this is great – there are few enough Aussie blogs as it is, so one that is updated frequently with interesting comment and analysis is a welcome addition to the net. However, finding information about the author herself is a somewhat complicated matter.

Beyond the blog, the site is also home to a reasonably funny photo archive (housing very few photos but with a nicely done mock-404 page); on the left of the blog is a list of sites Scarlet frequents, followed by some choice quotes (famous, I believe).

The design is adequate but breaks a little in Netscape, with some overlapping content; the site’s title could have been more memorable, proving that for Westerners at least it is necessary to include vowels in our writing (though it is easy enough to guess what the ‘hidden’ meaning is – I think). Also, it isn’t possible to browse the archives by month, as I would have liked, despite there being links to each one – these are broken. Instead, you can view each article, one at a time, but this is a tiring process.

Overall, Scarlet’s site is a readable, Aussie-centric affair that will cater to most tastes. Personal posts are infrequent and often cryptic (congratulations are in order, if I have correctly interpreted October 8th’s entry). is a good starting point for learning about Australia from within.


Review 2334

Maybe it’s just me, and maybe I’ve been around the block once or twice, but I’m starting to get a little tired of the same ol’ layouts. It could very well be a matter of being spoiled. I’ve seen and read a lot of blogs that have these unique designs and layouts, and the ones that I’ve seen what feels like a hundred times put a sour taste in my mouth. However, being the unbiased reviewer that I try to be, I’m not going to let this get to me, though, I won’t lie… the content will have to wow the hell out of me. *crosses fingers* I can only hope that it will.

A lot of the earlier entries revolve around the war and the thoughts on some of the things going on at the time. It’s not necessarily boring, but they seem a little redundant. It’s nice to see the progression from someone who doesn’t know anything about HTML to using it a little more as you get to more recent entries. The entries are thought filled, but they’re not personal. There’s a lot of “sharing” of information that’s already out there, which makes me wonder if the site isn’t more of a News/Links site as opposed to a personal site. The more you read the more you’ll see that the author changes and progresses to be more talkative of his own thoughts on subject matter, as opposed to just posting about them. The more recent entries show that the author has made leaps and bounds in learning how to integrate pictures with his posts, and like I said before, they do start to be more personalized. You get to read more about the author as you get to more recent entries, and you gain better access into his own thoughts and ideas on certain subjects.

I’ve made mention already to the design. It’s a typical layout. It’s one that many long time bloggers have seen over the course of the last few years. I actually remember the contest that spawned this particular layout. There’s nothing exceptional about the layout. There are many external links, some leading no where in particular and other’s that actually are quite interesting. This layout, of course, if functional, but I, personally, tire of seeing it. The archives work, which, is always a grand plus in my book.

There isn’t anything extraordinary about the site, nothing that reaches out and strikes me. I’m sure if I read from start to finish I’d find the explanation with regard to the monkey picture he has in his header. I’m sure I could even go in search of what the links at the bottom consist of, as it looks more like an ad that’s been placed down below. There is little mentioned about the author, at least not in the entries I’ve read, and having no about me page makes it even more difficult to understand some of the content.

Overall the site has a lot of potential. A little bit of coding creativity, some new colors, and possibly even a little blurb to understand who the author is. You gain more as you read, but it’s often difficult to decide between what to read and what to breeze over. You get a much better feel for the author’s humor in more recent entries, so if you find yourself venturing that way, enjoy the new stuff, as it will probably hold your attention fairly well. The Apple Coda

Review 2401

Yaser, with “To die, to sleep… no more”, has surely one of the most pretentious taglines I have come across in quite a while. In fact, if that was all I had to go on, I wouldn’t read much of the site, especially as the page’s design is substantially broken in Netscape (come on people! It isn’t hard to get cross-compatible sites up these days!).

Fortunately, on loading the site, I was greeted with a very welcoming and attractively green masthead, an understated aesthetic that works particularly well under Internet Explorer, and generally a site packed with wonderful content.

Yaser is a student at Toronto University; that’s as much personal information as we are given, which is a shame but hardly a crime, and considering how hazardous it can be to have a public website if you’re islamic (at least in the current political climate), perhaps a good idea. Yaser, though, is certainly a talented photographer.

Photography is becoming the dominant thread running through the blog. It wasn’t always this way – in previous months Yaser discussed the problems of being a Muslim during the war with Iraq. Before the world was taken over by the Bush war machine and the theological shellshock such actions brought with it, the writer was happy enough to spend a lot of time posting comments and opinions about university life.

For a while, from the beginning of the site’s archives in May ’02, Yaser wrote about just about everything, and such lack of focus can be a site’s undoing. Posts varied from week to week, some concerned solely with a particular topic, only for it to be discarded after a few entries; for example, the World Cup in Japan and South Korea attracts some attention, but aside from the odd comment on one or two exceptional results (and a closer look at Saudi Arabia’s embarrassing run of form), there is no reason to read this site’s coverage over any other’s, unless you happen to be a close friend.

That Yaser‘s site looks to be gaining a focus (photography, with photos as blog entries; occasionally complete series of them) is why I think it is worth coming back to. There are too many blogs that lack direction, content to provide content only of interest to friends and an immediate, pre-existing community; now it serves a bigger purpose, a theme that makes the whole more interesting. – To die, to sleep…no more