Review 2815

Okay, I’ll admit this is an easy blog for me to review, as I’ve been reading Gemmak nearly daily for months! She is a self confessed computer addicted cat lover living in an idyllic rural area of Scotland, making her irresistable to me from the first day I opened her first page. She’s charming, intelligent, sassy and has a rollicking sense of humor, with enough style and class to not only create her own beautiful space, but to help many others with theirs as well.

This week, for example, she’s guest hosting for a blogbuddy in Chicago as well as keeping current with her own. Like a beloved Auntie she worries about doing an interesting enough job for her friend and wants to be sure she hasn’t let anyone down. She stays very current on many current event topics and her opinions, although always polite and mannerly, are very firmly her own. She’s willing to call a spade a spade when she deems it neccessary, yet has never failed to present herself in a most amusing and ladylike way. She really enjoys her life, her friends, her worldwide connections and never fails to come up with the most interesting goodies to add on or into her forums.

Her blog is endlessly beautiful and constantly changing. As a truely virtuoso template tweaker she’s always on the hunt for new and different ways to add color, links, animations, and more different odds and ends of ever fascinating stuff then any site I’ve ever seen. She’s forever thrilled with the new and unusual in blogland, yet can always find the time to help anyone who asks for her assistance, and is happy to do so. This lady appears to have the unusual ability to find at least 25 hours in each and every day, and enjoys many of them finding extra special things to blog. All of her links work every time, and she has many many blogging friends all over the world. Gemmak’s place makes a terrific launching pad for at least a week of endless entertainment following links, she has a true knack for finding really great writers, fascinating friends, and fun things to see and do. No matter how often she changes it or how many things she adds, it’s always pretty, logically ordered, and simple to navigate around in.

Quite simply, Gemmak has created and continues to create the epitomy of what blogging is, or should be. An interactive forum complete with shoutbox and many many comments and commenters, a piece of ever changing visual art, a thinkers forum for idea exchanging worldwide, and a fun place to hang out. Her blog invites more then daily visiting since it’s a safe bet that every single visit will produce something new to enjoy. If I had to find one single thing to critize about it, it would only be the possibility that the reader could be quickly addicted, and perhaps lose track of time spent in Gemmak’s world. Of course, one could always request that she give a quick ‘wake up call’ to those who need to leave the premises at a particular time, for she’d be happy to oblige nearly any request from a reader.

If there were a score higher than 5, Gemmak would rate it, for like a fine hotel, her quiet good graces create an atmosphere of luxury and elegance. If she would only serve tea and finger sandwichs occasionally, I’m not sure I’d ever wish to leave her hospitality. This reviewer says 5 plus for Gemmak, jolly good blog indeed!gemmak’s BLOGS

Review 2815

Upon entering Gemmak’s Blogs you see a standard blogger template with a black background and white type but with an absolutely gorgeous photo of a little bird sitting on a frozen tree. I sat and stared at the photo for at least a full minute and found it immensely calming, almost hypnotic. I don’t know if she took the photo or not, but it does appear after every post as sort of the Gemmak ‘logo.’

When I read Gemmak’s profile, I quickly noticed “Location: Scottish borders.” I thought, Oooo, how neat is that? Someone who doesn’t even live in a city but on ‘borders.’ (Well, she does say that she left a big city to live in the middle of nowhere, so it all fits together nicely.) Also in her profile it says she likes ‘computers and gadgetry.’ It shows. When you hold your mouse over a photo or any of her sidebar links, these little, purple blinking lights go all around the photo or link, yet another nifty gadget-like thing you find on Gemmak’s Blogs.

However, Gemmak likes way too many gadgets. Her sidebar is filled with just about everything you can find on the Internet to put on your blog. Long, long link lists and blogrolls, one of those real-time chat things (I’m not sure what they are called but I see them a lot), a World Time clock with way too many time zones, hit counters, Guest Map, Guest Book, BritBlog logo, Scots Blogs logo, web ring links (at least 6 or 7 of these), the list goes on and on–just like the sidebar. I read someone’s blog once who said, “Just because you can put all these things on your blog, doesn’t mean you have to.” Here, here.

Her posts are pretty standard blogging posts, day-to-day happenings, work issues, oh, and the too-occasional photos of her cats. She has been blogging since early 2004 and has a good following of readers. After reading Bugs, bugs and more bugs, I am happy to note that where I live, flies do not crawl in your nose, nor do I have to vacuum them off the windowsill 3 times per day. Egad!

She has a link to Gemmak Gallery which I assume are photos she has taken of the Scottish borders and (big surprise here, folks) her cats. The photos of the Scottish borders are simply a wonder to see. This is the reason I think that blogging is one of the great unifying tools of our time. To be able to delve into someone’s life who lives halfway around the world in such an open and personal way is truly making a difference in how we see others.gemmak’s BLOGS

Review 2815

The tagline of this blog is what drew me in. That and the big picture of a robin right above the title. “The day to day ramblings of a computer addicted woman and her cats who escaped the ‘big city’ for an idyllic life in the middle of nowhere.” is what it says and then, in the profile picture
a cartoon of a brown-haired woman holding a cat. I like cats so I read on.

In the latest posts, which display on the page, there isn¹t really very much
about the cats. But scrolling down I find a delightful story about Ditto (one of her cats, Poppy is the other) who “stalks” a pizza slice straight from her hands proceeding to claw it from her grasp then drag it off across
the floor.

There are an astounding number of visitors for a personal blog (9810 when I visited), which is pretty impressive, considering the archives only begin in May 2004.

I loved the sparkly things that come up around your cursor that she has on all her links. The design is very basic—one of the
Blogspot templates; black and blue– but the writing is chatty and personal.

I did object to the overuse of the ellipses that she has done in her older posts, but the more current ones have corrected that problem. At times though her humour seems somewhat forced, it’s clear she’s at her best when she’s not trying too hard (as are we all). Several links lead off from this
site, including her homepage, gallery and the usual “100 things about me”. Those are a little more experimental in design, still not mind-blowing, but they do use fancy bullets and the like.

But a good personal blog nonetheless–nothing remarkable, but worth a read.
gemmak’s BLOGS

Review 2719

Rather than the Grateful Dead fan site that I was expecting to find, I am reading the wonderfully written and researched blog of Natalie Davis. I notice a clean, minimalist interface and organization which makes the content easy to read.

Natalie Davis’ blog highlights progressive news and offers us commentary from her prospective. Natalie’s views are intelligent and well informed, her articles are well written and she obviously has a great understanding of the subject material which is discussed. George Bush and the upcoming presidential election seem to be Natalie’s favorite recent topics.

I had to fumble about for a few seconds trying find the links to other sections of the blog, I finally found them in a small drop down menu. The drop down menu does not stand out; this misleads readers into believing that there is only one page. There is no reason that all of the links located in the drop down menu and at the bottom of the page can not be organized into the column to the right of the articles; this would eliminate white space and make navigation much easier.

Additionally, the white background is dull. Separating the menu from the article’s main body with slight color tones and a few images would be a wonderful addition. I would also like to see more information about the author, there should be a direct link to an author profile.

This blog’s content is far more interesting than its presentation. I hope that readers do not judge this blog by its cover. It provides great insight into current events from a knowledgeable person who has an obvious passion for what they are writing about.

All Facts and Opinions

Review 2719

“All Facts and Opinions” is a clean two column page with a red banner as a header. Seems a simple and straightforward layout at first glance. But as I went looking for an “About Me” link, I scrolled through what was undoubtedly THE longest list of linkage I have had the misfortune to encounter as a reviewer. I never did find an “about” page. But I did discover I had arrived at a political blog.

I searched in vain for an easy to access archive link and finally found that if I typed “archives” into the search box, a long list of entries appeared. A more user friendly archive access would be helpful to newcomers.

As to writing style and content, the entries are generally rather sarcastic jabs at whoever is annoying our author that day. There is a mean spirited tone to many of the entries. This is fine if you just want to vent. And establishing a blog as a place to vent has a long and glorious tradition. But if you want to persuade, other tactics are in order. One can be civil and still have strong opinions. Occasionally there were entries about movies and pop culture, but these were few and far between.

There were certain inconsistencies that I found annoying, given the strong opinions our author holds about her brand of politics. In one entry she says the following:

“It is any wonder why some see no other recourse but to leave the US? That is my ultimate goal, and it will happen the minute my economic condition allows it. To me, the choice to flee is a simple one: Why stay in a country that hates?”

And in another she writes this:

Can’t believe I am admitting this publicly: One of my favorite guilty pleasures is Ted Casablanca’s “The Awful Truth” a celeb-gossip column presented weekly at E! Entertainment’s web site. Naturally, I surf by for delicious dirt, but what really tickles me is the blond one’s open partisanship — Casablanca is an out-and-proud Bush hater (in more ways than one, she quips crudely, taking a page from Whoopi Goldberg’s book) and he takes delight in zinging the Shrub every chance he gets.

So, it’s okay to hate, as long as it’s President Bush.

It’s hard to respect this kind of sloppy logic, regardless of your political leanings.

I found little original thought on this blog, and frankly, the vitriol became tedious. Political blogs of all stripes run the risk of falling to the lowest common denominator. Honest political commentary is hard work, requiring diligent inquiry into opposing views and deep introspection into one’s own positions. I found little of that here.

All Facts and Opinions