Sunday, March 05, 2006

Important announcement

When I first started this blog, I was jobless and aimless. I thought I'd be able to do some public service with free reviews. From an initial 3 reviews requested, the list quickly grew to nearly 100. My intention was to review them all as soon as I could.

However, things have happened in the past couple of weeks. I have a new job, and my personal life has also become busier :)

Unfortunately that means I am unable to do reviews on a regular basis. I will not give up entirely as I do enjoy what I'm doing here, but will probably review only once a week or less.

To all those still waiting for their reviews, I ask for your patience. And for those who are thinking of getting a review, please note that there will be a pretty long waiting period.

Davious and Athena, thanks for your help so far. You are free to continue helping out if you wish, or stop if you want - I'm ok with either decision. Also if anyone else wants to offer their reviewing services, feel free to email me with a sample review. Helpers are always welcome :)

Any inconvenience is regretted. But my life comes first ;)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mental Jog

Lucia Lai has been blogging since Sept 2003 and is still dedicated enough to blog practically every day. That is a big plus in my books. She blogs about socio-political and current issues and although her English isn't very good, she gets the message (and her opinions) across well enough.

However, the blog layout is where Lucia loses points. It's a Blogspot blog which has been customised, hence the garish header which might have looked all right except that the background contains the words 'Mental Jog' multiple times, in bright blue font. Plus there's some coding on the left (tr>).

This is a 3 column layout, each of which contains images and colourful fonts, creating a busy, confusing atmosphere. Google ads after every post. The images in the post are mostly small, but they are sometimes placed on the left, sometimes the middle, and sometimes the right, making the whole column look haphazard. The multitude of colours only makes things worse.

There's just too much going on and it distracts from the main content. Lucia, I think people will come to your site just to read what you have to say. Get rid of the distracting bits (like your ICQ and Gmail address which you can place in text format, the ads, the site counter images, etc) and your blog will improve tremendously. After all, your blog is of a serious nature, and it deserves to have a layout that's less cluttered and distracting, not one that looks like it was created by a teenager.

My rating: 4/10

Anjali Speaks

Anjali has done some creative work on her blog. It's a Blogspot blog but not one of the usual templates. It's really attractive, especially the header.

However, the number of pictures is mind boggling, and slows down the loading of the page. All those thumbnails of books, movies, singers and yummy men on the right - are they really necessary? The posts also contain photos and pictures, although most are thankfully small.

For some reason though, the images don't really look too much. On another blog they may look cluttered and a waste of space but here they actually add to the overall 'atmosphere'. My suggestion would be to just remove the 'yum yum 2004' to reduce loading time.

Anjali's English is really good and she writes well, mostly about her personal life. I liked the post about Boon Cit, that was hilarious! Too bad she doesn't blog more regularly as I think the posts are quite entertaining and she has a wicked sense of humour.

Not much personal info about the blogger, in fact none at all - as in, there's no blogger profile in the left or right columns. I know what she reads, listens to, watches and the kind of men she likes, but apart from that, nothing. I wouldn't know her if I passed her on the street and that's a shame cos I'd like to congratulate her on a good blog.

My rating: 8/10

Carboncopy

Carboncopy has been blogging since July 2004 - a pretty long time in terms of blogging. He just got his own domain too. Congratulations on that :)

This is a Wordpress-powered blog, with grey and white as the only colours except for the occasional red font and image. Pretty dull look, but it seems to be ideal for this blog since it's a serious one. Mostly political posts, which never really attract my attention.

I only read the posts on the main page and didn't feel any urge to read older posts since the content isn't interesting to me. However, those who are keen on reading his politicial/other opinions may find this blog worth bookmarking.

I did notice that other content categories included Heart Matters, Apple and Technology, etc, but honestly the style of writing isn't great. The English is so-so.

The blogger seems to have his own opinions, but they just don't seem to be coming across (to me) very well. Still, I appreciate that he has taken the time to write about serious issues instead of creating just another personal blog.

My rating: 5/10

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ang Anino Ni Abaniko

Durian coffee. That's the first time I've ever heard of such a thing. And I found it in this blog by a blogger in the Philippines(!). Tell me Abaniko, does it taste good? I can't imagine the taste! (I'm not a durian fan by the way).

Ang Anino Ni Abaniko (The Shadow of Abaniko) is mostly grey, with dark red (for post headers and links), and orange (in the header) being the only colours to break the monotony. I noticed that the header seemed out of alignment with the middle and right columns. But since one of his posts said it's been fixed, I thought it could be a Firefox problem. Checked in IE and sure enough, the header looks fine.

Abaniko blogs pretty regularly, mostly about his personal life. Only two posts in the main page had photos, which is all right with me. If you write well, like Abaniko does, you don't need a multitude of photos and pictures to capture your readers' attention.

He's got a pretty long blogroll in the right column but since the main content is longer, it doesn't do any damage. In fact the entire right column is neat, without unnecessary ads/buttons/banners. The five small buttons on the bottom, under links, actually add colour to the column so they're pretty welcome.

My rating: 8/10

The Zebra

The Zebra is not your basic Blogspot or Wordpress powered blog. Some creativity has obviously gone into its creation. The background is black but in no way is it dull. Shades of orange and a splash of lime green on the bottom liven things up.

There is a somewhat evil yet cute looking creature next to the title, some sort of anime character perhaps? The sub header says "I eat you". Just looking at the header makes me smile.

Another character on the left, holding a sword and covered in blood. Hmm, something tells me The Zebra is into gory cartoons.

The posts are a bit hard to read as the font is small and I had to focus hard. If that wasn't bad enough, conversations are posted in an even smaller font. And that's a shame because the posts are really interesting and worth reading. Good English to boot. Too bad I lost interest after a few posts because my eyes started to hurt.

There was no information about the blogger in the side column besides the fact that he's discovered the wonders of ready made sauces and is currently reading 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith.

From the posts I deduced that he's in Perth. And the fact that a security guard wished him Gong Hei Fatt Choy reveals he's Chinese. Beyond that I know nothing about the Zebra except that he writes well and I would really enjoy reading his blog more if he made it easier on the eyes.

For now, the rating is 6/10.

Just My Thoughts

Reviewed by Davious, the Apprentice Blog Critic

This blog reveals the life of Jo, a self-proclaimed silly girl who holds on to past relationships and believes in fairy tales. Hopefully, she won't see this review as just a fairy tale.

Anyway it's the 1 top header, 1 content and 1 sidebar format on this blogspot site.

The posts are sometimes short and sweet, and sometimes long ... and still sweet. The English is so so, and she comes across as an innocent girl through her posts.

The sidebar is short and neat, but it does not say anything much about her. Maybe she's keeping a low profile.

Overall rating: 3/10