Author Archives: Tessa

Peer Review 2

For my second peer review, I will be looking at Emily’s blog, How to Get Away with Cooking.

I enjoy her theme, as it is very simple yet visually appealing and easy to navigate. She makes good use of her white space and the picture on her homepage adds a splash of colour. Travis Gertz claims in Design Machines: How to Survive the Digital Apocalypse that the problem with digital design nowadays is that “everything looks the same”, and  I like Emily’s design because it is different, as her homepage picture is underneath the title and not in the header. The title itself is clever and tells me exactly what the blog is about, and the fonts she chose go together well. As she stated in Process Post 3, her theme is simple and minimalistic with dynamic graphics to bring attention to her recipes, and she has done a great job with this.

I do have some recommendations for her homepage. She would benefit from having “Home” on her main menu so her readers can go back to the main page. She also has a search tab on her main menu and a search bar underneath it, which is redundant, so I would suggest getting rid of one of them. There is also a random white box on the right side of her homepage, which she should get rid of as it takes up space. She should also use more tags in her posts to draw people to her blog, and perhaps add a tag cloud so people can narrow down what they are looking for.

I like that her social media icons are on the side as it is different, and they are not in the way but are still visible. When you click on them, only the Instagram one goes to Emily’s actual social media, while the Facebook and Twitter icons are there to share her blog on those websites. I like the idea of getting her followers to promote her blog this way, but having those icons there is a bit misleading, as most people would expect to see her social media. If she can separate these icons or write, “Share my blog on Facebook and Twitter”, that would help.

Her Instagram icon does go to her personal account but it is private, which beats the purpose of linking to it. People will click on it to see her photos and learn more about her, so having a private Instagram does not give them this satisfaction and makes them less likely to follow her. I would suggest that she either make her Instagram public so people can get a sense of who she is outside of her blog or create a separate Instagram for her blog, which she could use to promote it and attract more viewers. She could post pictures of food to relate to her blog and by doing so she can maintain her audience across multiple platforms and attract viewers through Instagram.

I really like the way she has set up her posts. The recipe layout is very well organized and looks like a recipe you would find in a cookbook, and it is great that people can print off her recipes to use them later. People can rate her recipes in the comments, which makes her blog interactive. I like that she includes facts about the food she makes and adds hyperlinks for more info. One small problem with the posts is that it says the author of them is “admin”, so she should change it to her name to make it more personal or remove it altogether.

Emily has a well-articulated, consistent persona in her posts. In Michael Warner’s Publics and Counterpublics, he claims, “The address of public speech is both personal and impersonal”, which really applies to Emily’s blog. It is clear that she is addressing a general audience, but she constantly uses “you” in her posts, which singles out the individual reading the post and makes it more personal. Emily knows exactly who she wants her audience to be, which gives her blog its own public according to Warner.

Overall, Emily is doing a great job with her blog and just needs to make a few changes to make it even better.

My Fourth-Year Experience

As many of you already know, I am currently in my fourth year of university. This is not my last year, in case you were wondering. I, like many students nowadays, am taking an extra year of school so I can lighten my course load and my stress each semester.

I am just over a month into the first semester of my fourth year of university and it is definitely my worst semester yet. I don’t hate school – in fact, I love learning and becoming more knowledgeable about the world around me. I just hate homework, essays, and exams because of the effort I have to put into them and the stress they cause me, and this hatred has grown every semester.

I always heard from older friends that they lost all motivation in third or fourth year, but I never really understood or believed it until now. I used to try so hard in first and second year, and even last fall I was much more on top of readings and assignments. I did all the readings for all of my classes and I wrote essays at least a week in advance, while this fall I am struggling to keep up with my readings and I’m writing essays and completing projects days before the deadline. What happened?

I don’t really have an answer to this. I’m not entirely sure what changed in the past few years except for my attitude. When I first came to university, I was so excited to be there and to learn, but that excitement has worn off and now I’m just sick of following the same routine every semester. I am desperate to break free of the student life and graduate, but the mere thought of graduating and having to find a career terrifies me. Don’t get me wrong, I want to finish school and get a career as soon as possible, I’m just afraid that I won’t be able to find a job after I graduate and I’ll be stuck in limbo, working some awful customer service job to pay my bills. The other option that terrifies me is that I won’t be qualified to get a job I want, and instead I will have to settle for something that I completely hate, and I’ll end up stuck in that job for years.

My fear of finding a career directly opposes my need to graduate as quickly as possible, but I can’t find a way to reconcile these two things. I suppose I could start looking into career options now, but I’m afraid that will just add extra stress, and I do not need that right now as I am already on the brink of a meltdown with multiple essays, midterms, and projects due within the next couple weeks. My other option is to try to enjoy or at least appreciate school and the structure of it while I can, and perhaps find some extra motivation as well. I do enjoy having a relatively free schedule in comparison to the schedule I’ll have when I get a full-time job, but I wish I had more time to actually relax and have fun with friends instead of spending my free time doing homework.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I don’t have a specific message or piece of wisdom to impart on whoever is reading this post. I just want to get my thoughts and anxieties out in hopes that I am not the only person feeling this way.

Week 6 Process Post

Everyone has an ideal or imagined audience for their blog. I see my blog being appealing to girls between the ages of 18 and 25, and for that reason I have written posts and designed my blog to reflect this imagined audience. My posts so far have been a combination of personal essays and film/tv show reviews, which are things that I find interesting and would want to read about on a blog. I am essentially trying to write a blog that I would want to read in hopes that other girls around my age will want to read it as well. I am constantly writing down potential blog post ideas, and each week I choose one that I think my viewers would find interesting and that I want to discuss. I am hoping that if I keep doing this, I will attract the audience I desire.

My imagined audience has also influenced the design of my blog. I have looked at the blogs of some of my classmates and former Pub 101 students to see what works and what does not, and to model my blog design on other personal blogs. I wanted to have a header image that suits my blog and is pretty to look at, so I chose an image of clouds as it works well with my title and my theme. I put my categories on the side, as it is a useful way for readers to see the different sections of my blog and decide which one they want to read based on their interests. I also included a tag cloud for the same reason; I want my readers to be able to go on my blog and find something that interests them. I also added pictures and a link to my Instagram account on the side, as many other blogs I have looked at have done that as well and Instagram is a great platform that I think could help me acquire and keep followers for my blog. I decided to include featured images for all of my blog posts, which I did not do initially, as it looks nice in other blogs I have seen and adds a visual element. With the images, I can create an aesthetic for my blog and use that to draw people in and give them an idea of what kind of blog I have created. Many of my design decisions so far have been to attract and keep my desired audience, but I have always made sure to make changes that I like as well, as I want to create a blog that I would read myself.

The Struggle of Having Two Homes

This weekend, I went back to my hometown to spend Thanksgiving with my parents. I go home for almost every holiday or school break, and I try to go home once a month in the summer as well. This constant back-and-forth has become my new norm. Ever since I moved to Vancouver for university, I’ve tried to go home as much as possible to see my family.

It’s funny that I miss my hometown so much, because when I lived there all I wanted to do was leave. I spent my high school years dreaming of going somewhere else, of living in a big city as far away as possible and starting a new life. In reality, I became homesick almost immediately after leaving. Sure, I enjoyed my new life in a big city, as I’d always imagined, but I was not prepared for how much I’d miss home. When I went back for holidays, it hit me even harder. As soon as I drove by the familiar landmarks, all infused with childhood memories, and stepped foot into the place where I grew up, I became enveloped in nostalgia and love, and I wanted to stay forever. After all, my whole life was there: my parents, my pets, my friends, my life memories. Realizing my new appreciation of the city I once hated led to some mixed feelings. I now loved and appreciated my hometown, but I still loved my new home of Vancouver as well. What did this mean?

It’s been four years now, and I still don’t have a great answer to this question. I feel the same way every time I go home, and I always wish I could stay for longer to see all of my friends and feed on the memories that have long been dormant in my mind. Then I go back to Vancouver, and I feel at home again, but in a different way. I don’t have as many memories here, but I am making them over the years, and the city is feeling more familiar and homey the longer I stay here. Despite this, I still feel a constant tug to my hometown, and when I go home, I feel a tug to Vancouver. This complicated relationship leaves me always missing one place while I’m at the other, which has led to me never feeling truly at home in either city.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that I have two homes, one in Vancouver and one in West Kelowna. I love both of them equally, but in different ways. My hometown contains all the memories of my old life, which I cherish, while my new home contains all the future memories I will be making in my new life, which is very exciting. I know that I will always miss one of my homes, and this is a fact that I have learned to live with. Instead of dwelling on how much I miss one place, I now try to focus on where I am and truly appreciate every part of it. In this way, I feel lucky – I have two amazing homes that I love, which contain friends, family, and memories, and I will forever cherish both of them.

 

Do any of you have more than one home and know what I’m going through? Tell me about it in the comments!

Week Five Process Post

I do not have a large list of websites that I frequently visit, so I decided to analyze the online magazine Elite Daily, as I used to read their articles a lot in high school.

Their homepage has a white background with one article’s title and featured picture taking up most of the screen, while the website name is at the top and a search bar and clickable sidebar are on each side. I do not find this design appealing, as it is very plain and does not attract me to the website. They could have made it more interesting with a featured slider, as it would add movement, or a menu to display the various categories. It is very balanced, but asymmetry in website design can be good, and Elite Daily could use it to add some flair to their homepage.

If you scroll down, you see four article titles with pictures underneath a “Trending Now” section, with a patterned blue background that adds some needed colour to the website. When you hover over each article title, it reveals an excerpt, which piques the viewer’s interest. My only complaint is that the images do not have a uniform aesthetic, but maintaining a consistent aesthetic on such a big website must be difficult. The “trending now” section should be at the top of the homepage as it is far more dynamic than a static article title and picture.

As you scroll down further, you see six article titles with featured images, though these do not show excerpts. There is a lot of white space, but the colour of the photos provides contrast. It is a bit too balanced and static, and it would look better with a sidebar or excerpts.

It changes again further down: it shows an article’s title and excerpt on one side and a featured picture on the other side, and the following articles switch the sides of the titles and photos. It is nice that they included some asymmetry, but it is still somewhat dull, and you can only see two articles at a time, so you may have to scroll for a while to find something appealing.

Each category follows a similar format to the homepage, making the website consistent. The “About”, “Contact” and other pages (as well as the social media links) are on the right side of the open sidebar, which I completely missed the first time, as I only noticed the categories on the left side. This layout is a bit confusing and annoying, as viewers may waste their time attempting to scroll to the bottom for such information.

Elite Daily uses all of the basic design principles. The website is extremely well balanced, but as I stated, it could do with a little asymmetry to make it more visually appealing. It demonstrates rhythm, as the typefaces are consistent and all go well together. The colour palette is basic as well, as it is just black and white, with a pop of colour from the photos. The use of scale is evident on the homepage, as the title is smaller while the article on the homepage is very large, which shows that they want to emphasize their most recent article. It is the clear point of focus is their articles, as they are a content-based website. It is difficult to make such a simplistic design disorganized, which makes the website easy to navigate.

Despite their triumphs, I am somewhat disappointed in Elite Daily. It lacks originality, movement, colour, and asymmetry. It has a lot of white space, but they only use some of it wisely, and the rest just feels blank. I would prefer if the website had a sidebar that you did not have to click on, so you could easily switch categories while reading. Another feature that would help is having a menu underneath the website title showing the different categories. Elite Daily has changed a lot since I used to spend time on it, and I definitely preferred their old layout. It had a menu underneath the title, as well as a sidebar with other articles and categories. The old version also had a black background, which was more interesting to look at and made a better use of white space. Elite Daily has done some things right with their website, but I believe that making their website more original and less static would help them a lot.

Peer Review 1

For my first peer review, I will be looking at Dylan McCartney’s blog, The World of College Football.

Overall, Dylan’s blog is very well constructed, and his posts are engaging and show his passion for the sport. His About page concisely sums up his blog and his love of football. He develops a consistent voice in his posts, which works well with his content. His posts are all a great length, which makes it easy for viewers to get through them without getting bored. It helps that his blog posts are not just factual commentary, but also his opinions and predictions, making his blog unique and attracting potential viewers. The fact that there is a link to the previous and next post at the bottom of each post helps a lot as well. He has developed a great voice and online self in his blog, and his design is very easy to navigate.

Despite his triumphs, there are some things he can work on to make his blog even better. His theme could be a bit more interesting, as his homepage is just a plain white page with a title, a menu, and his posts underneath. I would recommend adding a banner or header image to make it more dynamic and interesting to look at. I looked at his design sketches on his second process post, and I enjoyed both the first and the fourth design. The first design was quite similar to his current design, but with ranked teams on the side of the homepage, which would add some colour and draw people in. I enjoyed the fourth idea as well, because it is very visually stimulating and contained all the info one could possibly need on college football, so viewers would not need to go to another website for information. He would do great with either of these designs, or if he could insert the team poll results directly on his homepage instead of on a linked sidebar, as that would make the website more visually appealing.

I would also recommend that he add a tag cloud widget, as he has a great use of tags so far and having all of them in one place would make it easy for his audience to focus on specific teams or games. I also agree with Ellen that he should add some more hyperlinks, as it would be nice to see some videos related to his blog posts, and it would be more interesting for readers. In relation to this, I also recommend that he embed hyperlinks in the words of his blog posts, as it looks more professional than adding the word “(LINK)” beside them, which he did in his latest blog post. In addition, it says the author for all of his posts is “admin”, which he should either remove or change to Dylan.

Lastly, I noticed some grammatical errors in his posts, so I would advise that he use an editorial program to proofread his posts before he uploads them. It would also help if he added more paragraph breaks in some of his posts, as it makes more sense for when he moves on to discuss a different player or game, and sectioning it off makes it easier to read.

Dylan has done a great job with his website so far, as it is very organized and easy to navigate, and his posts are detailed and engaging for his target audience. It has a lot of potential, and I think a few minor changes would make it the perfect blog for anyone who is interested in college football.

Life Itself is Terrible at Imitating Life

I just saw Life Itself in theaters, and I am quite disappointed. It follows two families on separate continents as they navigate through life, finding love and heartbreak along the way. Based on the description and the trailer, it seems like an upbeat, hopeful romance with some drama and tear-jerking moments, but it’s actually the opposite.

Life Itself has many flaws, but I will focus on the main ones. Firstly, most of the characters in this movie are one-dimensional. You don’t learn much about them aside from a few facts about their pasts and some basic traits, which makes them very unrealistic and hard to care about. Secondly, the movie is supposed to emulate life, but the events and connections between characters are completely far-fetched. Lastly, it has too much story for a two-hour movie. Few characters have the time to develop properly, and we rarely see the implications of the traumatic events because there are too many characters and time jumps to focus on one period or person for too long.

I found the first family and their story extremely poorly written. None of them are realistic or compelling, and I found it difficult to care about them. For example, the primary trait of Will (played by Oscar Isaac) is an intense, almost creepy love for his wife, who also has no personality. In addition to the bland characters, the first family’s story contains several major twists, but they are there more for shock value than to add to the story. They intend to make the viewers feel sad, but we don’t learn enough about the characters to even care about what happens to them, so these twists do not elicit their anticipated emotion.

The second family is much more interesting, despite their story being a bit slow-paced. The characters, especially the two men, seem more real, and therefore I felt much more emotionally attached to them and their story. Their story comprises the best part of the movie, but it still has flaws, as parts of it are overly dramatic and unrealistic, and only two of the four characters are actually well developed.

The purpose of having multiple storylines and a large cast of characters in this film is to build up to specific happy or traumatic moments that are meant to be cathartic, but the feeling just wasn’t there for me, so few of these events resonated with me at all. There was only one moment that made me emotional, and I think it is a solitary example of good writing in this film. It is a twist involving the two men in the second family’s story that, once explained, makes perfect sense for the characters and story, so it has much more emotional weight. That moment was the best part of the entire movie for me.

The end of Life Itself was possibly the worst part. It thinks it’s building up to a huge moment that will make all the trauma better and leave you feeling happy, but the message it sends isn’t consistent with the plot of the film, and I personally find it problematic. The message is that everything in life (including traumatic events) happens for a reason and will eventually lead you or someone else to happiness, so trauma can actually be a good thing. I get what the writer is trying to say, but we barely see the result of this message, and it disregards the people who get hurt along the way, as they were just the means to an end. This ending is meant to be a cathartic moment where everything adds up and leads you to this epiphany about life, but I was left thinking, that’s it?

I expected a lot more from this film, especially because of the writer/director’s acclaim with This Is Us, but I was quite disappointed. I would rate it around 5.5/10, and I would not recommend that anyone watch it.

Mini Assignment #2 – Back to School with Spiderman

Hey everyone, Spiderman here. I have to write a guest post on this blog about something personal, so I thought I’d write about school since most of you can relate to that (although some of my experiences are pretty superhero-specific). I’ve never written a blog post before so I hope you all enjoy it!

 

Well, it’s that time of the year again. Unfortunately, I have to take a break from my hero duties to go back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I like school, but being a hero is so much more exciting and fulfilling than sitting in class all day. Conducting science experiments and writing papers just don’t compare to fighting alongside the Avengers. But I can’t complain, especially since I turned down Mr. Stark’s offer to leave school and become a full-time Avenger. I was so tempted, as learning from my hero would have been amazing, but Aunt May would have killed me if I had left school, and even I know that school is important.

I used to love school, but ever since I became Spiderman, I’ve been too focused on that to really appreciate it. Now school is just extra work on top of my superhero duties (which are very important). It adds to the stress of my daily life and leaves hardly any time for me to relax or do nerdy stuff with Ned. I already can’t wait for next summer, when I can do what I want and split my time between being Spiderman and having fun.

The only benefit of going back to school is that I get to hangout with my best friend Ned all day. Having all of my classes with him makes it much more bearable, and even kind of fun. We sometimes goof off in class together, but not too much because we still want to get good grades. I mean, grades are important, sure, but Aunt May cares more about them than I do. I think that helping others and catching bad guys are a higher priority for me right now. Although, I do need to start thinking about what I’m going to do after I graduate. If I could just be Spiderman that would be awesome, but I should probably get some kind of career. The only thing is that I have no idea what I want to do. There are so many options. How am I supposed to pick one? Well I guess I’ll figure it out later. For now, I’m going to focus on getting through this next year of school and being the best superhero I can be.

 

-Peter Parker/Spiderman

The Struggles (and Benefits) of Adult Friendships

Everyone tells you that you will not keep in touch with your high school friends after graduation and that you will meet your best friends in university, but I don’t believe that either one of these statements is entirely true.

I do admit that adult friendships are completely different from high school friendships. Making friends is much more difficult in university, because many students don’t want to put the time or effort into maintaining friendships. Friends can therefore be disposable in university, as people can keep them when they’re convenient and discard them when they’re not. I think the rationale behind this is that busy students don’t want to waste their time on someone who they don’t believe is worth it. I also believe that more value is placed on friendships in university, so people have higher standards than they did in high school.

For the reasons listed above, it is much more difficult to make real, lasting friends in university. When I lived in residence in my first year I made some really good friends who I hungout with every day and thought would be my friends for life, but after first year ended we all went our separate ways and are no longer friends. This made me quite sad initially, but I eventually realized that losing friends is a part of life and that I will make more and better friends in the future. After moving off campus, I tried to make friends in class, as that was the only place I could meet people. I made acquaintances in all my classes, but none of these friendships extended beyond the semester, as after the final class most people simply said goodbye and walked away. After a while, I realized that I had to put more effort into making and keeping friends, which has brought me success. I currently have one good friend from university and several from work, and I am extremely happy with that. As a student, I don’t have time to maintain a lot of friendships, so having just a few good friends works perfectly, and it makes me value the friendships so much more.

Having few close friends in Vancouver also makes me value my high school friendships more than ever. When I first came to university I couldn’t wait to make new friends, but after losing touch with all of my friends from first and second year, I had a newfound appreciation for the people that stuck by me through the years. Now, I can’t wait to go home and see my high school friends, because even after all this time, they are still here for me. We may not keep in touch all the time, but they are always eager to get together and catch up. I know now that my high school friends are some of my best friends and that I will be friends with them for life, which alleviates worries about finding and losing friends here.

Adult friendships have drawbacks and benefits. They are harder to find and easier to lose than high school friendships, but they are also easier to maintain once you acquire them, as you do not need to talk or see each other constantly and can just get together occasionally to make up for it. Adult friendships are also more important and valuable, because everyone is so busy with school and life that they only keep the friends that they know are worth it. You may have fewer friends as an adult, but I guarantee that they will be the closest friends you have ever had.