WEB REVIEWS: Reallybig, Virgin Radio, Zootopia, Blogger

Editor's choice: Building a blog resource kit

By now you’ve probably heard of Weblogs (blogs for short) and may have added a few to your list of regularly visited sites. Using tools available free on the Net, you can create your own blog in next to no time.

This site makes the blog process as pain-free as possible. You can create your own blog here using one of the templates available and then use the tools to update and add posts — so you won’t have to hand-code. If you have your own design or site you can use Blogger to keep your site up to date. Blogger also profiles new blogs and blogs of note, which are worth a visit to see how others are structuring and building their blogs.

Blog*Spot , the hosting service for Blogger, has a free service, but you can also upgrade to Blog*Spot Plus (from $US5 per month) for an ad-free blog and extras like the ability to upload pictures.

If you’re just interested in reading blogs but find it hard to discover and keep up to date with good ones, Blogdex may be the answer. This site measures how many links a story or item on the Web has in blogs and then ranks the results. When we visited, for example, a story from New Scientist on an evolving radio circuit was ranked highly (along with a stack of James Bond ones, strangely).

Even if you don’t click through and read the stories ranked, you’ll find the list interesting with its links that range from straight news reporting to the weirder outreaches of the Net. You may be dismayed to find that a link you’ve just added to your blog is also linked on loads of other blogs. Alternatively, you may be ahead of the pack.

Metafilter is a community blog where bloggers discuss the Web and other blogs. Even if you don’t become a member and post comments, you may find MetaFilter more useful than trawling individual blogs.

This site for site builders isn’t particularly attractive, but then warehouses are rarely beautiful. And that’s what Reallybig.com really is: a warehouse of tools for building Web sites. With luck, the site will have jettisoned its green wallpaper by the time you read this, and the current layout of elements on Reallybig.com’s home page will make you want to call a building inspector. But you’ll find loads of CGI scripts, JavaScripts, Web graphics tools, HTML editors, site search engines, calenders and guest books. Most of the offerings are free.

Virgin Radio
According to measurecast.com, this London-based station is the world’s most-listened-to Internet radio station in terms of the total amount of hours streamed. One reason it’s so popular could be the fact that this site draws people into feeling like they’re part of a community through features like studio-based webcams, a place where listeners can send in photographs of themselves plus plenty of info about the station and the DJs. Perhaps of most interest to PC World readers are the pictures of the impressive server racks and equipment used to broadcast Virgin Radio to the world.

Visitors to Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, as well as kids looking for general information on animals, should point their browsers to the upgraded site Zootopia. Interesting sections include information on the plants and gardens at the zoo and how they’re used to create more natural habitats and foods for the animals. More pictures would be welcome — especially for the babies section. Plans to allow online booking and ticketing are in the works and should make the site even more useful.

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Deanne McIntosh

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