Looks pretty good, it is a little dark but that's fine.
I think the bradient to grey (at the bottom) is a little long, and could be shortened to about 150 or 100 pixels and look very nice. The button's inner drop shadow also looks a little off, maybe try adding a 1 or 2 pixel black border to them (same with the banner image). I would also suggest using a slightly brighter blue in it.
Over all it looks pretty good, just minor things I think would help it go that extra mile
gradients are a lot more difficult to master than most people believe.
i do not think they should be the center of a design piece, instead only a complement. go to a professional website you enjoy that makes use of gradients and you'll see it is extremely slight, more of a highlight than anything else. its surprising how much that effect changes the flat background behind it... its one of those things you don't want your eye to see immediately, but it will subconsciously look much better put together. so i would ditch the ones you have imo.
i like the general feel of it but i think the colors are off and so is the header. There shouldnt be a drop shadow that insets/overlaps the header and the buttons. The buttons shouldnt have the same style of gradient as the main header image. ie it should be one large gradient that is centered horizonatly on the header and passes up throught the border to the menu item above. or just lessen the gradient. but for someone who isnt a designer. Good Job. I like the publication look to the page and the background. it really focuses the eye on the content.