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Looking At Google Looking At My Blog
|| 2/11/2010 || 12:51 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Above is a series of screen grabs showing Google’s webcrawler traversing my blog. From this robot’s data collection, the harvested content makes its way into Google’s servers, and ultimately into your search results.



Using IP Logs To Figure Out The Length Of A Talk
|| 12/19/2009 || 1:03 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

About a month ago I was contacted by AJ Turner about giving a short talk at an upcoming meeting of GeoDC. After some tweets & e-mails back & forth, I confirmed that I would present at this month’s Meetup at the FortiusOne office in Arlington, Virginia. AJ suggested that I bring the 2010 Cartographic Calendars and speak for a few minutes on the type of maps that I’ve been working on. Before I arrived I didn’t really have much of an idea of the format or the location of the meeting, so I didn’t prepare very much and decided to wing the presentation. Since I was able to use my website for the talk, similar to what I did when I gave a lecture at the New York Public Library in 2008, when I got home I was able to see everything I clicked on while giving the talk. The result, judging by my IP Logs above, was that I spoke for just over an hour— far longer than I anticipated! Regardless, I had a great time, met some very nice people, and I hope to attend another GeoDC Meetup in the future.



Added to the Sidebar: Feedjit
|| 11/21/2009 || 5:17 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

To add a little more bloat to this website, I’ve added a little sidebar widget that shows the real-time internet traffic on my blog. If you are curious about what other people happen to be looking for, its a fun way to explore the random content in my blog’s archives. Click the image above to view the traffic in a new window or scroll down and see where in the world the visitor before you was from.



Removal of the Competitive Ad Filter [Selling Out Part Two]
|| 9/17/2009 || 11:34 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

My previous entry about seeing an advertisement related the very organization I was mocking struck a chord with me. Why fight the tide? As in, why take issue with competing ideas?

Since I added Google AdSense earlier this year, every time I found an advertisement that I didn’t want showing on my website, I would log on to Google AdSense, and add the URL to my Competitive Ad Filter. But who was I competing against? Were the ads merely competing against my own ideology?

Was I saying, “Hey Nikolas, you don’t want your visitors to think you tacitly support [insert company]?” or “Do I want some organization that advocates beliefs contrary to my own showing up here?” And I came to a two-fold realization….

First, by limiting the competition for ads on my website, I was earning less money each time someone clicked on an ad. The way Google AdSense works is that companies bid on keywords and these keywords are triggered by content on my website. When there is less competition for these keywords, other companies pay less for the ads to show up on my website. So why earn less, when I could just as easily remove ALL the ads entirely? Why continue to log into AdSense and add to the Competitive Ad Filter each time I found an ad contrary to my ideology? I began to view this practice as a futile effort, akin to swimming in quicksand.

Second, I actually enjoy seeing something different each time I view my blog. As someone who has spent years compiling this content, I know exactly what I am going to see (within a certain degree) every time I visit. But the ads are somewhat random and this makes the experience more engaging on my end (and maybe yours as well?). I can’t say the same for those people who happen to stumble upon my website for the first time and think they look tacky (sorry!). But I can say that they bring a certain amount of personal entertainment that goes beyond the authorship of this content. They show who is paying for words— and words retain a certain degree of power. Thus I can see who was fighting and winning the war of words right on the top of my website– in real time.


Earlier today I removed all of the websites that I was blocking in my Competitive Ad Filter. As the title of this entry suggests, I have, to some degree, completely sold out. The Part One related to the title of this entry is about the removal of the robots exclusion protocol that blocked web crawlers from accessing the content of my website a year & a half ago. By selling out then, I began a radically new direction (paradoxically, a direction most people automatically start at) and this entry highlights a subtle change of course. The moment I opened the floodgates to web crawlers, every personal opinion, every word, every image, every map, EVERYTHING that I had spent years creating and documenting was placed within reach of a simple google query. Before that moment, it was reserved only to those who knew me or knew of me. While this might seam contrary to the nature of the internet, I did it all on purpose and I have zero regret.

Nonetheless, as Part Two begins manifests itself, I expect to see more ads that go against my ideology, but now I fully welcome them. I welcome these contrasting viewpoints in order to strengthen my own. And maybe, just maybe, earn a few bucks to pay for my hosting and domain names.



The Geospatial Art FAIL landing page resurfaces!
|| 7/7/2009 || 10:38 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Back in December of last year I found that there had been a page added to my website by a malicious robot and had some fun exploiting the fact that hundreds of people were clicking on fraudulent search engine results. Sure enough, last night it happened again, but unlike last time, I found out WHY it happened.

Unknown to me, on three different websites of mine, there were folders that had incorrect file permissions. Generally speaking, each file and folder on a website has its own set of permissions which allow different users different levels of access. Nearly all of my files and folders have their permissions set to 755, which allows me, and only me, the ability to change the contents of the folders on my website. However, today I discovered that three folders on three different websites had their permissions set 777, which means that ANYONE could write files to these folders. The result was that a malicious robot exploited this lack of security and wrote their own files to my websites.

I found out about this from a random person who informed me that there was a page on my website that was sending people to a page that forces people to download a fake virus scanner that I can assume was rouge malware. I contacted my hosting provider thinking that my website passwords were compromised and the tech support responded with a listing of all the folders on all my websites that contained 777 file permissions.

From there, I went to each of these folders and looked around for the newly added malicious files. Instead of merely deleting the files, I opted to do what I did last time, and replace the malicious code with my own basic HTML file. The result so far has been over a 2,000 people clicking on the fake search results and being brought to a landing page like the one above telling them they should try searching again.

I must say that their hack is pretty simple, but also rather sophisticated. I would not have realized that I was being used to help spread malware unless that person had notified me. They work by using a HUGE list of basic words, then they dynamically create hundreds of new pages that feature the keywords. Finally, Google’s own robots visit the page and enters the hundreds of fake entries into their database. The beauty of this process is that evil geniuses behind the code use one PHP file to dynamically generate hundreds of fake pages that all draw people to their webpage— and now they are coming to my website instead.

Throughout this week I am going to continue to monitor this discovery and analyze the code that was used to generate these pages.


Here is an example of a bad search result from Google:

My page just so happened to be the only page on the Internet with those exact words.


Continue reading:

+ MORE



Watching Google Crawl…
|| 3/18/2008 || 7:42 am || Comments Off on Watching Google Crawl… || ||

Last Friday I removed the electronic Berlin Wall from my website and for the first time in 4 years I’ve released the contents of my website to search engines. Yesterday Google had crawled about 20 pages; half of which were already linking to my website from external sources. Today after last the check, Google has now cataloged about 320 of the 1500+ pages that were submitted with my website’s sitemap. I look forward to looking at the IP logs to see how Google’s robots do their crawling and the latency that exists between crawling and appearing in a search result. From my initial observations everything take at least 24 hours between the crawling and the content’s appearance within a search result. By the end of today, I bet there will be 750 pages indexed….



Welcome Robots and Strangers
|| 3/14/2008 || 1:48 pm || Comments Off on Welcome Robots and Strangers || ||

Below is the text of an e-mail I sent out today:

One year ago today my ugly mug was on the front page of the Washington Post’s style section in David Montgomery’s article “Here Be Dragons.” To celebrate the one year anniversary of this 15 minutes of fame I did something I’ve been waiting a VERY long time to do– I removed the Robots Exclusion Protocols from my website. This means that in a few weeks you will be able to find the contents of my website with a simple search string from your favorite search engine.

Before 12:01am today, you could only search the contents of my website on my website. By preventing my website from being crawled by spiders (or robots as they are technically called) I also prevented anyone [strangers] from freely accessing the hundreds of maps that I’ve made over the last 4 years. Thus the paradox of making maps without being able to be found is now over, and in that respect I am liberating myself from the self-censorship experiment that I’ve been conducting these last few years.

Frankly, dear reader, its a very nice feeling. I am unaware of any website that has opened itself up to the robots with over a 1,000 different pages to index at once. I sincerely wonder what search words will bring people to my website from this day forward. Currently postmodern art is my number one search string (I am currently listed at #5)– and that was only possible because of the article that was published one year ago today. So with that said, today marks the beginning of a new phase in my life, and maybe yours– if you search for the right words.



In the classroom #3 – University of California, Santa Barbara & the FBI’s public website in 2001
|| 1/14/2008 || 5:45 pm || Comments Off on In the classroom #3 – University of California, Santa Barbara & the FBI’s public website in 2001 || ||

Screen Grab from Jan Ekenberg’s “Zulu History Petrol” project

Last week I noticed that a professor named Lisa Jevbratt at the University of California, Santa Barbara had her classroom lesson plan linking to my website. Her class “Art 122 – Advanced Digital Projects – Mapmaking as Art: using Google Maps/Earth and other online tools and data to create artistic maps,” had my website listed in the section “Map Related Art.” Flattered, I decided to look through some of her artwork, and found an interesting project called “Mapping the Web Infome.”

Mapping the Web Infome’ is a net art endeavor developed in conjunction with the exhibition LifeLike at New Langton Arts gallery in San Francisco. A group of artists were invited to use software developed for the exhibition. The Infome software enables the creation of web crawlers – automatic processes that access web sites and collect data from them – and the creation of visualizations/mappings of the collected data.

After looking through some of the results, I found this listing of the FBI’s web pages as they existed in 2001. I wonder how much has changed in the last 7 years?



I’m off google
|| 7/24/2005 || 12:29 pm || Comments Off on I’m off google || ||

Last week I wrote an e-mail to Google because someone from Google had decided to visit my website a couple weeks back and cached the page they visited, even when I requested them to not do so.

In response to my e-mail, Google has completely removed even the listing of my website from their database! Before when you’d google “Nikolas Schiller,” the first result would be a link to my website- without any text just “http://nikolasschiller.com,” and now (if you clicked the link above) it doesn’t display that anymore and the first result is the Washington Post article from July 4th, 2004 on the Adbusters website.

I guess I’m even harder to find now :-)





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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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