The Daily Render

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Dusting off the cobwebs that have collected on NikolasSchiller.com
|| 1/25/2015 || 7:05 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

These are some of the questions I was curious about during my blogging sabbatical:

What happens when a website goes cold?

Which archived entries will become the most popular?

How will idleness affect search engine algorithms?

What will the daily traffic be on this cobweb?

I never formally gave up blogging here. Instead, I simply added the text “i’m currently on daily blogging sabbatical, but i’ll be back very soon.” to the top of the page in the spring of 2011.

I essentially created a digital snapshot-in-time. Looking back at the chronological edit archive, I added a few entries in the spring 2012 & backdated them to the summer 2011, but from then on, it’s been intentionally silent on this website. I was curious about what would happen when this website was paused.

Most websites go offline, but few go on pause. It’s much easier to start a free blog on Tumblr than it is to have your own domain name, purchase a website hosting package, install the content management system, and keep everything running smoothly. Pause also costs money, and in my case, to the tune of hundreds of dollars a year. From dozens of domain names to the hosting package that keeps all the websites running, keeping my small stake of land on the World Wide Web has been both time-consuming and expensive. But it has also been quite rewarding to have this digital time capsule alive and online, albeit collecting dust.

Over the last few years much of my attention has gone to updating different websites that I was paid to manage. This made the intentional neglect of this website much easier to handle. I also never set a specific date that I would return because I didn’t want to be arbitrarily pressured to end my blogging sabbatical.

In lieu of posting new content here, I’ve also kept a secondary scrapbook during these silent years that includes some of my more memorable accomplishments, creations, and endeavors. Over the coming days & weeks I plan to regularly add new entries to the archives in order reflect what has transpired over the last few years. Concurrently, I also plan on recoding the layout of this website because it’s in desperate need of a makeover.

Welcome back! Pardon the dust.



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.



Did you notice? I switched over to FeedBurner. Eh.
|| 9/16/2009 || 9:03 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

FeedBurner is a blog feed management provider that was originally launched in 2004 and purchased by Google in 2007. It provides custom RSS feeds and management tools to bloggers, podcasters, and other web-based content publishers. Unlike the old system of scattered RSS feeds emanating from this website, by switching over to FeedBurner I can accurately see more information about who is reading my blog entries and possibly make a couple bucks by having Google AdSense ads served alongside my content.

I had thought about switching over to FeedBurner last year, but at the time I hadn’t signed up for AdSense and thought it was just a waste of time fooling with my RSS feeds. However, I was really curious to see exactly how many readers I had obtained over the years and this was the only option that I was aware of that provided this information. I know, for example, that my website receives hundreds and sometimes thousands of visitors each day and most of them simply transverse the archives and go on their merry way. But what about those who currently view my newest content through RSS and never visit my website? That is where FeedBurner comes in….

Last week I spent about 5 hours one evening trying to figure out a way to synch ALL of the feeds on this blog (each category used to have its own feed) with FeedBurner. After reading various blog entries about how other webmasters were able to manually edit their .htaccess code to redirect all of their RSS feeds to FeedBurner and was unable to get my mod rewrite to synch ALL the feeds properly, I gave up. But, alas, I didn’t fully give up, instead I just went with the basic WordPress Plugin that FeedBurner offers and it appears to have done the trick. I should have just gone the plugin route from the beginning, but eh, I wanted to see my own coding capabilities.

By testing the different available feeds in Google Reader, it appears that no matter what format readers were already subscribed to (RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, ATOM etc.) the feeds have properly synched with FeedBurner. This just means that if some day in the future I decide to not use FeedBurner, there will be little overall change to the current subscribers. Instead, only those who subscribed to FeedBurner itself will need to change their subscription method and all others will not really see much of a change (probably just no ads).

Nonetheless, if you haven’t yet, please adjust your RSS reader to be subscribed to:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/thedailyrender
Or you can just keep your subscription the same…..



Dear WashingtonPost.com: Either You Are Censoring Bloggers Or Your 3rd Party Widget Isn’t Working Properly
|| 8/18/2009 || 4:25 pm || 5 Comments Rendered || ||

Screen grab from the Washington Post article on the Real World highlighting the link that is supposed to show who is blogging about the article you are reading

On Sunday I was pleased to see that Washington Post staff writer Dan Zak had transcribed my poster in his article on MTV’s Real World filming in DC. So pleased in fact, that I spent about an hour writing and formatting a blog entry about the article.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I decided to go back to the article to see what kind of reaction Dan Zak’s article made on-line. The metrics for ascertaining this information is somewhat straightforward; the more comments the article generates, the larger the reaction. This, however, only gives the basic information of who decided to comment on the Washington Post website. The second metric that can be used to gauge the popularity of an article is to see who is blogging about it.

Since the Washington Post’s print edition does not make it’s way out of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia to other parts of the United States and the rest of the world, bloggers are an integral part of the Washington Post’s digital distribution model. As a way to track this digital diaspora of off-site responses to an article, the WashingtonPost.com has a link posted in each article that is supposed to show who is blogging about the article you are reading (see red arrow above). This link is managed, err, powered by a third party called Sphere, which is supposed to track instances of when bloggers use the URL of a specific article in their blog entry.

Screen grab from the Washington Post article on the Real World questioning why my blog entry does not appear in the listing of who is blogging about a article

So why wasn’t my blog entry mentioned? Does this third party widget not work as well as it should? Are the 206,000 websites that Sphere.com says are using their product not really getting the best product they thought they were receiving? Or is there some form of censorship that is being employed at the Washington Post to scrub out blogs that the web editors don’t want their readers to see?

In my opinion, I think Sphere.com is not working to the best of it’s theoretical ability. I say this because I would rather not think there is some sort of censorship taking place– but I will not rule that prospect out. In my original blog entry I made sure that I hyperlinked to the article, used the entire name of the article, included the name of the author, and I even sent a trackback to the URL on the WashingtonPost.com. Combined together, all of these factors should have put my entry in the “Who’s Blogging” listing. But, alas, its not.

This has some important implications. First and foremost, the author of the article is not able to fully see the extent to which his article was covered on-line. His boss might incorrectly assume by reading the Sphere.com information that the article had minimal on-line reaction and possibly make future editorial decisions based on this partial & incomplete information. Secondly, WashingtonPost.com readers are unable to see other opinions about the article. Instead they are only offered the opinions written by other WashingtonPost.com readers (which I’ve griped about before) and not writers who have their own established blog and dedicated readership. Lastly, since I was not given credit for writing the sign transcribed in the article, I was further excluded from receiving any residual credit, and the WashingtonPost.com readers were never informed of why the sign was put up in the first place.

In conclusion, I hope the WashingtonPost.com and/or Sphere.com fix this widget or refrain from this type of subtle censorship. This exclusion of other viewpoints only hurts their readership and stifles subsequent information discovery. My opinions are just as valid as those expressed by the commenters on WashingtonPost.com and its disingenuous to present a link that appears to give accurate information about who is blogging about an article, when it’s clearly not showing all the bloggers who took the time to participate in the discussion.



Experimenting with infrequent blogging
|| 1/22/2009 || 4:31 pm || Comments Off on Experimenting with infrequent blogging || ||

At the beginning of January I decided that I was going to take a break from blogging daily to see the traffic that my archives receive. I got bored of this experiment and decided to add a bunch of entries that covered the middle of the month up until the inauguration. However, the experiment did prove that each day I receive hundreds of visitors to my blog’s archives and very few daily visitors to my blog’s front page.

When I released the contents of my website last year I was not expecting this to happen. Rather I expected my archives to be read as much as my fresh content, but through these experiments I’ve found that I was completely wrong in my assumption. Now I feel compelled to simply write for the archives through back dating blog entries instead of trying to write for the present. I see myself not maintaining a “Daily Render” but an “infrequent render” simply because I don’t have to worry about doing timely entries anymore. This discovery is somewhat liberating.

Below are the stats from January 1st to January 21st, 2009:

You can see that even without any new entries, this website still received 9,000 pageviews by 6,500 viewers. A different test would be to see what the total would be if I were blogging everyday. I have a feeling that it wouldn’t change very much….



Taking a break….
|| 4/27/2008 || 12:31 pm || Comments Off on Taking a break…. || ||

I will be taking a brief break until Monday, May 5th. I’m working on a bunch of projects right now and I don’t think I’ll have much time to update this website!



new year, new direction?
|| 1/2/2007 || 11:07 am || Comments Off on new year, new direction? || ||

After recapping last year’s maelstrom of maps, I am wondering if I should continue on the path of remapping America/DC or if I should head into a new direction for 2007. I’m not sure yet, but as with everything, time will tell. I have some tessellated aerial photography ready to use for at least 5 more maps, but until I do a substantial backup of the maps created in the second half of 2006, I’d rather hold off until I’ve caught up with the past. I guess that poster I used to have hanging in my bathroom summarizes my feelings perfectly, “The Past Holds The Future Hostage,” ….but I am ready to negotiate.





The Daily Render By
A Digital Scrapbook for the Past, Present, and Future.

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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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  • thank you,
    come again!