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51 Random Banners Now Greet Visitors
|| 12/26/2009 || 1:21 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

Banner Graphic Featuring A Detail from The Vicissitude of the Seasons Explained

New banner graphic featuring my name written in Hebrew over
The Vicissitude of the Seasons Explained” from Bowles 1780 Map of the World

On Christmas night I got a random Facebook message from a Peruvian friend of mine who recently moved to Israel. After we were done chatting, I asked the same request I’ve asked a few other times to friends in distant lands, “Can you translate my name into ____Hebrew____?” A few moments later I was sent the basis for these six new banners. Now my name is now randomly displayed in English, Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Chinese, and Russian.

Below are the rest of the new banner graphics hyperlinked to their original blog entries:

Swampoodle Quilt #2
Banner Graphic Featuring Swampoodle Quilt No.2

Racine Quilt #2
Banner Graphic Featuring Racine Quilt No. 2

West Sahara Lake Circles Quilt
Banner Graphic Featuring West Sahara Lake Circles Quilt

Vassar Quilt Refraction
Banner Graphic Featuring Vassar Quilt Refraction

University of Southern California Quilt
Banner Graphic Featuring University of Southern California Quilt

Related Entries:



5 More Random Banners Now ‘Greek’ Visitors
|| 9/19/2009 || 3:47 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Banner Graphic Featuring I-35W Bridge Quilt #2

New banner graphic featuring my name written in Greek over I-35W Bridge Quilt #2

About a month ago I had a random friend request on Facebook from a woman named Athina who lives in Greece. Opting to inflate my friend count over potential security fears, I added her without question. A couple weeks later I visited her Facebook page and noticed that she has a blog that was written completely in the Greek language. I had just posted my latest batch of banners using the Cyrillic alphabet, so I sent her an e-mail asking if she’d be interested in translating my name into Greek. She obliged and today I made 5 more banners to be randomly displayed.

Greek is one of the languages I’ve always wanted to learn. I spent some time in high school taking Latin, which I have since found to be an invaluable contribution to my continued exploration of history. But Koine Greek, the lingua franca of the Eastern Mediterranean around the time of the birth of Christ, has always fascinated me. The Septuagint, a 3rd century B.C. Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, used this dialect of the language. And while modern Greek is considerably different in many aspects from it’s thousand+ year-old counterpart, I would still like to learn both or at least start getting my mind around the alphabet.

Now I would be remiss if I didn’t return the cultural exchange for my friend Athina who did the translation for me. She owns a yacht charter company called Stamatis Yachting, which offers a wide variety of yachts that can take you & your friends around the various Greek islands. They also have skippers that can be contracted so you don’t have to know how to sail in order to experience the joys of sailing on the Mediterranean. If you are planning on a trip to Greece in the near future, please do not hesitate to contact her about chartering one of their yachts.

Below are the rest of the new banner graphics hyperlinked to their original blog entries:

+ MORE



A Digital Dérive Through On-Line Advertising
|| 9/18/2009 || 2:57 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

A screen grab from my entry titled: You Are Probably Not Here, which is a different type of Dérive

A dérive is defined as an attempt at analyze the totality of everyday life, through the passive movement through space. In the late 1950’s French writer Guy Debord first theorized this concept in his studies of architecture. Combined with another Debord term, psychogeography, which is “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals,” the dérive is a means for people to haphazardly explore and learn about their environment through random or pseudo-random methods. Examples of a dérives include exploring the urban environment with a predefined set of arbitrary rules, such as strolling down the street (a Flâneur) and taking only right turns when you see someone a walking a dog or making left hand turns only when you pass by houses that are painted white.

As Guy DeBord wrote in “Theory of the Dérive” in 1958, “In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.” In essence, the dérive is both an objective and subjective means to view the urban environment.

Fast forward to the present day. The urban environments still exist, and in most cases, these cities have grown substantially over the last 50 years, but there is also a new type of environment that exists today that did not fully exist in DeBord’s time: the digital environment.

Today computer users conduct their own strolls on the internet. They are loosely guided by search strings and mouse clicks. They surf through webpage after webpage seeking knowledge, entertainment, and connections through a medium that is not defined or limited to the physical space in which they live. Buildings become blogs and flâneurs become link lemmings, following the hyperlinks of their blind curiosity.

While some still myopically place the dérive as a strictly urban activity, the digital environment, both manifesting itself on the internet and in computer games, are akin to megalopolises, cities, towns, and villages in their own right. Examples would be the vast digital expanse of games like The Sims, World of Warcraft, or Second Life, which feature digital environments where thousands upon thousands of people from around the world interact within the constructs of the respective games, while never needing to physically meet each other in person. Another example would be those that comment on blog posts or message boards, where the website itself becomes the city, and the articles, blog postings and forum topics become the streets, and the users are the flâneurs, strolling and trolling through ever-increasing content.

However, combined together these participants do not always take part in a de-facto dérive, but rather are merely present within this complex digital environment and may take it upon themselves to conduct a dérive. And that is what I am writing about today.

For quite a few years I eschewed the presence of advertisements on websites. I found them to be visual clutter, like an architectural eye sore of a blighted city. Over time, however, I grew bored of my blog’s layout and I felt that my little digital city (errr, scrapbook) needed some urban planning and ideally, more citizens (visitors, errr, I guess they’d technically be immigrants?). So on a whim, I decided to start serving Google AdSense ads on my website. At first I reverted back to my original reaction, where I thought that my new urban design was tacky and had failed, but then something changed.

As a god of this alternative reality, I was only seeing that which I had coded and created myself. Like looking at a vast sea of sameness, day in & day out, I began to warm up towards these visual invasions that were created in someone else’s digital environment. I began to see that they offered a welcomed distraction. In fact, it is this very type of distraction from the spectacle of reality that first Debord spoke of many years ago. Why does this spectacle exist? What website lies beyond that ad? What is at this animated exit on my digital highway? And why was it so important that someone is actually paying money for the ad to be shown?

Thus began my own digital dérive into on-line advertising.

Since I cannot legally click on my own ads (Google considers that fraud), I went to my friend’s blog, which has a small text ad at the top. Out of genuine curiosity, I clicked on that ad. The resulting page also had an advertisement on it. I clicked on that ad, whereupon I discovered that the resulting page also had ads on it. So click on that ad as well…

The premise of this digital dérive through on-line advertising is quite simple. Explore the internet only through pages with advertisements. Where do you end up? How many ads do you click on before you hit the dead end of the digital alley? Before you jackknife on the information superhighway? What observations can be made through this type of stroll through the internet? Do you end up in digital city or a dark alley of get-rich-quick schemes?

To many people, time is money. But to many others, so are clicks on ads. Depending on where this digital dérive begins and ends someone is making money and someone is also theoretically losing money (unless of course, the act of taking part in the dérive benefits the person paying for the ad, as in, you discover something meaningful on the website of the ad you clicked on). Like the construction costs of the buildings (not to mention their monthly rent) in Paris that Debord strolled through, few things are really free. It takes time to click on ads, just like it takes time to walk down the street looking for houses that are painted white. But unlike construction costs or rent in a building, a digital dérive can be conducted in the comfort of one’s own home and with minimal resources- without the need for shoes or even clothes- only a computer connected to the internet, which over the last decade has become extremely inexpensive. Or completely free if you go to the library.

In essence, a digital dérive can be done in private, while the dérive of Debord’s day was done in public. But if no one sees you walking down the street and you don’t write about it or share the experience with others, did the dérive actually take place? Paradoxically, while a digital dérive can be experienced in private, where no one sees you in person, your journey does leave a trace– in the form of the websites logs. Your IP address will show up on each of your stops in your digital dérive and while it does not leave an exact size 10 shoe footprint, it contains its own geographic markers of where your IP address resolves to. But its a footprint that is scattered across the internet instead of sequentially left in the dust & mud of city streets. It’s a solitary footprint that webmasters cannot immediately tell that a dérive had even taken place. Similarly, people walking down the street participating in a dérive do not nessesarilly have signs saying “we are conducting a dérive,” but they can be see by others in the urban environment.

On-line advertisers want you to see them. They want you to purchase their product & services or be influenced by their very existence. But the digital dérive outlined in this entry is not for them to exploit. It’s for you. Its a means of self-discovery through external stimulation. A method to understand the vastness of the digital environment through a single conduit: advertisements. It doesn’t have to be solitary- two people can sit in front of a computer and choose which ads they think will beget more ads. Moreover, this dérive doesn’t have to be as I directed above, instead you can take turns clicking on ads and clicking on regular links simply to see where the path leads you. The rules are not hard and fast, but rather they are up to the flâneur. Its merely a form of digital exploration that might yield it’s own rewards for you, while paradoxically adding a couple cents to someone’s coffers and removing a couple cents from someone else’s coffers. In essence its a postmodern example of psychogeographical exploration, but without predefined borders; where the environment is wholly located on your computer screen, at a specific location on the surface of the earth, and you are the flâneur strolling from one disparate location to another, without a passport or a map, just strolling, strolling, strolling.


The image at the beginning of this entry is from my entry titled “ Postmodern Cartography: You Are Probably Not Here.”



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…..



Photograph Of The Daily Render On Two Computer Monitors
|| 9/3/2009 || 7:42 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Photograph Of This Website On Two Computer Monitors

Photograph of this website on two monitors with a portion of Seattle Quilt in the background

I was over at my friend’s house the other day and noticed that my recent layout redesign allows this website to be viewed on multiple monitors. By removing the old tables that guided the layout of this website and changing to CSS, a change that should have been done years ago, the usage of the float:right property pushes the sidebar to rightmost portion of the browser window. Previously the layout would have kept the sidebar next to the central panel and would have only stretched into the second monitor if and only if there was a wide image in the central panel. Now you can stretch the browser as wide as you want and the space between the sidebar & central panel contains beautiful tessellations of maps previously published on this website.

Anyways, I still plan on making a few more tweaks to the layout, so please pardon any digital dust during this much-needed remodeling phase.



40 Random Banners Now Greet You
|| 8/31/2009 || 10:27 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

A banner graphic featuring my name written using the Cyrillic alphabet over my map New York Public Library Quilt

New banner graphic featuring my name written using the Cyrillic alphabet over my map New York Public Library Quilt

The last time I added new banner graphics to this website was back in July of 2007 and since I’ve been updating the layout of this website lately, I decided to add some new banners into the mix. Earlier today a friend of mine who specializes in the Russian language responded to an e-mail I sent her about Google’s translation of my name. Her response indicated that the translation was infact an incorrect spelling and she offered a substitute spelling. I was then able to cut & paste the text and make six new banners that feature my name using the Cyrillic alphabet over the top of previously made maps on this website. In conjunction with the first batch of banner graphics that I made, there are now 40 different banner graphics that are randomly displayed each time a page on this blog is loaded.

Below are the rest of the new banner graphics hyperlinked to their original blog entries:

+ MORE



And so begins 2009…
|| 12/31/2008 || 11:59 pm || Comments Off on And so begins 2009… || ||

…and this website is need in of some new years cleaning. I need to update the total map count of the year as well as finish off the 2009 calendars. This year I’d also like to change the 4-year-old layout of this website to add some freshness and hopefully aggregate the maps on this website into an nicely printed atlas. I didn’t make as many maps this year because I’ve ran out of storage space on my hard drives and my CD burner is need of some TLC. However, I hope to continue making more maps in 2009 and hopefully expand my coverage on this website and post more about what I am reading instead of what I’m seeing & making.


For New Years Eve, I went to a my friend’s penthouse apartment and celebrated the start of the New Year. The YouTube video below features the countdown, champagne showers, and the fireworks going off near the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington, DC.


Happy New Years!



DC.gov website confuses Statehood with Voting Rights & Representation
|| 11/14/2008 || 6:52 pm || Comments Off on DC.gov website confuses Statehood with Voting Rights & Representation || ||

The other day I was looking around on the DC government website and noticed this lexical ambiguity. When a visitor hovers their mouse over the “DC Guide” section they are given the option of learning more about DC Statehood. However, when a visitor clicks on the link that says “DC Statehood,” they are taken to a page that only mentions the word “statehood” once and uses the term voting rights. Instead of being given more information about how citizens can achieve DC Statehood, visitors are given cursory information about voting rights and the struggle of DC residents to attain representation in Congress. Moreover, the text incorrectly explains the role of the shadow delegation– that are elected to lobby for statehood, not “lobbies Congress on District issues and concerns.” I am not going to expound on the difference between Statehood & Voting Rights in this posting because I have already written at length about the difference between the two in earlier entries (see list below). However, the more important issue, and the reason I am posting this, is to shows how little effort the DC government is currently putting into DC Statehood, especially now that there is a favorable climate for the enfranchisement and that goal of DC Statehood is undermined by using “Voting Rights” as the method of providing equality for DC residents. I believe the page should contain more information about the history of DC’s struggle for self-determination and more information about routes to achieve statehood.



UPDATE – The DC Government has updated their website to include http://statehood.dc.gov

Related Colonist Entries:

+ MORE



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!



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….





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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!