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Articles by Josh Niederer...

What I'm Doing (Spring 2016)

I am living in central Illinois, working hard to become the best person I can possibly be. I spend all my time on these things:

  • Working for IEMA: programming view, GSS, and other tasks. Managing the entire RMS system. Multiple check-ins daily.
  • Becoming a better software developer every day.
  • Meditating
  • Improving at playing the guitar every day
  • Working out every day
  • Eating better food
  • Stretching often
  • Writing
  • Thinking
  • Creating
  • Sleeping (10PM - 6AM)
  • Rooting for the Cubs

My internal goal is to live the best life possible. I define best life possible to be: controlling the things I can control and enjoying the process of learning, doing, and living. If something is worth spending time on, go all in. Outside of that, I’m currently focused on what I have written above.

I plan to add a what I’m doing page dedicated to displaying the current things I’m doing.

Published on 4/2/2016 5:21:17 AM

Springfield and Walking

As I spend more and more time in Springfield, Illinois, it amazes me more and more how few people I see out walking. It’s almost as if unless I’m in a park, I don’t ever run into anyone on the sidewalks. I on the other hand, walk basically everywhere. I walk to work, I walk to the grocery store, I walk almost anywhere I need to go in town.

For the most part, Springfield isn’t very walkable (see the Walk Score below), it’s actually quite reliant on having a vehicle. Luckily, the placement of everything I need happens to be placed as conveniently as possible. My office is nestled behind the best grocery store in town which happens to be a short, five-minute walk from the apartment I stay at. There’s restaurants, pharmacies, stores, and much more all within a ten-minute walk. For me, outside of to meet someone or business that brings me out of my bubble, there’s really no reason to drive. In a given week, I rarely drive more than a couple of times.


No doubt, I’m not in the majority of people. My setup in town is very unique with regards to how everything falls so close together. Still, there are thousands of people who live in the same neighborhood as I do who have many of the same opportunities, and I’m never seeing them on the sidewalks. Take for instance a tenant who lives in the same apartment complex as I do. I once saw this tenant get in their vehicle and drive to the grocery store as I was heading to the same store. By the time they got in their car, drove to the store, and parked I was already in the store! That lack of effort didn’t make sense to me. It’s not only easy to walk to the store but it’s great exercise and helps you buy less stuff. It’s difficult to carry cartload of food you don’t need.

By the time April arrives in Central Illinois, I’m increasingly ready to just be outside. It’s nice to hear the birds again, to see the green grass and the flowers starting to bloom, and feel the warmth again. There’s nothing wrong with not walking a lot, I don’t can’t imagine not taking advantage of the experience. Until others realize what they’re missing, I’ll keep on enjoying my lonely sidewalks.

Published on 4/1/2016 5:36:03 AM

Cane for Self-Defense Review

Sometimes you find a little bit of inspiration in the most surprising. The other day, I was looking at my Amazon Prime recommended videos when I saw a movie called Cane for Self-Defense. Cane for Self-Defense is a tutorial video about using a cane to fight would be combatants. It's a movie that I would never watch and one that I would, quite frankly, never be interested in. Anyways, when I saw it as my number one most recommended movie, I knew I had to watch enough to to write a humorous review. If my recommendations are already this far off from what I want to see, I might as well skew it a little further. I hope you enjoy this Amazon review I wrote of Cane for Self-Defense, it was fun to write.

Had I never watched Deadwood on Amazon Prime, I'd never have found this nice little gem, Cane for Self-Defense. Master Gordon Oster, our humble tour guide to using the cane, is not only a world class martial artist, but also a fine canesman, well-versed in the art of disabling a foe with nothing more than a cane. This how-to video will take you from being a novice cane user, all the way through being able to defend yourself against teams of combatants with the walking stick you already own. The film is broken down into two parts, theory and practical techniques, including warmup techniques and nearly forty cane katas. The theory content is summarized below for a quick taste of the fantastic content contained within the video.

The Hook
The feature that makes a cane not a weapon is also a tool of destruction. Master Oster shows us how to take advantage of the cane's hook. Great techniques for disabling your foe.

Selection of Cane
The most important thing about choosing a cane is to choose the right length for you. There are many types of canes, rattan, hard wood, metal and more. The best cane is often the one that's most comfortable to you. It's not always necessary to purchase an expensive cane. The master uses a $6.00 cane purchased in Texas. A normal sized hook is best for combat so keep that in mind when choosing.

Power of Cane
Canes have a surprising amount of force, so much that one can easily break boards without overexerting theirself.

Grip of Cane
It's simple. Hold with three fingers wrapped around the hook, pointer finger down one side and thumb on the other. Using this five-finger grip will ensure maximum control over your cane.

Stance and Footwook
The proper stance is much like that of a martial artist pose. Stay balanced and ready to step and slide. Small, controlled, steps give control over opponents.

When using a cane, you are not limited be the number of targets to aim for. Temple, eyes, nose, throat, solar plexus, abdomen, ribs, hook around neck, groin, legs, thighs, shins, feet, and anywhere else really, are all viable targets to aim for.

After the theory Oster breaks into his recommended warmup technique followed by his cane katas. All of the katas are worth learning and there is a great wealth of content here. My personal favorite (#34 Hooking Explosion) is when Master Oster shows how to defend yourself against an assailant who is wielding a gun. He recommends never to egg on a fight with someone who has a gun because as they say, “never bring a cane to a gun fight,” but it's important instruction nonetheless.

The only downside of the movie is its abrupt end. After the final kata is shown, there's no further advice or recommendations from Master Oster. It'd be nice if the Master would share a final word or two of wisdom, or even a pat on the back for coming this far in our journey to mastering the cane. Regardless, the quality of actual content speaks for itself and there's already more than enough quality here for months of practice.

All cane owners owe it themselves to watch and practice these techniques. With Cane for Self-Defense, Master Oster has demystified cane self-defense. Cane fighting used to be a fighting technique only used by great fighters like Master Splinter, Dr. Gregory House, and Willy Wonka. Since it's available on Amazon Prime, there's no excuse for not knowing at least a few of Oster's wonderful kata and making Cane for Self-Defense a tool of the common person.

Published on 3/18/2015 10:27:35 PM

It's Been Awhile

To take a much used phrase from the great U2 podcast that is “U Talkin’ U2 to Me?” it’s been awhile! In the few months since I last posted here quite a bit has happened. For the most part, my inactivity here directly coincides with a single event. Due to an incomplete roofing job and a torrential rain fall, my second floor apartment was flooded. Unfortunately, this turned my five minute walk of a commute into a one hour and ten minute drive. From the drive, to looking a new place, my spare time was pretty much shot. Luckily, that’s all over now and I can once again start writing a little bit, hopefully a lot to make up for lost time.


I got a new amp! Not that my Acoustic G20 wasn’t good enough, I just wanted to get something with a little more power. So, I picked up a Vox AC-15C1. I’m really enjoying this amp. Its 12 inch speaker and 15 watts of power are likely more than I’ll need for a good long while and the sound is a step above what I was using. Once I saw Spoon using an AC-30 (the same amp with two speakers instead of one) in live videos after my purchase, I liked the box even more. I’ve got a small sample of a practice session I recorded around a month ago. It’s not my best work, but it’s representative of my current skill level. In terms of current practice techniques, I found out how to add user generated songs to the set list on Rocksmith 2014 and I have an amazing list of songs I’m trying to learn. Many of them are too difficult currently but I’ll get there someday.



I picked up an Arudino Uno and have been playing with it quite a bit. It’s a neat little toy. The electronics portion of using the device was entirely new to me. The C-based programming system is both fun to use and easy to pick up quickly. I’ve mostly stuck with the book exercises but I plan to start checking out some of the community created projects. I also have a few things I want to try to make it do before I forget about it.


Outside of the Arudino, which is just for fun, I’ve been reading a lot about Dependency Injection in addition to embracing it within my code. For the most part, I’ve been using Dependency Injection in .NET by Mark Seemann. I can’t recommend this book anymore. If you have even a passing interest in DI, pick this book up. The book is full ideas and tips that will make your code stronger and more reliable.


While I was displaced from the flood, I started to take running as an exercise seriously. I can’t say that I enjoy running, but has it has made a positive impact on my health. It makes my thoughts clearer and I have a lot more energy since I started. As for distance, on a typical day I’ll go around three and half miles. I usually can do this in 22 or 23 minutes. Once a week I try to do a long run where I go further than I did the week before. I’m up to around eight miles. If you told me in April that I’d be running this much in September I wouldn’t believe you.

On the Next…

So that’s pretty much where I’ve been and what I’ve been learning in my period of silence. In the next few months I want to start working on a couple of software projects. I’ve been thinking about them for a while and really want to get them out there. I don’t know if many people will use them once complete but they are ones that I definitely wish I had. On the guitar front I’m going to keep on learning new songs and continue to try to get better every day.

Published on 9/15/2014 8:41:58 PM