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Articles by Josh Niederer...

30 Posts, 30 Days

This month, April 2016, I set out with the goal of publishing a new post here to every day of the month. Well, it's April 30 and this will be my 30th post. So I've done it! I'm at the finish line. Now that the goal has been completed, I'm going to take a look back and evaluate the work I've done this month and identify some goals for the future of the site.

Why did I write 30 articles in 30 days? Because I made this site a few years ago and never really used it as I thought I would. Prior to going through this exercise I had only made 13 posts. Many of these posts were published all the way back in 2014. Over this time, I hadn't written much outside of code and emails. Through pushing myself to post here, I not only got to work out my writing skills, but also got to publish my ideas all the while getting to use a site that I built.

In the process of completing this challenge, there were a lot of days where I had no ideas on what to write about. When this would happen, I'd typically default to writing about my favorite writing subject, the Chicago Cubs. Other times I'd just write whatever was on my mind that day. Each day I knew that I had to write about something, so the first thing that came to me would usually be what I'd write about.

On average, I'd estimate that I spent 30 minutes to an hour constructing these posts. The amount of time I spent on each post probably wasn't conducive to quality. Some of the posts were better than others, but as a whole I could've put more time into them and tightened up the end result. Many of the posts could benefit from further research and expansion of the main ideas. Overall though, I'm happy with the work I've done here. I achieved what I set out to do and had a lot of good ideas in the process.

After about the 10th post, I had decided I was going to pull the plug. I had been messing with trying to fix an adware issue all day and had no idea what to write about. What's more, it was about 11 PM and I was ready to go to bed. In that moment, I decided I would write about the adware experience. Looking back at that moment now, I'm glad that I put in the effort and made the post that night. When I started this I actually told myself that I'd be ecstatic if I wrote 20 posts. 20 would've have been good, but getting all 30 is great.

In the future, I plan to post more regularly than I did prior to this month. I won't be posting every day, but posting at least once a month seems reasonable. Another thing I would like to do is to write more posts about software and development. Outside of that, I really just hope that if anyone out there finds these posts that they enjoy them. This site might never become super popular, but as long as it's here I want to make some worthwhile content. Thanks for reading.

Published on 4/30/2016 9:15:23 PM

Comparing Achievements

Achievements are great. They show that a person has a track record of delivering on what they set out to accomplish. From the time we're born forward, there is a lot of emphasis placed on doing well. Getting good grades in school, being the best athlete on the team, and getting a good job are all examples of things we want or in some cases, pushed, to want. It's natural to want to do well in these types of pursuits. It's another thing altogether to compare our achievements in life to others. Comparing ourselves to others is a potentially toxic practice that can lead to trouble.

Our goals and achievements are internal, we have a direct impact on the outcome. Things may not go exactly as planned, but we can control many the actions taken to complete it. The achievements of others are external, we don't have direct control over them. It all comes down to an internal vs. external distinction. Through focusing on the internal things, we don't have to worry or waste time on the things we can't control.

Comparing our achievements to what others have done can be an inspiring practice if done with the right perspective. Through seeing that someone else has already done something we want to do, that experience can be used as a guide. It's great to think about greatness and use it to get better. On the other hand, when approached from a negative point of view, comparison can lead to jealously and bitterness. Thoughts like "why not me?" when considering someone who happens to look more successful than you just aren't productive.

The fact that someone else is successful is a great thing. Just because they're successful doesn't mean you won't ever achieve your goals or aren't great already. Life isn't a zero-sum game. Be happy for the success of others and your own. Never get discouraged by the achievements of others, use them for motivation.

Published on 4/29/2016 10:00:49 PM

Javier Baez Looks Like the Real Deal

Though he's only played 10 games on the season, Javier Baez is the most exciting player on the 2016 Cubs. I'm not saying he's the best player, Kris Bryant is, but Baez is plain fun to watch play the game. You give Baez an inch, he'll take a foot. Every chance he gets he does something dynamic. He's a true five tool guy, the speed, glove, and arm have all already arrived, the only question is if the power and contact skills will be consistent enough to let Baez stick in a Cubs lineup that's already full of elite talents.

The other night, Baez pinch hit and got a single. What happened next was quintessential Javy. Baez proceeded to attempt to steal second, the throw beat him by a good measure, but Baez danced around the tag with a beautiful swim move. It was an amazing display of body control, see it below. Baez was originally called out but the play is overturned after a video review. Baez ended up scoring the 4th and final run for the Cubs in that game, the Cubs ended up winning 4-3. Little plays like that show how talented Baez is.

In today's game, a 7 to 2 victory over the Brewers, Baez came in as a defensive replacement for Bryant who sprained his ankle. Baez went 1/1 with a walk and a run scored. Each time he got on first, he advanced on balls that got away from the Brewers catcher Jonathon Lucroy. These were plays the average baserunner doesn't make, but Baez was standing on second base before Lucroy picked up the ball. His baseball intelligence and aggressiveness are off the charts.

These baseball instincts don't only show themselves on the base paths. Baez can play shortstop, second base, and third base all at an exceptional level. He can also play first base and he dabbles in the outfield. I don't think he played third base professionally at any level before 2015. Now he looks like a potential gold glover there.

With his elite skills, Baez has the potential to be the best player in the league. He has the talent to be that good. Why isn't he the best player in league? He hasn't figured out how to hit pitchers who know how to attack him. Baez will quite often throw away at bats by taking strikes early then expanding late. His approach at the plate is raw and could benefit from a more consistency. Getting the opportunity to play every day and work through some of the issues would go a long way to correcting some of these issues.

Outside of his first stop in the big leagues in 2014 when he struck out 95 times in 213 at bats (44.6% k-rate), Baez hasn't had a chance to play in the major leagues on an everyday basis. With all the improvements that have been made to the lineup since then, Baez could really flourish. In limited playing time so far this year, Baez has looked great and put up stellar base running and defensive numbers (1.1 BsR and 1.4 Def). His 0.7 Off has actually been very good for player with his secondary skills too. A player of this caliber, one who can play elite defense at any position on the infield, is truly a luxury to have off the bench. Someday Baez will put it all together as an everyday player, I hope it happens with the Cubs.

Published on 4/28/2016 9:34:58 PM


Some days nothing comes easy. In times like this, ideas just aren't flowing and motivation is in short supply. These are the days where true character shines through. Usually true character takes shape through effort, which is just pushing though. No matter what happens or stands in our way, we can at least control our effort.

To be honest, I didn't want to write today. I sat down at my desk and no ideas came gushing out. Sure, I could push something out about the Cubs (how about that slide Javier Baez made last night!), but I didn't want to do that. Maybe I'll do a Cubs piece tomorrow night. I wanted it produce something more powerful. I wanted to write something unique, something worth reading.

By now you've realized that I didn't think of anything great. I'm starting to see that myself. Maybe though, if I push a little harder, think a little deeper, something great may come out my mind through my Das Keyboard and onto the monitor. Then again, it's also possible I won't. I might as well just keep going and see if something good is hiding somewhere in my mind. If I hit enough random characters, Shakespeare is bound to pour out.

When there is nothing else, I can always rely on raw effort to deliver something. It may not be the best work I ever create, but at least it'll be step forward. Effort is one of the most important things in life, and it's often overlooked out of laziness. If showing up is 80 percent then the other 20 percent is effort. It's also fairly easy to justify effort once you show up: If I'm here I might as well try.

So the point is simple, you might have nothing, but effort will generate the rest. Work it out, see what happens. Yes, it may be uncomfortable to push through the blank spaces, but once you start momentum builds. The act of just trying can also lead to significant ideas. Who knows when inspiration will strike. Until then, give a little effort, it'll go a long way.

Published on 4/27/2016 10:05:12 PM