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Articles by Josh Niederer...

Adware is the Worst

I've been trying to remove some form of adware from my PC all day. It has been the worst Sunday of 2016 thus far outside of the Cubs 7 to 3 victory over the Diamondbacks. This software is posing as a google domain and then running JavaScript to inject ads on every page I visit. For instance, if a page has an embedded YouTube video the adware will convert the video into ads. I've attacked it with everything I've got, and right now it is winning.

The first line of defense was to look for extensions and browser plug-ins. I checked Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer and there were no extensions unexplained extensions to be found. Then, for good measure, I even went ahead and uninstalled all of the ones I intentionally installed within all browsers. This provided no respite.

After checking the extensions, the next logical step was to delete all local browser data. Cookies, browsing history, cache, you name it, I deleted it. No effect! Since that did nothing, I thought, "uninstall Chrome and Firefox?" It couldn't hurt to try, so I uninstalled both of them. The only change this made was now I'm relegated to using either Internet Explorer or Edge. Both are pretty weak in my opinion.

Down to my trusty Microsoft browsers, it was then time to look for recently installed programs. Outside of installing Visual Studio 2015 Update 2 on 4/3/2016, I had nothing for over a month. Removing a program wasn't going to get me out of this mess. So I scoured over the running programs in the Task Manager tool. I did this three times and have not yet found anything that would be helpful.

I've searched the net for trustworthy virus/malware tools and have tried a number of them. The first tool I tried was Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This tool found some "detected objects" but none of them were relevant to my problem. It detected some minor registry issues. Then I decided to by a subscription to McAfee. It was on sale and it can be installed on all my devices so I gave it a shot. It has yet to find a single issue.

The whole time I've been troubleshooting the adware's behavior using the in-browser development tools. Chrome offers the best experience. Using the dev tools, I've been able to log some of the ad services the adware is using and block them in my hosts file. This causes the injects to look like an errant local host page. The ads services the software is using are: atomx,,,,,,,,, My guess is that this list is non-exhaustive but at least I know these. The dev tools have also been helpful to just see what kind of code I'm up against.

So far, I've had no success with finding a way to make the issue go away. Searching the web has been unhelpful so far as well. I've reinstalled Firefox with AdBlock Plus and it is getting me by but the videos or images on a page are still overlaid and the pages aren't delivered as intended. My guess is I might have to spend some quality time putting a new operating system on my development machine in the coming days. It may be time to dive head first into Linux and stay there. Hopefully I can track it down though, this isn't fun.

Published on 4/10/2016 9:36:50 PM

What I'm Trying to Figure Out

The 2015 Cubs were an amazing team. There were so many great moments and performances that it's hard to pick one that stands alone as the most memorable. I think it's easy to pick out the most powerful quote though. In the second half of the season, Jake Arrieta had a run that has never been topped. The guy was untouchable. After throwing a no-hitter on a Sunday night in Los Angeles, Arrieta followed it up with another amazing performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks the next Saturday [1]. After that game, a reporter asked him, "how good can you be?" Jake replied, "I don't know how good I can be, that's what I'm trying to figure out."

Ever since I heard that quote, I've thought about it often and strived to get better every day. I have no idea how good I can be, I might as well try to find out.

[1] -,game_state=Wrapup

Published on 4/9/2016 4:59:44 PM

Schwarber Done for 2016

Jean Segura's play had never really left an impression on me. His best season in the big leagues came with the Milwaukee Brewers at a time when the Cubs were at rock bottom. That year was 2013 when Segura was an all-star and slashed .294/12/49. Solid numbers for a shortstop 23-year-old shortstop on a 74 win team, but nothing eye-popping. Last night in Arizona, Segura did two things that I will remember for a very long time. The first, a home run to right field on John Lackey's very first pitch as a Cub, which was alarming. The second was when Segura did this and the game got downright scary.

Segura's inside the park home run would turn out to cost the Cubs more than a run in a game in April, it'd cost Kyle Schwarber his sophomore season. Schwarber tore both his ACL and LCL ligaments in his left leg on the play and will be out for the rest of the 2016 season. Schwarber's and Dexter Fowler both were going all out to get the ball and there was little they could have done to avoid colliding. As a Cub fan, I'm disappointed that we won't get to see the growth of Schwarber as a hitter and behind the plate this year but I'm excited to see how the Cubs overcome this loss.

The front office's main goal this past offseason was to build the depth required to be a World Series contender. By signing Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward to free agent deals and resigning Dexter Fowler, the Theo Epstein and his team created a wealth of viable options in the outfield. Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, and Matt Szczur are all great options currently on the roster to fill the new void in left field. When Bryant or Zobrist move to the outfield, Tommy LaStella can come in and play both third and second base as needed. Soler will likely get the majority of the reps in left and could, if he gets on a 2015 playoffs vs. the Cardinals-like tear, take all of the playing time.

Another player who could step up big in the absence of Schwarber is Javier Baez. Baez, who is currently on the disabled list nursing a thumb injury suffered sliding head-first into first base trying to beat out a ground ball and then got hit in the head by a pitch during his rehab, is due back soon and could be ready for a breakout season. Baez has the talent to potentially be a 30-plus homer guy has shown signs of putting it together will be a force if he can add just a little bit more contact skills to his ferocious swing. Baez also makes the team defense stronger. If the bat is there, the ideal lineup becomes.

  1. Dexter Fowler CF
  2. Jason Heyward RF
  3. Ben Zobrist 2B
  4. Anthony Rizzo 1B
  5. Kris Bryant LF
  6. Addison Russel SS
  7. Javier Baez 3B
  8. Miguel Montero C
  9. Pitcher

Schwarber was also of value due to the versatility he brought to the ballpark. On the days when he wasn't set to play left field, he was lined up to be the personal catcher for Jason Hammel. Hammel and Schwarber worked together all spring training and seemed to build a good battery. Miguel Montero and David Ross will step up and catch Hammel in Schwarber's place. Should Montero or Ross get hurt for any length of time, look for Tim Federowicz to be the first man called up to the big leagues. The Cubs also have number one ranked catching prospect Willson Contreras waiting in the wings. Contreras should be ready to come up sometime in the second half.

Even without Schwarber for 2016, the Cubs will be a strong offensive team. They will lose a bit of power, but could gain some on base and contact skills depending on the lineup card is filled out. The defense will also likely be improved without Schwarber behind the plate or in left field. The Cubs roster is filled with options to pick up the slack. This team was engineered to handle the injuries and it will prosper without one of its most exciting pieces. Enjoy this homerun from the 2015 division series and hope for a speedy recovery for Kyle Schwarber.

Published on 4/8/2016 5:20:55 PM

Whatever Happens, Use It

There are so many things that can happen in the day to day life with regard to plans. Sometimes we achieve all of our goals, more often though, we veer off track and don't complete everything we set out to. Consider the goal of getting in the best shape of your life. Some days you'll eat well and feel great. This leads to a lot of momentum, that can be used to push your efforts further. Other days you'll eat garbage, causing a desire to get better and this can be used as a turning point moving forward. No matter what happens, it's always possible to use the energy to stay on track or course correct to get back on track.

On Keeping a Good Thing Going

Everybody has times where everything is working out. Maybe you nail a series of job interviews, or your website finally gets more popular, whatever it is, doing well feels great. Taking that momentum and using it to build on is vital to making a good thing great. Mark Zuckerberg could’ve made a neat, little Harvard-only social network, but he, and a great team, kept building on the positive energy and made Facebook the largest social network in the world. The iterative process of continually moving forward is where real progress happens, forging good habits and practices through building on the positive momentum.

Moving back to the goal of getting in the best shape of your life touched on earlier. Without getting on a roll and staying vigilant, it’s going to be difficult to get in good shape. It’s hard to improve physically without working out and eating a healthy diet. Good physical shape and health are derived directly from working hard and consistently eating well. The healthier you get the stronger the positive momentum gets, making it easier to achieve the end goal. Once the goal is reached, the momentum is more often than not going to keep you working hard to retain and maybe even improve. Success is a strong motivator.

On Turning Around the Negative

I’ll admit it, things don’t always go the way you want them. Sometimes it rains, sometimes the Cubs lose, but the world keeps going around us. Never feel down about not doing what you set out to do, put that energy towards getting back on track. The struggle makes success that much sweeter. This year I’ve set out to start learning music theory so I can really start growing as a guitarist. It’s April now and I’ve only read about 10 pages of the theory book I have sitting on my desk. Clearly, I haven’t put in the effort to achieve this goal. Rather than sit here and dread the work I haven’t done, I’m going to open up the book as soon as I finish writing this post. This instance will turn into some positive momentum that can be used to become a better guitarist.

Wrap Up

No matter what happens with your goals, use it. Good events can be used to build up a strong positive momentum that becomes a habit. Once this state is achieved, the momentum becomes too strong to stop. When bad outcomes occur, there’s no reason to get upset. Rather than get disappointed about what has happened, turn it around into something better. The past is fated to be the way it is; the future is what you make it. Positive momentum starts with a single action.

Published on 4/7/2016 7:28:51 PM