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Tech Tips, Tricks & Trivia

by 'Anil' Radhakrishna
An architect's notes, experiments, discoveries and annotated bookmarks.

Search from over a hundred HOW TO articles, Tips and Tricks


This Week I Learned - Week #27 2020

Sunday, July 05, 2020
This Week I Learned -

Azure Traffic Manager is a DNS-based traffic load balancer that you can use to distribute traffic optimally to services across Azure regions globally. Traffic Manager uses DNS to direct clients to a specific service endpoint IP address based on the rules of the traffic routing method that's used. Clients connect directly to the selected endpoint. Traffic Manager isn't a proxy or gateway. Traffic Manager doesn't see the traffic that passes between the clients and the service; it just gives clients the IP address of where they need to go.

* When Traffic Manager receives a DNS request, it chooses an available endpoint to return in the DNS response. There are three types of endpoint  or destination locations supported by Traffic Manager - Azure endpoints, External endpoints, Nested endpoints

SQL elastic pools are used to manage the budget and performance of multiple SQL databases. SQL elastic pools are a resource allocation service used to scale and manage the performance and cost of a group of Azure SQL databases. Elastic pools allow you to purchase resources for the group. SQL elastic pools are ideal when you have several SQL databases that have a low average utilization, but have infrequent, high utilization spikes. The general guidance is, if the combined resources you would need for individual databases to meet capacity spikes is more than 1.5 times the capacity required for the elastic pool, then the pool will be cost effective. Depending on the performance tier, you can add up to 100 or 500 databases to a single pool.

* You can use multiple elastic pools with a single server.

* Basic infrastructure services like DHCP, DNS, IMDS, and health monitoring are provided through the virtualized host IP addresses 168.63.129.16 and 169.254.169.254. These IP addresses belong to Microsoft and are the only virtualized IP addresses used in all regions for this purpose.

The public IP address 168.63.129.16 is used in all Azure Regions and all national clouds. This special public IP address is owned by Microsoft and will not change. Microsoft recommends that you allow this IP address in any local (in the VM) firewall policies (outbound direction). The communication between this special IP address and the resources is safe because only the internal Azure platform can source a message from this IP address. If this address is blocked, unexpected behavior can occur in a variety of scenarios.

* The same network security group can be associated to as many subnets and network interfaces as you choose.

* Unless you have a specific reason to, we recommend that you associate a network security group to a subnet, or a network interface, but not both.

* A service tag represents a group of IP address prefixes from a given Azure service. It helps to minimize complexity of frequent updates on network security rules.

* Application security groups enable you to configure network security as a natural extension of an application's structure, allowing you to group virtual machines and define network security policies based on those groups. You can reuse your security policy at scale without manual maintenance of explicit IP addresses.

* Microsoft recommends that you utilize authenticated SMTP relay services (typically connected via TCP port 587, but often others, as well) to send email from Azure Virtual Machines. SMTP relay services specialize in sender reputation, to minimize the possibility that third-party email providers reject messages. Such SMTP relay services include, but are not limited to, Exchange Online Protection and SendGrid. Use of SMTP relay services is in no way restricted in Azure, regardless of your subscription type.

Subnets are created using classless internet domain routing (CIDR) blocks of the address space that was designed for the Virtual Network. As an example, the smallest range you can specify for a subnet is /29, which provides eight IP addresses. 5 are reserved so you effectively have 3 addresses in this range. /29 represents the bit mask for the network, telling us how many bits are the same for each IP on the subnet and which bits are variable.  the /29 means the first 29 bits of the octet are the same, as shown in bold below:
0000 1010 – 0000 0001 – 0000 0000 – 0000 0000
This means, the last three bits can be 0 or 1. If we make them all 1s, we get the maximum IP value in the range: 0000 1010 – 0000 0001 – 0000 0000 – 0000 0111
This equates to 10.1.0.7, so we have our range as 10.1.0.0 – 10.1.0.7

* If a subnet needs to be updated, this is possible but can sometimes be a bit of a pain. The change is easy enough, but any changes to subnets and address ranges can only be made if there are no devices connected to the subnet. Additionally, subnets can only be deleted from Virtual Networks if they are empty.

Shared Image Gallery enables image distribution across multiple subscriptions and regions through a centralized image management platform. You can build standardized images through your own imaging pipeline or use the Azure VM Image Builder service. Automatic OS image upgrade feature monitors your image gallery and automatically begins scale set upgrades when a new image version is deployed, facilitating faster image deployment without manual overhead.

* Storage Explorer is a GUI application developed by Microsoft to simplify access to, and the management of, data stored in Azure storage accounts. Storage Explorer is available on Windows, macOS, and Linux. The interface lets you connect to Azure Cosmos DB and Data Lake (which is based on Apache Hadoop, is designed for large data volumes and can store unstructured and structured data) to investigate and download data.

* Pivotal is now a part of the VMware Tanzu portfolio

* Helm, the package manager for Kubernetes, was originally created by a company called Deis and released at the end of 2015. Deis open-sourced the project but the company was later acquired by Microsoft. Helm is the best way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes.

* While Google’s decision to begin charging for control plane usage for non-Anthos clusters stirred some frustrations among the developer community, GKE undoubtedly remains the king of managed Kubernetes in terms of features, support, and ease of use. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) remains  the only service to not charge for control plane usage.

* The JSON file containing the IP address ranges for Public Azure as a whole, each Azure region, and ranges for several Azure Services (Service Tags) such as Storage, SQL and Azure Traffic Manager, is updated weekly.

A brief history of SAP products - SAP has a large portfolio of applications. If we stick to the main enterprise resource planning products we can abbreviate the history of the company to six key versions, roughly a major iteration each decade.
HANA stands for Hasso’s New Architecture (Hasso Plattner is one of the five founders of SAP) or alternatively, “High-Performance Analytical Application”. S/4HANA stands for “SAP business suite 4 SAP HANA”.  It is a technical upgrade or a functional enhancement. The three main building blocks of S/4HANA are:
- The HANA platform (or HANA database) – a new database that solves the problems faced by ERP;
- S/4HANA (i.e. the HANA business suite) – an updated version of business suite 7 taking advantage of the benefits of the HANA platform;
- Fiori – a new approach to UI with more focus on flexible app style development and mobile.
With SAP HANA, all data is available in main memory, which avoids the performance penalty of disk I/O (i.e. read/write to auxiliary memory).
* Facebook has never been a neutral platform—it is a company whose business model depends on monitoring its users, modifying and manipulating their behavior, and selling their attention to the highest bidder - New Yorker

Bloviation is a style of empty, pompous, political speech which originated in Ohio and was used by US President Warren G. Harding, who described it as "the art of speaking for as long as the occasion warrants, and saying nothing".

* China shares its borders with 14 nations.

* Gairsain in Chamoli district is the summer capital of Uttarakhand

* 'Royal Bengal Tiger' became the National animal of India in 1973 after the inception of the Project Tiger in 1973.

* Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport at Leh capital of Ladakh, is the highest airport in India

Rahul Bajaj graduated from St Stephen's College in Delhi in 1958  and also earned a degree in law from Bombay University. Then he went on to pursue MBA from Harvard Business School in the US and became CEO of Bajaj Auto in 1968, when he was just 30 years. Rahul Bajaj has always been regarded as plain-spoken and his friends call him 'fearless'. In the 1970s, when Italy's Piaggio didn’t renew Bajaj's license, he began manufacturing his own brand of scooters with names like Chetak and Super.

* Hailing from Marwari families, Ashok Khemka and Ramon Magsaysay Award winner, Arvind Kejriwal have both studied at IIT Kharagpur & joined Civil Services of India.

In his affidavit to Election Directorate before his second term elections in 2015, Arvind Kejriwal had declared that he has 10 criminal charges and 47 total charges against him.

* What is the difference between apes and monkeys? Most monkeys have tails, apes do not.

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Choose Functionally Equivalent Websites In Place of Smartphone Apps

Friday, July 03, 2020
In this season of cleaning up your smartphone & removing shady Chinese apps, also review other apps to see if they are still relevant.

Delete especially apps whose function can be accomplished by a website. Following are some advantages of using equivalent websites -

  • As many apps "mine" personal data, there is a lower chance of your personal information getting misused when you choose reliable websites instead. 
  • No need to fetch updated versions. This can result in a lower bandwidth bill
  • Improved performance of your smartphone due to reduced dependence on phone's hardware resources
Image created with AutoDraw

Also see -

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Azure Services - Pricing Tiers

Sunday, June 28, 2020
The naming of Pricing Tiers is not consistent across Services. The number of Tiers and their resource cost can vary. The Basic Tier of Load Balancer is free but the Basic Tier for App Service is not; there is Free tier for App Service. AAD has 3 Tiers - Free, Premium 1, Premium 2

This table (WIP) shows the Tiers for different Azure Services -

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This Week I Learned - Week #26 2020

Friday, June 26, 2020
This Week I Learned -

* For your Azure deployments, you already use Azure portal, Azure Cloud shell, Azure API to manage your resources. With Azure Arc, you can extend these capabilities to manage resources in hybrid environments such as datacenters, private, public clouds and the edge. Azure Arc can help with management and governance of servers and Kubernetes clusters across environments with a unified view in Azure Portal and API. Azure Arc also enables you to enforce compliance by centrally managing access and security policies with standardized Role Based Access Control.

* Azure Service Health is a free service that provides personalized guidance and support when you're affected by an Azure service problem. Advisor identifies subscriptions that don't have alerts configured and recommends configuring them.

* Embedded within the Azure Service Health suite of services you’ll find Azure Resource Health Alerts. This service provides a near real-time availability signal representing the health of your deployed Azure resources.

* Azure Architecture Maps:
OpenShift V3 (released in October 2019) added Docker as their prime container technology, and Kubernetes as the prime container orchestration technology.

* Flexera has acquired RISC Networks, the maker of Cloudscape

* Ansible is still the preferred DevOps tool but Terraform’s popularity is growing according to the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report. Azure Stack is the most preferred private and hybrid cloud platform and AWS Outposts is picking up momentum in the hybrid cloud market.

Amazon Honeycode – now in beta – puts AWS into the no-code application competition with Microsoft Power Apps and Google Cloud’s AppSheet 

* SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son is stepping down from the board of Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba whose founder Jack Ma is quitting SoftBank’s board at the same time. Ma and Son have maintained a close friendship since the Japanese entrepreneur was an early investor in Alibaba.

* Tencent co-founder Pony Ma has toppled Jack Ma's position as the richest person in China.

* Approximately ₹3 trillion out of the total assets under management (AUM) of open-ended mutual funds of ₹23.29 trillion is invested in the dividend option. This amounts to around 12% of the total AUM.

In 1990, India and China had the same per capita GDP. But they went past us in 1986. Till 1995, we didn’t really import anything from China. And then suddenly, we began importing everything from them. Our growth and [previous] expansion of 8.5 per cent was fueled, in part, by competing with, buying from and learning from China.
Source:The Hindu 
* The prefixes 690 to 699 are assigned to GS1 China, and ‘890’ is assigned to GS1 India. This means, the company is headquartered or has an office in that location, but the product could have been made in another country. It doesn’t mean products with those prefixes are made there. For example, if an Indian company imports a product from China and then re-packages it and sends it to Bangladesh, the product will have India’s barcode. In that case, a buyer in Bangladesh would not know the original manufacturer of the product - India Today

* We go out of our way to shield ourselves from failures, even in situations where we're just thinking to ourselves and not at risk of embarrassment. Making the most of failure.

* Shade Jacking - When a person makes some ridiculous comparison on a current news topic, completely not about said topic, with the intent to take some moral high ground by referencing their agenda, or old news story. Example - "Everybody is so upset about a dead lion, but nobody even cares about dead babies"

In philosophy, absurdism is the idea that the universe has no meaning and yet people assign meaning to things. Al Jaffee, though, saw these things as something to satire, to mock

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This Week I Learned - Week #25 2020

Friday, June 19, 2020
This Week I Learned -

* In case of Geo-zone-redundant storage (GZRS), data is synchronously replicated 3 times across 3 availability zones in the primary region, then asynchronously replicated to the secondary paired region (3 more copies) = can sustain node failure within the storage cluster, entire datacenter or availability zone going down or a region-wide outage (only region failure would require account failover to restore read and write availability. Typically has an RTO of less 1 hour (no SLA).
* Microsoft Dapr (Distributed Application Runtime) is an open-source, event-driven framework aimed to build resilient and portable microservices for Cloud and Edge applications.

* By connecting Azure Boards with GitHub repositories, you enable linking between GitHub commits, pull requests, and issues to work items.

* With deployment scripts, you can add PowerShell or Bash scripts to your templates. The deployment scripts extend your ability to set up resources during deployment. A script can be included in the template, or stored in an external source and referenced in the template. Deployment scripts give you the ability to complete your end-to-end environment setup in a single ARM template.

* You can make sure your template follows recommended guidelines by testing it with the ARM template tool kit (arm-ttk).

* Azure Policy is a policy as code framework to automate governance

* Azure Blueprints makes it possible for development teams to rapidly meet regulatory and compliance standards.

Azure Synapse Analytics provides better price-performance benefits than Amazon Redshift and Google BigQuery

* Azure Cognitive Services can be deployed using ARM templates

* You can combine both VM and disk bursting (generally available in April) to get higher performance on your VM or disks without overprovisioning. VM bursting, which is enabled by default, offers you the ability to achieve higher throughput for a short duration on your virtual machine instance with no additional steps or cost. Currently available on all Lsv2-series VMs in all supported regions, VM bursting is great for a wide range of scenarios like handling unforeseen spiky disk traffic smoothly, or processing batched jobs with speed. With VM bursting, you can see up to 8X improvement in throughput when bursting.

* ELK is an acronym for three open source projects: Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. Elasticsearch is a search and analytics engine. Logstash is a server‑side data processing pipeline that ingests data from multiple sources simultaneously, transforms it, and then sends it to a "stash" like Elasticsearch. Kibana lets users visualize data with charts and graphs in Elasticsearch.

Google Meet now comes with active noise cancellation

* To get a direct link to download the file from Google Drive:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=DRIVE_FILE_ID

To get a direct download link to a Google document in Word (.docx) format:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/DOC_FILE_ID/export?format=docx

* To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the Project Management Institute (PMI) has identified the top 50 notable and influential projects of the past 50 years in its list of Most Influential Projects. This is a first-of-its-kind ranking for PMI that celebrates the most impactful projects from the past 50 years and highlights how project management has helped turn these ideas into reality. The India Top 10 list includes:
- Aadhaar (#31 in Global Top 50)
- Project Tiger (#38 in Global Top 50)
- Operation Flood (#49 in Global Top 50)
- Delhi Metro
- Aryabhata
- Cochin International Airport
- Chandrayaan-1
- Indica
- Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park
- The Lotus Temple

Punjab has a 'Cancer Train'. The most remarkable feature of this train is that 60% of its population are cancer patients of all ages who come from all across Punjab. This 12-coach train has gained its name from a sudden increase in cancer cases in Punjab that many blame on pesticide use, growing pollution and hardly any response by authorities.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETF's) are essentially Index Funds that are listed and traded on exchanges like stocks. An ETF is a basket of stocks that reflects the composition of an Index, like Nifty 50. The ETFs trading value is based on the net asset value of the underlying stocks that it represents.

* The department for industry and internal trade (DPIIT) rejected the application of Flipkart FarmerMart Private Ltd (FFMPL) seeking approval for retail trading of food products on the e-commerce portal, www.flipkart.com, owned by Flipkart Internet Ltd, a Walmart company. FFMPL's equity of Rs 360 crore is contributed almost entirely by Singapore-based Quickroutes International. Amazon Retail India Private Limited sells agricultural produce under the brand name Amazon Pantry and Amazon Fresh on the portal, www.amazon.in. The portal is owned by Amazon Seller Services Private Limited. Amazon Retail is a three-year-old company in which Singapore-based Amazon Corporate Holdings Private Ltd. has invested Rs 804 crore for an equity stake of 99%. The rest is held by Amazon.com.incs Ltd of Mauritius. The shareholders of Amazon Seller Services are the same as that of Amazon Retail. Amazon Corporate Holdings has 99.99% equity in it. It has invested Rs 35,695 crore. The rest is held by Amazon.com.incs Ltd, which has invested Rs 1.65 crore. Amazon Seller Services says its business is web-based information-technology-enabled services and business-to-business wholesale trading - FE

* Today's identification tags or dog tags of US soldiers identify vital information about the wearer: name, Social Security number, blood type and religious preference. During World War II there were only three religious categories that could be put on dog tags: P for Protestant, C for Catholic and H for Hebrew (Jewish). "No Religious Preference" and "None" were eventually added. Service members can generally put whatever religious preference they want on their tags, including "Atheist" or "Agnostic. There is no list of official or approved religions.

* Chyron refers to a text-based graphic overlay displayed at the bottom of a television screen or film frame, as closed captioning or the crawl of a newscast.. Although it's often used generically, it actually comes from the name of the company whose software allows television producers to add those crawling words, phrases, and images to their broadcasts.

* "Regret. It piles up around us like books we never read" - Viktor Cherevin, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

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