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Tech Tips, Tricks & Trivia

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

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

This Week I Learned - Week #211

Saturday, April 22, 2017
This Week I Learned -

* Azure HDInsight is the only fully-managed cloud Hadoop offering that provides optimized open source analytical clusters for Spark, Hive, MapReduce, HBase, Storm, Kafka, and R Server backed by a 99.9% SLA.

Users can now use H2O.ai’s open source solutions on Azure HDInsight, which allows reliable open source analytics with an industry-leading SLA.

Azure Site Recovery now supports creating failed over virtual machines in an availability set.

All of AWS Whitepapers

The architecture of the internet has tremendous influence over what is made, and what is seen; algorithms influence what content spreads further on Facebook and turns up on top of Google searches. YouTube’s most serious ad change yet came in the wake of reports from The Times of London and The Wall Street Journal that ads were appearing on YouTube videos that espoused extremism and hate speech. according to YouTube creators, that shift has also punished video makers who bear no resemblance to terrorist sympathizers and racists. On the site, it’s known as “the adpocalypse.” To rein in its sprawling video empire — 400 hours of video are uploaded to the platform every minute — YouTube uses machine learning systems that can’t always discern context, or distinguish commentary or humor from hate speech. That limitation means that YouTube routinely pulls ads from content deemed “not advertiser-friendly.” 

Media power has consolidated in the past several decades, with a smaller crew of billionaires controlling journalism and entertainment. The internet was supposed to offer an opportunity for a diverse group of upstarts to challenge the corporate structure. But the same consolidation of power has happened online.

Google and Facebook are now so dominant that they form a practical duopoly over digital advertising  - NY Times

* The average Chinese person today pigs out on 40kg (88lbs) of pork a year, up from 12kg in 1980. Although China constitutes just one-fifth of the world’s population, it consumes 50% of the pork - Economist

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the “right” thing to do. It also improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present.

* Steven Ballmer's USAFacts.org website is perhaps the first nonpartisan effort to create a fully integrated look at revenue and spending across federal, state and local governments. Altogether, he has spent more than $10 million between direct funding and grants.

* Robert Vadra bought a 3.5-acre plot in Gurgaon in 2008 for 7.5 crores and sold just three months later for 58 crores to India's largest real estate developer, DLF - NDTV

* About 4 crore subscribers of EPFO will get 8.65 per cent interest on provident fund deposits for 2016-17, as decided by the organisation's trustees in December - NDTV

* The website of Doordarshan News is designed and maintained by National Informatics Centre (NIC). The site has URLs like these with commas & spaces -

* "We will move from mobile first to an AI first world" - Sundar Pichai

* "Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved." - Jane Goodall

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This Week I Learned - Week #210

Saturday, April 15, 2017
This Week I Learned -

Q: What is the maximum number of virtual machines I can have in an Azure Availability Set?
A: 50

Q. Can I use the same storage account for all the VMs in an availability set?
A. Yes but it is better to use different storage accounts for each VM in the Availability Set.

Q. Can I create more than 100 NSGs per region per subscription?
A. Yes. 100 is the default limit but can be increased to 400 for ARM (200 for ASM).

Q. Can an Azure resource be in more than one Resource Group?
A. No

Q. Can an Azure VM have more than one public IP?
A. No. While an Azure VM can have multiple vmNICs, only the primary adapter can be assigned a public IP.

Q. How many virtual networks can be peered in Azure?
A. Each virtual network can be peered to up to 10 virtual networks.

Q. If I have an IaaS VM talking to a PaaS SQL database does the traffic flow through the Microsoft network?
A. Yes.

The goal of the Availability Set is to split your VMs in the Availability Set over 2 (ASM) or 3 (ARM) fault domains

* The higher the number of update domains the smaller the number of instances that are unavailable during each planned maintenance cycle.

* A Resource Group can span locations, and it can be either heterogeneous, i.e. containing different types of resource (such as a database, a VM, a website and so on) or it can be homogeneous.

* SQL Database provides up to 200% of your maximum provisioned database storage as backup storage at no additional cost. For example, if you have a Standard DB instance with a provisioned DB size of 250 GB, you have 500 GB of backup storage at no additional charge.

* The Long-Term Backup Retention feature enables you to store your Azure SQL Database backups in an Azure Recovery Services vault for up to 10 years. Long-term backup retention of an Azure SQL database is charged according to the Azure backup services pricing rates.

* You can save up to 40 percent on Windows Server virtual machines running in Azure by using your existing Windows Server licenses with Software Assurance

* Hybrid cloud use cases [PDF]

* Azure Storage accounts by default are set up to be geographically redundant

Azure Master Program offers Hands-on Labs that let you try some activities without requiring to sign-up for a Subscription

The release of Sitecore 8.2 update 1 included full Sitecore Azure Web Apps support. It takes 15-20 minutes to provision a vanilla Sitecore environment. Azure Marketplace provides Point and Click setup of Sitecore-approved topology and provisions a vanilla  Sitecore deployment to the selected datacentre. Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates are more customizable

Amazon AI services offer natural language understanding (NLU), automatic speech recognition (ASR), visual search and image recognition, text-to-speech (TTS), and machine learning (ML) technologies

Apache MXNet is a fully-featured, flexibly-programmable and ultra-scalable deep learning framework supporting state-of-the-art deep models including convolutional neural networks (CNNs), and long short-term memory networks (LSTMs).

* Amazon Go convenience store uses machine vision to eliminate checkout lines. Machine learning drives Amazon's algorithms for demand forecasting, product search ranking, product and deals recommendations, merchandising placements, fraud detection, translations, and much more. Amazon Lex (what's inside Alexa), Amazon Polly, and Amazon Rekognition remove the heavy lifting from natural language understanding, speech generation, and image analysis. They can be accessed with simple API calls — no machine learning expertise required - Business Insider

* AI has helped Bing more than double its share of the search engine market (to 20%); as of 2015, Bing generated more than a $1 billion in revenue every quarter - HBR

* A  2016 survey from Deloitte found that Americans collectively check their phones 8 billion times per day. The average for individual Americans was 46 checks per day, including during leisure time—watching TV, spending time with friends, eating dinner. - HBR

* According to Facebook, the average Facebook user spends almost an hour on the site every day. The more you use Facebook, the worse you feel

* The Government has blacklisted 34,000 Aadhaar agencies for polluting UIDAI. 34,000!

* Big Blue allowed employees to work from home way back in the ’80s, when the technology to telecommute was not so great. The three biggest reasons for companies to introduce WFH are to do with work-life integration, attracting key talent, and driving cost efficiencies. Over 66 per cent of remote workers in IT/ITES companies (according to a 2008 TCS study) are women. Four years ago Marissa Meyer decreed Yahoo employees could no longer work from home. This year, it is IBM CMO Michelle Peluso’s turn to tell her 2,600-people-strong marketing department that there will be no more telecommuting. Other adopters of this hardline approach include one of Silicon Valley’s greatest success story – Google. - Hindu Business Line

* Nearly all public companies in the US have clawback (or forced return of pay and stock grants) provisions, but boards are typically loath to invoke them - NY Times

Google's music streaming service in India is priced a third lower than iTunes.

Pakistan's liabilities, both private and public, are already a staggering 75 per cent of GDP, or Rs 22.5 trillion

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Thursday, April 13, 2017
Some of these trackers even come with APIs that can be customized for your own use -

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This Week I Learned - Week #209

Sunday, April 09, 2017
This Week I Learned -

* Windows 10 includes Internet Explorer 11 alongside Microsoft Edge, to provide a consistent and predictable level of compatibility with existing legacy applications. Internet Explorer 11 supports Document modes and Enterprise Mode, which are essential tools for maintaining this backward compatibility. With the F12 developer tools in Internet Explorer 11, you can emulate any site with different Document modes and Enterprise Modes. - IE Blog

* The Economic Policy Institute estimated there were about 460,000 people working on H-1B visas in 2013. About half of the visas sought last year were for computer-related positions. Computer programmers made up about 12 percent of all H-1B applications certified by the Department of Labor in 2015 - NDTV

* Some of the most addictive games ever made, like the 1980s and ’90s hit Tetris, rely on a feeling of progress toward a goal that is always just beyond the player’s grasp. As the psychologist Adam Alter writes in his book “Irresistible,” video game designers even have a name for this mental state: the “ludic loop.” - NY Times

* Indian children in Bihar died after 'eating lychees on empty stomach' as they were poisoned by the fruit. Lychees contain toxins that inhibit the body's ability to produce glucose, which affected young children whose blood sugar levels were already low because they were not eating dinner - BBC

* Muslims represent 3 percent of Canada’s population.

* To teach one's grandmother to suck eggs - To offer needless assistance; to waste one's efforts upon futile matters; especially, to offer advice to an expert. This particular expression is well over two hundred years old. Sucking eggs was an old English (and possibly elsewhere) tradition going back centuries, and normally done at Easter. An egg would be pierced with small holes at either end, and the contents sucked out. The combined white/yolk (plus some inevitable saliva!) would then be used in cake making and other foods, whereas the intact eggshell could be painted and used for decoration.

* Don Rickles, the insult comedian was so popular some celebrities felt that “if they hadn’t been insulted by Rickles, they weren’t with it”. His own theory was that he was being rewarded for saying things others wanted to say but couldn’t. “I’m the guy at the Christmas party,” he said more than once, “who makes fun of the boss on Friday night and still has his job on Monday morning.” - NY Times

* Micro-moments of positivity can, over time, result in greater overall well-being.

* “Yad bhavam tad bhavati,” - “You are what you believe,” or “You become what you believe.”

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Azure Q & A - ExpressRoute, Hybrid Use Benefit

Saturday, April 08, 2017
As I'm more heavily involved in Azure now, I thought I'll post about my learnings from online resources under a dedicated tag - TWILIA - This Week I Learnt in Azure. It will feature annotated bookmarks and paraphrased content I run through each week.

1. Is my data encrypted in transit when I use ExpressRoute?

2. Can you have both ASM (classic) and ARM VNets connected to a single ER circuit?

3. Can I use a single ExpressRoute circuit with multiple subscriptions?
Yes, you can leverage a single ER circuit with as many subscriptions as VNets supported by the ER circuit. The standard ER circuit allows for a maximum of 10 VNets so if you have 1 VNet per subscription you can support 10 subscriptions.

4. Can I use the new VNet peering with ExpressRoute?
Yes. This is very useful feature since it can help to provide support for more than the default 10 VNet limit placed on the standard ExpressRoute circuit by leveraging true meshed VNets via VNet peering.

5. Can I have both ExpressRoute ARM and S2S VPN as a failover connection?
Yes and it is a good best practice for Azure Private peering traffic. The Azure Public peering traffic can failover to a standard Internet link.

6. Are there Egress charges for ExpressRoute?
Yes, if you use the ‘metered plan’ there is an egress cost of about 2 cents per GB. If you use the ‘unlimited plan’ there is not charge for egress. The education Internet egress waiver does not apply to ExpressRoute circuits.

7. Can I customize or bring my own algorithms?
Yes, if the provided list of Microsoft Azure ML algorithms in a cheat sheet here are not ones you would like to leverage you can bring your own.

8. What is the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit?
The Azure Hybrid Use Benefit (HUB) lets you convert or re-use your Windows Server Datacenter and Standard edition licenses covered with Software Assurance, to run Windows Server virtual machines in Azure and pay a lower base compute rate (Linux virtual machine rates).

9. How to take advantage of HUB?
Enterprise Agreement customers can deploy pre-built Azure Hybrid Use Benefit Windows Server images that they can access straight from Azure Marketplace or deploy them using their favorite client tools such as Azure PowerShell, Azure Command Line Interface, or through the Azure SDKs. Customers without Enterprise Agreements can upload custom images and deploy using a Resource Manager template or Azure PowerShell.

10. What is the Azure Compute pre-purchase plan?
The Azure Compute pre-purchase plan offers you discounts up to 63 percent off standard prices on virtual machines in Azure, for an upfront pre-purchase of 12 months of a particular instance (instance family, size, region, and operating system). Customers with steady state or predictable workloads, and who are looking for pricing that reflects their deployment profile, are best suited for the Azure Compute pre-purchase plan

The Enterprise Dev/Test offer provides access to special Dev/Test images in the Gallery, such as Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, which are unavailable in the standard Enterprise offer. Dev/Test Azure offers are the only way to run Windows client in the cloud. The Enterprise Dev/Test offer is not covered by Service Level Agreements.

With Pay-As-You-Go Dev/Test offer, each active Visual Studio subscriber on your team can use the Microsoft software included with their subscription on Azure Virtual Machines for dev/test at no extra charge—you will just pay the Linux rate for VMs you run, even VMs with SQL Server, SharePoint Server or other software that is normally billed at a higher rate. Upload custom virtual machine images yourself or use one of our pre-configured images from the Azure Gallery.

Currently you can only migrate from one region to another. You can fail over VMs from one Azure region to another, but you can't fail them back again.

* Hidden Facts about ExpressRoute
- When you order ExpressRoute it come with redundant circuit by  nature, so you  don’t have to order 2 for redundancy and that’s how Microsoft provides SLA behind it.
- Size of ExpressRoute can range from as small as 50mbps to 10gbps and once circuit is up and running , You can increase the bandwidth of an ExpressRoute circuit without having to tear it down.
- Elasticity of ER bandwidth – basically bandwidth limit is a software defined config the customer controls on the Azure side and the network provider controls on their end.  Changes up or down should take few hours/days, not weeks to provision.
- ExpressRoute Plan can be changed anytime from Metered to Un-metered.

*Azure Site Recovery can protect physical servers, Hyper-V virtual machines, VMWare virtual machines, Amazon EC2 instances, and several other workloads. Replication is fully configurable across 30 second, 5 minute, and 15 minute recovery point objectives.