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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 #216

Sunday, May 28, 2017
This Week I Learned -

Azure Pack will continue to evolve until 2022 (6 years from now) and will be supported until 2027 (11 years from now).

* Azure in Germany is an isolated instance of Azure. It isn’t connected to other Azure regions. Azure Portal URL is different.

AWS market share = 3X Azure

* The recent WannaCrypt malware exploits a Service Message Block (SMB) vulnerability (CVE-2017-0145). Utilize Windows Update to keep your machines up-to-date with the latest security updates. If you are running Azure Cloud Services (Platform as a Service Web Roles and Worker Roles or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)) automatic updates (including MS17-010 update to resolve this vulnerability) are enabled by default, so there is no further action required. Confirm that anti-malware is deployed and updated. If you are using Microsoft anti-malware for Azure or Windows Defender, Microsoft released an update last week which detects this threat as Ransom:Win32/WannaCrypt. You can also use Azure Security Center to verify that anti-malware, and other critical security controls, are configured for all of your Azure virtual machines - Azure Blog

Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), is an enterprise content management platform for managing web content, digital experiences, digital assets, online communities, mobile applications, and forms. AEM helps digital marketers to manage and optimize online content to build their brand, drive demand, and expand their markets.

* fast.ai has a free 7 week course, Practical Deep Learning For Coders. Udacity's Intro to Machine Learning is free too

* The $16-billion giant Airbnb, which started in August 2008, has a market capitalisation of $31 billion, and is in more than 65,000 cities in close to 200 countries. The market capitalisation of Hilton and Marriott is around $20 billion and $34 billion, respectively - Hindu BusinessLine

* Mozilla Corporation has completed the acquisition of Read It Later, Inc. the developers of Pocket, a human-powered content recommendation system with 10 million unique monthly active users on iOS, Android and the Web, and with more than 3 billion pieces of content saved to date.

* Apple is building a physical office at a cost of $5 billion

* Online food aggregator Zomato recently surfaced in a major security breach where over 17 millions user records were compromised. As per Zomato, which has nearly 120 million users, Zomato said that they were fortunate enough to resolve this with 'minimal damage'. Their blog says a developer was using the same email and password combination on Github that was leaked when the hosting site 000webhost credential database was hacked. They "were not using 2 factor authentication on Github (we have been using two-factor authentication on Github since the last few months). With the login credentials for the developer, the hacker was able to use the developer's password to get into his Github account and review one of our code repositories to which the developer had access (this happened some time last year, but for some reason the hacker only exploited the code very recently)" - NDTV

* Pulling a tooth can lead to a cascade of other problems: the teeth start shifting, the bone diminishes, the skin sags and the risk of gum disease increases - NY Times

* In November 2016, Larsen & Toubro, India’s biggest engineering firm, shed 14,000 employees, or 11.2 per cent of its workforce, in one of the biggest corporate retrenchment exercises in recent times.

In 2017, the BJP is in government in 15 states and according to a recent report, more than 60 per cent of the country's population now lives in states either ruled by the BJP alone or in partnership.

* In UP, the BJP won 325 seats with roughly 40 per cent of the votes. It means almost 60 per cent of the people did not vote for the BJP in UP. Likewise, in 2014, the BJP won an absolute majority with 31 per cent of the votes. The Opposition has the requisite vote to put up a challenge if they are united. Fragmentation and division of the Opposition has been an important factor aiding the BJP's electoral triumph in state after state - Zoya Hasan on Rediff News

If your application do not require large amount of OS disk space, you would observe savings of $2.18 per VM if you choose to deploy with 32GB Standard Managed OS disk vs. 127GB. For large scale deployments, the benefit would accumulate and may represent significant cost savings.

* In 2015, the RBI had awarded in-principle approval to founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma to set up a payments bank along with 10 others. So far, apart from Paytm, only Airtel has gotten its payments bank running. Paytm Payments Bank imposes no minimum balance requirement for the bank account. Also, online transactions (such as IMPS, NEFT, RTGS) will not have any charges. The payment bank accounts have a balance limit of Rs. 1 lakh - the same as a mobile wallet after KYC. One big difference from wallets is that the payments bank can pay interest, and can choose to offer ATM and debit cards. The Paytm bank will issue a Rupay debit card, which will be free, but it will charge Rs. 100 + delivery as an annual fee. Airtel is paying an interest of 7.25 percent per year on accounts. Payments banks are not allowed to offer loans, or offer credit cards. The payments banks can also only invest the money people deposit in government securities.

* Wonder what made National Voter Service Portal to place this notice on its home page - "The information from this website should not be used for any other purpose than intended."

* NPS is India’s answer to the US’ retirement scheme-401(K)

Tax benefits on NPS are available through 3 sections – 80CCD(1), 80CCD(2) and 80CCD(1B).

* Yet another IRCTC website annoyance - Print Ticket can not be taken as Journey Date has already passed

* Many media houses are owned by politicians or affiliated to political parties

* "Failure is data for future work" - Kamal Hasan

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This Week I Learned - Week #215

Sunday, May 21, 2017
This Week I Learned -

Azure Partner Quickstarts are Azure Resource Manager templates created by trusted Microsoft partners and designed to help you get started with integrated, multi-artifact solutions rather than single applications or services on Azure.

Microsoft IT migrated more than 120 TB of data to Azure and reduced server footprint from 175 to 110 physical servers—with no downtime for all 54 onboarded applications

* Beginning March 1, 2017, Microsoft is changing how new Azure ExpressRoute circuits are deployed in Azure; you’ll need to use Azure Resource Manager to deploy and manage your ExpressRoute circuits.

* The free ebook, .NET Microservices: Architecture for Containerized .NET Applications, is an introduction to developing microservices-based applications and managing them using containers using .NET Core and Docker containers.

* Any firm that has or uses European personal data anywhere in theh world, comes under the purview of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is intendedd to harmonize data protection law across the EU. The penalty for non-compliance with GDPR can be as high as 20 million Euros or 4% of world-wide turnover.

Ola, the leading cab aggregator in India, built a Progressive Web App (PWA) and noticed that 20% of users who book using their PWA had previously uninstalled their app. Ola Android app is a 60MB download and the iOS app is 100M. Using just 200KB of data to install, the PWA is at least 300X smaller than downloading the Android app and 500X smaller than downloading their iOS app. Repeat visits use as little as 10KB. This low data consumption translates into a 3.4-second first visit and less than a second for repeat visits on 2G and 3G networks—an ideal solution for millions of Indians. By reducing the amount of storage space needed, the PWA allowed them to effectively re-engage with users that otherwise would have been lost.

* There are 2 billion monthly active Android devices

* Google Lens is a set of vision-based computing capabilities that can understand what you’re looking at and help you take action based on that information - Google Blog

* The number of billionaires in the world has doubled in the past eight years.

Chromebooks, which can now run Android apps, comprise nearly 60 percent of K-12 laptops sold in U.S. schools

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's advice to Virginia Tech's graduating class of 2017
+ Seek shared experiences with all kinds of people.
+ Build shared hope in the communities you join and the communities you form.
+ Shared narratives are critical for fighting injustice and creating social change
+ It takes strength to rely on others.
+ There are times to lean in and there are times to lean on.
+ We are not born with a certain amount of resilience. It is a muscle, and that means we can build it.
+ My favourite kind of hope is called grounded hope -- the understanding that if you take action you can make things better.
+ We normally think of hope as something that's held in individual people. But hope -- like resilience -- is something we grow and nurture together.
+ We are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined.
+ One of the most important ways you can build resilience is by cultivating gratitude. Counting your blessings increases them.
+ People who take the time to focus on the things they are grateful for are happier and healthier.

* Out of the 2300 liquor shops & 900 bars in Telangana, 45% are named after Hindu gods/goddesses. Most of the bars in the state have names of Shirdi Saibaba, Venkateshwara, Mallikarjuna, Bhavani, Laxmi, Durga, Sri Rama or Sri Krishna. While the Maharashtra government is planning to bring in a Act banning naming of liquor shops after gods and goddesses, there is only an advisory asking owners not to use such names.

* While physical identity is fairly easy to validate, for digital identity it is established by making user prove that "I have" and "I know". For example, in case of ATM cash withdrawal what I have is "ATM card" & what I know is "PIN". In case of Unified Payments Interface or UPI, "What I have" is  mobile phone & mobile number & "What I know" is UPI-PIN. UPI is Aadhaar/UIDAI ready, which means biometric based security can also be used in the future - PhonePe Blog

* "Never wrestle with a pig. You'll both get dirty, and the pig likes it"

If you migrate a machine and remove replication within 31 days then an Azure Site Recovery-powered migration will not cost you a cent.

Virtual Card of State Bank of India is a prepaid card, issued in association with Visa. It can be created using the State Bank internet banking facility for ecommerce (online) transactions. Card is valid up to a maximum of 48 hours or till the transaction is complete, whichever is earlier.

Accenture has 401,000 global employees including 140,000 employees in India

* As part of a recruitment campaign, IDFC Bank asked all interested candidates to tweet in the classic 140-character limit pitching why they should be hired

* More than 70 McKinsey India alumni have gone on to become CEOs.

* India just became the ninth largest equity market in the world as the stock market capitalisation (M-cap) crossed $2 trillion. India has the largest number of listed companies in the world - Business Insider

* Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE Sun Temple at Konark in Orissa, India believed to be built by king Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty in 1255 CE to commemorate his victories over the Muslim invaders from Bengal. The temple complex is in the shape of a gigantic chariot, having elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. The original Konark Sun Temple had a main sanctum sanctorum (vimana), which was supposedly 229 feet (70 m) tall.The temple follows the traditional style of Kalinga architecture. It is carefully oriented towards the east so that the first rays of sunrise strikes the principal entrance. The temple is built from Khondalite rocks.  It used iron beams for its structure.  A major part of the structure is now in ruins. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The wheels of the temple are sundials which can be used to calculate time accurately to a minute - Wikipedia
A lithography plate from James Fergusson's 'Ancient Architecture in Hindoostan' (1847). Link to larger image

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HOW TO magnify image within a Smartphone app

While an image shared over Whatsapp or one taken with your camera app can be expanded, viewing an enlarged view of an image within an app may not be possible.

I recently faced a situation where I needed a magnified view of an image within the Ola (cab aggregator) app & discovered that all the popular mobile operating systems (iOS, Android & Windows Phone) offer a way to magnify through the Accessibility option under Settings. After enabling this feature, triple tapping on an image provides an enlarged view.
Ola Cabs verifies the background of the cab drivers but I wonder if they have any checks to ensure the driver who actually turns up to take you around is in fact the same driver whose tiny photo appears in the app or in the bill they send at the end of the trip. On my 5.5 inch screen phone, I could therefore not make out if the person driving the cab matched the picture provided in the app. The cab driver assigned by Ola had a 4.6 rating but the impersonator had trouble even with popular routes.

I was able to establish after completing the trip & learning about the magnification feature that we were taken for a ride (pun intended) by an impersonator.

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This Week I Learned - Week #214

Sunday, May 14, 2017
This Week I Learned -

* Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL services which were announced at Build 2017 event, extend similar managed services benefits, global Azure region reach, and innovations that currently power Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse services to the MySQL and PostgreSQL database engines - Azure Blog

* Facebook makes you miserable. Google offers digital truth serum. The words we type there are more honest than the pictures we present on Facebook or Instagram. Don’t compare your Google searches with other people’s Facebook posts. Any time you are feeling down about your life after lurking on Facebook, go to Google and start typing stuff into the search box. Google’s autocomplete will tell you the searches other people are making. Type in “I always …” and you may see the suggestion, based on other people’s searches, “I always feel tired” or “I always have diarrhea.” This can offer a stark contrast to social media, where everybody “always” seems to be on a Caribbean vacation - NY Times

* Humans have all the hair follicles they'll ever have at birth

* The caloric content of honey is slightly higher than that of table sugar. Honey contains a higher proportion of fructose compared to glucose. What’s more, when consumed in equal amounts, honey can lead to a higher intake of calories and carbohydrates. While pure sucrose, or table sugar, is highly processed, pure honey, an unrefined sugar, has only one processing step: it’s heated to prevent crystallization and yeast fermentation during storage. The refining process, which is used to produce good ol' table sugar, removes all naturally occurring trace minerals from the sugar plant, leaving behind "empty calories." Refined, concentrated sugar, when eaten quickly and in large amounts, can increase blood glucose and insulin levels, increases triglycerides, and inflammation. In turn and over time, this may increase a person’s risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illnesses. The body processes all kinds of sugar in largely the same way. The differences in health benefits or risks between using honey and table sugar are largely negligible. If you’re looking for a healthier sweet treat, consider choosing fruits, which contain sugar in their natural form - Go Ask Alice!

WikiWorld comics are created by cartoonist Greg Williams, based on articles from the archives of Wikipedia.org. Greg Williams began producing his collaborative comic “Twips” which are actually illustrations for interesting tweets

* With no political party to speak of, and never having held elected office, Mr. Macron, 39, a onetime investment banker and former economy minister, is modern France’s youngest president. Both his parents are doctors - NY Times

* Muslims constitute 20 percent of the largest state in India, Uttar Pradesh’s population. Prime Minister Modi’s party did not field a single Muslim candidate; it won 313 of the 403 seats in the state legislature - NY Times

60 lakh Indians are eligible for for a tax-free food allowance of Rs 50/meal up to Rs 2,200 per month.

* Subtitles can open up new worlds. I remember watching Roja in Tamil with English subtitles on TV on Doordarshan in a remote place in Odisha much before it hit the screens in Telugu & Hindi. It was so classy & the story so enthralling that I followed it till the end though I don't understand Tamil and then got to find out it was a Mani Ratnam movie. It is so Mani Ratnam-like (winner of 6 National Film Awards) that he let it be shown on TV soon after its release. The subtitles of his Telugu movie, Geetanjali, also broadcast on TV, were exemplary. It's very commendable that many regional language movies available on streaming sites like Hotstar & Amazon Prime video carry subtitles in English.
Movie subtitles can aid national integration 

A R Rahman's advice to a protegee - 'Work with everyone', 'As long as you are growing, that's all that matters'."

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Custom Azure focused search engine

Sunday, May 07, 2017
I have grown to rely on a few sites that always deliver relevant results so I've adapted Google Custom Search engine to fetch results only from those sites.

I ran into QnA Maker (currently in preview), part of Microsoft Cognitive Services, that takes FAQ URLs on the web as input & lets you build a simple question and answer bot. After watching this 8 min video, I figured I could create a simple consolidated interface for all the FAQs on Azure Services to extend my custom search engine.

With a few lines of jQuery, I was able to configure this friendly tool and build a web interface. The interesting part about this service is that you can train the bot to refine responses. After testing it some more, I plan to share it soon.
Building a FAQ Bot is easy with QnA Maker

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