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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

S02-E01: Five Things about Azure DevOps - short version

Saturday, October 20, 2018
The Five Things series on MSDN Channel 9 anchored by Burke Hollands has informal answers by Microsoft experts to interesting questions all in about 5 minutes along with some no holds barred, light banter. Giving it a funny spin in the mould of US sitcoms, the tech talk series is in Season 2 now. Along with 10-minute Azure Friday, these 2 talk shows make Azure topics informative & entertaining

Here is the short version of Five Things about Azure DevOps from the cleaned up subtitles file:

# 1. What is Azure DevOps?

Azure DevOps is the new product name for Visual Studio Team Services which is Microsoft's
DevOps product.

It's Microsoft's DevOps product and DevOps lifecycle from Source Control and Work Item planning, all the way through to your Builds and Releases, and monitoring...what's happening in production and everything about your application.

DevOps itself is not really a tool.

Microsoft's definition of DevOps is the union of people,process and products..and delivering continuous value.

Can't you just right click "Deploy"?
No. You cannot do that.

# 2. What is it that Azure DevOps actually does?

It is the product that streamlines all of the stuff you need to do for DevOps.

It'll hold your Source Control, it tracks your items, your work items, the things you're going to do,
it does your Builds, it does your Releases, and it helps you monitor what's going on in production with your application.

You can plug in GitHub, you can grab your source code from pretty much anywhere. It can even talk to other deployment processes and  other tools that you might already use.

So, you don't have to use all of it, but it's all there for you.

What about Visual SourceSafe?

You can maybe use that, if you want.

# 3. How much is this going to cost me?

It is free, for up to five users.

But if you have a Visual Studio Enterprise subscription, then that doesn't count towards that, and you have a limited number of Build minutes, with a host of Builds. It's included in the Enterprise subscription.

# 4. Azure DevOps, formerly known as Visual Studio Team Services, has Visual Studio in it, which makes me think that you're trying to get me to use Windows. You're sneaking it in there. Is that what's
happening, Windows tool? Well, for JavaScript and Node developers, a lot of them use Macs and Linux, and environs that are not on Windows. So, how does that work?

It's any language, any platform. You can write.NET and compile and build and release.NET, but you can also do Node, you can also do pretty much any language, Go, Ruby, Python, COBOL.

I build Web apps in COBOL. Do you?

# 5. You can get started with Azure DevOps today by going to, where are we going?



This Week I Learned - Week #289

Friday, October 19, 2018
This Week I Learned -

* Tomcat and Java SE are generally available on Azure App Service on Linux

IDC (a leading IT Analyst) estimates that AWS accounted for approximately 57.7% of total Windows instances in public cloud IaaS during 2017 – nearly 2x the nearest cloud provider. Did you know you can also bring your Microsoft licenses to VMware Cloud on AWS? VMware Cloud on AWS is a great solution when you need to execute a fast migration – whether that’s due to running out of data center space, an upcoming lease expiration, or a natural disaster such as the recent hurricanes. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) started with a proof of concept (POC) and moved their initial 300 VMs in less than 96 hours, with just one employee. Over the next three months they migrated of all of their 2,800 production VMs to VMware Cloud on AWS - AWS Blog

GCP Solution Gallery has a nice collection of articles

* Much as Salesforce enables a company to manage its external clients by keeping a record of all contacts and interactions (and, increasingly, by telling sales reps what their next step should be), ServiceNow promises an internal system to meet the needs of employees, beating out legacy IT service-management software players like BMC Software, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Cherwell Software and CA Technologies to claim half of that market. The special sauce comes from two product traits with the potential to scale: simplicity and customizability. Fred Luddy (now 63)...started ServiceNow at the ripe old age (by tech standards) of 50 - Forbes

US dominates the Nobel Prize awards

Nobel Prize API offers results in CSV & JSON formatThere have  been 51 Female Nobel Laureates so far

One in five students in the U.S. has dyslexia

Dyscalculia is a lifelong condition that makes it hard for kids to perform math-related tasks. It’s not as well known or understood as dyslexia. But some experts believe it’s just as common. Kids very often have both dyslexia and dyscalculia. Dyscalculia and ADHD often occur at the same time. Kids with math anxiety are so worried about the prospect of doing math that their fear and nervousness can lead to poor performance on math tests. Some kids may have both math anxiety and dyscalculia.

* The English language is notoriously tricky with its use of more than 19 sounds represented by 5 vowels (and sometimes “y”).

Millennials especially have embraced this so-called FIRE movement — the acronym stands for financial independence, retire early — seeing it as a way out of soul-sucking, time-stealing work and an economy fueled by consumerism. Some practice “lean FIRE” (extreme frugality), others “fat FIRE” (maintaining a more typical standard of living while saving and investing), and still others “barista FIRE” (working part-time at Starbucks after retiring, for the company’s health insurance). To be “firing” is to slash one’s expenses to maximize saving while amassing income-generating investments sufficient to support oneself

“The rule books our parents have given us is advice that’s perfect for 1970. We have to throw out that rule book and write a new one.”

“We don’t have jobs that will take care of us. We have to take care of ourselves.”

“If you dive into the definition of retirement, what you’re retiring from is mandatory labor. It’s not necessarily about piña coladas on the beach.”

 - NYT

* "Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves" - Stephen Covey

Immersive Reader, part of Microsoft Learning Tools, aids learning grammar

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Beware of cloud egress charges

Saturday, October 13, 2018
The webcast Sticker Shock: Breaking down the real costs of cloud egress charges (sponsored by KeepItSafe which offers comprehensive cloud data availability solutions) makes a case against public cloud egress charges to support its products

Highlights & arguments from that webcast & accompanying notes -

Cloud data egress describes the movement of data originating within a cloud network and transferring to another geography, external cloud, or back to an on-premises environment.

Ingress is usually free, and customers understand that they are buying the usage of a cloud providers’ infrastructure plus its data storage capabilities, data protection, and management functions. What is commonly overlooked are transactional fees and even more significant, egress fees.
..when customers egress 30TB of data from their cloud provider on a monthly basis, by the end of the year, they’ve spent at least $30K —to simply access their own data.

The Best Decision is One You Can Always Change - Have you thought of a cloud retractability plan for when you want to get data out of the cloud? Much like disaster recovery, having a cloud retractability plans or cloud exit strategy enables enterprises to plan for contingencies and give themselves options if the cloud isn’t the right solution.

Why Data Egress May be Necessary
A cloud provider is experiencing financial or management problems
• A provider has security issues
• There is a less expensive storage option available
• You have a mandate to bring your data in-house
• Retiring an application
• General dissatisfaction with a provider (support issues, performance issues, billing issues, etc.)

Questions to think about
• Once you are “in the cloud” how hard is it to get out?
- Logistics
- Data Egress Fees
• How do you download that much data?
• Will data backups be treated similarly to data egress?
• Where will you store that data?
• What format will the data be in when you download it (how easy will it be to attach the data to an application)?
• What about application down time?

Best Practices
• Research billing practices before storing data in the cloud. The primary reason for continued public cloud waste is the unnerving complexity of cloud pricing and billing  promise of low costs drives the initial decision to move to the cloud.
• Choose the most appropriate cloud storage type for your data (general purpose, archive, high performance, etc.)
• Use granular billing alerts
• Audit your storage use, and keep track of data growth
• Use deduplication or other data reduction techniques before performing a data egress
• Practice data lifecycle management techniques
• Be aware of how storage is being used, and clean up anything you don’t need (dev / test buckets, old VMs, other clutter)

• No Clear Path Forward
– General-purpose public cloud = complexity
– Meeting specific governance and compliance
• Every Mistake is Magnified
– Am I a public cloud expert?
– Do I have the right plan and strategy in place?
• Hidden Costs Everywhere
– Compound data growth pricing
– Network egress charges
– Data access fees

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This Week I Learned - Week #288

Friday, October 12, 2018
This Week I Learned -

Azure Migrate helps you visualize dependencies of on-premises VMs and create move groups based on the dependencies. 

* The whitepaper Azure Virtual Datacenter: Lift and Shift Guide by the Azure Customer Advisory Team (AzureCAT) has useful guidance for identifying and planning the migration of applications and
servers to the Microsoft Cloud. The Azure VDC home page has more learning resources

* The Azure "Cloud Shell" is an embedded terminal in your browser. You can use vim, emacs and even a slimmed down VS Code experience in the Azure Cloud Shell. Your browser sends commands to an actual Unbuntu terminal instance in the background - InfoQ

A lightning strike exposed a glaring hole in Azure cloud’s availability strategy & caused an outage affecting close to 40 Azure services hosted in the South Central US cloud availability region (which consists of multiple data centers), a few Azure services in other regions, as well as Office 365 services, such as Exchange, SharePoint, and Teams. The affected services either relied directly on the failed storage systems or had dependencies with services that relied on them. Going forward, the VSTS team (or the Azure DevOps team as it’s now called) which was one of the customer that was impacted, is building its resiliency strategy around Availability Zones. Because they are much closer to each other than different regions are, low-latency, high-bandwidth network links between multiple Availability Zones in a single region can enable synchronous replication, providing the kind of application resiliency that could keep services running even if a lightning strike had taken out an entire data center, Buck Hodges, Director of Engineering, Azure DevOps, wrote in a postmortem - ITProToday

Amazon's voice assistant isn't limited to the Echo; you can also get Alexa on your smartphone. Alexa allows purchasing by voice using your default payment & delivery settings. You can require a speakable confirmation code

* "The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds."

* We are suffering from the career myth — a delusional belief in the outdated idea of linear career progression....Being overly attached to a specific path can turn into a career trap — blinding us to nonlinear opportunities for growth... We no longer need to be good at predicting the future; we now have to succeed when the future is unpredictable...“What skill gaps are standing in your way or holding you back?” - HBR

* Humans recognise 5,000 faces...the brain has an almost limitless capacity to memorise words and languages -- the limits on these instead come from study time and motivation. The range of faces recognised by participants went far beyond what may have been evolutionarily useful: for thousands of years humans would likely only have met a few dozen people throughout their lives....it was not clear why we developed the ability to distinguish between thousands of faces in the crowd - NDTV

* The Dublin-headquartered consulting firm, Accenture, clocked incremental revenues of $4.72 billion in the 12 months to August 2018, only marginally lower than the combined $4.78 billion by TCS, Cognizant, Infosys, Wipro and HCL - Mint

* Veteran environmental activist, IIT Professor, GD Agarwal alias Swami Gyanswarup Sanand (87), who was fasting for the past 111 days demanding a clean Ganga, died in Haridwar becoming the second fasting seer  after Swami Nigamanand (36) to die for the cause of Ganga after fasting for more than 2 months in 2011.

* There are 784 dams, 66 barrages, 92 weirs & 45 functional lift schemes located at present in the Ganga river basin.

* English was made official government and court language in 1835, the same year Macaulay wrote his Minute on Education in which he criticized almost everything Indian.

* At least a million & a half Indians died in the Orissa Famine of 1866

* Spanish Influenza epidemic killed 12.5 million in India, 21.6 million worldwide in 1918

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GCP Professional Cloud Architect - Learning Resources

Thursday, October 11, 2018
As I prepare for the GCP Professional Cloud Architect, I wanted to compile all the learning resources I know about so that I can use it a  checklist -

On demand:
Architecting with Google Cloud Platform Specialization with Coursera:

  • Google Cloud Platform Fundamentals: Core Infrastructure
  • Essential Cloud Infrastructure: Foundation
  • Essential Cloud Infrastructure: Core Services
  • Elastic Cloud Infrastructure: Scaling and Automation
  • Elastic Cloud Infrastructure: Containers and Services
  • Reliable Cloud Infrastructure: Design and Process

Hands-on Labs:
Google Developers Codelabs
Qwiklabs GCP Essentials
Qwiklabs GCP Architecture quest

Cloud Solutions Architecture Reference
Google Cloud solutions
Study Notes of a certified GCP architect

Practice exam