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Tech Tips, Tricks & Trivia

by 'Anil' Radhakrishna
A seasoned developer's little discoveries and annotated bookmarks.

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

This Week I Learned - Week #176

Saturday, August 20, 2016
This Week I Learned -

* Azure Virtual Machines Scale Sets make it easy to build highly scalable applications by deploying identical virtual machines (VMs) as a set. Built on the Azure Resource Manager model, Scale Sets works with Windows and Linux images, custom images, and extensions. There is no additional cost to use Scale Sets.

* Default replication scheme for an Azure storage account is Geo-redundant, which replicates data 6 times, thrice in a remote Azure region.

* Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS) is only available to store block blobs and not page blobs. VHDs use page blobs only

* All storage accounts have a container named $logs that contains the log files stored as block blobs. The $logs container cannot be deleted.

Uber processes data for millions of trips in over 400 cities in 60 different countries on a daily basis.  In the beginning, Uber managed their trip data via JSON blobs, with each trip requiring about 20 kilobytes (KB) of data. Assuming Uber processed raw JSON data for exactly 1 million trips a day, 32 terabytes (TB) of data would only last them 10 days (provided ~40% of storage is reserved for system components). Clearly, such a model was unsustainable. Uber selected 10 different encoding protocols (Thrift, Protocol Buffers, Avro, JSON, UJSON, CBOR, BSON, MessagePack, Marshal, Pickle) and paired them with 3 different lossless compression algorithms (Snappy, zlib, Bzip2) - resulting in a total of 40 viable solutions. They settled on Meassagepack - ProgrammableWeb

* Paypal takes a billion hits a day while running on 8 VMs & stays responsive even at 90% CPU. PayPal uses an Actor model based on Akka. WhatsApp, uses Erlang, an Akka competitor, to achieve its incredible throughput - High Scalability

Google is providing extensive support for .NET in the Google Cloud, including Visual Studio add-ins to make your implementation even easier

Free VPN providers will often log all your Internet activity and then sell it to advertisers and others. Some free VPN providers also use your bandwidth and sell it to others.

* After becoming a computer science graduate from Stanford University, Brain Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp, tested products at the Apple Inc. and Adobe Systems, before joining Yahoo as its 44th employee in 1996 where he worked for the next decade. In 2009, Brain was rejected by both Twitter and Facebook. On 24th Feb, 2009, Brian along his Yahoo colleague Jan Koum incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California. In 2014, Brian and Jan sold WhatsApp to Facebook for approximately $19 billion in cash and stock.

Marissa Mayer was Google employee #20 and female employee #1

Reliance Jio will take on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular which control around 65% of the market with its fourth generation (4G), long-term evolution (LTE) and voice over LTE (VoLTE) services soon. 

Banks are mandated to give a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) if they find over Rs. 10 lakh has been deposited in any account in one go and also if they notice regular flow of large amounts into it from the same source

There are 24 seats in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly kept vacant in acknowledgement of the fact that these areas have been illegally occupied by Pakistan.

While most rivers on the Indian subcontinent have female names, Brahmaputra river has a rare male name, as it means "son of Brahma" in Sanskrit (putra means "son").

* ..while India secured political independence in 1947, it got economic independence only with the 1991 reforms.

* It’s been 119 years since Ardeshir, the low-profile Parsi gentleman, implanted the Godrej flag in the land that adopted his Guderz tribe (from which the family name derives) that fled from Iran. Godrej Group’s founder Ardeshir Godrej invented locks, which didn’t have springs, patented the door frame, double-plate doors, and lock-case, and sold his safes at half the price of foreign brands and began manufacturing soap with vegetable oil, out of consideration for Hindu sentiments that disfavoured the use of animal fat. His soaps soon secured celebrity endorsements from Rabindranath Tagore, Dr Annie Besant and C Rajagopalachari. The Godrej Rhyme:
No form of praise could have been higher 
His safes survived ordeal by fire. 
Soap at that time was made from fat. 
But Hindus couldn’t live with that. 
After much experiment and toil 
He made a soap from vegetable oil. 

In 1958, the first Indian fridge manufactured by Godrej came with a ₹1,885 tag.

* As per the Income Tax Return Statistics for Assessment Year 2012-13, 14 lakh people or just 4.6 per cent of the 2.89 crore taxpayers in India paid taxes in the highest 30 per cent tax bracket.

A new type of mosquito trap running on solar electricity and using human odor as bait has cut mosquito populations by 70 percent in a test on a malaria-ridden island in Kenya. The traps — which resemble lampshades and hang just outside the house — lured in Anopheles funestus mosquitoes, but they did not attract Anopheles gambiae or Anopheles arabiensis, which are much more important malaria vectors in most of Africa, where more than 400,000 children die of the disease each year... the traps needed regular rebaiting with a blend of five chemical constituents of human odor along with a chemical that mimicked the carbon dioxide plume created by human breath - NY Times

The top customer of US Oil exports is Canada

* No US city finds a place in the top 10 ranking of world’s most “liveable” cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The index, measured out of 100, considers 30 factors spread across five areas: safety, health care, educational resources, infrastructure and the environment to calculate scores for 140 cities - Economist

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) authorizes Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish minimum standards to protect tap water and requires all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with these primary (health-related) standards in the US. You can request a copy of your water utility’s annual water quality report – called a right-to-know or consumer confidence report — to find out which contaminants in your local water are of concern. US citizens can request a copy of your water utility’s annual water quality report – called a right-to-know or consumer confidence report — to find out which contaminants in your local water are of concern.  After 70 years of India's independence, clean drinking water (one of the basic necessities of life) remains a scarce commodity. I wonder if there will ever be a similar government regulation in India mandating public water systems to not just provide water but clean drinking water.

* A “moment” actually refers to a specific amount of time! Back in Medieval times, when someone needed a “moment” it meant 1/40th of an hour (1.5 minutes) - Go Ask Alice!

* "Having ambitious goals worked against me...I was struck by an idea that was simple and, for a former athlete, radical: I decided to stop striving....It felt silly and embarrassing — even blasphemous — to set mediocrity as a goal...And so to all of you struggling to find your fitness groove, I have a message for you: Do less, and do it regularly. ..As it turns out, my approach is sanctioned by science. It’s been a revelation."

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Comparison of Azure Storage Replication options

Thursday, August 18, 2016
Azure offers Storage replication options:

"Locally Redundant Storage (LRS) Account" is a storage account for which data is replicated synchronously only within a Primary Region.

"Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS) Account" is a storage account for which data is replicated across multiple facilities. These facilities may be within the same geographical region or across two geographical regions.

"Geographically Redundant Storage (GRS) Account" is a storage account for which data is replicated synchronously within a Primary Region and then replicated asynchronously to a Secondary Region. You cannot directly read data from or write data to the Secondary Region associated with GRS Accounts.

"Read Access Geographically Redundant Storage (RA-GRS) Account" is a storage account for which data is replicated synchronously within a Primary Region and then replicated asynchronously to a Secondary Region. You can directly read data from, but cannot write data to, the Secondary Region associated with RA-GRS Accounts.

Replication strategy LRS ZRS GRS RA-GRS
Data is replicated across multiple facilities. No Yes
currently available only for block blobs
Yes Yes
Data can be read from the secondary location as well as from the primary location. No No No Yes
secondary endpoint is similar to the primary endpoint, but appends the suffix –secondary to the account name. For example, if your primary endpoint for the Blob service is myaccount.blob.core.windows.net, then your secondary endpoint is myaccount-secondary.blob.core.windows.net. The access keys for your storage account are the same for both the primary and secondary endpoints.
Number of copies of data maintained on separate nodes. 3
replicas each reside in separate fault domains and upgrade domains
3 6
replicated three times asynchronously, across separate fault domains and upgrade domains in secondary region

Related terms:

"Primary Region" is a geographical region in which data within a storage account is located, as selected by you when creating the storage account. You may execute write requests only against data stored within the Primary Region associated with storage accounts.

"Secondary Region" is a geographical region in which data within a GRS or RA-GRS Account is replicated and stored, as assigned by Microsoft Azure based on the Primary Region associated with the storage account. You cannot specify the Secondary Region associated with storage accounts.

"Geo Replication Lag" for GRS and RA-GRS Accounts is the time it takes for data stored in the Primary Region of the storage account to replicate to the Secondary Region of the storage account. Because GRS and RA-GRS Accounts are replicated asynchronously to the Secondary Region, data written to the Primary Region of the storage account will not be immediately available in the Secondary Region. You can query the Geo Replication Lag for a storage account, but Microsoft does not provide any guarantees as to the length of any Geo Replication Lag under this SLA.

A fault domain (FD) is a group of nodes that represent a physical unit of failure and can be considered as nodes belonging to the same physical rack.

An upgrade domain (UD) is a group of nodes that are upgraded together during the process of a service upgrade (rollout).

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Azure in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service Worldwide for third year running

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Gartner has named Microsoft a leader in its Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service Worldwide for the third year in a row based on completeness of our vision and ability to execute.

The following table from an email advertorial summarizes the current Gartner MQs for IaaS, PaaS and Saas solutions for key enterprise workloads where Microsoft is recognized as a leader while showing how the other Cloud Providers fare.

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This Week I Learned - Week #175

Tuesday, August 09, 2016
This Week I Learned -

* Docker is at the confluence of three major IT investment areas - Cloud, DevOps and Microservices

Azure RemoteApp is being retired.  Microsoft will be partnering with Citrix in the remote desktop and applications space to address new scenarios on the Azure cloud.

* jsDelivr is a free and public CDN that offers hosting for developers at no cost. It’s a lot like Google Hosted Libraries, but with more projects and freedom. Anyone can submit a library for hosting on this CDN. It’s fast with multiple points of presence around the globe — 81. The main backbone of it is built on top of CDN networks provided by MaxCDN and CloudFlare. jsDelivr is the first CDN to support loading multiple files with a single HTTP request

jQuery Geocoding and Places Autocomplete Plugin is an advanced jQuery plugin that wraps the Google Maps API's Geocoding and Places Autocomplete services. You simply provide an input that lets you search for locations with a nice autocomplete dropdown. Optionally add a container to show an interactive map and a form that will be populated with the address details.

Sogou is a dual-engine browser. One engine is Webkit and the other supposedly is Trident. 360 Quick Browser, 360 Safe Browser, Sogou Explorer are popular in China. Amazon Assistant browser extension is available for 360 Quick Browser, 360 Safe Browser, Sogou Explorer, Sleipnir browsers.

* SyllableCount.com uses a combination of a 240,364 word U.S. English syllable count dictionary and a syllable counter algorithm.It's algorithm may not be entirely accurate due to the numerous syllabic anomalies found within the U.S. English language.

The Oatmeal, the website that former computer programmer Matthew Inman launched in 2009, draws as many as 7 million unique monthly visitors. Inman’s comics have won an Eisner Award, the Pulitzer Prize of the comics industry. Matt can accurately predict what massive groups of people will find entertaining. His mother, Ann Inman, an artist who supported a family of seven by making mohair teddy bears for collectors around the world, says her son became a web developer after the Silverwood Theme Park fired him from his summer parking-lot job after discovering he was only 14 years old. Like most artists, Inman lives in perpetual fear that he will never have another good idea. “I enjoy things most when I suffer beforehand..I’m driven by rage and anxiety’’ he says - The Seattle Times

* Only contribution to Tier-I NPS account (not Tier-2) is eligible for income tax benefits. Investment up to Rs 1.5 lacs into NPS in a financial year is eligible for deduction under Section 80CCD(1). This deduction comes under the overall ceiling of Rs 1.5 lacs for deduction under Section 80C but an additional Rs 50,000 deduction over and above the ceiling limit of under Section 80C can be claimed through investments into NPS under Section 80CCD (1B). Also a further deduction under Section 80CCD(2) is possible through contribution from the employer up to 10% of Basic Salary + Dearness Allowance. The 80CCD(2) benefit is available to employees only and not to those who are self-employed.

The 'Produnova' vault is considered most difficult and dangerous manoeuvre in women’s gymnastics. It currently has a 7.0 D-score and thus provides a leg-up for any gymnast able to perform it successfully. The manoeuvre, named after Russian gymnast Yelena Sergeyevna Produnova, consists of a front handspring and two front somersaults. The trick is to get high enough to be able to execute two flips in the air and land safely on your feet. In 1999, Produnova became the first person to nail the vault and, since then, only five other gymnasts have successfully executed it. Dipa Karmakar, one of those five gymnasts, has made the Produnova her calling card - Business Standard

Hyperandrogenism is a medical condition characterised by excessive levels of androgen, indicated most clearly by the amount of testosterone in a woman's body. It is one of the primary symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and 1 in every 7 women between the ages of 15 and 30 suffers from it. In other words, hyperandrogenism is pretty common. Except on the sports field.  In 2011, the IAAF, contending that high levels of testosterone conferred a biological advantage on female athletes - it is believed to help build muscle and make athletes faster - ruled that a female athlete would be eligible to compete against other women "provided that she has androgen levels below the male range". On behalf of every woman athlete with her condition, Indian sprinter Dutee Chand from Odisha, decided to challenge the IAAF's ceiling on the permissible amounts of testosterone in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in Switzerland. On 25th July 2015, in a landmark judgment, the court overturned Dutee's ban imposed prior to the 2012 Commonwealth Games and ruled that the ceiling on testosterone levels would be suspended for two years, while the IAAF gathered proof to support their claims of testosterone-linked biological advantage - Roopa Pai

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This Week I Learned - Week #174

Saturday, August 06, 2016
This Week I Learned -

* Azure in-place virtual machine migration eliminates virtual machine reboots during critical security updates for host operating systems. Critical security updates for host operating systems previously caused a reboot. Now, most virtual machines benefit from Azure in-place virtual machine migration that only pauses them for up to 30 seconds, while the local temporary disk and memory state are preserved. 

Azure Security Center helps you take control of cloud security policies, monitor the current security of your Azure resources, and detect and respond to active attacks.

Powershell command to view the Fault Domains and Update Domains for ARM VMs -

PS C:\> $AS = Get-AzureRmAvailabilitySet -ResourceGroupName "RGEastUSMinecraft"

PS C:\> $AS.VirtualMachinesReferences | ForEach { $VMResource =(Get-AzureRmResource -Id $_.id);

MariaDB is an open source relations database that can bsed as an enhanced, drop-in replacement for MySQL. Notable users include Wikipedia, Google & Facebook. The latest versions of MariaDB include GIS & JSON features.

Some devices do not fully support modern HTTPSThe vast majority of unencrypted end user traffic originating from a set of surveyed Google services comes from mobile devices. Certain countries and organizations block or otherwise degrade HTTPS traffic

Apple.com & Microsoft.com do not support Default HTTPS (i.e the site does not redirect HTTP requests to a HTTPS URL)

You can get free certificates for any use from Let’s Encrypt

Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, is an open source initiative from Google to improve the mobile web experience for everyone.

In the exam for constable posts being conducted by the Telangana State Public Service Commission (TSPSC), around 2.68 lakh candidates will compete for the 477 vacancies of which 32,346 candidates are engineering graduates, 2,511 hold a M.Tech degree and 11,703 candidates have MBA degree. Officials are not surprised with engineers and M.Tech degree holders applying as similar trend was seen in other recruitment examinations as well. Increased desire for Government jobs is a big reason while improved access to higher education is another factor, says a senior teacher of Osmania University. Most of these engineering graduates are the beneficiaries of expansion of engineering education and MBA colleges and the fee reimbursement scheme - The Hindu

Built in 1929, the first Parle factory built in Mumbai’s suburb Vile Parle is shutting down soon. Today, with the Rs. 10,000 crore company’s vast array of eatables across the chocolate, baked goods, drinks and confectionaries categories – like the Parle-G biscuits, Frooti, Melody chocolates, Mango Bite candies, Monaco, KrackJack, Hide & Seek, Bourbon, Appy, Parle Poppins and the pocket-friendly Kismi, Parle holds a staggering 40 percent share in the biscuit market and a 15 percent share of the total confectionery market in India.

What began as a single race has now grown to a 306 events sporting spectacle in 42 sports disciplines. Over 10,500 athletes from 207 countries are expected to participate in the XXXI Olympiad at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is the first time it’s being held in South America.

Bust-out fraud consists of an initial phase where the individual works to develop the card issuer’s trust and a strong credit profile with the goal of opening numerous accounts and receiving credit line increases so that more funds are available for the second phase of the fraud, where the individual makes transactions that he or she doesn’t plan to repay i.e. After credit is built, the "bust-out" takes place.

Garry Trudeau is the Pulitzer Prize cartoonist, creator of the comic strip Doonesbury, which appears daily in over 1,400 newspapers. In 1975, Garry Trudeau became the first comic strip artist ever to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Doonesbury is "a comic strip that began life, when I was in college, as a one-off. It was a sports strip that was about a particularly outstanding football player on my college campus. And it caught the eye of a syndicate chief, who wrote me in my junior year and said, "How would you like to do this for a living?" So, that’s the—I didn’t have a particularly long period of paying dues. I jumped in right after graduation, and I’ve been writing this daily comic strip, which was about collegiate life, but which became about the broader world and all the many issues I’m interested in."

"Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable" - Garry Trudeau, cartoonist, Doonesbury

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