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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 #173

Friday, July 29, 2016
This Week I Learned -

* With SQL Server Stretch Database, you can dynamically stretch warm and cold transactional data from  Microsoft SQL Server 2016 to Azure. Customers can also use Stretch Database with new Always Encrypted technology, which helps protect your data at rest and in motion

* Azure Service Fabric helps developers build, deploy, and operate microservice architecture applications, reliably and at scale.

Twitter recently reported that Avicoder, security researcher, discovered a security flaw within Twitter's Vine code that allowed for the download of Vine's entire source code. At the heart of the vulnerability is the Docker setup Twitter used to manage the Vine account.

LanguageCourse.net  has a biased but useful comparison of the leading language learning apps out there

* Google for Education has several useful resources for educators and students

PCmover software can  automatically transfers files, settings, profiles, and applications to a new PC or upgrades to a new OS, including Windows 10.

* Capgemini, which was the seventh largest employer in 2014-15 has displaced HCL  to break into the top 5 list of IT-BPO employers after TCS, Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro.

After scouring 42,000 square miles of the Indian Ocean for the wreckage of MH370 at a cost of more than $130 million (with another 4,000 square miles to go) over a period of two years, officials from Malaysia, China, and Australia have announced that they will suspend further efforts to find the plane.

* Palladium is one of the rarest metals on earth, about 15 times  more rare than platinum and 30 times more rare than gold. Around 80% of the world's palladium production comes from 2 countries - Russia and South Africa.

* Some of the 17 "rare" elements are among the world's most abundant elements; they're only referred  to as "rare" because they're difficult to extract.

* India accounts for or 1,236 or 12 per cent of the total number of bird species in the world, amounting to 10,135. Taxonomically, the bird population in the country is divided into 23 orders, 107 families and 498 genera. Among the bird families, Muscicapidae (comprising chats, robins and flycatchers) are the most diverse, having as many as 97 species. Raptors or birds of prey, which include vultures, eagles, and kites, are represented by 57 species and typical babblers by 53 species - The Hindu

* The director, K Balachander, rechristened Shivaji Rao Gaekwad as Rajinikanth (the color of dusk) as a remark on the latter's skin color

* Karnam Malleswari, India's lone medalist (a bronze in weightlifting) in the 2000 Sydney Olympics is the first woman from India to win an Olympic medal. India has the ignominy of being the country with the lowest medal tally per capita

* By winning the gold in the 10 m Air Rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games

Bhanu Athaiya, the first Indian to win an Oscar has returned her trophy to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as she felt that her family will not be able to take care of the after her demise

* Jammu & Kashmir get 10% of Central Government funds with only 1% of population

* Direct plans of Mutual Funds launched 3 years ago, account for 37% of total industry AUM. A direct mutual fund charges 0.75 - 1.5% or Rs 750-1500 per year for managing an investment of Rs 1 lakh compared with Rs 1500-2000 charged by a regular mutual fund. NPS Tier II plans charge only 0.01% or Rs 10 per year for managing an investment of Rs 1 lakh.

* American Sign Language has 50,000 signs. India has its very own alphabet of signs and symbols called ISL. In 2001, the Ramakrishna Mission released the first Indian Sign Language Dictionary, which documented over 2,500 signs from 12 States, to provide a common sign language code.

* National Consumer Help Line (NCH), a project of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs (@consaff) has a website & toll-free number - 1800 11 4000

35% of water connections in Hyderabad are un-billed. The Water Board loses money on supply of nearly 120 million gallons every day.

The Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India "to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens" and replaces the erstwhile Freedom of information Act, 2002.The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India except Jammu & Kashmir. Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen may request information from a "public authority" (a body of Government or "instrumentality of State") which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. The Act also requires every public authority to computerise their records for wide dissemination and to proactively certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally.It is an initiative taken by the Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions

* Only in India - Mysuru Deputy Commissioner C Shikha, IAS, lodged a formal complaint of criminal intimidation against K Marigowda, an acknowledged member of the "photo club" that hovers around Siddaramaiah and tries to get into every frame the CM is pictured in Mysuru. Even after a FIR has been issued and after a Mysuru court has rejected Marigowda's anticipatory bail application, he is yet to arrested as all the officers whom can be directed to arrest Marigowda are Kurubas, the community that the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah and her IAS husband, Ajay Nagabhushan belong to - The Economic Times

Democracies have a weakness: if a bad law has enough money or people behind it, it stays on the books - Maximum City

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Pluralsight benefit for Visual Studio subscribers

Thursday, July 28, 2016
Pluralsight is a benefit included with Visual Studio Professional, Test Pro, Enterprise and MSDN Platforms subscriptions.

MSDN subscriptions offered through MPN, BizSpark, DreamSpark, MCT Developer Software and Services, and MCT Software and Services are not eligible for the Pluralsight benefit.

As of July 1, 2016, the courses included are:

Course Name / Author / Release Date / Duration VS Professional with MSDN, VS Professional – annual & Test Professional with MSDN (30 courses) VS Enterprise with MSDN, VS Enterprise - annual & MSDN Platforms (45 courses)
Architecting Applications for the Real World in .NET
ASP.NET 5: First Look
ASP.NET MVC 5 Fundamentals
Asynchronous C# 5.0
Automated ASP.NET MVC Testing: End to End
Azure AD for Developers / Sahil Malik / 22 Mar 2016 / 4h 52m 
Becoming a .NET Developer
Beginning Automated Testing of Xamarin Applications
Building a Site with Bootstrap, AngularJS, ASP.NET, EF and Azure / Shawn Wildermuth / 31 Jul 2013 / 6h 29m
Building and Securing a RESTful API for Multiple Clients in ASP.NET
Building Cross Platform Mobile Apps with C#, Xamarin, and Azure
Building Cross-Platform iOS/Android Apps with Xamarin, Visual Studio, and C# - Part 1
Building Cross-Platform iOS/Android Apps with Xamarin, Visual Studio, and C# - Part 2
Building Highly Scalable Web Applications in Azure / Edin Kapic / 4 Aug 2015 / 2h 23m
Building Web Apps & Services with Entity Framework and Web API
C# Best Practices: Collections and Generics
C# Best Practices: Improving on the Basics
C# Fundamentals with Visual Studio 2015
C# Generics
Creating Custom Controls in Xamarin.Forms
Defensive Coding in C#
Designing a Hybrid Cloud in Azure / Gavin McShera / 4 Apr 2016 / 2h 8m
Designing Fluent APIs in C#
Diagnostic Analyzers in Visual Studio 2015: First Look
Docker for Web Developers / Dan Wahlin / 28 Mar 2016 / 5h 19m
Enterprise WPF with XAML and C# from Scratch
Getting Started with Entity Framework 6
Getting Started with JSON in C# Using Json.NET
Lessons from Real World .NET Code Reviews
LINQ Fundamentals
Load Testing with Visual Studio 2013
Looking Ahead to Entity Framework 7
Microsoft Azure for Enterprises: What and Why
Modernizing Your Websites with Azure Platform as a Service / Troy Hunt / 3 Apr 2015 / 2h 23m
OAuth2 and OpenID Connect Strategies for Angular and ASP.NET
Plan, Create, and Deploy to Azure With Visual Studio Online
SharePoint 2013 Fundamentals
SOLID Principles of Object Oriented Design
SQL Server: Building Simple Asynchronous Applications
Test-Driven Development with F#
Understanding Machine Learning with R / Jerry Kurata / 18 Feb 2016 / 1h 25m
Using TypeScript for Large AngularJS Applications
Visual Studio 2015: Essentials to the Power-User
Visual Studio Code
WCF End-to-End

Also see: Free Pluralsight videos

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This Week I Learned - Week #172

Friday, July 22, 2016
This Week I Learned -

Microsoft Graph is a unified API endpoint, for accessing data, intelligence, and insights coming from the Microsoft cloud.

* Pokémon Go, the "digitally enhanced bird-watching" game, has almost as many users as Twitter

Catchpoint API monitor can mimic API calls made by mobile devices

* What is Digital, anyway? - Digital means exploiting emerging technologies to create user- and customer-centric interfaces and data-driven decisions, leading to more agile, responsive, and competitive business models.

* 52% of companies from the Fortune 500 list of 2000 no longer exist

* The two-year old New Media Wing under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry mines data from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube to collect sentiments on current affairs and provide insight to senior Government officials on the mood in the social media on a daily basis. The analysis is done using Oracle's Social Relationship Manager & Meltwater

ICICI Bank website and the bank's iMobile app can fetch the latest information for services including train options and ticket availability by connecting directly with the reservation system of the Indian Railways on a real time basis. The home page of Rail ticket booking subsite is all of 6.4MB mainly due to a 4.8MB background image. A IRCTC account is required to book train tickets on this subsite.

* ICICI Bank's note to customers using unparliamentary language - "..customers found to be offensive in their interaction with us will be required to close all their relationships with ICICI Bank"

* Amazon has built nearly two dozen warehouses in India  so far. The largest one is in Kothur in Telangana.

* 67% of the Indian population lives in rural areas. Only about 35% of India’s population is connected to the internet. 65% is under age 35. 80% of the population owns cell phones. Mobile wallets already outnumber credit cards

* Gerontology is the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of ageing that aims to help the elderly lead a better life.

* Dressing the same way everyday saves time

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This Week I Learned - Week #171

Saturday, July 16, 2016
This Week I Learned -

* With SQL Server Stretch Database, you can dynamically stretch warm and cold transactional data from Microsoft SQL Server 2016 to Azure.

* To prevent users from accidentally signing in with Microsoft account credentials (hotmail.com, live.com, outlook.com, etc.) or non-organizational credentials, you can leverage what’s known as a domain hint when you're navigating users to the Azure AD sign-in page.

* HTTP/2 is a networking protocol for low-latency transport of content over the web. It originally started out from the SPDY protocol, now standardized as HTTP version 2. Recent versions of all popular web and mobile browsers except Opera Mini support HTTP/2.

Because mobile devices do not have the same computation power as regular laptops and desktop computers, creating a mobile-friendly experience requires more than using a different CSS layout. It’s also about the quantity and size of the resources used. Too many resources, or resources that are too small or too large, can ruin the entire mobile experience.

Security (SSL) has a Performance Tax - Switching to all SSL is a great feature from a security perspective, but at the cost of performance. The problem is that when you introduce SSL, you are also forcing everything on your website (images, third parties, etc.) to also use SSL.  The combination of SSL and geographically induced latency that makes things even worse. Google has some advantages: massive internet presence, geo load balancing, amazing consistent performance (notice the flat line vs. the jittery blue line), anycast network, people dedicated to monitoring and an environment where performance is part of the core DNA of every employee. However, third parties weakest link on a page lacking the ability to handle your load or performance requirement. So make sure you keep an eye on your third parties when you switch to SSL. In HTTP 2.0, everything will be secure.

Data Scientist (noun): Person who is better at statistics than any software engineer and better at software engineering than any statistician

* There are some sites which URL encode links with their content and redirect through their own referrer page. To extract the decoded referred URL from such an encoded URL, URLDecode.org can help. Bing provides an inline form to decode when you search with the keywords "URL Decoder"

* Netflix awarded a $1 million prize to a developer team in 2009 for an algorithm that increased the accuracy of the company’s recommendation engine by 10 percent. It never used that $1 million algorithm due to engineering costs - Wired

* According to Gartner, 40% estimated effort during the software development lifecycle is lost on resolving environment related issues. Environment issues contribute 30% of defects and 20% schedule overruns.

*  Around 10% of Google's 25,000 developers are proficient in ML

Deep Learning is a new area of Machine Learning research, which has been introduced with the objective of moving Machine Learning closer to one of its original goals: Artificial Intelligence.

Pocket generates RSS feeds of your data, and you can subscribe to these feeds using an RSS reader

* The twelve-factor app is a methodology for building software-as-a-service apps

Pokémon Go is a (possibly overrated?) augmented-reality game which requires users to get out and explore the “real world” to play itThis game makes people look like drunkards in the streets and on the roads while their eyes are glued to the mobile screens leading them to the location of the imaginary Pokemon in the hope of catching it...the app can't function particularly well in South Korea because the government constrains the use of Google Maps.

* Amazon.in has crossed one lakh sellers. E-commerce sites have to look out for devious techniques like Roundtripping - sellers buying their own products at heavy discounts to re-sell

* Basal metabolic rate (energy used for bsic funcitoning when body is at rest) is believed to account for 60-80% of the total energy we spend

* The Kanchipuram saree is protected by a 'geographical indication' - no other place can claim to produce it. It is among the costliest silks because a lot of silver (250 gms at least) goes into making its zari (brocade) patterns and borders

* Asia's largest underground library is in Shri Bhadariya Lathi in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan.

* Americans spend about $500 million annually on newspaper obituaries

* Products are sometimes marketed as "Non-G.M.O." even when genetically modified versions do not exist. At the most basic level, a G.M.O. is a plant or animal whose DNA was altered in a laboratory, often by inserting genes from a distant species into its cells with the help of a bacterium or with other tools - NY Times

* "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it" - Mark Twain

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Can Twitter Trends be gamed?

Friday, July 15, 2016
Going by the quality of  hashtags & topics that show up on Twitter Trends, I definitely think they are gamed. Though I found Twitter Trends useful earlier, they seem meaningless to me now as I regularly see a lot of shady & silly trending topics.

A while ago, Amit Agarwal wondered while tweeting if it takes just 63 tweets to make a topic trend?

The Twitter Trends FAQ informs that Trends are determined by an algorithm and, by default, are tailored for you based on who you follow and your location. This algorithm identifies topics that are popular now, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help you discover the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter that matter most to you.

There doesn't seem to be any method in the trending madness though. I found a topic listed in Trends though it had a single tweet!

To promote its business interests, it appears Twitter doesn't mind if a topic is promoted artificially. To be really useful I feel Twitter's algorithm should pick up topics and hashtags in which public interest grows organically.