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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 #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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This Week I Learned - Week #213

Saturday, May 06, 2017
This Week I Learned -

* Q. Does Azure Backup deduplicate data across VMs?
A. No. Azure Backup does not deduplicate across VMs in the Azure Backup vault. Azure Backup works by only sending and storing the modified blocks of protected data which means only the delta change is stored for each backup optimizing space used.

The Azure SQL Database has a DNS name which by default is blocked for access through its firewall and access has to be enabled for IP addresses utilizing (from the Internet) and/or from all services in Azure itself.

* When an Azure SQL Database instance is accessed from an Azure service the access is through the internal Azure network and not via the Internet.

* All new Azure SQL databases will be encrypted with transparent data encryption by default, thereby having encryption at rest.

* Amazon is releasing new software updates every 11 seconds

* Whatsapp has a billion active users and 57 engineers to keep it running
LinkedIn to auto-suggest content - To make updating your LinkedIn profile as easy and quick as possible, LinkedIn may suggest content for you to add to your profile. These Profile Suggestions are generated from publicly available information about your professional accomplishments like patents, publications, and certificates.

* ...the Attorney General of India, while arguing in the Aadhaar case in 2015, had denied that Indians have a right to privacy under the Indian Constitution. Usha Ramanathan - "What has happened so far suggests that they (UIDAI or Unique Identification Authority of India) are trying to learn as they go along"  - Bloomberg

* Any agency/entity soliciting Aadhaar information for extending a service/providing a benefit should not publically display the 12 digit Aadhaar number along with the individual's other particulars on any public domain. If it is deemed necessary to publish information, which contains individual's Aadhaar number, the same may be smduged or only last 4 digits displayed so that the 12 digit Aadhaar number is not recognizable - UIDAI website

India needs a security and privacy law: Nandan Nilekani, former chairman, UIDAI

With the Goods and Services Tax Network, due to come into force on July 1, seven million taxpayers in the country, who pay excise duty or service tax or VAT to state governments, will be on one unified platform and file all returns digitally. The latest Motor Vehicles Act has said Aadhaar is required for driver's licence. The digitisation of India's economy is going at an accelerated pace. 

Europe has evolved its data protection and privacy rules over the past 20 years. The latest manifestation is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into effect from May 2018. It actually imposes penalties on the global turnover of companies up to 4% for violations. 

We are in a world which is digitally intensive

The automobile was invented in the 19th century. The first mass production of the automobile was in 1908 with the Ford Model T. But the first mass use of seat belt was in 1959. Technology innovates and then you create the checks and balances. 

...the Attorney General has made a statement that the government is planning a data protection law before Diwali

* In Season 2, Episode 19 - "The Many Mouths of Andrew Colville" of the Elementary sitcom, a doctor in the fictional story feels justice & not the well-being of the criminal, a pre-registered organ donor who is wheeled in to the ICU was on her mind while treating the critically injured patient who is dying away - calls doctors have to take. In the same series, Sherlock has over 7 TV sets and several laptops & Surface devices in his "media room". He has a theory that listening to separate television broadcasts at the same time helps him to be a better multi-tasker.

* China Central Television's main evening news broadcast Xinwen Lianbo has a daily audience of around 135 million people, and it is also one of the most expensive shows in the world per advertising spots, with its 2013 advertising slots selling for a record of 5.4 billion yuan. The highest-rated single television broadcast in U.S. history is the 150-minute-long final episode of M*A*S*H*(which remains the sole regular U.S. primetime television series to be watched by at least 100 million viewers in the United States alone for an episode), transmitted on primetime by CBS on 28 February 1983, viewed at a peak conclusion by 125 million American viewers (or 60.2% of American households and at least 77% of the total U.S. television viewers) - Wikipedia

* Opioids like codeine attach to specific opioid receptors (found in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract), and when this happens, it effectively change the way a person experiences pain. Codeine can also affect regions of the brain that influence how a user perceives pleasure, which may result in an initial feeling of euphoria after taking the medication - Go Ask Alice!

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