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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

HOW TO generate Amazon Associate links for different countries

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Online retailer Amazon offers an affiliate program but you need to be subscribed for each country's Amazon store program separately.  Amazon's links only work for a certain store. Amazon doesn't mind if you incorporate the various Associates Programs into a single website by geo-targeting your website's visitors but Amazon doesn't provide any tools to make it easy for affiliates.

A-FWD's geolocation service allows an affiliate to create a single link and their service takes care of redirecting it to the store corresponding to the country where the site visitor is from, falling back to Amazon.com if there is no Amazon store for a particular country.

If you don't provide your own tracking ids for Amazon stores in every country, A-FWD will use it's own (a_fwd-21 for amazon.co.uk) for those you leave blank.

Amazon offers image thumbnails for products that it sells. By combining these two services, Amazon affiliates can create customized product links without any programming.

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Big Fat Google

Sunday, August 24, 2014
The Google Search page epitomizes web performance or rather, used to. Web performance guru, Steve Souders, noted in a tweet that the Google Search page now has 11 requests and measures 500KB when a user isn't logged into to his Google Account. Logged in is 19 requests. He questions if this is the new standard for "lightweight"?

Due to Google's increasing focus on personalization of search results, it now takes a relatively longer time for results to be fetched and the page to load though it is still in the order of milli-seconds.

It took 0.23 seconds to fetch results while logged in but it took 0.16 seconds with Google Custom (which is lighter than the regular search page as it lacks a few bells and whistles) for getting results for the same keywords. 

Notice how in the regular search page, the first record which is an ad is almost indistinguishable (there is a tiny orange icon marking it as an Ad) from search result that comes after it. Earlier, ads used to have a light background color and it was clearly apparent that it was an ad. It now appears that Google is pulling all stops to make money from ads & popularizing Google+ through Google Search.

Without realizing that the first result was an ad, I clicked on it - the Sitelinks, made it even more convincing.

(Weirdly, ICICI Bank which has placed that ad hasn't bothered to check that it redirects to an error page as the original link is dead)


This Week I Learned - Week #72

Saturday, August 23, 2014
This Week I Learned:
  • 3 ways to use implement ASP.NET Session State with Azure Websites - through external session state providers: Table Storage, SQL AzureAzure Redis Cache Service
  • The Visual Studio 2013 Express edition for Web doesn't have a menu option to enable word wrap. The shortcut Ctrl+E+W can be used.
  • Mono is a free and open source project led by Xamarin (formerly by Novell and originally by Ximian) to create an Ecma standard-compliant, .NET Framework-compatible set of tools including, among others, a C# compiler and a Common Language Runtime. Mono can be run on many software systems including Android, most Linux distributions, BSD, OS X, Windows, Solaris, and even some game consoles such as PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360. Mono is Spanish for monkey. Mono's current version is 3.2.8 (as of February 2014). This version provides the core API of the .NET Framework and support for Visual Basic.NET and C# versions 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0.  - Wikipedia
  • Google Now uses your smartphone’s accelerometer to get a read on when you’ve been driving, when you’ve stopped driving, and when you’ve started walking, and from that, it determines your approximate parking spot.
  • 20.9% of Android devices run on KitKat/Android 4.4 while 54.2% run Jelly Bean.
  • Ebola is 90 percent fatal once caught, making it the second most lethal human infection after rabies. The disease is hard to spot in its early stages, when it presents symptoms such as fatigue, fever, muscle aches and vomiting that are also caused by common illnesses like influenza and malaria. Infected patients can carry the virus for up to three weeks before they show even these symptoms. Their natural hosts are thought to be fruit bats. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists Ebola as a Category A bioterrorism agent. - Forbes
  • India's 30 richest business family heads: Mukesh Ambani (Reliance Industries Ltd); Azim Premji (Wipro); Sunil Mittal (Bharti Airtel); Dilip Shanghvi(Sun Pharma); Anil Aggarwal (Sterlite); Shiv Nadar (HCL); Anil Ambani (Reliance Power and Communications); Kumar Birla (Grasim); Uday Kotak (Kotak Bank); Choksi-Dani-Vakil (Asian Paints); Gautam Adani (Adani Enterprises); KP Singh (DLF); VC Burman (Dabur); Keshub Mahindra (Mahindra & Mahindra): Adi Godrej (Godrej Industries); DB Gupta (Lupin); Rahul Bajaj (Bajaj Auto); Brijmohan Munjal (Hero): Subhash Chandra (ZEE): Naveen Jindal (Jindal Steel and Power); Vijay Mallya (United Spirits); Sajjan Jindal (JSW Steel); YK Hamied (Cipla); Pankaj Patel (Cadila); Kalanithi Maran (SUN TV); VC Sehgal (Motherson Sumi); Reddy family (Dr Reddy's Labs); BK Parekh (Pidilite): BM Bangur (Shree Cement); and Sudhir Mehta (Torrent).
  • Adani is India's biggest port operator (Mundra, Dahej, Kandla, Vizag, Goa,Dhamra); biggest power producer (plants in Gujarat, Odisha, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh); and biggest seller of branded edible oil. His biggest project is a mammoth $ 16.5 billion coal project in Australia which experts fear will sink him. - Times of India
  • Ashish Hemrajani is the founder and CEO of Bigtree/BookMyShow.com which he started in 1999. Network18 has a stake in BookMyShow.com. Reliance has taken over Network18. Reliance Fresh (convenience store chain) often runs promotional activities that have customer benefits like free movie tickets (from BookMyShow.com only on week-days) processed by Bigtree. This is a clever way for Bigtree to manage unused ticket inventory.
  • Vittal Mallya was elected to the board of United Breweries Ltd (UBL) in 1947 at the age of 22. Before passing away at the age of 39, he handed over control of the group’s beer and spirit businesses to his 28-year old son Vijay Mallya, who had returned from the US and the UK after working with companies there. Vijay Mallya got a Ferrari from his father when he was just four. Kingfisher Airlines which was launched in May 2005 as a gift to Vijay Mallya's son Siddharth on his 18th birthday has never made any profit since its inception. Vijay Mallya's ill-fated entry into aviation has led to his downfall. - Mint
  • Bharat Ratna is "a political recognition for politicians". Nearly half of the 43 Bharat Ratnas awarded so far have gone to political figures. This category includes a host of former presidents and prime ministers including Jawaharlal Nehru and political intellectuals such as B.R. Ambedkar.

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This Week I Learned - Week #71

Saturday, August 16, 2014
This Week I Learned:

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Possessions from the year 2001

Monday, August 11, 2014
While searching for something else, I chanced upon these CDs of VS.NET Beta 1 distributed at a Microsoft seminar in Chennai and a Satyam I-way access card among the objects that I've hoarded.

The CDs were meant to be run on Windows NT.

I read about the Internet (mostly Sevanti Ninan's column in The Hindu) for a couple of years before actually using it for the first time in 1997. Having acquired a RocketMail account, it was a thrill to just send and receive emails. It was a challenge to keep the Hotmail mailbox size below 2MB as that was the storage limit that Hotmail offered back then.