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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 #228

Friday, August 18, 2017
This Week I Learned -

* Azure Media Redactor is a cloud video processing service which is capable of automatically detecting and blurring faces in your videos, for use in cases such as public safety and news media.

* Azure Application Insights provides search capabilities to query and get insights from your telemetry data.

* The ARM API deploys resources to Azure, but doesn’t deploy code onto those resources. For example you can use ARM to deploy a virtual machine with SQL Server already installed but you can’t use ARM to deploy a database from an SSDT DacPac....we need to use some other technology such as DSC or PowerShell to manage the deployments onto the infrastructure once it is deployed - Simple Talk

* The Freecharge site was launched on August 15, 2010.  Axis Bank has acquired Freecharge from its parent company Snapdeal for $60 million — a drop in the bucket compared to the $400-$450 million that the e-commerce company paid for it two years back, touted as the biggest M&A deal in the history of India’s startup ecosystem. The deal gives the private sector lender access to Freecharge’s claimed 52 million mobile wallet holders - Yourstory.in

* To save a web page as PDF using Chrome mobile browser, tap the three-dot More menu in the upper-right corner of the screen, select Share and check for a Print option there. When you are asked to select a printer, choose Save as PDF, tap Save and choose a place to store the resulting file.

Coblis, the Color Blindness Simulator web application can help make your images and diagrams friendly for the color-blind

* Sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the body. Many muscles of our thighs and legs are controlled by this nerve.

* Amazon Prime Video allows you to watch movies & videos on up to 3 devices at once

* You can think of the Chromecast as a web browser with a TV UI that you control with your smartphone. The Fire TV Stick is a device in itself. You can install hundreds of apps on its internal memory, and it even comes with its own Bluetooth remote. There’s no need for your phone to be around, just the TV and Amazon’s dongle. Both pull off the same basic tasks – playing your movies and TV shows from a variety of sources

YouTube.com/TV offers a more accessible mode that allows you to control the interface with your keyboard

* The regional-language trolling problem is amplified by the fact that India has more than 122 languages and 1,599 dialects. An overwhelming 234 million Indians access the internet every day in regional languages, compared to 175 million English users in 2016, according to a Google-KPMG report. To combat this, firms like Facebook have started employing native languages speakers to monitor content - The Times of India

Data Security Council of India (DSCI) is a premier industry body on data protection in India, setup by NASSCOM, committed to making cyberspace safe, secure and trusted by establishing best practices, standards and initiatives in cyber security and privacy.

* Only 30 categories of top VVIPs — ranging from the President to SPG protectees — are exempt from pre-embarkation security checks (PESC) at Indian airports. Lalu Prasad Yadav and wife Rabri Devi skipped pre-boarding security checks at Patna airport for eight years despite not being in any position on this list of 30 exempt categories - The Times of India

* "I now need to move forward, and return to an environment of respect, trust and empowerment, where I can take on new lofty challenges" - Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys after resigning. His exit wiped out $3.5 billion or 22,480 crore of investor wealth.

* "..immigrant associations in America, established ostensibly to celebrate their culture, are actually caste groups. TANA (Telugu Association of North America) is nothing but a Kamma caste organisation. There's another one, ATA, for Reddys. Some like the American Association of Telugu Brahmins (AATB) don't even hide behind "celebrating Telugu literature cultural", they are openly based on caste. When the right-wing Hindu American Foundation (HAF), an extremely wealthy and powerful organisation, threatened to sue the California Education Board if they didn't redact the references to Indian caste system in the state's school history textbooks (their claim was that their children would be taunted for it) it was the Dalit Freedom Network in America that fought to keep it in, because it is a fact of history" - Sujatha Gidla, author of Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern Indiafirst Indian woman to be employed as a conductor with the New York City Subway

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This Week I Learned - Week #227

Sunday, August 13, 2017
Azure VM Chooser can help in picking the most optimal Azure VM

* Containers are commonly used in conjunction with a microservices architecture, although they can also be used to containerize web apps or services which follow any architectural pattern. When creating and deploying a container, the size of its image is far smaller with .NET Core than with .NET Framework. Use .NET Core for your server application when you have cross-platform needs & you are targeting microservices especially using Docker containers. .NET Framework and .NET Core can both be used for building server-side applications with .NET.  .NET Framework is suitable for your server applications when you are using third-party .NET libraries or NuGet packages or .NET technologies like ASP.NET Web Forms, WPF, Windows Forms are not available for .NET Core.

* redBus is the world’s largest bus booking platform having completed 100 million bus rides in India. Their desktop web platform caters to different geographies (India, Singapore, Malaysia, Peru, Colombia and Indonesia as of now) & is hosted on AWS. redBus follows a micro service architecture & is built on .NET Core

ImageNet, a data set of more than a million images, has become a go-to resource for training computer vision AI.

Over 21 lakh Indians applied for H-1B Visas in 11 years

Spread over nearly 10 acres in Gachibowli, Hyderabad, Amazon's biggest campus in India as well as the largest outside US, is expected to be ready by 2019.

* Bengaluru, as she has been officially called since November 2014, is the hub of the $150 billion information technology (IT) sector that contributes nearly 10% to India’s GDP. She single-handedly generated $45 billion in IT revenues in 2014. She is India’s fifth-most populous urban agglomeration, with an estimated over 10 million residents in 2017, up nearly 200% from 3.4 million in 1985. To accommodate all those new people, she has expanded by 360% from 161 square kilometres in 1979 to 709 sq km today. 68% of her land area had vegetation in 1973; by 2012, that had fallen to a little above 23% - QZ.com

The ace Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt debuted his 'Bolt' pose at the Beijing Olympics in 2008

* According to the World Health Organisation 2010 Report, India accounts for eight million blind persons, 54.5 million people with low vision and 62.6 million people with visual impairment, which makes India home to the second largest visually challenged population globally. Zee Cinema will be the first movie channel in India to premiere a film curated for the visually impaired. It will also have subtitles for hearing-impaired audiences - The Hindu Businessline

* Delhi based Rahul Eggs serves 300 types of egg dishes

* The two most frequently used influencing styles are Push and Pull. Push style is characterized by three specific verbal behaviors: Proposing Content (suggesting an idea); Giving Information (providing the rationale); and Shutting Out (talking across others). Push works well in conditions where the influencer has positional authority. Other situations that call for Push include where you have the expertise, where there’s only one solution, where the decision has already been made, where decisions need to be made quickly and when you can enforce compliance. Pullers use three behaviors in particular: Seeking Proposals (e.g. How should we best do this?) Seeking Information (e.g. Who has the relevant experience?) and the rare but highly prized skill of Building – extending or developing a proposal made by another person. Pull style can also be effective when influencing upwards, where resistance is likely to be high when there’s more than one option when there are no time pressures and where any movement is better than none. It’s also useful in fostering collaboration and in coaching others to use their resources. Pull might take a little longer but the rewards outweigh the costs - Indezine

"I feel like a puzzle piece that got lost, always trying to find some way to fit"

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Stack Exchange API offers a mine of crowd-sourced information

Sunday, August 06, 2017
Stack Exchange is the family of Q&A websites all based on the Stack Exchange engine.

The Stack Exchange API allows developers to use quite a lot of data from websites on the Stack Exchange network.

The Stack Exchange API is based on HTTP and URLs. The responses are all in JSON.

There is a "Hello World" introduction but  no tutorial for the API other than the documentation

The API enforces a daily limit of 10,000 requests for those with a Key & 300 requests for anonymous calls from a single IP address with no Key.

The API will cut you off if you make more than 30 requests over 5 seconds to any single endpoint.

To discuss about the Stack Exchange API, applications that use the Stack Exchange API, or scripts that work on the Stack Exchange network of websites use the StackApps website or post programming related questions by tagging them with the stackexchange-api tag on StackOverflow.

If you are learning to program with JavaScript & JSON, the Stack Exchange API & Github API return JSON output to play with.

To experiment with the API, I built a small sample to fetch the most popular tags on StackOverflow & their definitions. I'm impressed with how well they have designed their API

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This Week I Learned - Week #226

Friday, August 04, 2017
This Week I Learned -

Whether you are using Azure App Services, Cloud Services or ServiceFabric, Dynatrace is fully integrated in your PaaS solution as an Azure Site Extension. No modification of your build pipeline, no manual configuration required.

* Instant recovery of files from Azure VM backups is generally available.

VNet-to-VNet traffic within the same region is free for both directions when using a VPN gateway connection. If you are connecting your VNets using VNet Peering, ingress and egress traffic is charged at both ends of the peered networks. VNet-to-VNet traffic travels across the Microsoft Azure backbone, not the Internet. It is protected by IPsec/IKE encryption. VNet-to-VNet connectivity can be used simultaneously along with multi-site connections. Virtual Network in Azure is free of charge. Every subscription is allowed to create up to 50 Virtual Networks across all regions.

ASR includes a failover automation feature called Recovery Plans. The Recovery Plan allows you to define groups of machines which need to be restored together (i.e., an N-tier application), as well as the order that those systems failover and are brought online.

IBM's Bluemix cloud computing platform offers 130+ unique servicesIBM Bluemix free 30 day trial doesn't require a credit card unlike the trials from popular cloud providers

* OpenStack is a set of software tools for building and managing cloud computing platforms for public and private clouds.

Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard now competes against the likes of Google’s virtual keyboard Gboard

* Aadhaar related information, legally housed by the National Informatics Centre server, was illegally and without authorisation accessed and used to support an Android app named ‘Aadhaar e-KYC’. The ability of a software engineer to bypass strict protocols set in place by the UIDAI to access critical data puts the spotlight firmly on the security measures employed to protect Aadhaar data. Abhinav Srivastav has developed five apps including Aadhaar e-KYC. Police are now scanning all apps to see whether more violations were committed. Based on the complaint by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), six teams of police comprising 26 personnel were formed to nab Srivastav and they tracked him down to Koramangala after a week.  - The Hindu

* Based on UIDAI’s complaint against Abhinav and other unidentified people, Bengaluru Police have filed a case for offence under Section 37 and 38 of The Aadhaar (Targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies benefits and services) Act, 2016. It holds them guilty of illegal use of Aadhaar data and gaining access without authority to the central identities data repository. They have also been booked under Sections 65 and 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 for tampering with computer source documents and computer-related offences - Indian Express

* Abhinav Srivastav, the 31-year-old MSc graduate from IIT-Kharagpur is the founder of Qarth. He worked at Ola in the position of "Hacker at Ola Connected Car Platform", as per his LinkedIn Profile. Chennai-based Qarth Technologies was acquired by India's largest taxi aggregator Ola in March last year, to help grow its in-house payments service. Qarth had developed an app X-Pay that allowed customers to process one-touch mobile payments through their bank accounts. The company was acquired by Ola, which was looking to strengthen its own Ola Money digital wallet - Business Standard

* Zomato started as Foodiebay by IIT Delhi graduates, Deepinder Goyal & Pankaj Chaddah. It generates revenues  11 countries & are profitable in 6. The top 6 cities in India contribute around 90% of it's India revenue. Delivery fetches 20% of revenue while advertising business is 75-80%.

Smartphones are now in the hands of 3.4 billion people across the globe and engagement is on the rise, with users spending three hours per day on mobile — a 4% increase over last year.

The same tiny scent detectors found in your nose are also found in some pretty unexpected places -- like your muscles, kidneys and even your lungs.

* Ride-sharing app Uber has completed 500 million trips in its four-year journey in India

* India is projected to be the youngest country in the world by 2020, with approximately half of India’s 1.2 billion people under the age of 26.

* The banking sector in India is reeling under Rs 8 lakh crore of non performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans, of which PSU banks alone account for over Rs 6 lakh crore.

* Between 2011-2015, enrollment in government run schools feel by 1.1 crore & ride in private schools by 1.6 crore, as per government's DISE (District Information System for Education) data.

* Subsidies are palliatives. Only rapid economic growth accompanied by rising edge can cure poverty. Studies show that 40% of subsidised keresone is diverted from our beneficiaries to the adulteration of diesel, which is more than twice as costly.

* "..software is more than business requirements and white board drawings. There are personalities, superstitions, random business events, and, tradeoffs made for survival" - Scott Allen

* After India's first astronaut Rakesh Sharma returned back from space, he continued his test pilot career, subsequently moving to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited where he was chief project pilot for Tejas (the light combat aircraft) for six years.

* The US government's official employment site advertised the Planetary Protection Officer job which is open to US citizens and nationals for applications until August 14. Candidates must have "broad engineering expertise," and should be an expert in planetary protection. This includes demonstrated technical expertise to independently form technically sound judgments and evaluations in considerably complex situations

* 'I am young, so I can learn to like an alien" - Jack Davis, Guardian of Galaxy, fourth grade who applied for NASA's Planetary Protection Officer job

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Book Review: Super 30:Changing the World 30 Students at a Time

Sunday, July 30, 2017
Getting into one of the elite Indian Institute of Technology engineering colleges is a dream that many youngsters & more importantly their parents chase as it is considered a passport to a bright & secure career. Aspiring candidates have to clear the Indian Institutes of Technology Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE), the annual entrance examination to be among the privileged few to secure a seat. The current admission rate in 2017 is around 0.92% in IITs (about 11,000 out of 1,200,000 who applied for JEE Main). 90% of students who pass this exam attend coaching academies, which has created a $3.37 billion industry with annual tuitions of up to $1,700.
Super 30:Changing the World 30 Students at a Time, tells the extraordinary story of Anand Kumar, a maverick maths teacher, who is on a mission to select & place 30 of the most financial backward students in IIT each year.  In the 13 years since he started this special school in 2003 for the under-privileged, he has managed to place 333 of  the 390 students under his tutelage. This is a phenomenal achievement considering that the IIT entrance exam is one of toughest tests and Anand manages this marvelous feat of helping students saddled in poverty change their destiny by securing the coveted seats by training them all with his own financial resources.

In this sometimes sad but engrossing book of 230 pages, the biographer Dr Biju Mathew takes us through the many ups & downs that the humble and intellectually gifted Bihar-born Anand had to go through. Anand's dream of getting into Cambridge University to pursue his passion for Mathematics was crushed as he had no money. To support his close-knit family after his father passed away, he started Ramanujan School of Mathematics to tutor students and sold papads to supplement the income. Rather than feeling dejected at his misery and emboldened by the belief that a man without money has only one way to escape his misfortune - with education, he set out to change the world in his own way.

When he shared his plan of picking 30 students & preparing them for IIT Joint Entrance Exam with his own resources with his mother and brother Pranav, his mother exclaimed at his audacity - "You think you're Superman!"

That's how they came up with the name for their noble initiative "Super 30". Anand convinced his supportive mother and brother they would not just train 30 poor students but also take care of their needs including accommodation in Patna.  He wanted the students to not think about money but instead stay focused on their goal. His mother cooked for all 30 students, his brother took charge of administrative activities while Anand handled the coursework.

The expenses for Super 30 are still covered by proceeds from Ramanujan School of Mathematics & Anand neither solicits nor accepts donations. He selects 30 students each year not based on caste but financial backwardness. He wants to show that money is not the only factor that determines a person's worth in society and show the power of education!

The narrative is written in simple English and sprinkled with Hindi words like mohalla, pitaji, mahaan. There need to be more books like these on India's heroes.

Also see -

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