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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

Cookie usage notification

Monday, September 22, 2014
For quite a while now, I've wondered why websites all of a sudden have been bothering to put a prominent notice that reads something like - "This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies."

I've learnt that websites HAVE to do so because they are mandated by European and US Internet privacy laws. The law applies to European companies even if their website is hosted overseas.

This explains why google.nl has the cookie usage notification for that domain but not for google.co.in - Indian laws probably don't ask for it. (For political correctness, Google serves one map of India from its Indian domain & a different one when viewed from Google Map's HK TLD)

Did you know, a visit to a page on the Guardian's website may generate the following types of cookies:
- Site performance cookies
- Anonymous analytics cookies
- Geotargetting cookies
- Registration cookies
- Advertising cookies
- Third party advertising cookies

Google also declares that besides collecting info about you through a variety of cookies, it may have your location information, your voice recordings (if you use the Voice Search option), your face model (to help with facial detection if you enabled the Google+ Find my Face feature),


This Week I Learned - Week #76

Sunday, September 21, 2014
This Week I Learned:

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Google Street View can provide visual history of a place over time

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Google Street View was launched in 2007 in several cities in the United States, and has since expanded to include cities and rural areas worldwide.
Maps with areas highlighted in blue support Street View imagery
This feature of Google Maps provides a view of actual images of streets and objects as if you were walking there.

According to Wikipedia, the option to view Street-level imagery from the past has been introduced in 2014. It is only available where Google has imaged a street more than once.

To start viewing Street-level imagery click the Pegman in the bottom right corner. Any roads which have Street View imagery will appear highlighted in blue. Click on a highlighted part of the map to see Street View.

If past imagery is available, there is an overlay in the upper-right corner with the address and Street View date which can be changed to view images over time.
Street View image showing a Safeway supermarket. Notice a building under construction in the background in October 2007

The supermarket is gone. The building in the background is ready in August 2011. 
Street View is currently available in India only in certain areas of a few cities (shown in blue)


This Week I Learned - Week #75

Saturday, September 13, 2014
This Week I Learned:
  • Twitter determines the people you might enjoy following based on your recent visits to websites in the Twitter ecosystem (sites that have integrated Twitter buttons or widgets). Twitter's tailored suggestions feature works by suggesting people who are frequently followed by other Twitter users that visit the same websites. 
  • Redis takes underutilized resources on servers and turns them into valuable caching service. Twitter forked Redis 2.4 and added some features to it, so they are stuck at 2.4 (2.8.14 is the latest stable version). Redis drives Timeline, Twitter’s most important service. Timeline is an index of tweets indexed by an id. Chaining tweets together in a list produces the Home Timeline. Memcache didn’t work as well as Redis for the timeline.  - High Scalability
  • According to this answer on SuperUser, it is possible to use an older version of Google Chrome by installing Chrome while offline. The file GoogleUpdate.exe found in this folder location: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Google\Update has to be deleted to prevent updates.
  • There is a workaround to install WhatsApp on a tablet that can access internet over WIFI
  • SIM-Swap involves a fraudster issuing a duplicate SIM card which is registered under your name. With a SIM card that shares the same number, the fraudster can stalk and save your bank related information via mobile banking transactions.
  • Convergent evolution - Birds evolved wings when their finger bones fused together and sprouted feathers more than 150 million years ago. Bats evolved wings about 60 million years ago when their fingers stretched out and became covered in membranes.
  • Peanuts are not nuts; they're legumes
  • West Africa produces nearly 70% of the world's cocoa.
  • Size is a general indicator of chilli heat: the smaller the hotter
  • The brain requires 20% of a human's energy when resting; by comparison, an ape's brain requires only 8%.
  • Groups not dependent on cattle, such as the Chinese and Thai, the Pima Indians of the American Southwest, and the Bantu of West Africa, remain lactose intolerant. - National Geographic
  • In 1876, Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent on discovery of the telephone on the same day
  • Dr. George Papanicolaou also known as Dr. Pap is the inventor of the "Pap smear" test. He first reported that uterine cancer could be diagnosed by means of a vaginal smear in 1928 but the importance of his work was not recognized until 1943. Upon examination of a slide made from a smear of the patient's vaginal fluid, Papanicolaou discovered that abnormal cancer cells could be plainly observed under a microscope. "The first observation of cancer cells in the smear of the uterine cervix," he later wrote, "gave me one of the greatest thrills I ever experienced during my scientific career." In the 1940s, when the Pap Smear was first introduced, cervical cancer was the number one killer of women.  The Pap Smear, now a standard cancer screening test for all women, has greatly reduced the death rate for cervical cancer patients worldwide.
  • His wife Mary was his first and long term, human subject.
  • The legend goes that Maharaja Agrasen had 17 sons and one daughter, whose descendants are known as Agrawals. There are 17-and-a-half Agrawal surnames (or got­ras)—including Garg, Goyal, Mittal, Singhal, Kansal and, of course, Bansal. Four of the five e-commerce Bansals are IIT grads.
  • The 17 Laws of the Game of Football are governed by a global organization called FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) or in English (International Federation of Association Football).
  • Offside is a rule in soccer that ensures an offensive player does not have an unfair advantage.
  • It is governed by imaginary lines on both sides of the field. These lines are based on the position of two different points: Either the second-to-last defender or the position of the ball. Common Craft's Soccer Guide has an excellent explanation in the form of animated gifs


Book Review: Drawing Cartoons and Comics For Dummies

Thursday, September 11, 2014
I doodle, draw cartoons as a hobby and follow comic strips with interest. I enjoyed reading Brian
Fairrington's Drawing Cartoons and Comics For Dummies. Though it appears to be written for an American audience, the book discusses tricks of the cartooning trade and numerous ideas that can be useful to aspiring cartoonists anywhere in the world.

The author, a professional cartoonist, makes it clear in the beginning that this book is not a complete art course. It has step-by-step examples on how to draw characters and objects commonly used in cartoons and explains topics that make cartoons interesting like Lettering, Perspective and Layout. The author offers valuable tips on packaging and selling your work. There is a good deal of cartoon history that makes the book engaging.

While drawing can be taught, I think drawing humorous cartoons is a highly individualistic process that cannot be taught. I feel, studying the work of the masters & drawing from the experience of experts like the author of this book can set aspiring cartoonists on the road to success.

I exaggerate, therefore I am
Exaggeration is an essential element of humor. (I drew this in 2001)

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