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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 #190

Saturday, November 26, 2016
This Week I Learned -

* By using Emulator Express, you can test and debug a cloud service without running Visual Studio as an administrator. Emulator Express isn't compatible with IIS Web Server.

* The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification validates that you have the skills needed to run a highly efficient and modern data centre, with expertise in cloud technologies, identity management, systems management, virtualisation, storage and networking. It includes 2 certifications (70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions and 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions) in addition to the 3 (70-532, 70-533, 70-534) that are also part of MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect.

Sequoia Capital is the legendary investor behind Google, Apple, Youtube, and Whatsapp. They have single handedly created more than $1.3 Trillion of value in the US economy! In India Sequoia is the investor in Ola Cabs, Oyo Rooms, Zomato, Just Dial, and Café Coffee Day. Over $2 Billion is committed to investing in Indian startups.

Srikanth Bolla, a blind entrepreneur has built a Rs. 50 crore ($8 million) company that employs hundreds of handicapped (physically challenged in different ways) people called Bollant Industries. When the IITs denied him an entry to write the entrance exam, he applied to and was accepted to MIT as their first international blind student.

In Ancient Greece, hedonism really did have an ethical component, and its adherents really believed that society would be best served if you as an individual cultivated those things that gave you the greatest pleasure, instead of the self-denial inherent in other philosophies and religions. Over time the philosophical aspect of hedonism has faded and we are left an idea that looks to us very much like, well, Las Vegas

Paytm's app PoS allows small merchants to accept all debit and credit cards without the need of a card machine. Anyone with a mobile phone should be able to accept payments. In this payment flow, Paytm claims that it does not store any card details in our App or in our servers. The transaction is completed on the bank’s page and follows the 2 factor authentication guidelines mandated in India. Paytm is a PCI DSS (Payment Cards industry Data Security Standard) certified company that has it’s IT systems audited periodically by certified independent auditors - Paytm Blog

A study by MasterCard shows that the cost of using cash i.e. printing, transporting, storage, soiled notes, etc. is almost 1.5% of GDP.

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This Week I Learned - Week #189

Sunday, November 20, 2016
This Week I Learned -

* You can think of microservices as “SOA done right,” with principles and patterns like autonomous services, Bounded-Context pattern and event-driven all having their roots in SOA and DDD. As the name implies, microservices architecture is an approach to build a server application as a set of small services, each service running in its own process and communicating with each other via protocols such as HTTP and WebSockets. Over the long term, microservices enable superior maintainability in large, complex and highly scalable systems by designing applications based on many independently deployable services that allow for granular release planning. Azure Service Fabric is a new platform built from the ground up and especially designed for hyperscale and microservices-based systems - MSDN Mag

Two professors of National Tsinghua University in Taiwan, have used machine learning to create a system where bots watch a video, determine its highlights, create a relevant title for easy searching, and recommend who might want to be tagged to watch it. Their work was inspired by Microsoft Research’s COCO (Common Objects in Context). COCO is a new image recognition, segmentation, and captioning dataset that recognizes more than 300,000 images, in context, and because videos are essentially a succession of images, this dataset could help with video title generation - Microsoft Research Blog

* Cognizant recently announced that it has cloud-enabled the IT infrastructure at ACCO Brands Corporation (NYSE: ACCO), one of the world’s largest suppliers of branded school, office and consumer products and print finishing solutions, for improved business agility, performance and reduced costs. By migrating mission-critical workloads in enterprise SAP systems from an on-premise data center to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and implementing a pay-per-use Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model, ACCO Brands has improved the flexibility, availability and scalability of its IT environment, reducing risk and enabling it to quickly respond to changing business requirementsET

* Videoconferencing equipment is often left vulnerable to hackers. Most of these new systems were designed with visual and audio clarity — not security — in mind. The most popular units, sold by Polycom and Cisco, can cost as much as $25,000 and feature encryption, high-definition video capture, and audio that can pick up the sound of a door opening 300 feet away. But administrators are setting them up outside the firewall and are configuring them with a false sense of security that hackers can use against them. After a security breach at the United States Chamber of Commerce last year, the Chamber discovered that its office printer, and even a thermostat in a Chamber-owned apartment, had been communicating with an Internet address in ChinaNY Times

* The messaging app Snapchat allows motorists to post photos that record the speed of the vehicle. The navigation app Waze rewards drivers with points when they report traffic jams and accidents. Even the game Pokémon Go has drivers searching for virtual creatures on the nation’s highways. Most new vehicles sold today have software that connects to a smartphone and allows drivers to place phone calls, dictate texts and use apps hands-free. Ford Motor has its Sync system, for example. Others, including Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz, offer their own interfaces as well as Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. After steady declines over the last four decades, highway fatalities last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. Insurance companies, which closely track auto accidents, are convinced that the increasing use of electronic devices while driving is the biggest cause of the rise in road fatalities - NY Times

Half of US adults are recorded in police facial recognition databases

The three-point safety belt (found in most cars today) was invented by Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin in 1959.

In 2015, 5 million lives were lost to the diabetes, more than were claimed by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

When cranberries are ripe, they bounce like rubber balls

Tirrupur is considered the knitwear capital of India accounting for 45 percent of total apparel exports in knitwear segment. 50% of the manufacturing employees are women

57 defaulters owe Indian banks Rs 85000 crore in bank loans.

40% of the worlds growth last year came from China - Economic Times

Anil Agarwal, the London based 'Marwari' billionaire & group chairman of the $13 billion global resource conglomerate Vedanta Plc, is a school dropout. Vedanta is the fourth largest natural resources company in the world after BHP, Rio & Glencore. His vision is to contribute to 50 percent of India's oil production. India imports 85 percent of oil, all copper & gold by spending$400 billion on imports.  India has better geology than China but produces only 6 percent of what China produces. India has the largest bauxite deposits in the world. The West has explored 73 percent while India has explored only 3.5%.

George Westinghouse, inventor of the air brake & a pioneer of the electrical industry, was a school dropout

The 1970 US legislation Clean Air Act, which passed the Senate unanimously, imposed national air-quality standards based on the “health of persons” rather than on the feasibility of technology or 
affordability of pollution controls

In Canada, a spate of earthquakes in Alberta within the last five years has been attributed to fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in which water, chemicals and sand are injected at high pressure into a well drilled in a shale formation to break up the rock and release oil and gas.

The heart of Silicon Valley is a 75-mile strip of land anchored by San Francisco at one end and San Jose at the other.

The best way to destroy data is not to delete it, because it could potentially be resurrected from a hard drive, but to encode it in “a secure form of cryptography.”

CMS leads in driving the cash cycle in India, from banks’ currency chests to ATMs, to retail stores to wallets. It is the fifth largest  ATM management company worldwide, and over 50 percent of all the ATM cash circulating in the country is handled by the CMS group

74% of income tax comes from just 0.8% of filers

The Indian economy grew by 30 per cent between 2011 and 2016 and currency notes in circulation rose by 40 per cent. In contrast, the circulation of 500 currency notes grew by 76 per cent and 1,000 notes by 109 per cent. According to market estimates, 10-50 per cent of the value of the property being bought or sold takes place in cash in India. 35-40 per cent of the prices of SUVs and premium vehicles are paid through cash. Black economy gets heavily invested in SUVs and premium vehicles.

On making  big life changes -
- Embrace the uncertainty of life - “People make plans, and God laughs.”
- Be open to possibilities. As you reach different obstacles, make sure you spend time questioning your assumptions.
- As paths open, head down them.

"A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading" - William Styron

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Book Review: "I Too had a Dream" by Verghese Kurien

Saturday, November 12, 2016
I enjoyed reading Verghese Kurien's memoir "I Too had a Dream" (written in association with Gauri Salvi). It is one of the finest autobiographies I've read. It is well-paced, engaging and light-hearted. The writing flows so well that you can visualize the adventures of the Amul man as if it were a movie. The book talks about numerous twists and travails in the life of Kurien, a Syrian Christian from Kerala who studied in the US to be a metallurgy engineer but ended up in a remote village in Gujarat to start a revolution in the dairy industry in India.

Verghese Kurien is an inspiring figure - he was bold, irreverent & autocratic. He was not afraid of take up cudgels against the high and mighty. He is instrumental in making India the largest producer of milk & achieving self-sufficiency.

The book in a way also tells us the story of India, its politics and bureaucracy. India needs more like Verghese Kurien's ilk and success stories like Amul & Anand.

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This Week I Learned - Week #188

Friday, November 11, 2016
This Week I Learned -

Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) works by using Windows Management Interface (WMI) and remote registry reads to capture information about servers in your environment.

“The 6 R’s” of cloud migration - Rehosting, Replatforming, Repurchasing, Refactoring/Re-architecting,  Retire, Retain or do nothing (for now)

The terms SSL and TLS (Transport Layer Security) are often used interchangeably as both provide authentication and data encryption between a client and server. There are several versions of SSL, the successor to the last version of SSL (SSL 3.0) is called TLS – it is an improved version of the original SSL protocol. HTTP/2 is the latest version of HTTP that was developed using Google’s SPDY protocol. This version of HTTP provides enhanced speed, efficiency and security. Although HTTP/2 supports secured and non-secured connections, browsers like Chrome and Firefox allows the use of HTTP/2 only over SSL. To enable HTTP/2 on a website it is mandatory to have the latest version of SSL/TLS implementedWeb Performance 101: SSL and Web Security

More than 24,000 devices from over 1,300 brands run on Android. Users downloaded 65 billion apps from Google Play in 2015 — an average of more than 175 million apps a day.

*  The ThoughtWorks Technology Advisory Board, a group of senior technology leaders in ThoughtWorks, creates the Technology Radar. They meet regularly to discuss the global technology strategy for ThoughtWorks and the technology trends that significantly impact our industry. The radar captures the output of the Technology Advisory Board’s discussions in a format that provides value to a wide range of stakeholders, from CIOs to developers. The content is intended as a concise summary.

* Dr. Madan Kataria created created Laughter Yoga, a nonprofit meditative practice that involves breathing and laughing exercises, in 1995. He is a physician who has transformed himself into the leader of an international movement that promotes laughter as a cure for just about any ailment—physical, psychological, or spiritual. Kataria uses the term “yoga” only because a few of his exercises involve controlled breathing. Also, when people laugh, they exhale more than they inhale—a ratio that yogis tend to consider beneficial. He is known as the Guru of Giggling, a title bestowed upon him by the Times of London. The U.S. government has issued Kataria  a “genius visa” meant for people with exceptional abilities - New Yorker

Robert Ader, a psychologist & Nicholas Cohen, an immunologist, demonstrated that the immune and nervous systems were linked. If feelings of physical and mental distress damage the body’s chemistry, then shouldn’t positive ones rehabilitate it? Is it possible that love, hope, faith, laughter, confidence, and the will to live have therapeutic value? Laughter “can reverse or attenuate” hormonal changes brought on by stress. At the moment, perhaps the most solid scientific argument one can make about laughter and healing is that it can briefly limit physical pain though exactly how this works is not fully understood. 

* Jaguar Land Rover owned by The Tatas is the largest manufacturing employer in the UK

* It costs Rs 3.17 to print a 1000 rupee note, Rs 2.50 to print 500 & Rs 0.48 for a ten rupee note.

* "..if you decide to be healthy, hopeful, and fun-loving, that’s what you’ll be" - Harry Olson

The current Indian Mutual Fund market size is 15,75,391 crores.

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Use Zoom option of your Smartphone Camera to Magnify Fine Print

Saturday, November 05, 2016
Have trouble reading fine print? Most packaged products & medicines these days have labels with text so tiny, even those with perfect eyesight can have trouble deciphering what's printed.
Rather than buy & carry a magnifying glass to tackle this issue, your own smartphone can be of help. Most smartphone cameras come with a digital zoom option that can come in handy to magnify text printed in a small font size.  After your camera app is on, point your camera at the text you want to read and then pinch two or more fingers together or spread them apart to zoom in or out for desired size.
Source: Quora
Digital zoom refers to the level of additional magnification achieved through a camera’s internal cropping abilities, by way of software. Optical zoom is the phrase used to indicate the strength of a given lens’ optical magnification.

I had almost written off my Lyf Wind 3 smartphone but after three months of usage, I'm starting to be impressed with the features of the device. It supports 6X Digital Zoom! I like reading up nutrition info and Use By dates on package labels which in India seem to be purposely printed in tiny font by most consumer unfriendly manufacturers. The digital zoom feature of the camera doubles up as a digital magnifying glass supplanting the need for a specific app to do digital magnification job.

It's interesting how there is an app for almost everything (like compass, decibel meter) in the physical world.

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