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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

A comparison of Github and Visual Studio Online

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Github Pricing (click to enlarge image)
GitHub is a web-based Git repository hosting service, which offers all of the distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) functionality of Git as well as adding its own features.

* The site was launched in April 2008 by Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, and PJ Hyett.

* As of 2014, GitHub reports having over 3.4 million users and with 16.7 million repositories making it the largest code host in the world. It is written in Ruby.

Peter Levine, general partner at GitHub's investor Andreessen Horowitz, stated that GitHub had been growing revenue at 300% annually since 2008 "profitably nearly the entire way"

Visual Studio Online pricing & features (click to enlarge image)
* Microsoft announced the release Visual Studio Online, Microsoft's hosted version of Team Foundation Server in the cloud. in November 2013.

Visual Studio Online expands over Team Foundation Server by making it available on the Internet and implementing a rolling release model

* The free plan of Visual Studio Online allows unlimited private code repos unlike Github
You can use Visual Studio and Git to collaborate with your team using Team Foundation Server (on-premises or on Visual Studio Online), on CodePlex, or on a third-party service such as GitHub or Bitbucket. In Jan 2013, Microsoft announced that they are adding full Git support into their ALM products (Team Foundation Server And Team Foundation Service, the earlier avatar of Visual Studio Online)

* Visual Studio Tools for Git by Microsoft is an extension supported by VS2012 (Update 2). Visual Studio 2013 natively supports Git.

Related: Notes from the MVA course "Fundamentals of Visual Studio Online"


YouTube API Quick Reference

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The YouTube API has comprehensive documentation. I wish more API providers had such detailed docs. It is a pity though that many of the Google APIs have got deprecated or removed all together. I think we should still exploit them while they are there. I compiled the parameters for YouTube API v2 Search for quick reference.

Parameter Value
alt atom, rss, json, json-in-script, jsonc
author uploader
max-results default is 25, maximum value is 50
start-index first result is 1, needed for paging
caption true/false
duration short (<4 mins), medium (4-20 mins),large
orderby relevance, published, viewCount, rating
paid-content true/false
q spaces, quotes, punctuation in the parameter value must be URL-escaped; NOT (-) and OR (|) operators supported
restriction end user's IP address
safeSearch none, moderate, strict
time today (1 day), this_week (7 days), this_month (1 month) and all_time

This code sample on CodePen shows a practical use of the YouTube API. ZeroDollarMovies & TankTopTV are examples of websites which have made use of YouTube API.


This Week I Learned - Week #94

Saturday, January 24, 2015
This Week I Learned -

Backstretch is a  MIT licensed jQuery plugin that allows you to add a dynamically-resized, slideshow-capable background image to any page or element.

The latest Azure SQL Database V12 (preview) provides nearly complete compatibility with the Microsoft SQL Server engine.

* The G-Series provides more memory and more local solid-state drive (SSD) storage than other Azure virtual machine (VM) sizes. The largest VM size in that series, Standard_G5 offer 32 Cores, 448 GB of RAM, 6,596 GB local SSD storage.

* Not all OData operations are supported by the Azure Table Storage REST API

* There are currently 3 Microsoft Azure certifications:
Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions - 70-532
Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions - 70-533
Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions - 70-534

* Microsoft Virtual Academy has video courses for 70-532 & 70-534. One of the presenter of the Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions course Sidney Andrews mentions that he was the author of the course 70-532 and points out that the patterns & practices guide Applications Design for Scale and Resilience & articles on MSDN on RoleEntryPoint class are important for the exam. The code for the demos shown in the course is available on Github.

The target of a Chrome shortcut for starting Chrome window maximized could be as follows:
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" --start-maximized

If the server sends the header Content-Disposition: Attachment, then a browser downloads a file but if the server sends Content-Disposition: Inline, browser displays a file inline. If the server sends none, it is the browser, that must decide. Most browser assume inline.

To disable the Profiles button in newer versions of Chrome, type this in the omnibox (address bar): chrome://flags & then set the option named Enable new profile management system to Disabled. After you are finished, restart Chrome.

* Windows 10 will ship with a brand new browser, codenamed “Project Spartan.” Its features include the ability to annotate on web pages, a distraction-free reading experience, and integration of Cortana for finding and doing things online faster. Spartan is a single browser designed to work across the entire Windows 10 device family - from keyboard and mouse on the Windows 10 desktop to touch, gestures, voice, controllers and sensors. Internet Explorer will also be available on Windows 10. Spartan provides compatibility with the millions of existing enterprise web sites designed for Internet Explorer.

* Google's "Project Zero" team founded last summer, has a group of world-class security researchers looking for security holes in other company's (like Microsoft) software.

* 80% of Yelp's total revenues which stand at $232 million is local advertising.

Google revenues now exceed 40% of the TOTAL global TV ad revenues.

* "Last year there were 1.5 billion smartphones sold. That's more than all the PC's EVER!" - Albert Wenger at #DLD15

* "63% of American Millennials have NO credit cards." - Max Levchin #DLD15

* Web site owners use the /robots.txt file to give instructions about their site to web robots; this is called The Robots Exclusion Protocol. Web Robots (also known as Web Wanderers, Crawlers, or Spiders), are programs that traverse the Web automatically. Search engines such as Google use them to index the web content, spammers use them to scan for email addresses, and they have many other uses. There are quite a lot of robots out there

humans.txt is a TXT file that contains information about the different people who have contributed to building the website. The content of the NYTimes.com humans.txt reads: "NYTimes.com is more than just Pulitzer-winning journalism and global influence. It's home to some of the best engineers, designers, developers, architects, coders, hackers and tinkerers in the world"
lofty statements

MD5 and SHA-1 are both not encryption algorithms. They are cryptographic hash algorithms, meaning that you can't restore the data after passing it through the algorithm. MD5 is broken, so MD5 should not be used for any security applications. SHA1 is not known to be broken and is believed to be secure. SHA2 is preferred, until SHA-3 is finalized by NIST.

People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) aims to archive every single spoken Indian tongue, which stands at 780 plus

* Zomato bought US based startup Urbanspoon for over $50 million, making this deal the largest purchase of a US based internet company by an Indian startup.

Koramangala in Bangalore and Hiranandani Powai in Mumbai are becoming thriving ecosystems to nurture startups in India.

* The California eighth-grader of Indian-origin, Shubham Banerjee has launched a company to develop lowcost machines to print braille, the tactile writing system for the visually impaired. Tech giant Intel Corp recently invested in his startup, Braigo Labs. Braille printers, also called embossers, cost at least US $2,000 -too expensive for most blind readers -especially in developing countries. Shubham wants to develop a desktop braille printer that costs around US $350 and weighs just a few pounds, compared with current models that can weigh more than nine kilograms.

* ICICI Bank now provides an option of sending an e-receipt in the form of a text message to the registered mobile number instead of printed slip when you transact at an ATM.

* Interesting facts on India from a HBR article -
- Barack Obama is the first American President to visit India twice while still in office.
- Netherlands and Taiwan have larger trading relationships with the United States than India does today.
- There is an Indian English Dictionary that can be accessed online
- Like most Asians, Indians are indirect communicators, and the normal blunt American style makes them uncomfortable.

* DRDO has 7809 scientists working on 530 projects with a budget of Rs 15,282 crores

* More than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrant.

* The middle panel of a 3-panel Dilbert cartoon strip has the meaty lines

* The world has 1.2 billion Roman Catholics

* "The great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information" - Pope Francis

* "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief." - Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)

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Book Review: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

I finished reading "The Emperor of All Maladies" & I highly recommend the 500+ paged book to all those who love science. It is not surprising that this book won the author the Pulitzer prize & over 1000+ reviews (unusual for a non-fiction book) on Amazon for his excellent science writing.

Though the book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, is about a morbid topic, Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee does a great job of explaining the science behind the dreaded disease and the doctors & scientists who strive to conquer this almost immortal disease. There are many layers to this book but what appealed to me the most were the stories of humble & dedicated scientists who overcame great adversity & sometimes ridicule, to make ground-breaking discoveries. In particular, I found the perseverance of Yellapragada "Yella" Subbarao, Dr. George Papanicolaou (Dr. Pap) & Dr. Barry Marshall very inspiring.

Yella (as he is referred in the book) had to work as a night porter after he landed in the US (in 1923) but went to become Director of Research at Lederle & did invaluable work in anti-cancer research. Subbarao's citizenship status however was 'alien' till he passed away in 1948 in the US.
Dr. Pap, the inventor of the "Pap smear" test, 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.
His wife Mary was his first and long term, human subject for his experiments. (Talking of Mary, did you know, the family of the other science couple Mary & Pierre Curie has the unique distinction of winning the most Nobel Prizes)

After failing to find evidence for a long time to prove his theory that H. pylori bacteria can cause peptic ulcer and gastric cancer, Barry Marshall drank a Petri dish containing cultured H. pylori. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Robin Warren in 2005, "for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease".

"Yella" Subbarao who always chose to stay away from the limelight said, "The victories of science are rarely won single handed". It is remarkable that science knows no boundaries - boundaries of race, gender and age.

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This Week I Learned - Week #93

Sunday, January 18, 2015
This Week I Learned:

Azure Redis Cache provides a session state provider that you can use to store your session state in a cache rather than in-memory or in a SQL Server database.

* According to the Mobile HTTP Archive (which tracks page metrics for the top million Alexa-ranked sites), the average page served to mobile devices carries a payload of 1109 KB. Images account for 64% of the average page’s payload. More than half of all pages served to mobile contain 11+ JavaScript requests. Almost half of all pages served to mobile use custom fonts.

* Google doesn't assure that you can remain invisible all the time when you use their chat service. It warns you after it makes you visible. When you log into Outlook, you will appear as visible in Skype even though you don't wish to appear online.

* http://www.googleusercontent.com/ is the domain path used for resources inserted by users into Google documents, etc.

* HTTP/2 vs SPDY - The response message from the server is made up of the response headers and the encoded response content. HTTP/2 has significantly smaller header sizes due to its use of the HPACK algorithm. Although, HTTP/2 produces larger responses than SPDY, HTTP/2 is faster & its encrypted connections could potentially be more secure. The multiplexing support added in SPDY and HTTP/2 reduces the number of connections that have to be setup to download a page. Firefox 35 was released this week and became the first browser to enable support for the HTTP/2 protocol by default - HttpWatch Blog

* Fifty-six percent of all online content in the world is in English.

* Andy Grove, a native of Hungary, escaped WWII and went on to found Intel.

* I discovered a new position to read from my laptop when I sit cross-legged (after several hours of trying out the new fad of standing) - by resting the laptop on its hinges.
This reminded me of the time, I had used a wooden folding book holder as a child while reading printed books sitting on the floor.
wooden folding book stand
Most of my reading now is from material on the internet or electronic books on the laptop or my Nexus 7 tablet.

* 32-years after the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas project was approved, the first aircraft  (LCA-SP1) was handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after an expenditure of at least 55,000 crores. It will be put to actual use in 2016 - Times of India