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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 #164

Sunday, May 29, 2016
This Week I Learned -

* Customers can no longer create Gallery applications like like WordPress, Drupal, and Umbraco in the Azure Classic Portal

Version 5 of Bing Search API, now part of Microsoft Cognitive Services, is out

* NuGet is the package manager for the Microsoft development platform including .NET. It recently surpassed 1 billion downloads.

* The Swiss-knife-of-a-media-player, VLC Media Player can be used to edit files played within it - you can extract audio out of a video file as well cut a portion of a audio file.

Over 20 percent of the searches Google gets in the U.S. are now by voice.

* Chromebooks are now the #2 most popular PC operating system in the U.S.

WhatsApp now gives their users the ability to back up their data to Google Drive and restore it when they setup WhatsApp on a new phone.

* Oracle sought billions in damages from Google over the search engine company’s use of Java programming language in its Android smartphone operating system. Oracle, which obtained Java when it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2009, had been seeking some $9 billion in damages.

* Only female mosquitoes bite humans. Without regular meals of blood, the females lose their ability to reproduce. Only female mosquitoes make that annoying buzzing sound.

* Most mammals except humans produce their own Vitamin C. Guinea pigs, bats and dry-nosed primates have lost their ability to produce vitamin C.

Humans do not produce two sets of teeth independently. Both sets are produced at the same time.

* A shark's teeth get replaced continuously

* Subhash Chandra Goel started Zee with just Rs 17 and eventually built the Essel Group into a $3.5 billion behemoth

N Srinivasan's role in the Indian Premier League (IPL) redefined the term 'involved'. At his peak, Srinivasan was the president of the BCCI, de facto president of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, chairman elect of the ICC, a member of the IPL governing council, and a team owner of the Chennai Super Kings  - Economic Times

According to KPMG's latest Global Profiles of the Fraudster report, 32% of the perpetrators in India were in the 26-35 age group, compared with 14% globally. Global trends also indicate that 69% of the fraudsters were in the 36-55 age group. In India, this age group accounts for 59% of fraudsters - Economic Times

* FSSAI caught napping? - After a NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study claimed that bread contains cancer-causing chemicals, Food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) today said it has decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permitted additives while it is examining evidence against potassium iodate before restricting its use. Potassium bromate typically increases dough strength, leads to higher rising and uniform finish to baked products, while potassium iodate is a flour treatment agent.  - Business Standard

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Bing Search API v5 sample refers to jQuery library on Google CDN

Saturday, May 28, 2016
It was gratifying to see a complete JavaScript sample for Bing Search API version 5

Though there is nothing wrong with the sample making a reference to the jQuery library on Google CDN, it felt a little strange as Microsoft should have favored its own CDN
Back in 2012, Hotmail's sign-up page used to use Google's ReCAPTCHA service

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Website Review: KSRTC

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
As more and more Indians get online mainly to take advantage of e-commerce services on the Internet, websites should take responsibility of ensuring that the services they offer are accessible, secure and user-friendly. In my opinion, there should be a national body that  should conduct periodic reviews to certify that sites collecting personally identifiable data or financial details (like credit or debit card info) are accountable for its proper use and meet basic standards. Enforcement of such basic rules is essential as many Indian commercial websites are hardly concerned about their consumers, many of whom can be Internet newbies and gullible.

The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, a state-owned road transportation company offers online ticketing service for the buses it runs through the website www.ksrtc.in

The site is managed by Radiant Info which proudly claims on its website -
"Our clients include over 50 of the Fortune 500 global corporations.
•India’s first & largest Bus Passenger Reservation System
•Our solutions Issued over 116 Million Bus Seats & Selling Maximum Number of Bus Tickets per day"

The site (which caters to many in India's Silicon Valley) has numerous deficiencies:
  • The site doesn't work in Chrome (tested in version 49, not tested in other non-IE browsers). There is no notice alerting users that it doesn't work on popular browsers so this has to be figured by the users through trial and error. Thankfully, they is a separate clunky mobile website that can be used on the desktop as well - http://m.ksrtc.in/
  • The webmaster is aware that emails sent to users with Gmail accounts will land in the Spam folder. The maintainer is aware but cannot do anything about this problem.
  • Website doesn't use HTTPS/SSL
Desktop version of website doesn't work in Chrome, so try the mobile version in non-IE browsers

Though this is not really related to the website, it has to be mentioned that KSRTC follows a discretionary policy whose fairness is debatable -
"Senior Citizen concession is applicable for residents of Karnataka State only. Residents of other states are not entitled for Senior Citizen concession. Passengers travelling with Senior Citizen concession need to produce any one of the following Original ID proof at the time of journey - Senior citizen identity card issued by KSRTC, Identity card issued by the Physically Challenged and Senior Citizens Welfare Directorate, Driving Licence, Voter ID and Passport, issued by the concerned authority of State of Karnataka."

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"Mobile web is open for business"

Monday, May 23, 2016
As a fan of the Mobile Web, I was happy to hear about the new developments announced at Google I/O 2016, Google's annual developer conference, in the recorded presentation The Mobile Web: State of the Union - Google I/O 2016 by Rahul Roy-chowdhury, VP Product Management, Chrome

Some key points from that talk:
* Advantages of mobile web apps -
- Easy discovery
- Low friction
- Broad Reach
- Open & decentralized

* "new experiences" like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) make mobile web pages faster to load and more engaging

* PWAs provide: an icon users can add to their home screen, a splash screen when they open it, and a full-screen experience with no address bar.

* Service worker API allows all the important parts of a web app to be cached so that it loads instantly the next time a user opens it.

* There are 1 billion monthly mobile Chrome users

* 8 billion sign-ins are assisted by Chrome's password manager a month

* Credential Management API is a new API for a seamless, cross-device sign-in experience

* 66% of mobile commerce happens on the mobile web

* 66% fewer conversions on mobile than desktop

* The new Web Payments API brings one tap checkout to the web

* Push Notifications allow websites to send notifications even if browser isn't open

This Week I Learned - Week #163

Sunday, May 22, 2016
This Week I Learned -

* The latest ebook from Microsoft "Understanding Azure - A Guide For Developers" covers newer Azure platform services such as Azure Functions, Azure Service Fabric and Azure IoT application development.

* This interactive Azure Platform Map provides short summaries of Azure Services

* The range of tools that are available now and can be considered while designing, developing and deploying software applications is vast

Zoho AppCreator lets you create native applications across iOS, Android, and Windows that take complete advantage of your device's hardware.

Some good folks have created a custom ImportJSON formula for Google Spreadsheets

Progressive Web Applications take advantage of new technologies to bring the best of mobile sites and native applications to users. Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce site, decided to combine their web presence and native app into a Progressive Web Application - Flipkart Lite

Pinterest loads 4x faster and uses 8x less data with a speedier version of their mobile web pages using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

In 2015, the Mountain View-based social network site, LinkedIn agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over its 2012 security breach. The lawsuit suggested that the company violated not just its privacy policy but also an agreement with premium subscribers on keeping their personal information safe.

Uber can read your smartphone's battery levels. People are more likely to pay for surge if their cell phone is almost out of battery.

Some annoying Facebook features like auto-playing videos and interest-based ads can thankfully be controlled through Settings
reCAPTCHA is a bot that can find bots

* 49 execs at Infosys drew over Rs 1 crore

* Caused by the highly contagious varicella-zoster virus, chickenpox is spread through inhalation of droplets dispersed into the air by coughing and sneezing as well as through direct contact with the skin. Because the virus is spread so easily, it’s advised that people affected by chickenpox steer clear of contact with others until the lesions have dried and crusted over into scabs — usually between four to seven days after the initial onset of symptoms. The chickenpox rash is characterized by three distinct phases: first, the initial breakout of pink bumps; next, fluid-filled blisters; and finally, crusts and scabs. Once you’ve reached phase three, you’re typically good to go back to school or work...the great majority of chickenpox infections last no longer than ten days. The best way to accelerate the healing process is to avoid scratching. Try dabbing calamine lotion on itchy spots, and avoid popping fluid-filled blisters. Adults can also experience temporarily relief from itching through the use of an oral or topical antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine. Do not take any medications that contain aspirin, as this may lead to a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome - Go Ask Alice!

* Platinum is rarer than gold, as the amount of platinum mined each year is a small fraction of the amount of gold mined each year. Its price is more volatile than gold's.

Niobium is used to produce stronger, lighter steel for industrial pipes and aircraft parts. It is mined in only three places on Earth, and the price of every kilogram is seven times higher than copper.

* Sugarcane is a perennial grass that is grown in tropical and subtropical areas

In Maharashtra , the biggest producer and exporter of the fruit in the country, the best quality pomegranates come from the driest regions of the state such as Solapur and the rain shadow regions of Sangli district.

Indian Railways generates over 100 Terabytes  (1 Terabyte= 1,000 GB) of data in a year. Rather than building better websites that can also work on mobile browsers, it plans to release the relatively hard to maintain mobile apps.

* India Post has over 1.55 lakh post offices of which more than 1.39 lakh are in the rural areas

SBI, India’s largest commercial bank, is still not among the top 50 banks in the world. It is ranked only 67th among the global banks. For an economy such as India’s — the fastest growing large economy in the world — the domestic banking industry is fragmented.

* The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 (commissioned in 1632) at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million).  It houses the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz during the birth of their fourteenth child.  Aurangzeb, her sixth child, jailed Shah Jahan soon after the Taj Mahal's completion

* Voot is latest among video streaming sites like ErosNow, Hotstar, Spuul that now serve movies for free or through subscription. Voot works in IE 11 but not in Chrome as the content is DRM protected

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