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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 #241

Saturday, November 18, 2017
This Week I Learned -

* Lambda runs a customer’s line of code in response to a request, like looking up a ZIP code when given an address. Customers never rent servers, but pay for the moments of computing. The per-millionth pricing began last November, in the A.W.S. product Lambda. At Amazon Web Services, which pioneered this method late last year, there is no charge for the first million times a customer runs code. Thereafter, A.W.S. charges by the million times, or for the hundreds of milliseconds the computer is used. Google charges pennies for search ads and spends $9.9 billion annually building out a global computing business. Good luck to any new entrant without the scale of these tech giants, however, as customers come to expect that sort of cheap metering. This economics of tiny things demonstrates the global power of the few companies, including Microsoft and Google, that can make fortunes counting this small and often - NY Times

* A Cloud Guru website's Salesforce 101 course provides a high level overview of Salesforce products


* CIFS is a particular implementation of the Server Message Block protocol, created by Microsoft. In the Windows world, SMB 2 has been the standard as of Windows Vista (2006) and SMB 3 is part of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. NFS stands for “Networked File System.” It was developed by Sun Microsystems and serves essentially the same purpose as SMB (i.e., to access files systems over a network as if they were local), but is an entirely different protocol. This means that NFS clients can’t speak directly to SMB servers.

* Service Integration and Management (SIAM) is an approach to managing multiple suppliers of services (business services as well as information technology services) and integrating them to provide a single business-facing IT organisation.

* Those cookie-based ads and targeted emails reminding you of other possibilities reinforce the paradox of choice, the oft-cited theory of Barry Schwartz, the psychologist, that increased options leave us more dissatisfied.This reduction of cognitive dissonance is easier inside and after leaving a store, which never reveals anything negative about its products and doesn’t typically burden the consumer with an onslaught of information that might impede an impulse purchase. But the sprawling internet bazaar is filled with scathing critiques, and every pertinent spec exists somewhere online for the diligent buyer to seek out. That one-star rating is hard to forget when your product is failing in the exact way the unhappy reviewer described - NY Times

* It is possible to show sets of locations selectively on a custom map using the Layers with the Google My Maps feature

* In Germany, that long term data analysis (of applicant data, statistics)...isn't allowed...You may not gather personal data and you have to delete personal data when you rejected the candidate.

TED Translators program launched in 2009, with 300 translations in 40 languages, created by 200 volunteer translators. Today, more than 120,000 translations have been published in 115 languages (and counting), created by more than 28,000 volunteers. In 2012, the program expanded to include the transcription and translation of TEDxTalks, the translation of TED-Ed lessons and the translation of content distributed by worldwide partners who help grow TED’s global footprint. TED Translators use a free online subtitling tool called Amara to subtitle talks and collaborate with other volunteers.

* Kathy Gibson runs the website Access Bollywood which presents Hindi film reviews from an American moviegoer's perspective. She tailors her reviews toward Westerners, highlighting details and subtitling issues that may make certain films harder to understand than others.
* Amazon Video describes Mani Ratnam's Kannathil Muthamittal / A Peck on the Cheek as a Bollywood musical

* The Make in India program has a target of getting manufacturing to account for 25% of GDP by 2022

* Android permission called “Activity Recognition” makes it much easier for developers to work out what you’re doing at any one time. Shazam and SoundHound request the permission, but it isn’t completely clear why. Activity Recognition can tell developers when your phone is: in a vehicle, such as a car; on a bicycle; not moving; being tilted, due to its angle “relative to gravity” changing; on a user who’s walking or on a user who’s running. The API automatically gives its findings a likelihood rating out of 100. The higher the number, the more confident it is that you’re actually doing what it believes you’re doing. This information is fed to the apps you’ve granted the Activity Recognition permission to - The Independent

* Aadhaar Act (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 does not require an Aadhaar number as a mandatory requirement for availing any subsidy, benefit or service.

* The validity of Aadhaar law that has been challenged by a number of people, including former Karnataka High Court Judge KS Puttaswamy, first Chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha and researcher Kalyani Sen Menon - Zee News

* A value greater than 150 on the Air Quality Index is unhealthy

* The Geography Now channel on YouTube has lighthearted and informative videos on countries around the world

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State of Indian cities

Monday, November 13, 2017
2 infographics in the Sunday edition of Times of India present a grim picture of Indian cities -

Garbage generated in Bengaluru has increased by 1750% from 200 tonnes/day in 2000 to 3700 tonnes per day in 2015

The ranking of a majority of cities based varies drastically across quality of life indices

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This Week I Learned - Week #240

Saturday, November 11, 2017
This Week I Learned -

Nerdy Data & PublicWWW are search engines to search within the HTML source code/mark-up

* Non-practicing entities (NPEs), commonly referred to as “patent trolls,” look to capitalize on vulnerabilities in the cloud. NPEs are stockpiling cloud technology patents. Microsoft Azure IP Advantage offers indemnification protection to customers using open source technologies that power many Azure products and services today - Azure Blog

* Researchers at Microsoft Research Labs in Bengaluru are studying the unique ways in which Indians mix languages in everyday conversations - and an easy source of such conversations are Hindi movies. Insights like this would help companies like Microsoft build better, more socially-aware bots and enhance the quality of interactions...the researchers say they are hamstrung by the paucity of freely available scripts and have leaned on independent scriptwriters and filmmakers to source scripts - ET

* Storage and messaging represents 45% of Twitter’s infrastructure footprint.

* A high proportion of questions with accepted answers on StackOverflow happen to be in the time frame corresponding to 3:00-6:00 PM of West Coast US time....questions posted during the weekend are more likely to be answered than questions posted during the week.

* NY Times columnist, Farhad Manjoo has argued that the five largest American tech companies: Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft as the Frightful Five as the companies’size and influence pose a danger. The Five run server clouds, app stores, ad networks and venture firms, altars to which the smaller guys must pay a sizable tax just for existing. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is an investor in Uber. But Alphabet’s autonomous-car company, Waymo, is also a competitor to Uber. On top of that, Waymo has sued Uber, alleging theft of trade secrets. Whether Uber wins or loses, Google will end up doing just fine. There's now an opinion that it’s better to be ruled by a handful of responsive companies capable of bowing to political and legal pressure. Each of them worries about the threat posed by start-ups and by the other four giants, which means that none feels it has the luxury to slow down in creating the best new stuff.

* Fewer than 1 percent of start-ups end up as $1 billion companies. A study in September 2017 found that there are about 10 Indian startups in a list of around 167 companies with a valuation of over a billion

* According to Amazon, 99.7% of India's pincodes placed an order on its site.

* The "Diversity Visa Lottery Program" offers one of the fastest paths to legal permanent residency, often in less than two years. Some one million people have been awarded green cards through the program. Unlike other immigrants who gain admission, winners of the lottery do not need to have a close relative living in the United States, or any special skill. Some years, the program has attracted nearly 15 million applications, but no more than 50,000 visas may be awarded. Over all, the program contributes about 5 percent of the approximately one million legal immigrants that enter the United States each year. No special skills are required. A high-school diploma suffices. There is no limit to how many years a person can enter the lottery, but no country can account for more than 7 percent of all visas issued in one year. This year, the entry period opened Oct. 18 and closes on Nov. 22. Applications are submitted electronically, and in countries without widespread computer ownership, internet cafes become de facto filing centers. There is no charge to enter. But winners must pay several hundred dollars in fees.50,000 people — lottery winners, as well as spouses and minor children they want to bring over — are awarded visas, which entitle them to move to the United States as legal permanent residents, or green card holders. Like most others with green cards, they may apply for citizenship after five years. Green card holders in the United States can sponsor immediate family members to receive their own green cards - NY Times

* "In India, the ratio between text and visuals continues to be a skewed one in the text-books targeted at children & your teenagers. Course books should be made much more visually appealing so as to sustain the student's interest" - Atanu Roy

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This Week I Learned - Week #239

Saturday, November 04, 2017
This Week I Learned -

* It is good to see that the integration of related Azure Services is getting easier. Azure Site Recovery (ASR) is now built into the virtual machine experience so that you can setup replication in one click (currently in preview) for your Azure virtual machines. Combined with ASR’s one-click failover capabilities, its simpler than ever before to setup replication and test a disaster recovery scenario.  Azure CDN is integrated with Azure Storage and Azure Web App.

Hosting applications in the new Google Cloud Platform region in Mumbai can improve latency from 20-90% for end users in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and of course Mumbai, compared to hosting them in the closest region, Singapore.

* The GCPing website measures latency to GCP regions by having your browser makes HTTP requests to f1-micro instances in each region. The median time between request and response is shown.

Google Fusion Tables can turn a table of locations into a map

* Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant is starting to learn Hinglish. Alphabet Inc. has introduced a Hinglish-speaking Google Assistant that powers its instant messaging app Allo. Apple began advertising last year to hire native Hindi/Indian English speakers to help evolve and enrich Siri by crafting “culturally appropriate dialog for India.” And the latest operating system pre-loaded into this year’s iPhone 8, as well as the newest iPhone X, allows Siri users to set its keyboard to Hinglish - Bloomberg

* Amazon makes almost 90% of its revenue off non-cloud concern, i.e. the retail business and services it's most famous for among consumers. This past quarter, it made $4.58 billion from AWS, 10% of the $43.7 billion in total revenue. Alphabet makes 89% of its money off Internet advertising. Both Amazon and Alphabet do not break out cloud-based revenue as a line item, so there's a lot of inferring how they're doing. Alphabet lumps its cloud services revenue in with "other," where "other" also includes Google Play store offerings, hardware product sales, and Google licensing-related revenue.  Cloud-based services provided 20% of Microsoft's bottom line this past quarter. Cloud revenue gives us clues as to what these companies tolerate in experimentation, product support and failure - IT Pro

* Google Docs is a cloud-based collaborative tool that enables users to create documents and share them with others, and allows several people to edit and comment on a document at the same time. Google’s automated systems periodically scan certain file types in Google Drive that are shared with other users to detect abuse and protect users. Some examples include antivirus scanning, malware and phishing detection. A recent “code push” caused a small percentage of Google Docs to be incorrectly flagged as abusive, which caused them to be automatically blocked making a cloud expert comment that “This shows that Google is using advanced machine learning and other A.I. technologies to examine vast amounts of information in near real time”. Generally, using a Google Form to collect confidential information — such as IDs, passwords, bank account numbers, and passport numbers — violates Google's Terms of Service.”. While Google’s privacy policy does not explicitly say that it scans files in Google Docs, it does say that it collects information from “Gmail messages, G+ profile, photos, videos, browsing history, map searches, docs, or other Google-hosted content...Our automated systems analyze this information as it is sent and received and when it is stored” - NY Times

* Leukemia doesn’t have a stage, as it appears throughout the blood and bone marrow at diagnosis. If we did try to tag a stage to leukemia, it would be stage 4 or stage 0: Either you’ve got it, or you don’t - NY Times

* Dallas and its surrounding area have one of the nation’s largest Indian populations (108,000 in the 2010 census), the Chicago region’s is nearly twice that size, and the New York-New Jersey area’s is more than five times as large - NY Times

* Form 26 AS is an annual consolidated tax statement containing details of taxes paid and refunds received. Form 16 and Form 16A are tax credit statements that showcase the tax deducted at source. The former is issued yearly for tax deduction in income from salary while the latter is issued quarterly for tax deduction on incomes other than salary. These three forms help you to file ITR.

* According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), as of August 2017, India had approximately 2.8 million PoS machines

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Public Cloud Map - November 2017

Friday, November 03, 2017
Having discovered how easy it's to build a custom map with Google Sheets & Google Maps, I revised an earlier map to better show a consolidated map of the approximate data center locations of the three big public cloud service providers - Azure, AWS, GCP
click on images for enlarged view
The map can answer visually questions like - "The current data center whose workloads are planned to be migrated to the public cloud is in Hamburg, Germany. What are closest cloud data centers I can choose?"
The map's search function shows that Amsterdam, Madgeburg & Frankfurt are the closest Azure regions

The locations shown are not exact. The official documentation of the top 3 cloud providers names the cities in which the data-centers are located. However in a few cases, the location is broadly specified with just the state, country or geographic region name. 

In case of AWS, location of AWS GovCloud (US-East) is not known while an upcoming Google Cloud Platform region is just revealed as Netherlands without specifying the name of the place. In the list of Azure regions, the location is specified as just "West Central US" and "West US 2", so they are not shown on the map

As of November 2017, there are currently 80 data centers of Azure, AWS, GCP combined. 

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