HOWTO : Flex your muscles

A tongue in cheek headline :-). The post is not about body muscle, but about how you can flex your market power (muscle).

Here is a screenshot comparison of default apps settings in Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows 11. Notice how instead of just giving one option to change the default browser, Microsoft has moved the option to change it by file extension? Does a layperson even know the difference between htm, html, http and https? A clever way for Microsoft to make it a bit more difficult to switch away from edge (Microsoft’s new Internet browser). Some might even call it sinister 🙂

Update Oct 11 : Looks like the main stream media is catching up on this. The Verge has a post on this topic

HOWTO : Query json data in SQLite

A self note for querying json data in SQLite. BTW, I think SQLite is an under utilized and under appreciated swiss army tool for data storage and manipulation. And thanks to Richard Hipp, it is free.

If you have a column defined as a json type in your SQLite database, quickest way to search for the data is json_extract. A full set of functions available are documented at

If you have a column named family_details in a table family with the following json in it as an example

	"father": {
		"name": "dad",
		"birthday": "1/1/2000",
		"pet_name": "daddy"
	"mother": {
		"name": "mom",
		"birthday": "1/1/2001",
		"pet_name": "mommy"
	"sons": [
			"name": "son_one",
			"birthday": "1/2/2020",
			"pet_name": "sonny_one"
			"name": "son_two",
			"birthday": "1/2/2021",
			"pet_name": "sonny_two"
	"daughters": [
			"name": "princess_one",
			"birthday": "1/2/2020",
			"pet_name": "princy_one"
			"name": "princess_two",
			"birthday": "1/2/2021",
			"pet_name": "princy_two"

and you want to print the name of the father, you can use

select json_extract(family_details, '$') as father_name
from family

json_extract uses the name of the column and the json node as parameters. In this case, we used $(which denotes the root), father and name (under father) as the json node.

Collection of tools to serve local content on your workstation to the Internet

A quick collection of tools you can use to serve/publish content/applications on your local dev to the Interwebs. Some use cases for these types of tools..

  • Developed a static website and want to show it someone that is not right next to you.
  • Developed an API that you want an app or user to access from the web

List of tools:

  • : Most popular tool for this purpose. the free tier is enough for most use cases.
  • : Latest entrant in this space. In addition to have a paid hosted service, you can run this for free on your own server. But that defeats the pupose of having a tool to use in a pinch to share content :).
  • : Been around for 10+ years. Similar to, you can run this on you own server or pay (very nominal price) for the hosted service.

HOW TO : Add commas (,) at the end of every line using Notepad++

Thanks for this great nugget from Sumama Waheed

Many a time, you get some data as a CSV file and need to copy some of that data and include it in a SQL statement. For instance one of the rows in the CSV was first name in the format below


And you need to put it in a SQL statement as below

SELECT * FROM employee_table
WHERE employee_table.employee_id IN (1234,

That’s a lot of adding commas (,) at the end of every line. You can do it quickly in Notepad++ (you can do the same in any editor that supports regex) using the regex capability in search and replace using ($) as the search string and $, as the replace string.

HOW TO : Configure nginx to use URI for modifying response content

That was a pretty long title for the post :). I love nginx for it’s flexibility and ease of use. It is like a swiss army knife.. can do a lot of things :).

We needed to serve some dynamic content for one of our use cases. If user visits a site using the following URL format , we want to respond with some html content that is customized using the 23456789 and 678543 strings.

A picture might help here

Here’s how this was achieved

  • Define a location section in the nginx config to respond to the URL path specified and direct it to substitute content
    location ~ "^/(?<param1>[0-9]{8})/(?<param2>[0-9]{6})" {

            root /var/www/html/test/;
            index template.html;
            sub_filter_once off;
            sub_filter '_first_param_' '$param1';
            sub_filter '_second_param_' '$param2';
            rewrite ^.*$ /template.html break;

create a file named template.html with the following content in /var/www/html/test

Breaking down the config one line at a time

location ~ "^/(?<param1>[0-9]{8})/(?<param2>[0-9]{6})" : The regex is essentially matching for the first set of digits after the / and adding that as the value for variable $param1. The first match is a series of 8 digits with each digit in the range 0-9. The second match is for a series of 6 digits with each digit in the range 0-9 and it will be added as the value for variable $param2

root /var/www/html/test/; : Specifying the root location for the location.

index template.html; : Specifying the home page for the location.

sub_filter_once off; : Specify to the sub_filter module to not stop after the first match for replacing response content. By default it processes the first match and stops.

sub_filter 'first_param' '$param1'; : Direct the sub_filter module to replace any text matching first_param in the response html with value in variable $param1.

sub_filter 'second_param' '$param2'; : Direct the sub_filter module to replace any text matching second_param in the response html with value in variable $param1.

rewrite ^.*$ /template.html break; : Specify nginx to server template.html regardless of the URI specified.

Big thanks to Igor for help with the configs!!

Why ADP?

ADP is a $70B+ (by market cap as of August 2019) company and yet cannot get a simple redirect correct. If someone that is asked to use it’s employee performance management system types in (like most people would do), they get this nice friendly error

If by some magical and mystical reason, they type in, they get this login page

I find it mind boggling that such a mature company cannot figure out

  1. Customer experience
  2. 301/302 http redirects
  3. HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS)

End Rant and sorry to all my friends that work at ADP 🙂

Optimizing cache infrastructure

I love when engineering teams share their tricks of trade for other organizations to benefit. While this might seem counter-intuitive, sharing knowledge makes the entire ecosystem better.

Etsy‘ engineering team does a great job of publishing their architecture, methodologies and code at

This particular article on how they optimize their caching infrastructure ( is pretty enlightening. I always thought the best method to load balance objects (app hits, cache requests, queues etc) to hosts was to use mod operations. In this blog post Etsy’ team talk about using consistent hashing instead of modulo hashing.

At a high level, it allows cache nodes to fail and not impact the overall performance of the application drastically in addition to making it easy to scale the number of nodes. This method is useful when you have a large amount of cache nodes.

More reference links