Tallan Blog

Tallan’s Experts Share Their Knowledge on Technology, Trends and Solutions to Business Challenges

An Introduction to Serverless Computing

As developers, we often agonize over the amount of time spent procuring resources, setting up environments, and performing all the other tasks that prevent us from doing what we love most: developing! While cloud-computing technologies have helped to address this problem by making it easy to acquire resources such as servers, computing power, and storage, the problem of setting up these complex application hosts still plagues us. To further compound the issue, maintaining these servers can be quite costly in terms of time and money. Fortunately, technology often rises to meet the needs of its users, and so we have our featured serverless architecture.
At a high level, the concept behind a serverless architecture is quite simple. Rather than forcing users to provision servers on which to run their code, vendors offer the ability for users to upload a function and…

Chatbots for Healthcare

The key to a successful provider/patient relationship in healthcare is patient engagement. Recently, hospitals and healthcare companies have expanded their efforts toward patient engagement in the form of Artificial Intelligence or AI. Chatbots are being used to improve the triage process, patient discharge planning, and follow-up.
The practice of utilizing the ER for both emergent and non-emergent conditions has become the primary driver for overcrowding and longer wait times. On average, a visit to the emergency room can take anywhere from one to three hours. In an extreme situation, that visit can last even longer. As a result, patients requiring immediate medical attention are choosing to put themselves at risk for future complications by avoiding the ER altogether. In an attempt to reduce inappropriate use of the ER, hospitals are deploying Health chatbots as a means…

Adding a User to your Azure Subscription with Resource Group Access

Introduction
So, you’ve got your Azure subscription in place, and you’re the global administrator. Now you want to let someone else access your subscription, but only a specific resource group within your subscription. In this blog post, I’ll show you how to add a new user to your Azure subscription’s directory, and how to then grant permission for that user to a specific resource group within your Azure subscription that they can manage. The new user won’t be able to see or manage any resources in your subscription outside the resource group that you grant them access for.
Step-by-step procedure
Let’s get started. First, log in to the Azure portal and open your subscription’s directory. To do this, search for directory and choose Azure Active Directory, as follows:

Next, take note of the directory name; this is the domain name for the email address…

Taking a Look at Entity Framework Queries pt 1 (.NET Framework)

If you aren’t familiar, Entity Framework is a powerful open-source object-relational mapping (ORM) framework. Its initial release was back in 2008, so it has grown and evolved quite a bit. I have been using it now, very regularly, for about four years and just wanted to bring to light some tips and the missteps that I have encountered during that time.
I think the most important thing when using EF(Entity Framework) is to be aware of the work it is doing on your behalf.  The best way to see what EF is doing is to simply log it, and for me, that means the output window in Visual Studio, not the database, as you will see, EF does a lot.  So, that being said, it is actually much easier to do than you might expect, and in my mind, there are…

Horizontal Partitioning in Azure Cosmos DB

In Azure Cosmos DB, partitioning is what allows you to massively scale your database, not just in terms of storage but also throughput. You simply create a container in your database, and let Cosmos DB partition the data you store in that container, to manage its growth.
This means that you just work with the one container as a single logical resource where you store data. And you can just let the container grow and grow, without worrying about scale, because Cosmos DB creates as many partitions as needed behind the scenes to accommodate your data.
Automated Scale-Out
These partitions themselves are the physical storage for the data in your container. Think of partitions as individual buckets of data that, collectively, is the container. But you don’t need to think about it too much, because the whole idea is that it all just…

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Chatbots for Government

Government agencies across the globe are leaning on new technologies to face the challenges of a growing demand for information and the expectation of real-time response and issue resolution from the public. With so many devices and applications accessing government websites, it is important to have a communication and interaction strategy to field requests coming from a multitude of internet-connected devices with the requirement to provide an accessible and multi-lingual experience.
Interactive chatbots offer a modern and accessible communication platform for cities and states to interact with the public. Using speech, vision, and text-based technologies, chatbots driven by cognitive services bridge the gap between human and machine interaction in a 24/7 online customer service environment while also gaining valuable insights. With customization and a user-centric approach, chatbots offer a variety of additional online communication channels such as Facebook Messenger, SMS, iMessage,…

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Demystifying the Multi-Model Capabilities in Azure Cosmos DB

Azure Cosmos DB is Microsoft’s globally distributed, massively scalable, horizontally partitioned, low latency, fully indexed, multi-model NoSQL database.
If you start to elaborate on each of the bullet points in this soundbite opening, there’s a lot to discuss before you get to “multi-model NoSQL” at the tail end. Starting with “globally distributed,” Cosmos DB is – first and foremost – a database designed for modern web and mobile applications, which are (typically) global applications in nature. Simply by clicking the mouse on a map in the portal, your Cosmos DB database is instantly replicated anywhere and everywhere Microsoft hosts a data center (there are nearly 50 of them worldwide, to date). This delivers high availability and low latency to users wherever they’re located.
Cosmos DB also delivers virtually unlimited scale, both in terms of storage – via server-side horizontal partitioning, and throughput…

ngrok example

Tunneling Connections to Localhost Using ngrok: Why and How

Anyone who has done web development for any significant length of time has probably had one or more of these situations arise:

I need to expose an API or webhook running locally to an external service or application
My application has external services or integrations that require special handling or emulation when developing locally
I want my deployed application or service in a higher environment to call the endpoint(s) that I am running locally

The common problem here is the need to expose a locally running endpoint to an external service or application. Enter ngrok (https://ngrok.com/).
Ngrok solves this problem by creating and exposing a public url on the ngrok.io domain, and then forwarding the traffic that arrives at that endpoint through to a specified localhost port. Conceptually, it looks something like this:

This diagram was taken directly from https://ngrok.com/product, where the curious can find a…

Release Pipeline View

Azure DevOps Pipelines Deployment Controls

Azure DevOps is a work item tracking, source control, and release management solution provided by Microsoft. It is the cloud-based evolution of Team Foundation Server. If you don’t have a DevOps account, you can get one for free at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/devops/.
Release Pipelines is a powerful feature of DevOps that allows you to create pipelines to deploy your builds out to your server environments. Let’s say that you are creating a Release Pipeline for your website and you have a separate environment for Dev and Production, both hosted on Azure App Services. When you check code in, you want it to be deployed to your Dev environment automatically through Continuous Integration. This is easily configurable through the Release Pipeline interface.
What about your Production environment though? You want to use the same build artifacts for your Dev and Production environments, so it makes…

Team 1991 The Dragons

Supporting the Future of STEM as a Volunteer Mentor

Last April I wrote about the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC). Having sponsored Team 1991 (The Dragons) I dropped in on the District Competition at Hartford Public High School to watch them compete. I was so inspired by the students that I volunteered to join the team as a programming mentor for the 2019 season. The theme this season is Destination: Deep Space presented by Boeing. This two-minute video provides an overview of the game.
As for The Dragons and my fellow mentors, a few words come to mind. Passion. Dedication. Teamwork. Students have classwork, exams, part time jobs, and family obligations. Mentors have full time jobs and countless other adult responsibilities. Sharing responsibility, picking up where others left off, night after night, every night, some combination of students and mentors are working together, learning together, and doing their part to move the mission forward toward competition.

Our first competition was the…

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