Urdu Font / اردو فونٹ

آصف نے یہ بہت اچھا کام کیا ہے کہ اردو کے فونٹ اکٹھے کر دیئے ہیں۔ اب قارئین کو لمبی ہدایات نہیں دینی پڑیں گی کہ فونٹ کیسے انسٹال کرنا ہے۔

آصف نے یہ بہت اچھا کام کیا ہے کہ اردو کے فونٹ اکٹھے کر دیئے ہیں۔ اب قارئین کو لمبی ہدایات نہیں دینی پڑیں گی کہ فونٹ کیسے انسٹال کرنا ہے۔

میں نے سارے نفیس فونٹس (نستعلیق، نسخ، پاکستانی نسخ، ویب نسخ) اور ٹاہوما کو جمع کر کے خود بخود انسٹال ہونے والے ایک چھوٹے سے پروگرام کی شکل میں ترتیب دے دیا ہے جسے یہاں سے ڈاؤن لوڈ کیا جا سکتا ہے ۔ جیسے ہی آپ اسے انسٹال کریں گے تو کمپوٹر کو دوبارہ چلائے بغیر آپ کو مائیکروسافٹ آفس، اور ونڈوز کے دوسرے پروگراموں میں یہ فونٹ دستیاب ہو جائینگے۔ اس کے علاوہ آپ ویب صفحات پر بھی اردو زبان کو ویب نسخ میں پڑھ سکیں گے جو ٹاہوما سے بہت زیادہ خوبصورت ہے۔

آصف کے کہنے پر میں نے بھی ٹاہوما کو ترک کر کے نفیس ویب نسخ استعمال کرنا شروع کر دیا ہے۔ نفیس نسخ ٹاہوما کے مقابلے میں کافی بہتر لگتا ہے۔

اس کے علاوہ میں نے ونڈوز ایکس پی کے لئے ایک فونٹک کیبورڈ بھی ڈاؤنلوڈ کیا ہے۔ اس کی وجہ سے میری ٹائپنگ کی رفتار کافی بہتر ہو گئی ہے۔

اعجاز نے اردو ویب سائٹ کے لئے ایک اچھی تکنیک بتائی ہے جو میرے خیال سے ویب پیج کی سرخیوں کے لئے کافی فائدہ مند ہے۔

Asif has created an installable package of Urdu fonts which takes the hassle of long instructions to Windows users about installing Urdu fonts. He also suggests that everyone use Nafees Web Naskh which looks much better than Tahoma. I have followed his advice. However, if you haven’t got Nafees Web Naskh on your computer, then Tahoma will be used as the backup font.

I also downloaded a phonetic Urdu keyboard layout for Windows XP. This has made a tremendous difference in my Urdu typing speed.

Ejaz has posted an interesting method to use background images instead of text in an Urdu (or any other language) website. The idea is intriguing and useful for headings which you want to pretty up.

Travel Tales

I like traveling quite a lot and hence am quite fond of blogs describing or photographing travel around the world.

Amanda Butler of Crescat Sententia is blogging about her experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan. Her descriptions make me want to plan my Central Asian trip soon.

Brian Ulrich talks about the standard greeting in Kazakhstan being the same as in Morocco. That fact is not surprising because the greeting is “Assalam o Alaikum” (السلام علیکم), the standard Islamic greeting. What was more interesting to me was the Kazakh words which are familiar to me because of their use in Urdu. For example, “dastarhan” (دسترخوان) and “dukan” (دکان).

Brian spent the last couple of months in Morocco. He wrote quite good descriptions of his travels there. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have category archives, but his weekly archives starting in late May should cover his posts about Morocco.

You should definitely read both Amanda’s and Brian’s posts. One thing missing in their travel blogging though is photography. They should post some pictures of Kazakhstan and Morocco.

And the Head Heeb is back from vacation in Australia and is posting about the country.

Immunization of Infants

Since we are having a baby next month, we are thinking of immunizations along with other baby-related topics. So I was surprised to find out that some people like us don’t vaccinate their children.

Struggling, inner-city parents are more likely to neglect to completely vaccinate their children, while parents who refuse to vaccinate at all tend to be white and well-off, U.S. researchers reported Tuesday.

[…]In 2001, only an estimated 62.8 percent of all children aged 19 to 35 months were fully vaccinated, Philip Smith and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Immunization Program found.

More than 2 million children or 36.9 percent of toddlers were not fully vaccinated in 2001, and 17,000 children or 0.3 percent were not vaccinated at all, Smith’s team wrote in Tuesday’s issue of the journal Pediatrics.

[…]Several studies have shown two barriers to full vaccination — a lack of adequate medical care and affluent, educated people who question the need to vaccinate their children.

“Among parents of unvaccinated children, 47.5 percent expressed concerns regarding safety, compared with 5.1 percent of parents with undervaccinated children,” the researchers wrote.

And those who refuse vaccines often do not trust doctors.

“Among parents of unvaccinated children, 70.9 percent said that a doctor was not influential in shaping their vaccination decisions for their children, compared with 22.9 percent among undervaccinated children,” the researchers said.

Of the children not vaccinated, 57 percent were boys.

“In response to concerns about the perceived risk of autism resulting from vaccinations, parents might have avoided having their sons vaccinated at a higher rate than their daughters, as a result of knowing that they have risk factors for autism and knowing that the rate of autism is 4 times greater for boys than for girls,” the researchers wrote.

Last month, the Institute of Medicine reported that a panel of experts could find no evidence that vaccines cause autism, but groups that question vaccine safety vowed to continue to fight to prove a link.

Here are the conclusions from the abstract of the paper.

Undervaccinated children tended to be black, to have a younger mother who was not married and did not have a college degree, to live in a household near the poverty level, and to live in a central city. Unvaccinated children tended to be white, to have a mother who was married and had a college degree, to live in a household with an annual income exceeding $75,000, and to have parents who expressed concerns regarding the safety of vaccines and indicated that medical doctors have little influence over vaccination decisions for their children. Unvaccinated children were more likely to be male than female. Annually, ~17,000 children were unvaccinated. The largest numbers of unvaccinated children lived in counties in California, Illinois, New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, and Michigan. States that allowed philosophical exemptions to laws mandating vaccinations for children as they entered school had significantly higher estimated rates of unvaccinated children.

There is lot of interesting data in the paper itself.

Among all children 19 to 35 months of age, an estimated 36.9% were undervaccinated. In the undervaccinated group, children were most frequently NUTD on varicella vaccine (23.5%), diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis vaccine (18.2%), hepatitis B vaccine (11.2%), and polio vaccine (11.0%).

[…]Compared with fully vaccinated children, unvaccinated children were […] more likely to live in a household with ≥4 children than in a household in which he/she was the only child.

[…]Estimated rates [of unvaccinated children] ranged from a low of 60 per 100,000 (Rhode Island) to 1125 per 100,000 (Utah). Among the 10 states with the highest estimated rates per 100,000 children 19 to 35 months of age, 7 were western states (Utah, Montana, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Idaho).

Other states in the top 10 were Oklahoma, Maine, and Vermont.

The counties with the largest numbers of unvaccinated children were Los Angeles, CA, and Detroit, MI (including Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties). The remaining counties among the 20 with the greatest numbers of unvaccinated children included the cities of Chicago, IL, Pittsburgh, PA, Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, Oklahoma City, OK, and Grand Rapids, MI. Also included among those counties were Westchester County, NY, and Lancaster County, PA. New York City was not among the 50 areas with the greatest estimated numbers of children with no vaccine doses.

[…]In 2000—2001, all states allowed exemptions for medical reasons, 48 for religious reasons, and 17 for philosophical reasons.

I understand medical reasons. I don’t agree with religious reasons for skipping vaccines but that is still understandable. But what really is a philosophical reason to expose your child to these killer diseases?

Razib probably won’t be surprised with this next bit of data.

12.3% of all children attending public schools and 18.8% of children attending day care in Ashland, Oregon, in 2002 claimed exemptions from mandatory vaccination laws, compared with 2.4% for the entire state that year.

Fear of autism does seem to affect vaccination decisions.

Siblings in families in which there was an autistic child were 3 times more likely to be unvaccinated, compared with siblings in families in which there was a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

MedPundit had a reminder we all need.

Before immunizations were routine, pediatric wards were full of children in iron lungs who couldn’t breathe on their own thanks to polio. When I was in training, older physicians used to tell horror stories of children gasping for their last breaths as pertussis (whooping cough) closed up their airways, and there was nothing they could do to stop it. Measles used to be a significant cause of blindness and deafness. Congenital rubella caused all sorts of birth defects. The success of the immunization programs against these highly communicable diseases have wiped them from our collective memory. Now, the vaccines seem worse to many than the diseases. (Same as smallpox, no?)

The people who don’t vaccinate their children are relying on the benefit of the majority who do immunize. However, any regional concentration of unvaccinated people can be quite dangerous as disease can spread quite easily there. MedPundit and Foreign Dispatches have pointed out about a Nigerian state’s recent campaign against polio vaccination.

Coming from the developing world, I am quite familiar (much more so than an average American I think) with the threat of diseases like polio, measles and whooping cough, etc. I remember campaigns in Pakistan to vaccinate children and eradicate these diseases as I was growing up. Even smallpox was not eradicated in Pakistan until I was 4 years old. I still have the smallpox vaccine scar on my arm.

USCIS Efficiency

It took a month to happen for Amber. That was two years ago. I had to wait 2 years and 2 months for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to do what was just a printing job. During those two years, I had to visit the INS/USCIS 5 times, instead of the one visit it should have required. I had to get up really early in the morning and wait in line all day long. Add all the stress and worry and the phone calls I had to make to the USCIS and it becomes quite a lot.

The most frustrating part is that this was not about adjudication of an immigration petition. It was a simple printing job. At first, I thought I was special, that I was the only one in this situation. But then everywhere I looked, in internet forums and at USCIS offices, I saw people in the same predicament as me.

USCIS officers knew for 1.5 years that there was a problem on their end. But no one fixed it until one officer decided to do something 2 months ago. Their customer service is so bad that it always seemed like they were blaming me for the blunder. They never seemed to believe me until I showed them all the paperwork. Not once did anyone say “I am sorry, our department messed up.”

My Surprise Baby Shower

I was really surprised to have one.

Baby shower seems like a big pregnancy thing in the US. When we started our baby registry at Babies R Us, the lady asked Zack if he needed shower invitation cards and hesitently he said No…Yes…may be… So she gave us 50 free cards which are useless for us. Actually some people even asked me why we set up the registry since no one would be buying us anything from there but we had it for our own record.

We have practically no family in the US, so unlike the norm around us we were not expecting any family member to throw us a shower. We did, however, get a lot of gifts from our family back in Pakistan. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law sent us 7 hand-knit sets, my brother sent me two baby dresses and one bedding set. My mom, who had not touched the needles for last 20+ years, knit three baby sweater sets for our baby and also she sent us 12 baby dresses.

I also recently changed my job from one software system to another within the same parent company and almost all of my friends of 5 years and colleagues were either force-adjusted or spread out in various software business units, so I wasn’t expecting any gifts/shower from the folks at work.

Every now and then people will ask me “So did you have baby shower yet?” Or like “it’s good to have registry as most of the small stuff others will buy for you.” And even though I will brag about the gifts our family sent, they will give me a look of pity.

This friday, life was going as usual. These days I have way too much work. Practically I am working more than 10 hours a day. Since my manager is on vacation, I am also acting on his behalf which makes me practically on call for 24 hours and I have conflicting management meetings and technical meetings all the time.

So like I said life was going on as usual. I had a meeting scheduled with one developer to go over some design and architectural details for some feature at 1:30pm and then I was meeting our product managers for some upcoming demo opportunities at 3:00pm. So I went to the developer’s office at 1:30pm and she seemed a bit out of it. I tried to go over the technical details but she did not seem to be following.

Meanwhile, another senior architect walked in and told me that our CEO had some questions for an upcoming demo and he would appreciate it if I could help them out with some technical information. I was a little upset with the unexpected additional work but I said ok let’s go. We walked to our main conference room. The door was closed. When he opened the door, I can’t describe how much overwhelmed I was. The room was fully decorated and there were 50+ people from at least 10 different software business units including most managers and our VP. Yes, the friends who were all scattered in different orgs, the people I worked with on various projects for the last 5 years and friends who were force-adjusted from this company were all gathered to share the excitement of the most wonderful experience of my life. They had arranged a surprise baby shower for me. There was plenty of food and gifts but what mattered the most was the thought.

I could not speak for may be 5 minutes. I was almost in tears and to embarrass me later, they took a lot of pictures.

All I can say is that I was touched and there is no better feeling than the feeling of sharing joy, happiness and special moments with your friends.

Spider-Man 2, Fahrenheit 9/11 and More

Spider-Man 2 is the absolute greatest superhero movie. Spiderman was my favorite superhero as a kid and the two Spiderman movies capture the idea very well. I recommend it highly.

Unqualified Offerings has quite a few posts about the movie, with his thoughts as well as links to other blogger reviews. I must warn you that there are lots of spoilers in his blog posts as well as in his review for the American Spectator.

The Stepford Wives was an almost OK movie. Most of the movie was not bad but the ending was very bizarre and made no sense.

The Terminal was a decent movie, though it did drag on a little. Tom Hanks acted very well and could get Oscar as Kianoush says. The immigration enforcement supervisor seemed quite like in real life.

The Notebook is a typical tear-jerker, sappy romance. What else could it be since it’s based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. The movie was quite predictable. AMber liked it better than I did. So I guess the purpose of the movie was served.

We had no plans of seeing Fahrenheit 9/11 this weekend. But Before Sunrise was out at the local video store and we decided to wait for that before watching its sequel Before Sunset. Instead we saw Fahrenheit 9/11. According to Amber, it is a biased documentary and could have been better if it was not so overtly biased. We both recognized some major flaws of the movie. The first half detailing Bush’s links with Bin Laden is quite tendentious and not up to par. The latter part of the movie is not as heavy-handed as Michael Moore mostly moves into the background and lets the Iraq war story tell itself.

Ethical Philosophy Selector

Here are my results for the quiz.

  1. John Stuart Mill (100%)
  2. Kant (100%)
  3. Prescriptivism (87%)
  4. Stoics (87%)
  5. Ayn Rand (80%)
  6. Aquinas (77%)
  7. Aristotle (75%)
  8. Spinoza (75%)
  9. Jean-Paul Sartre (72%)
  10. Jeremy Bentham (67%)
  11. Epicureans (64%)
  12. Ockham (48%)
  13. Nietzsche (46%)
  14. David Hume (43%)
  15. Thomas Hobbes (40%)
  16. Cynics (35%)
  17. Plato (33%)
  18. Nel Noddings (29%)
  19. St. Augustine (20%)

Via Gene Expression.