Urdu Blogging Resource

I started blogging in Urdu almost a year ago. I haven’t written much in Urdu, but it has been a good experience. Two of my posts about blogging in Urdu have been among the most popular posts here.

The Urdu blogosphere is extremely small right now. There aren’t even a lot of Urdu websites. Also, most Urdu websites do not use Unicode text, but use images for their Urdu content.

Therefore, I thought it might be a good idea to create a website which collects together all sorts of information and instructions about Urdu blogging. For that purpose, I think these items should be present:

  1. An Urdu Bloggers directory: It should have a list of all Urdu weblogs. These might be divided into categories based on language (monolingual, bilingual, etc.), topic, frequency of Urdu posts or other such stuff. We can even have RSS syndication of the recent posts from Urdu blogs. Is there a way to do that so that we syndicate only the Urdu language posts for multilingual blogs?
  2. An Urdu Bloggers webring: Right now, we have a webring here. It would, however, be better to integrate the webring with the directory since then the blogger list wouldn’t need to be maintained in two places. Can anyone point to any Perl or PHP code which we could use?
  3. Instructions on how to blog in Urdu for blogger.com, WordPress and Movable Type.
  4. Regarding the previous point, one option could be to provide some basic templates which work well for Urdu, preferable for bilingual (Urdu as major and English as minor language).
  5. Links and instructions for setting up one’s computer (Windows XP and Windows 2000 at the very least, but preferably other operating systems too) to read/write Urdu.
  6. A package of Urdu fonts.
  7. Links to Urdu related web resources.
  8. Links to websites that use Urdu Unicode text.
  9. Links to good and useful in content Urdu websites which use images.

Is there anything else that you would like to suggest?

All these pages (or at least most) should be bilingual (Urdu and English). One option could be to have two columns, one in each language. The other option could be to have 2 versions of the same page. Which would be better?

Now some of the items in the list above are available here and there on Asif’s blog and mine as well as elsewhere. The purpose is to collect these things, make them concise and clear and create THE Urdu blogging resource.

I suggested this to Asif who posted about it here asking for suggestions and help from readers. He also suggested translating some bulletin board software, like phpBB, to Urdu.

Danial proposed in the comments there that we should start a blog dedicated to this effort. That is now done. An Urdu Blogging Weblog is online where we’ll discuss what we want to do and how as well as put up updates and drafts.

So, if you are interested in Urdu blogging in any way, we would like your help. There is lots of stuff to do, like site design, php/perl coding, blogging software hacking, etc.

Cross-posted to Urdu Blogging weblog.

UPDATE: Asif has created an Urdu Wiki for the purpose.

Brass Crescent Honorable Mention

The results of the Brass Crescent Awards are out. I didn’t win but got honorable mentions in 3 of the 5 categories I was nominated. These categories were: Best writing (I am surprised), best series, and best non-English blog (surprised again as I do not write enough in Urdu.)

Honorable Mention, Brass Crescent Awards, best non-english blogHonorable Mention, Brass Crescent Awards, best seriesHonorable Mention, Brass Crescent Awards, best writing

The winners in these categories were Haroon Mughal of Avari-Nameh (best writing; he was the big winner with 2 other wins as well), Leila M of Sister Scorpion (best series) and Asif Iqbal for his multilingual blog.

I found it interesting that among the non-English blogs the top two (Asif and me) were both Urdu blogs while we were the only Urdu nominees. It is surprising since Urdu is actually far behind other languages (like Farsi or even Arabic) in its Internet presence. May be Urdu blogs have really arrived! Ejaz, are you listening?

Thanks to alt.Muslim and City of Brass for organizing these awards.

حج اور عید مبارک

تمام حاجیوں کو حج مبارک ہو۔ اور سب قارئین کو عید مبارک۔

تمام حاجیوں کو حج مبارک ہو۔ اور سب قارئین کو عید مبارک۔

مجھے نہیں معلوم کہ عید جمعرات کو کیوں ہے۔ ادھر اٹلانٹا میں مساجد سعودی عرب کی تقلید کرتی ہیں اور اس دفعہ سعودیوں نے تین دن بعد تاریخ تبدیل کی ہے۔

Haj Mubarak to the hajjis and a happy Eid to everyone.

I have no clue why the Eid in Atlanta is on Thursday while most of the rest of the US is celebrating it on Friday. I think the mosques here follow Saudi Arabia and this year the Saudis first announced the start of the new month on January 12 (Eid-ul-Azha is on the 10th of the last month of the lunar Islamic calendar) and 3 days later changed it to January 11.

Trouble in Baluchistan

There have been problems in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan recently. I haven’t been following the news closely. But Chapati Mystery has a good overview of the history of Baluch grievances as well as info about the current troubles. Definitely worth reading.

Avari-Nameh also has a post on the topic.

KO also promises to write about Baluchistan. His posts are always informative and full of intelligent analysis. I am looking forward to his post.

While we are on the topic of Baluchistan, here is KO’s travel log of a road trip from Karachi to Quetta and the corresponding photographs.

UPDATE: Danial has a post as well.

Brass Crescent Awards Voting

The nomination stage is over and it’s voting time.

And it seems you like me, really like me since I have been nominated in so many categories:

So what are you waiting for? Go vote for me.


Brass Crescent Award Nominee

Discussion thread

Polls close January 14th.

New Look, XHTML 1.1 and MathML

You might have noticed the new look of this weblog. It all started due to Asif and Jacques Distler. Asif just started using

LaTeX

formulae on his weblog and Jacques has been doing so for quite a while. Asif is using a WordPress plugin to convert

LaTeX

equations into images while Jacques converts them (or rather itex) to MathML. I am trying to follow Jacques.

The first step needed was to make my pages valid XHTML 1.1. Previously, my site was valid XHTML 1 Transitional. This required changes in my templates. The old MT 2.6 templates I was using were up to no good. Therefore, I took the new MT 3.o default templates and modified them to my own tastes. Even then, I needed to make some changes in the templates and my entries to make them all pass XHTML 1.1 validity tests.

Right now, all the weblog pages other than the individual entry archives are valid XHTML 1.1. The individual entry pages need some more work because the comment forms need to be changed and the comments themselves are very invalid and require a lot of work. I’ll be slowly fixing that over the next few days or months.

Following Jacques’s advice, I also had to serve my pages as application/xhtml+xml instead of text/html. Actually, this needs to be done only for those browsers which can handle MathML, the rest can be fed text/html. Right now, I am only serving my blog home page as application/xhtml+xml using the Accept header. But later on, I’ll move to Jacques’s scheme.

One of the problems with serving application/xhtml+xml is that the browser does not show anything if the code is not valid. Therefore, it is extremely important to validate all your pages. This could cause problems with comments since commenters can’t be trusted to use only valid XHTML 1.1. I might later try Jacques’s idea of forcing comment previews and validation. But for now, I’ll have to fix them manually myself.

I have tested the new templates in Firefox 1.0 and Internet Explorer 6.0 on my Windows XP machine. The pages looked OK in both. If you find any problems viewing any of the blog pages or the layout doesn’t seem right, please let me know.

I have installed the itex2MML plugin for Movable Type to create MathML content.

And now for some math tests. If you are using a Mozilla browser (use Firefox please, it’s a much better browser), you’ll need to install Math fonts. If you are using Internet Explorer (why?), you can install the MathPlayer plugin.

As I am lazy, I am using the LaTeX (or

LaTeX

) code from a few tests by Jacques and Asif.

First, an integral expression from Asif.

(1)

0 sin 2 xx 3 /2 e xdx

And here is a passage to test arrays.

Establishing driving point impedances works on the principle of simple R-L-C networks, where

Z L=L.didt

,

Z C=1 /Cidt

. Driving point impedances and admittances (in terms of effort and flow) are given as:

(2)

e(s)=Z(s)~f(s),and f(s)=Y(s)~e(s)

In the case when we have a 2-port and we have effort of one port and flow of other as inputs and vice versa, then the transfer function of this hybrid formulation can be written as:

(3)

(e 1 (s) f 2 (s))=(h 11 (s) h 12 (s) h 21 (s) h 22 (s))(e 2 (s) f 1 (s))

or

(4)

(f 1 (s) e 2 (s))=(g 11 (s) g 12 (s) g 21 (s) g 22 (s))(f 2 (s) e 1 (s))

Now let us test inline and display equations in a blockquote from a post by Jacques.

This is a test of the new itex2MML+parbreaks filter. Here is an inline equation:

2 sin(x)cos(x)=sin(2 x)

.

And here is a display equation

(5)

0 e x 2 dx=π2

And here is some more prose.

Please note that these equations will be properly rendered only on the main page right now and not work on any of the archives (monthly, category and individual entry). I’ll fix that in time though.

Also, unlike Jacques and Asif, I am not allowing Math in the comments, at least until I figure out and implement forced preview and validation.

Finally, I probably have broken my RSS/Atom feeds and accessibilty. I’ll look into that next.

New Year Resolutions

Pregnancy is, indeed, a great fattener. More so for the guy than the woman, if I may say so. The year 2004 (at least the first half) wasn’t good for me health-wise. I had some minor surgery in March which put me out of the gym for a few weeks. Then I started commuting too frequently between Jersey and Atlanta as we were expecting a baby. This also meant eating a lot more fast food and joining Amber in her pregnancy-induced eating binges. Amber gained 32 lbs during her pregnancy but she was underweight (102 lbs, 5'1") to start with and lost most of the weight gain within a few weeks after giving birth due to natural processes. My task was harder. So I started exercising and kept daily records of my weight, body fat percentage, waist size and rest heart rate. The graphs below show the 7-day moving averages of these quantities.

New Year Fitness Resolutions

My new year resolution is to get to the bottom horizontal line in these graphs this year and then keep them there.

Some notes regarding measurements:

  1. I used 7-day moving averages as daily data is very noisy.
  2. All measurements were done in the morning, usually an hour after I wake up but before I have eaten anything. (The first thing I do every morning is feed Michelle a bottle of milk.)
  3. The weight and body fat were measured using Tanita BF680 scale.
  4. Body fat measurement varies quite a bit depending on hydration level etc. So it is important to measure it in the morning.
  5. The waist size in the graph is that measured with a measuring tape. Trouser sizes can be deceiving as they can be 1-2 inches (or even more sometimes) smaller than your actual waist.
  6. I measured the rest heart rate with my Timex watch + GPS + Heart rate monitor.
  7. I sat down for 5 minutes and then measured the heart rate for 5 minutes while still sitting.

POSTSCRIPT: Note that even at the worst, my BMI was 24.3 kg/m2 which put me at the 38th percentile among men of my age and height. Now my BMI is 22.8 and I am at the 23rd percentile. This means that 77% of American men aged 34 years and 6 feet tall weigh more than I do. So weight hasn’t been a problem for me. It is the body fat and especially the fact that almost all of it accumulates on my waist.