Thursday, July 19, 2012

The evolution of Android Arabic support

Now that full Arabic support has finally been added to the latest version of Android (4.1, nicknamed Jelly Bean), here are some details as to what extent Arabic has been supported in previous versions:

up to and including Android 2.1:

No Arabic support whatsoever. Any attempt to show Arabic text will result in rectangular boxes instead of characters. Applications that wish to support Arabic must include their own Arabic font. There is no shaping support, meaning letters will not connect to each other, but this can be provided by a third-party library. In addition, the diacritics/harakat will not be properly placed and will often overlap, making them difficult to read.

Android 2.2 - Android 2.3:

In Android 2.2, an Arabic font was added (DroidSansArabic), which is the default Arabic font in Android until Android 4.0. still no shaping or diacritic support.

Android 3

With Android 3.0, shaping support is finally added, so now the Arabic letters will connect without the aid of a third-party library. Still no diacritic support.

Android 4.0

The default Arabic font is changed to Droid Naskh, and another Arabic font is added to replace DroidSansArabic: Droid Kufi. Still no diacritic support.

Android 4.1

Finally, full Arabic support, including support for diacritic placement!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pimsleur: the best way to learn a language

First, a disclaimer: I'm not getting paid to say this. I am not affiliated with Pimsleur in any way, and there are no affiliate links here. I'm simply a huge fan of a great product.

I've used many programs to study languages, including (but not limited to):
  • Berlitz
  • Living Language
  • Rosetta Stone
  • Teach Yourself
  • VocabuLearn
Pimsleur beats them all, hands down. Here's why I recommend it to anyone wanting to learn a language:
  1. It teaches you using the same methods you used to learn your first language as a baby. So the focus is on listening and speaking, and you learn the grammar intuitively. So no more studying charts, paradigms, conjugations, etc.

  2. The repetition is built-in. With other programs, I end up having to repeat the lessons over and over. I end up getting bored and don't retain much information at all. Not so with Pimsleur.

  3. Because the focus is on listening and speaking, you actually get comfortable speaking the language. I've used other programs that help me learn how to read a language, but that does little in helping me communicate with other people. With Pimsleur, you'll be speaking from day one (literally).

  4. Let's face it, I'm busy. I don't have time to sit in front of a computer and do Rosetta Stone for hours, or study a book for hours. Pimsleur's focus on listening and speaking means I can do the lessons during my commute, at the gym, folding clothes, whatever.
So what are you waiting for? The first lesson for your language of choice is available from Pimsleur's website for free. I think they should make the second lesson available for free too, but something is better than nothing.

Where to get Pimsleur:

  • Your local library
    Many local libraries have Pimsleur available to check out for free. Can't hurt to check.

  • Used online or locally
    You might be able to find Pimsleur used on sites like ebay, amazon, or at a local used bookstore.

  • Buy the digital version from
    Sometimes this can even be cheaper than a used copy of the CDs, and if you're like me and would rather listen to it on your phone/mp3 player than have to carry around a stack of CDs, it's win-win.

  • Buy the CDs new
    This is probably the most expensive option: buying the Pimsleur CDs new from or another site like amazon.
If you do end up buying online, be sure to use my tip to check if there's a coupon code before you pay the full retail price!:
How to save money when shopping online

Thursday, July 5, 2012

no wifi networks showing on android

if for some reason no wifi networks are showing on your android device, first reboot it. if that doesn't do the trick, restoring your wifi access points from a previous backup may work:

  1. open Titanium Backup

  2. click Backup/Restore

  3. scroll down and select Wi-Fi Access Points

  4. click Restore next to the most recent backup

  5. reboot your phone

of course this will only work if you've already rooted your phone, installed Titanium Backup, and backed up your wifi access points. if you haven't done that, there are several apps in the google play market that claim to fix your wifi. if those don't work, you may need to a factory reset.

the moral of the story is: use Titanium Backup to back up your android device often!