Dhivehi Phonetic (with Naviyani) Keyboard Installer for Windows

There is a small movement of people, especially from the Southern Maldives, that are calling for the re-instatement and celebration of the now discarded "naviyani" letter from Thaana script.

Naviyani used to be the 19th letter in the alphabet, placed between Daviyani and Zaviyani, until it was abolished in the early 1950s by then President Mohamed Amin. The letter represented a retroflex "n" sound, or "baru noonu" (heavy "noonu" character) as it is called in Dhivehi. The Unicode standard, used for text-representation on computers, did not include accommodations for "naviyani" when Thaana was first included in Unicode in standard version 3.0. The letter was eventually added in Unicode standard version 3.2 at code point U+07B1. As a result, many of the popular Thaana fonts have been updated in recent years to include the glyph for the letter. However, typing the letter has remained a hassle as the builtin Dhivehi keyboards on Windows does not map the letter to a key, forcing users to either type in the Alt + code combination or copying via the character map application.

I didn't realize there actually was a need for frequent use of the letter until various memes and pleas, from a growing community of people from the South of Maldives whose dialect apparently finds frequent use of the letter, cropped up on Facebook and Viber groups on the recent International Mother Language Day.

To ease the typing of the letter, I am releasing a Dhivehi keyboard input method for Microsoft Windows that adds naviyani to the standard "Divehi Phonetic" layout. Download the setup file from the link below and run it to go through breezy installation. You will need to restart Windows to get keyboard properly activated and accessible. You may then select the newly installed "Divehi Phonetic (Naviyani)" keyboard from the language settings under "Control Panel". You may disable/remove the built-in "Dhivehi Phonetic" keyboard option and use this instead as it is virtually similar in all other aspects.

When you have "Divehi Phonetic (Naviyani)" keyboard activated, the "naviyani" letter can be typed using RightAlt + n (or, alternatively Ctrl + Alt + N) key combination.

- Download Divehi Phonetic (Naviyani) Keyboard Installer

Hope this eases your work :-)

Thank you anonymous person!

When I was growing up, I gobbled up all the science related books at my primary school library, which really wasn't that many. Starved after that, my parents would kindly take me to the small National Library of Maldives, to read and borrow books. It was the only source of information on a wide variety of topics in the Maldives at the time. There were no real bookshops and those that did carry books stocked so few and so little variety, leaving a lot to be desired. This was a time when the World Wide Web was at its infancy and Internet connectivity was yet to reach the Maldives. Suffice it to say, I absolutely loved the library for what it represented.

Many of the books on science and engineering at the library were donated by various people. And the only source of current news and state-of-art on science and engineering available at the library came in the form of Popular Electronics, Popular Mechanics and Scientific American magazines that were being donated by a kind person(s) to the library each month. I know because they all carried a "Donated" stamp. I would eagerly go to the library several times a month to see if the previous month's issue had been donated. I loved reading each and every article in the magazines. I would try build as many of the science projects, the electronics projects and schematics they featured. That anonymous person(s) had a huge impact on my life.

I have no idea who it was... but one of you may know. If you do, please let them know that their simple gesture of kindness gave a kid countless joy and is deeply appreciated. Thank you!

Talk scheduled for Enovate Education Symposium 2016

I am one of the invited speakers at the Enovate Education Symposium 2016 hosted by Enovate Education. I will be giving a talk titled "Building future-builders" and will conduct a workshop titled "Learning by Building". The symposium is open and free for all teachers in Maldives.

Talk: Building future-builders
Science has granted us an ever deepening understanding of ourselves and the universe. Engineering has shaped and given us technology to gain mastery over the physical world. This talk looks at science and engineering; its rich history and achievements, its role in solving the challenging problems humanity currently face and its pertinence in the future economic and intellectual progress of Maldives. The talk will explore how the school environment can help inspire and build the future-builders.

Workshop: Learning by Building
The session will explore practical ways to cultivate intelligent problem-solvers by encouraging curiosity, understanding, exploration, creativity and innovation. In order to help explore and experience these facets, participants will build an exciting project that they can take away for a show-and-tell.

More details of the symposium at the Enovate Education Symposium website.

Filibari Keyboard for Thaana

I have just released a Thaana keyboard for Android called "Filibari Keyboard", featuring a new optimized key layout for faster and easier typing in Dhivehi.

This is probably the first publicly available keyboard designed specifically for efficient Thaana entry on mobile devices. Its experimental key layout is based on research data on finger reach and accessibility and Thaana character frequency analysis. The keyboard aims to place all frequently used characters within easy reach. Most notably, the layout places all the vowel signs or "fili" on a separate row at the top. The frequently used character keys are placed within natural thumb placement regions for further ease. I have a few updates planned as my time allows, with the new earliest release to add automatic diacritization, i.e. automatically adding fili to words when just characters are entered, which I wasn't able to finish polishing up for this release.

You can download "Filibari Keyboard for Thaana" on Google Play store now and should work on all Android devices running Android 4.2 and above. Since Android versions prior to 6.0 do not bundle a font carrying Thaana glyphs, you will run into issues of Thaana characters not being displayed correctly in apps that do not provide their own support for Thaana fonts.

Thanks goes to Asneem for the vibrant discussion that lead to this!

iOS users: I hope to push out a version of the keyboard for iOS devices soon.

Wide spread coral bleaching expected for Maldives

I have been keeping an eye on the Coral Reef Watch portal by NOAA for the past several weeks as reefs around the world are experiencing devastating bleaching events due to high temperatures. The thermal stress measured by satellites and projected by their models have been forecasting Maldivian seas and reefs to experience an increase in temperatures this month. This has been backed up by various observations and reports from around the Maldives with reports of coral stress, bleaching and dead fish surfacing.

Next week is especially critical for our beautiful but delicate Maldivian reefs as ocean temperatures are projected to reach critical highs and spur widespread coral bleaching and damage to our ecosystem. The monsoon season just kicked in and although its accompanying rain may help lower temperatures by a tiny amount, the ocean is a vast body of water capable of absorbing a large amount of heat and will likely still inflict significant damage on the reefs.

Keep an eye when you are out for a swim - the damage will be pretty immediate and highly visible. :-(

Earth Hour stargazing with Science Emmenah

Science Emmenah will be hosting a stargazing session at Hulhumale' as part of the Earth Hour 2016 events hosted by Earth Hour Maldives and Maldives Red Crescent - Male' Branch. We will be there with 3 telescopes and will be viewing Jupiter, Orion Nebula and the Moon. It is free and all are welcome to come have a look at the wonders in the sky when the lights are turned off to mark Earth Hour.

Place: Central Park, Hulhumale'
Time: 8:00 PM - 10:30 PM, 19 March 2016

See you there!

Ignorance of natural processes...

To believe that voodoo, black magic or any other magical woowoo performance has or could influence natural processes and the progression of events is to profess profound ignorance... of how the world works and the frailty of the human brain.