Page to Unicode Thaana 1.0

Here's a nifty little tool I made a few years ago that automatically and intelligently picks out the bits of text that use a non-Unicode Thaana font on any web page and converts it to Unicode. That probably doesn't make much sense to most of you but read on - there's a section for general web users and one for developers.

General users

Take the website of Haveeru Daily as an example. It uses a now-archaic method of displaying Thaana. Browsers cannot and will not substitute an alternative workable font if your computer does not have the exact Thaana fonts it requires and will display as non-sensical English text. But then take Miadhu Daily, which relies on something called Unicode. Browsers can and will load up the site perfectly readable as long as you have any one of the many Unicode Thaana fonts on your system. And in many situations, like at public libraries or on some phones and devices like the Kindle, Unicode-based Thaana web pages will load up just fine as there usually is some Thaana-supporting Unicode font on it while those that use the more archaic method will fail.

I came across this problem a few years ago while at the university lab one day and there was some interesting events taking place in the Maldives which I wanted to read about. Haveeru had the most news articles and was the most up-to-date but I couldn't read any of it as the Thaana fonts were not on the system and I was not allowed to install the fonts. So I wrote some quick code, specifically a bookmarklet, that converted the text on the site on-the-fly to use Unicode.

Anyway, if you find yourself in a similar situation, here is what you could do. Right click the PUT bookmarklet link below and choose to bookmark the link. When on a page, just click the PUT bookmark and the page should convert to Unicode and display Thaana.

Page to Unicode Thaana bookmarklet v1.0


Haveeru before

Haveeru after


Here's a slightly different version of the above script that can be used on web pages that do not use Unicode Thaana to offer the pages in Unicode without requiring any change to the content management system, editor etc that you have in place already. Add the script to your non-Unicode Thaana based web pages where appropriate and your visitors will get a Unicode-based web page as long they have Javascript enabled.

I would recommend that it be added towards the end of your page HTML, right before the closing BODY tag.

- put-1.0.min.js (minified, for production use)
- put-1.0.js (full source)

Enjoy :-)

Thaana on Android: Font installation

I have owned a Google Nexus One device since it came out early this year and I love it for the great hardware specifications of the phone and the customizability of Android. As usual, one of the first things I did when I got it was to explore Thaana usage on the Android OS. I have been meaning to do a write up since, so after almost a year here it is finally! This post addresses getting Thaana to display by installing a Thaana font.


With a healthy ecosystem of phones and tablets running Android now available, the free and open-source Android mobile operating system seem to be getting more and more popular across the world and in Maldives. Its official app-store hosts a large number of applications, a lot of which are free, and there are a number of third-party app-stores with more relaxed rules around as well. There is a healthy and growing developer community that's taking advantage of the open code to add new features and hack in interesting modifications - like the Nexus One does not officially have a FM radio or support HD video but developers have added code hacks for both into a custom ROM!

As awesome as Android is, unfortunately, all versions of the official Android OS (including the latest version 2.2 (Froyo) release) has limited support for international scripts, which is bad news for Thaana. Android can display Thaana characters as it supports Unicode fonts but it looks all jumbled up when diplayed as Android lacks support for bi-directional text rendering, both in the OS and the included web browser. The lack of BiDi support means Thaana input is also impossible as Thaana is a right-to-left script.

The next version of Android, version 2.3 (Gingerbread), is scheduled to have BiDi support and better support for international scripts, so hopefully that fixes things although it still wouldn't officially support Thaana.

The only easy way currently, as far as I am aware of, of viewing Thaana on Android correctly is by using Opera Mobile browser with Thaana fonts installed in Android. Now, none of the Android-based devices on the market seem to ship with a Thaana-supporting Unicode font preinstalled and Android does not currently provide a mechanism for user installation of fonts which means the process of installing a Thaana font is a little bit convoluted.

Installing Thaana fonts

Next, you need to install the Thaana font. Chopey has already posted a guide on how to do it manually and Gaanagaa has posted a Windows-based software to do automatically for you. I favour a different approach which relies on using a special Zip file to update your Android with the Thaana fonts in a manner similar to how Android devices update themselves with new releases. This method is, in my opinion, a lot easier and you do not need anything other than a rooted phone and the zip file I have prepared to do it. I have packaged the free FreeSerif font which includes beautiful Thaana glyphs as well as a large number of other characters from other writing systems.

Using my Thaana fonts update for Android
1. Make sure your device is rooted. You will need a rooted device to install any font via any method, including this one. There are a number of guides and free software available on the web for various Android phones (try or or to help you do just that.

2. Put update_thaanafonts(jaa) to the root of the SD card in your device. You can do this by downloading the file straight from the web on to the SD card of your device OR download the file to your computer first and copy it to your device using a cable or Bluetooth.

3. Power off your phone and boot into recovery mode. The specifics of how you do this depends on which recovery tool was installed during rooting of your phone but involves pressing some combination of keys at the same time to start your device in recovery mode. Try the methods listed here if you aren't sure.

4. Select the update from Zip option in your recovery tool and select the update_thaanafonts(jaa) file from the list and OK it.

5. The update should progress and will ask you to reboot once completed.

6. Congratulations you now have a Thaana font installed! To make any practical use of it, you will need to install the Opera Mobile browser application available for free on the Android Market.

Enjoy :-)

Use a VPN to bypass ISP issues and restrictions

So apparently Dhiraagu has been under some sort of attack since day before yesterday and that is the reason Dhiraagu Internet subscribers are getting patchy Internet connectivity. I am not sure what kind of attack it is under but I presume it is of the DoS variety aimed at driving down their QoS levels. From the looks of it, the attack seems to be being targetted at, or atleast affecting, the Internet proxy/filters and DNS servers at Dhiraagu. Anyway, if you are as frustrated as me with patchy Internet then here's a quick fix solution: install and use a VPN.

A Virtual Private Network working over the Internet connects one computer to another via a private virtual "tunnel" and routes data between the computers. A VPN will allow you to browse the Internet via the remote computer's Internet connection so you aren't affected by (some) issues affecting your ISP and bypasses restrictions imposed by your ISP. As opposed to using a remote proxy server, a VPN can route all your Internet traffic via the virtual tunnel allowing you to bypass all local restrictions entirely. Use of a VPN, on laptops and mobile phones, is highly recommended if you frequently connect to Wifi hotspots at restaurants, airports etc to keep your data secure from being snooped.

Free VPN Services

There are many VPN service providers, including those that offer free services. A list of VPN providers is available at Here are a few I've used and tried.

Ivacy has both free and paid services. I quite like their volume-based paid plan which currently gives 1 GB for 0.67$ and a wide range of geographical locations for an end-point. The geographical location allows you to access services such as BBC iPlayer and Hulu which are region restricted. They even have a Ivacy Firefox extension that integrates into Firefox, which is handy if you use the browser.

Ultrasurf is extremely easy to use and their client, a 1.1 MB download, runs straight without requiring any installation.

UltraVPN offers OpenVPN-based VPN access with a free registration process. They have a cross-platform open-source client allowing you to use it on Windows and Mac OS.

PacketiX VPN
PacketiX VPN is free and offers several nifty featues. Their Secure Internet Test Service gives access to a secure VPN for web usage and, for the more geek minded, their VPN Online Test Environment allows you to create a virtual VPN hub that connects together several of your devices.

ProjectLoki offers a public VPN server, connected through their free 1.1 MB client software, which you can use as a guest. Their paid services include more data transfer. They also offer special VPN server software that you can run and have your computer(s) connect to.

Happy New Year btw :-)