quran plugin for alfred and launchbar

several months ago, i posted a plugin for searching the quran with alfred. i was playing with launchbar 6 recently, and while trying to figure out whether i want to use alfred or launchbar, i decided to write a plugin for searching the quran, with suggestions, for launchbar.

download the launchbar plugin

i also decided to update the plugin for alfred (to have autocomplete). note that the current search api supports in:en (in english), in:tl (in transliteration), etc.

download the alfred plugin.

migrating from octopress to hexo

it’s been a long time since my last blog post, but i am hoping to become better about blogging. anyhow, the other day, i found nikola, a python blogging engine. i played with it and thought, “it would be cool to migrate my blog to it.” someone had written a migration script from octopress, and so i played with a migrated version locally.

unfortunately, some things (like pagination) would break the existing model that i’ve been using on this site in the past. so after much searching, i found hexo.

hexo is “a fast, simple & powerful blog framework, powered by Node.js.” it’s also a static blogging engine.

migrating from octopress was extremely simple - just a matter of copying pieces of my source directory to hexo’s source directory. then it was just a matter of tweaking some settings, finding a theme, and so on.

why migrate? first, it seems that octopress development has slowed down (at least relative to some of these other engines). secondly, some things, like tags, were only supported via a third party script. third, i am hoping it helps me blog more.

there you have it. enjoy!

quranicaudio.com web update for ios7

since ios7 brings such a huge change to the ui of ios, i’ve updated the web interface for quranicaudio.com for the iphone. here are the before/after pictures:

this was made a lot easier thanks to ios7 templates. i realize that there is no support for android at the moment, but insha’Allah will hopefully get to this eventually since it is important to do (and nice to have).

quran android 2.4.0

quran android 2.4.0 should be going live shortly insha’Allah. the most notable changes are tablet support while reading, better images for the s4/htc one, support for multiple sdcards, and various improvements.

euro matches for android

the latest project i’ve been working on is matches for android, done in conjunction with khalid al sudairy, batoulapps, bandar raffah, and taylor ling. the app is free and can be downloaded from the google play store here.

qamardeen for android

another thing i didn’t get a chance to write about earlier is the public beta of qamardeen for android. qamardeen is an application that lets you “taste your islam.” i think the official qamardeen page gives a pretty good explanation of what it is and how it is useful.

the android version uses a whole slew of custom views to make the views appear the way they do (while making it easy to manipulate the data). it also uses some open source libraries - mainly actionbarsherlock and achartengine. in addition, it uses a listview with pinned headers similar to the contacts app. you can see the code in use by the contacts app here, or you can read this blog post for more details.

give it a try - you’ll find it for free on google play.

quran android 2.x

quran for android has seen many changes before ramadan in bringing up the 2.0 release. i just wanted to highlight some of them here, seeing as though i have blog posts talking about other releases of quran android.

what’s new?

  • complete code re-write to make the code cleaner and easier to maintain.
  • fragment based architecture - pages, translations, bookmarks, etc are all in Fragments, which will make it easier to have a tablet version.
  • new, improved ui
  • gapless audio playback support
  • per-ayah actions (share ayah, show tafseer, etc)
  • supports versions 2.1+. older versions (1.5, 1.6) still run the older version.

what happened to the source?

we get lots of support emails. one thing we noticed was a few strange emails about “great app, but please remove ads,” and so on. we would always ask these users, “what are you talking about? our app doesn’t have ads! what are you talking about? please send us a link to the app you are using?”

finally, after a few months, someone sent us a link to an app on the store. the app was our exact 1.6 version of the application, with one major difference - ads. ads everywhere - even on top of each quran page as you were reading it.

this is a problem for several reasons:

  1. it is not befitting of the book of Allah to have Quran pages with ads on the top of each page. imagine reading a page and seeing an ad about a brand of alcohol, for example.
  2. it is someone making money off our work and effort.
  3. if we wanted to make money off our app, we would have sold a premium version with more features.
  4. whenever you want to make money off something, an issue of copyrights, etc comes into question (are we legally allowed to distribute these translations, audio files, etc?).

this is also the reason why quranworks for ipad has a light version which only gives you the 30th juz’, and you can either pay (in-app purchase) for the full quran or you can just buy their separate paid app. while i don’t think this as a good solution, i think it’s certainly a lot better than ads on each page. by the way, those guys have an awesome intro video masha’Allah.

so as a result of this, and in addition to the fact that we had very few contributors (and most of those contributors are people who are friends in real life), we removed the code from github.


due to a bug in google’s algorithms, we were completely unranked between january and august. after numerous emails during ramadan and much du3a, al7amdulillah, they finally fixed our rankings. by the grace of Allah, we were in the top 25 free books & reference applications during ramadan. today, in the us store, we are in the top 70 free books & reference applications. al7amdulillah.


double standards

tl;dr edition

to any egyptian reading this - vote for whoever you think is best for egypt’s future, but in the process, never forget the importance of respect and character in such difficult times. i find these verses particularly relevant to the situation in egypt today and important for every egyptian to contemplate over (irrespective of who they support in the elections).

i am really saddened by the double standards we are seeing in egypt. we stood in tahrir, had shifts of nightly patrols guarding our homes and suffered a period of instability and turmoil to dispose of a tyrant and bring about better conditions and human rights.

here we are today - you support x and i support y - but guess what, we’re both egyptians, and we both want the best for this country. i completely disagree with you that ‘x’ is best for the country, but you know what, that doesn’t matter - it’s my opinion and i am entitled to it, and that’s what’s awesome - i respect you and you respect me, but we each vote for whoever we think is best.

what’s not awesome, however, is double standards. consider “a person is innocent until proven guilty,” and “a person is entitled to a speedy and public trial with an impartial jury.” should these be part of our new egyptian government or not?

if no, then why did we have a revolution to start with? if yes, then why do we think this should only apply to “those we agree with?”

so regardless of who you or i think is best for egypt’s future, it behooves us as egyptians to ascertain that an unbiased, honorable committee oversees the elections - so that your candidate has a fair shot of winning rather than having fixed elections.

what does this means? it means not believing everything we hear and making these people accountable. take for example dr. 7azem’s case - there are only two possibilities - his mother (ra7imaha Allah) had the us citizenship or she didn’t. it’s a very easy thing for the egyptian government to find out - all they have to do is contact the us department of homeland security and find out.

suppose the department of homeland security says, “yes, she was a citizen, and she gained her citizenship on this particular date.” great - then advertise and make this information publicly available to everyone so there remains no doubt about the matter - fitnah averted and people can move on with their lives. the fact that they refuse to present any evidence to people that is acceptable suggests that this election committee still has ties to the previous government.

speaking of the previous government, they still have their money, their contacts, and they are neither dead nor banished from the country. irrespective of who becomes president, the bigger question is “why aren’t these people being brought to justice?”

stepping away from google contacts

in my previous blog post, i briefly talked about syncing an android phone with icloud instead of google contacts. in this post, i’ll talk a little bit about cleaning up your google contacts.

so if you’re like me, you may not be quite ready to erase everything from google contacts (because the implicit result of this is that you will lose google chat access to these people (unless you request permission to chat with them again), and i believe you may also break google plus connections, but i am not certain about that one).

rather than cleaning up manually (which could take a long time, depending on the number of contacts you have), here is a way to start the clean up process.

  1. download googlecl. this open source project allows you to send commands to certain google services from the command line.
  2. download the gdata-python-client library. this is required to run googlecl.
  3. install both (untar, then sudo python setup.py install on both).

now validate that it works - a good test would be running google contacts list ahmed, to list any ahmeds you have in your contacts. this should open up a browser the first time to ask you to authenticate googlecl to use your account info.

now that we’re validated and authenticated, we can start doing things like this:

for i in `perl -e '$,=" ";print +(A..Z)'`; do
   google contats list --fields=name,email,phone $i\* >> contacts;
   # perhaps put a sleep here just to be safe and not get locked out.

the first part enumerates A-Z (got that bit from stackoverflow) - so for each character between A and Z, get all the names, emails, and phone numbers of my contacts. note that this causes certain records to appear many times, and i am not sure if there’s a better way to do this - perhaps just looping on a, e, i, o, u would suffice, but i am not sure.

now, you can do things like this:

# pull out unique contacts
cat contacts | sort | uniq > unique.contacts

# save contacts with no email address in a file for deletion
cat unique.contacts | grep ,None, | cut -f 1 -d ',' > to.delete

# save non-gmail contacts for deletion
cat unique.contacts | grep -v ',None,' | grep -v gmail | grep -v googlemail |
  cut -f 1 -d ',' >> to.delete

# delete them
while read line
   echo 'y' | google contacts delete "$line"
   # perhaps add a sleep here if you're afraid of rate limit/lock out
done < to.delete

and there you have it. eventually, i’ll remove everyone from google contacts, but for now, this greatly reduces the number of people in google contacts that don’t need to be there.

that’s all for now!

running from google

google is a great company with useful products. however, due to its very business and monetization strategies, it has slowly lost some of the trust it once had with people. i won’t go into details here since many people have written on this topic in great details.

i think gina summarizes my concern fairly well with this quote:

If you spend as much time online as I do, you can pump a significant amount of personal information into the cloud every day. Think about what percentage of that cloud Google owns. For me, it’s three years of work and personal email in Gmail, years of events in Google Calendar, phone calls and voicemail in Google Voice, documents and spreadsheets in Google Docs, web page viewing habits in Google Reader. To top it all off, Google also has a record of everything I search the web for every day in their logs.

i use a lot of google products - i count 37 products on my account settings page. my intention is by no means to completely stop using google products, because i think it would be really difficult (if not impossible), especially when you take into consideration google apps (which many companies use), and the fact that i write apps for android. what i want to do, however, is decrease my reliance on google.

the first and foremost service i want to stop using is gmail.

gmail usage for march

above, you can see my gmail usage for march. so imagine that google were to lock me out of my account tomorrow, as they have to other people in the past… losing gmail would be a devastating blow - not because i don’t have backups of the emails there (i keep a backup via imap), but because people only have my gmail address, which means those people would no longer be able to talk to me.

as a result, i have taken my first steps towards liberating myself (at least partially) from google. the first of these steps was registering this domain and signing up for fastmail for email hosting (many talk about this on their sites). the nice part is that i own my domain, so if i decide to stop using fastmail (or fastmail decides to close down or whatever), i simply update dns and my email still reaches me. the k-9 and kaiten apps for android are great imap clients that work well with fastmail.

moreover, i bought the CardDAV Sync app for android and set it up to sync to icloud. i then disabled google’s contact syncing to my email. my next step is to clean out my google contacts by deleting whatever contacts and information that isn’t necessary to be there (phone numbers and addresses are probably the top concern).

that’s it for now!