Nepali word-list for User Dictionary Manager for Swipe like keyboard experience.

Last, i ditched Android for a Windows Phone experience was in 2011 with 2.2 (Froyo). Recently I have grown to like the design philosophy of Lollipop, and so have been dabbling in Android experience for a week now. Up until KitKat, Android design and working was similar to the tried and tested Windows XP, rooted to late 90s and early 2000s user interface. Something that works out of box, and yet feels lame. I do hope to get “Material Design upgrade” within 2014.

There are few perks of being an Android user over Windows Phone user, and few that I sorely miss in Android. Two of these are  1) out-of-box inability of Android Contacts/People App to sync seamless with Facebook and get the most recent picture for incoming/outgoing call, and 2) Windows phone keyboard with my saved Nepali vocab words. For the first problem, I resorted to Sync.Me, which takes care of most of the thing. The second problem, long word list in Nepali accumulated in Windows Phone had no easy way to get transferred to Android device.

This made me look for alternate, and I did find a solution. There is a very good Hamro Nepali Keyboard, which is a favorite among Nepali Android community. Its free and it works. However, I do not use so much of Nepali/Devanagari characters from my handheld device. Windows phone has Hindi/Devanagari characters with dictionary words as a system add on, and I rarely used it. What I needed was, English-to-Nepali words like – “hijo”, “aaja”, “bholi” and not “हिजो”, “अाज”, “भोली”.

How to (Swipe-like) type “hijo”, “aaja”, “bholi” and not “हिजो”, “अाज”, “भोली” from my Handheld device.

Nepali Words and Android Dictionary Managers.

  • I did some online search and it directed me to User Dictionary Manager, User Dictionary Plus, Tweak User Dictionary. All of them, lets me add custom word list to my device.
  • Now, I needed a word list of Nepali words in English Language. I did another online search, and found none. Probably due to a limited knowledge of deep web search know-how. Took me some time, before I got a PDF file format of about 3000 Nepali Words listed in English language together with their definitions and Devanagari characters. Copied it, quickly turned it into MS Excel file, and then a long process of cleaning it.
  • Took me few hours to produce my first version of custom Nepali word-list file. It had about 2900 Nepali words.
  • I downloaded the one of the apps (User Dictionary Manager) and uploaded my list.
  • Finally I had some Nepali words on my Android device, that I can use it in keyboard with swipe-like approach.
  • Then I downloaded Tweak User Dictionary. Tweak User Dictionary claimed to have around 4k Nepali words listed (as of November 15th) as opposed to only having handful of Hindi, Bengali, Marathi words. I installed it, and then increased my total word counts to 5700. I also did a duplicate check and deleted them.
  • Final file is shared here – wordlist.txt (its rusty, but should work)

I will be updating this file, until I find another bigger version of it (which I am sure is somewhere out there). Now I can swipe my Nepali words (in English language).

My search for handheld Car Dash Unit (CDU)

Thrifty? is not the word that I’d use right now. I’d say pragmatic. My problem this time was about getting a GPS unit for Oz (that’s the name of the vehicle I drive – small, green-ish wonder machine for travelling). Oz doesn’t have in-built GPS unit with fancy touch screen. I needed a GPS unit, and a smart scan through respectable retail outlets gave me rigid options. On top of my head there were GPS unit from Garmin, Magellan and Tom Tom. Then there was Navigon, but I always associated it with Nokia and Navteq – all of them started with “N”.

My requirements

  • Simple GPS Unit with 4 inch display
  • Capacitive display preferred
  • Maps which can be updated – once in a while
  • — would be great if I could – – connect it online.

In the Market

Most of the (new) units had a price range above 100$, and some were with resistive screen with limited expansion options. Garmin Nuvi 3597 LMT HD was awesome with voice recognition and great size of 5 inch capacitive screen, but with a price above 350$ (as of November 2014) it was out of my league. A quick Bing referred me to PC World comparison from September 2014. There was also How to Buy a GPS that referred the most respectable unit – Garmin nüvi 2350LMT that is now sells for 104$ in Amazon. Magellan offered with Magellan RoadMae 9055 is commendable, but again, its expensive for its price (personal remarks). There were many more, and plenty have great personalized YouTube reviews as well. However, none came closure to my requirement at my budget. Hence, I went ahead, and got something unusual.

My Alternate

  • Wait for a mobile deal – Windows Nokia Lumia 521 – I got it for less than 65$. Ebay deals are sometimes even cheaper.
  • Get a mobile Car Dash – iOttie Easy – from Ebay – about 19$
  • Vehicle Power Adapter – for micro-USB phone  – got this from Ebay as well – about 10$
  • Micro SD Card – average speed (Class 4) – 16 GB – around 9$
  • TOTAL – Around 110$ [and there is no SIM Card]

What I gained?

Windows Phone, again, is a platform I am very comfortable with. Nokia Here Map can be offloaded for offline use and currently there is a 300+ MB worth of maps downloaded for state of Virginia, which is regularly updated. Micro SD Card – 11GB worth of Playlist Music – most of which is Nepali Folk songs, Nepali songs, Bollywood and 80s and 90s English Rock Music. There is also App support in Windows Phone Market for Waze (free) and MapQuest (free). Not that I use them, but its nice to have them, even if its crippled for WP platform as well as does not work well without SIM Card. Nokia Lumia 521 has capacitative screen, and 1400 mAh worth battery which is replaceable. A 2013 affordable smartphone, this device does everything a GPS unit would do and more. On top of this, with Here Map from Nokia, I can save the bookmarks on my web browser before syncing it with the phone, whose wi-fi range is just enough to reach my router at home.

Working

It works. My setup for Handheld Car Dash Unit works as

  • Capacitive Screen, with Nokia Screen Touch Sensitivity
  • Weather Forecast (through wi-fi)
  • Mapping Device – offline maps, with maximum speed warning. Nokia Here Map works good, and there is always offline maps from Open Street if I want a free alternate or a payed Windows Phone App.
  • Music Player with loads of music.
  • Important phone numbers and addresses of friends and family. (although I had to make one more outlook.com account)
  • Calendar and Reminder with Cortana function
  • A 5MP emergency camera
  • PLUS  – I can always replace the unit with my own personal mobile phone. The iOttie thing holds pretty well.

But there are few complains here. I haven’t put in any SIM, and hence GPS takes some time to lock. It usually takes around 30-45 seconds for it to lock in to my position when I am away from my home. I wonder if old non functional SIM from T-mobile / AT&T can better its positioning capabilities? Not sure of it, though I have put in my Nepal’s NCell SIM this morning. Have yet to conclude, although theoretically, this SIM should also be able to locate the Mobile Towers and in return boost up the GPS capabilities. I do not know if the battery life is good or bad, as I usually do not turn off the Unit when I am out of the vehicle. There always seems to be very less battery juice in it.

Conclusion

I would definitely recommend this setup for any person who is comfortable with Windows Phone UI. This arrangement has many perks for its price point. Despite its quirky locking capabilities, its handy for many other stuff (mentioned above), For the same matter, I would also recommend a cheap Android phone as In-Vehicle GPS unit as Here Map is now available for Android also (albeit in beta for now). That being said, for the price, I personally feel Windows Phone is much better an option when compared with Android devices with Kit Kat (4,4,4 and below). At present Google Maps does not provide offline map solution as wide as Here Map. It would have been an amazing device if it also had a compass and LED light built on to this handheld device.

Recommendation

Well there are few recommendations here, as a general anticipation for future requirement.

  1. I would love to see a good OBD-II hardware compatible mobile Applications. There is OBD Auto Doctor and few others, but its not Automatic, which is absolutely gorgeous and limited to iOS and Android.
  2. Moreover, if Automatic can do it, why can’t there be a simple, affordable alternate to it. Most of the Vehicles in USA, already have OBDII ports, and most smartphones have Bluetooth built in, with a strong underlying operating system, that can act as one stop hub for Car Diagnostics.
  3. Like NEST, why doesn’t Microsoft, Google, Apple, or even Blackberry built a Smart Car Dash Unit, which can be put in any car. Each already have a strong operating system with GPS capabilities and Bluetooth/NFC  connectivity. Online search for OBDII Bluetooth Adapter Scanner from Ebay has adapters prices from 10$ upward.
  4. A simple setup like Lumia 521 smartphone capable hardware (minus the SIM card) and OBDII adapter with NFC and Bluetooth connectivity with a very strong software suite – and sell it for say – 200$. Obviously this should also have wi-fi, GPS, an extra SIM port, 2000 mAh battery, preferably a Qi-charging cradle, and a minimum of 4 inch display with 16gb storage capabilities. It would be a better option than Carplay or Google Android Auto. Selling it through Car Dealers would be a first (I guess) and It would work with most vehicles on the road today.
  5. One could give it to your children for parenting their driving habits. The data would be stored in cloud, and available for either ones mechanics and/or insurance agent. I think Progressive has the OBDII Adapter, but this would be email accounts, and facebook/twitter accounts but for Vehicles. May be IFTTT would be built in for more wider automation. Kind of like what Microsoft is doing with Microsoft Band – Cloud Based Service and Multi Platform together with Cortana like solution.
  6. Whatever, it becomes, its UI should be more akin to Windows Phone UI – few big tiles with big buttons, for old age, and anti glare, anti reflective screen for better driving experience.

Okay, got to go, please excuse my grammatical errors, if any. Oz is waiting.

PS – I wonder if T-mobile would give me that 200MB monthly internet SIM quota for my Car Dash Unit free?

November and Material Design

Weather in Charlottesville is on the lower side, with dismal white skies and bleak  winds. Winter is upon us, and so is the huge annual shopping season for this place. Nepal usually has it during August/September during Dashain/Tihar. Last year was my first Thanks giving and Black Friday event here, and it was fun.

I saw consumerism at its peak with religiously following flock standing outside the temple shrine of big retail giants. I joined and became one of them, standing in frigid winter for more than an hour before a volley of men and women fought for precious deals. For my shopping, I waited online, up late at night, waiting for that small window of opportunity – and got myself a decent portable computer machine (11 inch, Dell laptop). Thanks Giving however was not fun. Partly because we had no nearby friends and families that celebrated this customs. Hopefully this year becomes different. We did get a turkey, but we didn’t know how to cook it well. I was limited to glass or two of good wine with cooked yet unflavored turkey meat.

This year has been relatively better, and up till this moment, we have not decided on anything particular for Black Friday or the Cyber Monday. Instead of a whole Turkey, we have decided to delineate into making turkey mo:mo. Something we enjoy better.

Waiting for Android Lollipop to be available for the mass devices. My personal feeling, that this may finally be a good looking interface for Android. Looking forward to “Material Design”. Never liked Android before, but things may change in future.

I am a Windows Phone person, however I do think that WP needs a boost in its App Market as well as a system that works more fluid now. I do not need games in my handheld devices, and so my Applications are limited to certain “productivity” range. I love Windows Phone implementation of People/Contacts and its in-sync with Social Networks like Linked-In and Twitter (obviously Facebook is there). Default mail application has still not been updated; and default Music application is still crawling behind Windows Phone 7 Music Application. Social Network and Chat apps like Skype, FB Messenger and Viber still takes a lot of time to load in even 1 GB RAM machines and periodically freezes up. This, in-spite of me manually closing all other back ground applications. Apart from the above few problems, WP is a solid platform. I love it. Outlook.com has been a huge help for my daily routine – mails, contacts and calendar. One Note is my personal library, big importance. There is a rapid development cycle gong on, and hopefully I will see more fluidity in coming days, but for now, Android and iOS just work. This makes me want more.

Somewhere in between it was e-commerce that caught my attention. Next article, I want to explore about how big retail giants could shape a new legal boundaries. Well more of tip toeing this time.