Porn, Ramzan, and Pakistan

Do people watch less porn in ramzan? See for yourself !

Update: Post-eid graph at the end

I compared the search interests of terms porn and ramzan in Pakistan for the last 6 years. The data is taken from google trends. Here are a few things to note.

  1. We are consistent. The pattern of searches (as discussed below) is the same every year.
  2. There’s a slight spike in porn search right before ramzan starts. One more for the road?
  3. As ramzan starts, search for porn drops drastically, marked as ❶ in the graph. Peak imaan! The slight misalignment is probably due to people searching for the start date of ramzan before the month actually begins.
  4. Around the middle of the month, there’s a slight peak again when people search for porn, marked as ❷. Stumbles along the way?
  5. Porn search peaks on Eid! (see ❸) The increase is almost twice the drop seen at the start. A inevitable consequence of a whole month of abstinence!

So as the trend goes, an even higher peak in searches for porn is almost guaranteed. This data is just for the search term porn but my hypothesis is that adding other related search terms would show the same trend (feel free to verify this and let me know if you find something interesting). In any case, making this graph has convinced me that internet search trends are a window to our minds and there may be plenty of undiscovered relationships there waiting to be revealed.

Update: Here’s the situation after eid. (aka told’ya so!)


Accommodation in Cambridge


About 3-4 times a year, I get asked by students, visiting scholars, and people moving here for work about how to find accommodation in Cambridge. I usually reply by digging up the last few such emails and tweaking my response a little bit but it just crossed my mind that blogging about it might be more helpful.

So here are some things I have learned about finding accommodation in Cambridge. I will not cover accommodation offered by colleges; if you are a student, you are probably better off looking at your college accommodation website.

Accommodation comes in many flavours:

  • Single room, where washroom and kitchen etc is shared. Usually costs around £550 per month
  • Single Ensuite room, includes a washroom but kitchen etc is shared. Can go for around £650 p/m
  • Single room flat/annexes. Most include all amenities. Can go for north of £900 p/m
  • 2 bed flat/House. £1100+

Single room with sharing is a risk as far as finding good house mates is concerned but I haven’t had any bad experiences.
Finding short term accommodation is more difficult than long term and almost all estate agents offer houses on a 6+ month contract only. Here are a few websites to look at.

  • is very good for longer stays (you might get lucky for shorter as well). Most places here are put up by agencies though which may require some deposits etc.
  • If you are looking for a single room, the best option is to ask your host if they can get an ensuite room arranged in a college. Most colleges have such facilities and almost all researchers are affiliated with some college. College rooms are quite convenient and are sometimes available for visiting researchers out of the term.
  • The university accommodation service. These are rooms/houses checked by the university service. You can apply for free if you are a visiting scholar at the university or an affiliated institute and they usually send you a login credentials within 3-4 days.
  • is a local bulletin board and it’s easy to find short term lets here. Most of these are private land lords. No login required so you can easily check availability.
  • Another option is Some people sublet their rooms/houses here. Most ads have pictures which are more or less recent.

As a general rule, you should pay attention to whether the room/flat is furnished or not and if all all bills are included in the rent (esp. Internet). Cambridge is very cycle friendly so anything under 20 mins of cycling from your work place should be considered. Google maps estimates are mostly accurate. Public transport is  a bit expensive. Keeping a car is an option if you are living a bit away from the town center but good luck finding parking spots in the town 🙂

The housing market is very active and any good property can be gone within a day or two. You have to be keep on checking availability everyday, sometimes twice a day. Some people prefer to stay at a B&B for a few days while finalising permanent accommodation. It costs around £50 a day or so and reduces the chances of getting a not-so-good place to stay. Best of luck!


A survey on Nastaleeq Font preferences for Urdu

tl;dr – A survey I carried out shows that 55% of the respondents considered Jameel Noori Nastaleeq to be the most readable out of six commonly used Urdu fonts on the web.

Update: These stats were updated on Aug 4, 2015


The data below is from a small survey I carried out in order to learn about font preferences of Urdu readers on the Internet. Here’s how it was conducted.

  • 5 prevalent Urdu Nastaleeq fonts were selected.
  • Arial (Unicode) was added as the 6th font.
  • Top 500 ligatures (by frequency) from a corpus of 19.3 million words were selected and concatenated to form a paragraph of text.
  • For normalization, the text was formatted to fit in a box covering approximately half of an A4 page (about 12 lines, single spaced) and font point size was adjusted accordingly.
  • 6 such boxes were created, one for each font.
  • Each box was assigned a letter.
  • An online survey was created in a ‘blind’ setting and the voting link was shared over social networks.
  • Votes were collected over a period of 8 months.

Results: Out of the 281 responses recorded, 55% preferred Jameel Noori Nastaleeq while 24% thought Alvi Nastaleeq was more readable.


Font Responses
Jameel Noori Nastaleeq 156
Alvi Nastaleeq 67
Arial 10
Noto Nastaleeq 30
Urdu Typesetting 15
Nafees Nastaleeq 3
Grand Total 281


Possible Errors:

I couldn’t find any published research on readability of Urdu fonts on the web. This survey can be taken as a starting point but please use the results of this survey only as a crude quantifiable measure of font preferences. (In other words, don’t cite this survey in your research, the experiment settings have oversights).

  • No formal definition of ‘readability’ was provided. No example of readable or unreadable text was given.
  • The participants may not be ‘experts’ in Urdu. There may be some non-native respondents in the survey.
  • There may exist a bias towards Jameel Noori Nastaleeq due to the mere-exposure effect. This font is used in most Urdu based print publications, including daily newspapers and magazines.
  • While the height was same for all fonts, each used a different point size (11-15).
  • It was noticed later that due to an error in conversion, the image for Nafees Nastaleeq was slightly smaller than the rest of the fonts, which might have caused some votes to change in favour of other fonts.
  • Some respondents have commented that comparison between fonts would have been better/easier if the text was in the form of readable phrases or sentences (rather than ligatures). There were reasons of not doing that. Firstly, I was lazy and didn’t want to find a set of phrases which covers all high frequency ligatures in a minimum number of sentences. Secondly, IMHO, form should be distinct from meaning and how things look should not be effected by what they mean. I can be convinced otherwise with respect to the latter reason but for the former one, I will not budge 🙂

Comments/suggestions/criticism welcome.