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Reading Arabic Text on the Web and Authoring Arabic pages

The brute force method (still used) is to save the whole Arabic text as .gif file (or .jpg) – that is in graphics format, so any graphics enabled browser (most today are, apart from Lynx) will display the text either as scanned or made transparent (our original contribution to this backward technology was to capture the screens and apply giftrans.exe to them). This method is still used by a number of Arabic newspapers online either as the only option or an alternative. Needles to say, you can’t edit the text (without using OCR – optical character recognition) and it takes too long to load, plus if you turn images off, you never know what is going on. You can’t also search that graphical text.
You can also output files in .pdf format and require viewers to use Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Here are the details on How To Read Arabic Text on the W3

Writing Web Pages in Arabic:
The choices are also limited here and the issue of coding sets arises. You can, in principle, use any Arabic text editor to do that (by inserting the html tags) but those can easily get mixed up with the text and result in funny behavior. Some Arabic wordprocessors on different platforms started adding HTML filters. Examples include MS Office 97 Arabic edition for Arabic Windows 95 (and the infamous MS Internet Assistant for MS Word 95 Arabic), Nisus Writer for Mac and HTML editors bundled with Arabic enabled browsers. MSIE 4.01 MiddleEast has a customized version of FrontPage Express which has limited Arabic support.
Arabic pages on this site are done in MS Word 97 Arabic then saved as HTML followed by a lot of source doctoring using WordPad.

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Building my own/our company’s web page:

Your internet service provider (ISP) is supposed to give you a few initial hints (mostly about what operating system they run: Unix, VMS a.k.a. VAX or Windows NT etc) and what directory to put your homepage in (usually public_html for Unix and [WWW] for VAX). From now on, it’s a matter of writing the source documents for your website. Is it difficult? Not really. There are a few approaches:
If you are in a hurry or want quality design (especially if you want to use both English and Arabic), try to hire a professional to do the job. Check out our Global Business Directory or simply count on our services.

The most original approach is to learn the basics and build a simple page then keep modifying it as you learn more (on your own or by looking at other people’s work – not blind copying and no violation of copyrights either!)

Another way is by using one of those HTML Wordprocessors or filters and there are plenty of them out there from freeware to shareware to betas and commercial ones: HotMetal, HotDog, Homesite, PageMill, MS FrontPage and countless others (some browsers have authoring tools also like Netscape Gold and MSIE 4.x). The catch here is that you must learn the HTML processor itself (not difficult for most) and you have to keep updating them for the new standard(s).

The other alternative is to use your favorite wordprocessor and save the document as html. MS Word 97 and most recent versions of competitive wordprocessors offer this feature.

There are also a few things to keep in mind when planning and putting your web online: to be brief, don’t use circus colors, too many inline graphics, darkish background or difficult to read text, avoid large file sizes, invest in easy navigation and minimize the number of clicks needed to reach a target, get rid of “click here” to go to .., don’t use those “under construction” banners and consider the diversity of your audience.

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Saving time and money by using offline features:

If you are paying too much for connection time (e.g. in some countries, you pay for phone connection per unit on top of your Internet access fees), there is no need to read everything while still on-line. An easy solution is to save the document you are interested in (under FILE, SAVE AS in your browser) and view it when you disconnect (fire up the browser and Open local file).

Of course, if the document contains images or links that are on different pages, you’ll lose these. There are many programs (retail, shareware or even free ones) that allow you to read offline and manage most of the links etc. These range in size, price, functionality and platform (also 16- or 32-bits). A very useful site with reviews and links to these and many other useful programs (internet and otherwise) is at http://www.slaughterhouse.com/ .

From the drop down list choose offline web page readers or: click Internet Apps, then choose Web browsers and utilities then offline readers. Make sure you browse all the available programs before downloading one. Some are 4 Megabytes, some are a couple hundred Kilobytes in size, let alone price and function or platform.

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Net Abuse (Spams), Internet Security and Privacy:

Information you send and receive on the internet (e.g. E-mail) is usually compared to sending postcards in the mail. In principle anyone who handles those postcards can read them without you knowing of that.

OK, you say, how about encrypting them or using PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) and other counter-sniffing techniques? You may give it a try but remember: you have to communicate with the recipients to hand your “private key” but how?

Is this scary? Well, it is as good as talking on the phone or making your mailing address available for junk mail. Junk e-mail, of course, costs less.
In short, there is no real privacy online. Don’t be deceived: confidential is another abused word like peacejustice and love, to name a few.

Spamming and junk E-mail:
Like junk postal mail and even much worse, junk e-mail is an annoying aspect of the digital world and the irritation it causes is growing by the day. Spamming is the word commonly used to describe Net abuse via e-mail or newsgroups. (Spam is also a brand name food!).
Spammers get your e-mail address in many ways. There are companies that collect and sell e-mail addresses. They acquire your e-mail like they do your phone number or mailing address.
The difference between this and junk postal mail is the fake source. Spammers hide themselves and use many fake addresses for each occasion.

So, what’s the solution? There are e-mail filters which block addresses and domains but addresses are easily faked and one can’t afford blocking domains completely. Remember not to read suspicious messages.

See also: The Spam FAQ (Oh, yes, you are not fighting nonsense on your own. There is a lot of help out there. And while we are at it, you can counter regular junk mail by marking it “return to sender” without opening it – this way they pay postage twice.