What is this 'ass-key' of which you speak?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/09/01 17:28 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2006/09/01/735860.aspx

Cathy Wissink noticed a gem in The New York Times online yesterday and forwarded it on to me. Check out the first question in the Technology section, entitled Odd Characters in E-Mail.

Of course, the answer is not 100% correct (J.D. BIERSDORFER attributes the problem to e-mail programs not knowing how to display the typographical character used by the sender when the much more common reason is improper marking of the charset of the mail message), but then again the NYT site does not seem to use charset meta tags anyway, which maybe explains why it would not occur to mention them....

Now that they have reached both ASCII awareness and that there are things beyond ASCII, they may be ready for Unicode some day. :-)

This post brought to you by (U+17a4, a.k.a. KHMER INDEPENDENT VOWEL QAA)

# Ben Cooke on 1 Sep 2006 7:58 PM:

American folk don't need anything outside ASCII, so it doesn't astound me that in general they'd be less aware of other character sets than your general person in any other country. After all, they are the A in ASCII!

# Ben Cooke on 1 Sep 2006 8:01 PM:

The thought occurs that the US pronounciation of ASCII is probably a lot closer to the word "ass" than its equivilent in British English. I have to assume, therefore, that talk of ASCII results in a lot of funny looks in general speech compared to that in Britian, where the reaction is generally just "oh, that bunch of geeks are talking their usual gibberish."

# Pavanaja U B on 2 Sep 2006 1:51 AM:

All the issue in internationalization, or the lack of it, and the solutions, started from the A (=America) of ASS-key. That is due to the fact that spread of computers started from A. We had our own I (=idiotic?) in ISCII (Indian Script Code for Information Interchange), the flaws which were migrated to Unicode. Like the encoding of consonants with inherent /a/ (short vowel sign).


# Aidan Kehoe on 2 Sep 2006 8:15 AM:

The NYT <a href="http://www.evertype.com/misc/nyt-code.html">did interview</a> Michael Everson, so they're not entirely ignorant of Unicode.

# Mike Dimmick on 2 Sep 2006 10:18 AM:

We've had issues with a particular project where the backend, and infrastructure behind that back end, simply can't cope with anything more than 7-bit ASCII (ISO 646-US). Initially, without thinking, we had our export files being generated as UTF-8 since that's the .NET Framework's default. We switched this to Windows-1252 to try to preserve some capability of entering characters outside this set (for example, the GBP sign £ at U+00A3), but we still got complaints about odd characters. This week we changed the export code to use Encoding.ASCII.

It's painful hearing my colleagues talking about 'extended ASCII'. I need to do some training.

The funny thing is that the users shouldn't really be even entering characters not in the ASCII set. This is a Pocket PC app, and we've written our own Input Method with a very limited repertoire of characters (upper case Latin base characters, numerals, and a few common symbols), with very large keys so it can be operated without the stylus, but the user can still select the standard Keyboard IM and use the [áü] key to enter characters outside this repertoire. Since these will now come out as '?' in the output, we should probably either filter them out when typed, or simply suppress the standard IM.

# Pavanaja U B on 6 Sep 2006 1:37 PM:

Today I was surprised to see the same NYT article being reproduced in Deccan Herald, an English daily published from Bangalore, India. Here is the link to its online version - http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/sep62006/cyberspace163848200695.asp


# Michael S. Kaplan on 6 Sep 2006 3:18 PM:

Well, they did attribute it. :-)

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