Any sufficiently confusing technology is indistinguishable from magic

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/07/11 10:46 -04:00, original URI:

Last month when I posted Guilt by [font ]association (aka The consequences of picking the wrong font #3), I said I'd try to dedfine font association better.

I'm not going to do that just yet.

Though I will talk about another bug that might be related to it, one that might help discern what is going on a bit. Or maybe it will confuse things further....

The report came in just the other day. Some specific text:

國 (U+570b): In Gulim, MS UI Gothic, PMingLiU, SimSun
国 (U+56fd): In MS UI Gothic, PMingLiU, SimSun
龱 (U+9fb1): In PMingLiU, SimSun
⺋ (U+2e8b, CJK RADICAL SEAL): In SimSun
Մ (U+0544, ARMENIAN CAPITAL LETTER MEN): Not in Tahoma, Segoe UI

When stuck in Notepad using a specific font (Century) was reportedly showing some strange behavior. Not when there was an en-US default system locale:

but when the default system locale was ko-KR (Korean):

The kicker, though? If you changed the script to Greek:

then both English:

and Korean:

look fine.

So much for the LOGFONT lfCharSet member not being relevant to Unicode text rendering, huh? :-)

Though the original people were assuming it was to do with font linking, that would not be the case since Century is not in any GDI font link chain. It can't be due to Uniscribe font fallback since the text is not (for the most part) complex. It is not even font substitution, another lingering legacy thing I have discussed before, since the font is not on the list.

I believe it was Arthur C. Clarke who said that Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Though by the time you go through all of the thesaurus words for "ways to change what the font is" that make even smart people like Andrew West uncomfortable (as he mentioned here), it may not seem so much like magic as maelstrom, if you know what I mean.

Somehow, I think the title of this post covers the situation better here. :-)

This latest behavior has been attributed to font association. the feature I mentioned in this post. Though that is still so ill-defined that one may as well give in to the confusion and just say it works by magic.

I will see what I can do to try to provide a better definition than that -- one that will unconfuse things....


This post brought to you by (U+0989, a.k.a. BENGALI LETTER U)

# David Brabant on 11 Jul 2007 11:07 AM:

"I believe it was Arthur C. Clarke who said that Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

You are right. That's Clarke's third law.'s_three_laws

# Michael S. Kaplan on 11 Jul 2007 11:18 AM:

I always liked Niven's Law (1a Never throw shit at an armed man. 1b. Never stand next to someone who is throwing shit at an armed man) better, though it is much harder to fit into a technology blog. :-)

# Mihai on 11 Jul 2007 2:44 PM:

And another "law" I have recently found (not quite in the same class, but good):

"Always code as if the person who will maintain your code is a maniac serial killer that knows where you live"

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referenced by

2008/02/29 A more definitive definition of[ Font ]Association (a technology that helps us put the backward in backward compatibility!)

2007/10/25 Is it a Unicode issue? A non-Unicode issue? What the hell is it? (aka Beware former [Font ]Associations)

2007/07/11 They don't [font] associate with font linkers, among others

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