An irresistible force walks into an immovable object (aka the Thai that binds us)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2011/06/24 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2011/06/24/10178528.aspx


It dates back to some time between when Windows XP shipped and Windows Server 2003 shipped.

Suddenly, in a wee bit longer than a blink of an eye, it was determined that Microsoft's essentially promiscuous use of both the Unicode PUA (private use area) and unpaired Unicode surrogates were not only bad and/or wrong -- they were in some situations potential security issues.

This was kind of the point of Keeping out the undesirables? and similar blogs.

Now if you ask me, we went a little overboard on this one, which is the theme of The torrents of U+fffd (aka When security and conformance trump compatibility and reality) and other U+fffd blogs in this Blog.But that's neither here nor there, today.

I just wanted to point out that now, all these years later, the work is done. We have bombed the PUA village and we've strafed the unpaired surrogate survivors.

Even when (as pointed out in Short-sighted text processing #5: PU[A]! That pad THAI is pretty spicy....) we find we have told tell backward compatibility to Get Bent.

The PUA is gone from our hearts and our minds and our memories -- never to darken our doorstep again.

Um, except the place we forgot.

The Microsoft implementation of The Thai Pattachote keyboard layout.

You can see it right here. Or otherwise here it is, hidden in plain sight right atop the Enter key for over a decade:

This is just Microsoft, mind you.

The various other places where you can see the Thai Pattachote keyboard layout, like here and pretty much most other places, if you ignore a few places like here, which seem to be following us to insert a U+f8c7 on that key.

Note that is not one of the PUA characters on the list that once gave us Thai as we wanted it that I mentioned in Short-sighted text processing #5: PU[A]! That pad THAI is pretty spicy.....This is just a random piece of the PUA whose continued presence is mostly due to this error of ours dating back to at least Windows NT 4.0, if not earlier.

We even have it mapped in Code Page 874, albeit underhandedly.

Oops, we have it there in the code page, too!

Now we have an interesting decision to make, one that will test the universal prohibition that has existed about never removing anything from a keyboard layout once it has shipped.

Do we remove U+f8c7 from the Thai Pattachote keyboard layout in future versions?

In this true case of an irresistible force versus an immovable object, it will be interesting to see what we do....

The advantage here is that no matter what, we are being consistent with  previously established behavior, but the disadvantages is that no matter what, we are betraying as previously established pattern of behavior....


Richard on 24 Jun 2011 9:38 AM:

Of course, an irresistible force cannot exist in the same universe as an immovable object. If the object moves, it's not immovable; if it doesn't, the force isn't irresistible.

Michael S. Kaplan on 24 Jun 2011 9:35 PM:

I remember an old comic where Mon-El put his arm in the way of another super-powered being's sword trying to chop something, and a huge explosion happened.

Lar Gand's words? "That would be an example of an irresistable force striking an immovable object."

I guess even superheroes worlds have to find ways to try to work in the physical universe. :-)

Quite so on 28 Jun 2011 8:35 AM:

The word is "incompossible", meaning "cannot exist in the same universe at the same time."  This has awesome possibilities:  consider "Sir, we are incompossible" as a challenge to a duel....

Michael S. Kaplan on 28 Jun 2011 10:50 PM:

Like Star Wars and Star Trek?


referenced by

2011/10/19 A joke,and the exception that proves the rule....

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