[Taxacom] The 'X' factor

Curtis Clark lists at curtisclark.org
Thu May 20 20:10:16 CDT 2010

How ironic than the Mozilla Thunderbird conversion to plaintext munged 
some but not all of the UTF-8!

On 5/19/2010 10:00 PM, Curtis Clark wrote:
> On 5/19/2010 5:18 PM, Frederick W. Schueler wrote:
>> * and more importantly, the character that one computer program
>> interprets as the "multiplication thingy" will be interpreted as a black
>> blot or a musical instrument by another program.
> That's why there are interoperability standards. ASCII is one. Unicode
> is another. Part of interoperability is the use of default encodings,
> and the proper tagging of non-default ones.
> By default, every XML file, including RDF/RSS and XHTML web pages, is
> encoded in UTF-8, one of the Unicode encodings. In such a file, × is
> always represented by the same byte sequence. In a properly made font,
> it will display either as the "times" sign, or else as the font's
> "missing character" glyph, often a box or question mark. If it displays
> as a musical instrument, something is broken, either the font or the
> program displaying the text.
> Microsoft Word is always substituting "curly quotes" (“ and ”) for
> straight ASCII quotes, and m- and n-dashes (— and –) for doubled
> hyphens; these are also non-ASCII characters, as are § section marks,
> †extinct species, degree° signs, and µm. It's true that × looks like x,
> just as µ looks like u (a decade ago I saw so many "um" in scientific
> presentations that I started calling my colleagues "uicrobiologists).
> In ancient times, you could type _Encelia_ x _laciniata_, and the
> typesetter for the journal would set /Encelia/ × /laciniata/. Now we can
> make our own italics. It's an artifact of technology that it's somewhat
> less easy to produce our own times signs.

Curtis Clark                  http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark/
Director, I&IT Web Development                   +1 909 979 6371
University Web Coordinator, Cal Poly Pomona

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