Unicode Roman Numerals and Screen Readers

Screenshot of a Table of Roman numerals in Unicode.

How would you read this sentence out aloud? "In Hamlet, Act Ⅳ, Scene Ⅸ..." Most people with a grasp of the interplay between English and Latin would say "In Hamlet, Act four, scene nine". And they'd be right! But screen-readers - computer programs which convert text into speech - often get this wrong. Why? Well, […]

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Unicode operators for semantically correct programming

Why do most programming languages use the / character when we have a perfectly good ÷ symbol? Similarly, why use != instead of ≠? Or => rather than →? The obvious answer is that the humble keyboard usually only has around 100 keys - and most humans have a hard time remembering where thousands of […]

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Black and white text banner proclaiming that you don't need HTML.

Originally posted as part of HTML Hell's advent calendar. While browsing Mastodon late one night, I came across this excellent blog post called HTML is all you need to make a website. It describes a few websites which are pure HTML. No CSS and no JS. And I thought… do you even need HTML to […]

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Some more silly Punycode domain names

The logo for the band Spinal Tap. The logo looks like it has been chiselled out of heavy metal by virgin nuns who only wish to please the gods of rock and roll.

You know how it is, you buy one silly domain name and then you get an idea for loads more! A few weeks ago, I got https://⏻.ga/ - I think I'm the first person to get a domain name which uses a glyph from the Miscellaneous Symbols Unicode block. How exciting! And that got me […]

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Not Quite Emoji Domain Names

A bright red power symbol.

Like all good geeks, I have far too many domain names that I acquired for interesting projects which never took off. My latest is a bit different though. https://⏻.ga/ That's "Unicode Power Symbol Dot Gabon". Because why not. Regular readers will know that I helped get ⏻ and several power symbols into Unicode. When I […]

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The (Mostly) Complete Unicode Spiral

Zoomed out view of a dense spiral.

I present to you, dear reader, a spiral containing every1 Unicode 14 character in the GNU Unifont. Starting at the centre with the control characters, spiralling clockwise through the remnants of ASCII, and out across the entirety of the Basic Multi Lingual Plane. Then beyond into the esoteric mysteries of the Higher Planes2. Zoom in […]

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Why doesn't Disney+ support accents in profile names?

An apostrophe in Donald O'Duck causes the profile name to display an error.

Because I'm genetically pre-disposed to watch every piece of Star Wars content ever created, I signed up for a free trial of Disney's newest streaming service. As part of onboarding, it asked me to create a profile name. This is typically done so that multi-user households can have separate profiles and preferences. Mum doesn't have […]

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EBCDIC is incompatible with GDPR

Dutch text and a diagram.

Welcome to acronym city! The Court of Appeal of Brussels has made an interesting ruling. A customer complained that their bank was spelling the customer's name incorrectly. The bank didn't have support for diacritical marks. Things like á, è, ô, ü, ç etc. Those accents are common in many languages. So it was a little […]

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🔥.me.ss! You can't register emoji domains in South Sudan

Dear Terence, We have contacted the registry and they said they don't allow 2 successive dashes.

It's useful to share negative results. Not every experiment has an amazing or successful outcome. tl;dr you can't register Punycode .ss domains. This also means Internet users in South Sudan can't register domains using their own writing system. Background The Republic of South Sudan became independent and joined the United Nations back in 2011. A […]

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⩵ != ==

Lots of mechanical fingers typing on a complicated keyboard.

One of the frustrating things about computers is their limited input options. A "standard" PC keyboard only has about 100 keys. Sure, some have some bonus buttons for controlling the machine, but it is becoming clear that there simply aren't enough buttons to efficiently program computers. Most programming languages have the concept of relational operators. […]

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