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RE: [xml-dev] RE: Encoding charset of HTTP Basic Authentication

From: "David Lee" <dlee@-------.--->
To: "'Michael Kay'" <mike@--------.--->, <xml-dev@-----.---.--->
Date: 2/1/2012 12:12:00 PM
Agree with Michael.
Character encoding is *not* a recent problem.  It may still be hard, but its
not recent.  Back when I was getting my Amateur Radio License (1970ihs?) I
remember a strong petition to the FCC to try to allow amateur teletype to
use ASCII instead of BAUDOT.  'Everyone' knew IBM machines used EBCIDIC ...
(and lets not talk about Morse Code, an early multi-bit character encoding).
Even those old DOS boxes had 'CodePages'.    People talk about DOS a lot but
really most of the early internet machines were Unix.    Of course Unix (now
Linux) still doesn't solve character encoding issues very well.    

Encoding still is a hard problem but I can't accept that Ignorance was the
cause of it missing from the HTTP specs. 

----------------------------------------
David A. Lee
dlee@c...
http://www.xmlsh.org


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Kay [mailto:mike@s...] 
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2012 3:40 AM
To: xml-dev@l...
Subject: Re: [xml-dev] RE: Encoding charset of HTTP Basic Authentication


 >The distinction between bytes and characters is a fairly recent 
development. When I bought my first computer in the 1990s it came with 
Windows 3.11 and MS-DOS 6.22, and the german versions of those use 
different "code pages"...


In the Computer Science Tripos at Cambridge University they always used 
to ask a few open-ended questions, and I remember one from the early 
1970s along the lines "Why is character encoding such a difficult thing 
to get right?" Forty years on, getting it right hasn't become any easier.

However, I think any student answering that question would have been 
expected to understand the difference between characters and the bytes 
used to represent them.

Michael Kay
Saxonica

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