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Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Wednesday, 24 September 2008, 9:32 am
by DavidTate
Elsesite, Eric asked:
(How in blazes does one do accents in these forums? Hard HTML doesn't seem to work . . . .)

If you're on a Windows machine, there is (in most editions) a utility called "Character Map". It can be reached from Start menu through the sequence

Start -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Character Map

The tool allows you to browse character sets in various fonts, and copy and paste the one you want. It also tells you the WIndows escape code for the character, if there is one, so that you can type it directly instead of looking it up every time. Thus, I have finally memorized the fact that alt-0233 is the e-with-accent-aigu character, é.

I use Character Map often enough that I keep it on the Windows Toolbar (in versions of Windows that still support that) up at all times.

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Wednesday, 24 September 2008, 7:36 pm
by owlcroft
Friends don't let friends use Windows. I have OS/2 on my desktop and Ubuntu Linux on my laptop.

Well, let's see:

é - on my screen, that looks like an "e acute". I did it by the old reliable Alt-1-3-0 method, but whether character 130 will look the same on other browsers I can't say (I'd reckon it might depend on whether the browser default character set is ISO8891 or UTF-8, which latter is what I have my browser set for), as well as what the OS Code page setting is.

My little "PM ASCII" tool shows e-acute for 130 in both Code Pages 437 and 850; that may not be so for other, less-common characters, don't know and am too lazy to check one by one.

(In HTML, e-acute is 233, that is, é or é but neither seems to work if dropped into the text.)

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Wednesday, 24 September 2008, 8:40 pm
by DavidTate
owlcroft wrote:Friends don't let friends use Windows.

I have been effectively constrained by my (various) employers to use Windows systems since 1994. Prior to that, I was a happy Macintosh (and mainframe) user, both at home and at the office. Since I need to bring my work home with me on occasion, I need a Windows system at home. Since I need to travel with my work sometimes, my laptop runs Windows. I just don't have the energy to maintain additional redundant systems that run real operating systems.

Of course, my idea of a "real operating system" is VAX VMS...

My only scrap of civil disobedience is to steadfastly refuse to update at home to the latest version. I generally run a version until it is officially no longer supported by Micro$oft, and then I upgrade to the last fully-mature version. At the moment, I am rather more 'modern' than I would prefer, since my Windows2000 machine died a horrible death, and it was essentially impossible to replace it without switching to XP.

I suspect that Vista may be the straw that breaks this camel, and pushes me into the world of Linux. I am not a Unix fan, in general, but Vista is just obscene.

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Wednesday, 24 September 2008, 8:50 pm
by owlcroft
Since you did not remark on it, I am assuming that é also looks like an e-acute on your screen.

I would long since have shifted wholesale from OS/2 to Ubuntu Linux (which looks to me, as a nonexpert in the field, like the future of desktop Linux) save for the inevitable "legacy" baggage. Mind, I love OS/2, truly; but it is getting harder and harder to find device drivers when replacing hardware, and--worse by far--there is no up-to-date Flash for OS/2. With all the imbeciles in the world now using Flash for everything on web sites, that has moved from annoyance to serious problem.

The things I would miss most are Rexx and my personalized text editor. Rexx is readily available for Linux of all flavors, but I rely very heavily on a few third-party extensions that do not exist outside OS/2 (or maybe Windoze), and I use custom Rexx scripts for a veritable ton of things, including continual ad hoc jobs. My text editor I spent ages customizing (EPM: it is tremendously customizeable, including with extraordinarily complex macros), and don't even know if I could duplicate its capabilities elsewhere, and certainly don't feel like finding out just now. So I keep going, just opening up my laptop when there's a Flash-ed site I have to access for some reason.

Lordy, I hate Flash . . . .

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Tuesday, 23 December 2008, 7:24 am
by owlcroft
For anyone who cares, I have now migrated to Ubuntu Linux on my desktop: this is coming from Ubuntu 8.10, the "Intrepid Ibex" release. Ubuntu release names follow an alphabetic pattern, but use over-cute animal names and adjectives for them; Ibex followed Hardy Heron, and Jaunty Jackalope will be next.

I haven't missed Rexx as much as I feared I might because command-line PHP works as well, and can do even more; its only drawback is that neat-o screen painting will need some new learning by me of the CLI-only functions. But I definitely do very much miss my old favorite EPM text editor (apparently, from what I read, I am far from alone there--that was, and is, a mighty nice piece of work). I am using Cream, a VIM front end, and though part of it is just learning a new tool, other parts are that it just isn't quite as handy or powerful as EPM (and certainly not as customizeable).

But it was inevitable. I miss OS/2, and hope the asses at IBM who killed it with their marketing ineptitude and general Ernestine attitude ("We don't care, we don't have to") roast long and well in Hell. Sigh.

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Monday, 30 September 2013, 7:13 am
by ArnoKA
I don't understand the problem with accents, if you have a standard PC keyboard. Up right, there beside the Back-key, there is a key marked
with both accent-marks. First hit it (if needed with the Shift-key) then hit the letter which you want accented. And Voilá! (or should it be
Voilà?) -- there is your accented letter.

At least it worked all right for me when I wrote about Miéville.

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Monday, 30 September 2013, 10:56 am
by ArnoKA
Now I am ashamed. I should have checked first.

I have an old Tabletop, which I haven't used for years, and for it I have two keyboards, One Scandinavian, one US-one (for programming).

Both have the accent-key, but in quite other places than my present laptop (Chinese!!). It may be that you even have to use the AltGr-
key to reach them. Still, I think, it is easier than using the Alt + code-numbers.

Sorry about the fuss!

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Tuesday, 01 October 2013, 7:09 pm
by DavidTate
ArnoKA wrote:I don't understand the problem with accents, if you have a standard PC keyboard. Up right, there beside the Back-key, there is a key marked
with both accent-marks.


Which two of the many possible accent marks are you calling 'both'? And what is an "AltGr" key?

As you note below, not all keyboards are identical. I have never seen a keyboard with a single key that shows the acute and grave accents, and I've been working with computers for about 40 years now.

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Wednesday, 02 October 2013, 3:59 am
by ArnoKA
I succeeded, not without trouble, to find an old manual, Microsoft MS-DOS 6 User's Guide (oh, how I miss that not "user-friendly" system!).
There were pictures of the twenty different keyboard layouts.

I admit that the only one to have both acute and grave accents on the same key is the Sweden/Finland layout which I am lucky to have.

The US layout is the only one with two similar Alt-keys, on both sides of the space-bar; all the other nineteen layouts have, on the right of it,
a special key, marked usually Alt Gr to be used when there are more than two marks on a key.

I am, again, sorry that I wrote without checking things before.

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Wednesday, 02 October 2013, 1:54 pm
by DavidTate
No problem, ArnoKA -- I'm fascinated to learn how accent-rich languages use their keyboards. It makes perfect sense to me that you would have a special escape key (AltGr) for creating accented characters. I wish I had one myself, for the occasions when I'm trying to type in French and have to make do with extremely tedious and clunky processes.

Of course, it's not just the keyboard hardware. The operating system must have drivers that support the various keyboards, character sets, etc.

To bring this back to Great SF&F, I noted elsewhere that Avram Davidson invented a letter in his story "Cornet Eszterhazy". It is meant to be a parody of letters found only in Nordic languages, such as the 'å' symbol. Davidson's letter reverses that pattern, using a small 'o' with an even smaller 'a' riding atop it. It must have driven his publisher (and printer) to distraction. It occurs to me that he probably submitted a literal manuscript -- hand written. Or possibly typewritten, but with those characters inserted by hand.

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Friday, 04 October 2013, 6:01 am
by ArnoKA
The special letters and symbols are indeed a fascinating subject. We Finns are rather proud of our system where every phoneme has just one
letter, always pronounced in just the same way.

So our linguists decided that we must have a letter for the sibilant (as in she) too. We do not have sibilants in Finnish -- except in case of
ill-fitting dentures or excessive drunkennes. Still they wanted to to have their one and only letter, and they did just like Avram Davidson:
They made their own: They put on top of a S (or s) a tiny v. This happened long ago, before the computer age, of course, and now we are
in trouble with it because it is not included in Extended ASCII.

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Monday, 11 November 2013, 5:28 am
by ArnoKA
In the Good Old Times when the World and I were young (well, actually I was in my forties) I bought a computer
(and, by God, they were expensive those days!). I quickly fell in love with it, taught myself to program, taught
myself to use CAD in my job (I was an architectural designer) -- oh, those were happy days!

Microsoft was marvelous then: splendid printed manuals, marvelous language QuickBASIC 4.0 allowing
assembler-made subprograms and libraries . . .

But I digress in my nostalgia: about special characters and their portability.

This morning a friend of mine sent me an e-mail in German (he speaks splendid German and knows that mine
in very bad, the bastard). In the text there was the beta-character ß which the germans use to mean double S,
I asked him how he had produced it, and he told me to use Alt + 0223 = ß.

It seems to work on this text-editor. But now a mysterious thing: On gmails text-editor there works the old
ASCII's code Alt + 223 = ß ! ! !

Do play with these alternatives in numbers 127 -- 255 and see what happens!


Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Wednesday, 13 November 2013, 11:36 pm
by DavidTate
The eszett character ß is one of my favorites. It combines two features of handwritten alphabets that only survive vestigially in typeset characters: ligatures and the long 's'.

The study of written letters, and how they evolved over time and were adapted to type, is a fascinating one. It isn't immediately obvious that the shapes /A/ and /a/ and /α/ are variants of the same original ox-head glyph, but they are.

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Friday, 15 November 2013, 10:31 am
by owlcroft
Without looking anything up, do I not recall that Germany is formally phasing out special characters in its language? Umlauted u's that doubled-s, and so on? Or is my early morning memoty just foggy?

Re: Special characters in posts

PostPosted: Sunday, 17 November 2013, 2:52 am
by ArnoKA
Ach, Gnädiger Herr Netzmeister! Mann ist was Mann ißt.

Mit herzlichen Grüßen, ArnoKA