Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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There are many things in the huge world of computers which are strange or downright stupid. Having different characters to indicate the end of a line is one of them and whoever came up with that idea should be punished.

So for years I've known that Macs encode the end of a line with a CR, ASCII 13 character, Unix machines do it using a LF, ASCII 10 character and Atari STs, MS DOS and Windows machines use both of the above. This used to ensure constant headache when shifting files from one platform to the other, causing either your lines not to end or strange 'box' characters appearing in your text. This also ensured that you'd have to use little converter programs, like File Exchange on the Mac or recode on Unix machines. The other solution would be using powerful text editors like Alpha on the Mac or emacs that can handle all kinds of line endings or have internet applications with built-in conversion for downloads. Just imagine what the accumulated time wasted by both users and programmers to deal with this situation is.

With the advent of MacOS X and Cocoa
programming framework (so, possibly this was already present in Next programs - but what do I know...) this situation improved a lot. Just give a Cocoa application a file with any kind of line endings and it will do the right thing. Simple as that. Thinking about it, doing this isn't rocket science - which makes you wonder why it isn't done universally. Why should anybody need to worry about this?

Luckily those who like worrying about these kind of things, still can. My application Rechnungs Checker has the option to automatically generate e-Mail messages with a given content in your e-Mail application.

This works by bashing all the info for the mail into a long mailto: URL, which will be interpreted by the e-mail application. Now, everything works fine with Apple's Mail. However, yesterday I received feedback saying that there were little boxes instead of new lines in the e-mail, causing me to recognise the old problem. (Do I need to mention that the e-mail application in question was Microsoft's Entourage?)

So I switched from LFs to CRs, which Apple's Mail application still handles well and apparently solves the new line problem for Entourage as well. It turned out, that Entourage can't handle UTF-8 encoded umlauts and Euro-signs either - and that's going to be a more tricky one, I guess.

Programmers suck.

Engineers suck as well - they brought us ethernet cables wich can be patch or crossover. That's a non-issue with my powerbook, which automatically adapts but it's not as nice everywhere.

Why do people come up with such needlessly silly things?

January 28, 2003, 20:04

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