For only the second time in 41 years

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Mar 2019 | Tagged as: Keyboard Philharmonic, Uncategorized, culture

January 1st each year is, among other things, Public Domain Day. This is the day, in most industrialised countries, when the copyright period expires on those works which became old enough in the past year. On Public Domain Day, those books, music scores, and artworks enter the public domain en masse. They are free for everyone to use and re-use without asking permission.

This year, Public Domain Day in the USA was notable. For only the second time in 41 years, works actually entered the public domain in the USA on that day. The last time this had happened was in 1998, and before that, 1977. These two 21-year droughts were the results of changes to US copyright law, first in 1976, and again in 1998. “The public domain has been frozen in time for 20 years”, quoted Smithsonian magazine.  Cultural advocates celebrated how the arrival of works into the public domain enriches culture generally in the USA. But they focussed more on literature. I am interested in music scores. Continue Reading »

Top Posts: How to escape apostrophe (’) in MySql?

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 28 Feb 2019 | Tagged as: robobait, software engineering, web technology

I post on various forums around the net, and a few of my posts there get some very gratifying kudos. I’ve been a diligent contributor to StackOverflow, the Q-and-A site for software developers. I’m in the top 5% of contributors overall. Here’s my top-voted answer in StackOverflow currently.

The question, How to escape apostrophe (’) in MySql?,  was asked by anonymous user4951 in March 2012 (and copy-edited by someone else). In abbreviated form, it was:

Continue Reading »

Adventures with the Solar Hijri calendar

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Jan 2019 | Tagged as: culture, i18n, multilingual, time

 Recently, an innocent attempt to correct an error, in a birth date cited in a Wikipedia article, led me to a lesson in the Solar Hijri calendar, used in Iran. It was another wonderful reminder about how interesting and subtle are the calendars and clocks across cultures. Cultures can can approach the task of keeping track of days and years so differently, despite all of us living on the same planet, orbiting the same star and watching the same moon. Continue Reading »

“2 1+ 1 sections”: a quick way to refer to a part of a picture

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Oct 2018 | Tagged as: robobait, software engineering

For one of my consulting clients, I found myself writing command-line tools that operate on videos. One tool zoomed in on the portion of the video frame, to let the user examine it closely. How do you tell a command-line tool to zoom in on one portion of video frame? I came up with an idea, which I call “2 1+ 1 sections”. It is a quick way for a user to refer to a part of a picture, using a concise text notation. I haven’t used it for that client, but I’ll post it here in case it comes in useful later on. Continue Reading »

To the children whose parent just died

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Aug 2018 | Tagged as: community, personal

To K. and C.:

It is a sad, painful road you have to walk. I know, because I had to walk a similar road myself back when I was 19 years old, and my younger brothers only 17 and 16 years.

Be kind to yourselves. The grief is real. Over time it recedes, but expect it to wash in again every so often.

But your strength is also real. You are not the first to walk this road, and you will not be the last. But others have found life, consolation, and joy despite the road — and because of the road.

You will too.

You had a wonderful mother, and I say this having only ever known her back, and left shoulder, on the Orpheum stage. How much more of her wonderfulness you received.

Yours in tears and strength, step after step,
—Jim DeLaHunt

Background: Four times in the past six years, untimely death has rippled my wider circles. Twice a parent died, leaving behind teen-aged children. Once an adult child died, leaving a parent bereft. Once a father died as a young adult child was about to get married. Each time I found myself reaching back to my own grief at my father’s untimely death, when I was young myself, for words of comfort drawn from my healing.  The most recent time was a week ago. I wrote a card to the two teenagers who survived their mother’s death. It seemed fitting to capture the message, because there will probably be a fifth and a sixth time. I’m leaving out the detail of their identity, because the message stands without it.

A settler’s guide to to reading, typing, and spelling Vancouver’s new shibboleths

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 30 Jun 2018 | Tagged as: Unicode, Vancouver, community, culture

My home, Vancouver B.C., just announced new names for two public places: “šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square” and “šxʷƛ̓exən Xwtl’a7shn” . In contrast to just about every other name in this town, these names are not Scottish- or English-derived. Nor are they a Chinese phoneticisation of a Scottish-derived name. Instead, at long last our town asked the First Nations leaders, whose people have been here the longest by far, to contribute the names. I think it is awesome. It is a step towards reconciliation, tiny but real. I think these names will become Vancouver’s new shibboleths.

But names like these represent change, and change is unsettling. The characters are unfamiliar-looking! We don’t know how to pronounce them! There are rectangular boxes showing missing text! There is no ə key on our keyboards! Heh. We seem to have no problem expecting immigrants who grew up with Chinese or Ge’ez or Gujurati writing to learn how to write and pronounce “Granville”, but we are reluctant to step up when it’s our turn.

Never fear. I’m a software engineer specialising in internationalisation and Unicode. Let me explain how to read, type, and spell these names.  It’s really very interesting. Continue Reading »

Top Posts: Why Unicode has separate codepoints for “characters with identical glyphs”

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 May 2018 | Tagged as: Unicode, i18n, multilingual, robobait, software engineering

I post on various forums around the net. Sometimes I am able to tap into such inspiration that I want to add that essay to my portfolio. Such was the case here. The question: Why does Unicode have separate codepoints for characters with identical glyphs? My response begins: The short answer to this question is, “Unicode encodes characters, not glyphs”. But like many questions about Unicode, a related answer is “plain text may be plain, but it’s not simple”.… Continue Reading »

Pilots, emergencies, and “heroes”: thoughts on Southwest 1380

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 30 Apr 2018 | Tagged as: aviation

Every so often, an emergency happens in aviation. 17. April 2018 was one such day. The left engine on Southwest flight 1380 failed. Shrapnel escaped from the engine, damaged the airplane, and broke a window. Sadly, that killed one of the passengers on board. And then news filled with phrases like “heroic pilot” and “nerves of steel”, framing the story around one person who performed well that day.

I am an amateur pilot. One of the habits of many pilots is to read about aviation accidents. From this we learn about what went wrong for others, so that we can do better when things go wrong for us. Like many who know aviation, I would like to suggest a different frame. It’s not about “a” pilot. It’s about a wide range of people: a crew of five people on that Southwest Airlines flight, Air Traffic Controllers, and more. It’s not about “heroic” deeds or “nerves of steel”, it’s about well-trained, competent people, thrust into a stressful situation for which they trained, performing their training well. And while these people are admirable, so are their peers. Continue Reading »

We are sponsoring a refugee family

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 31 Mar 2018 | Tagged as: Canada, Vancouver, community, government, personal

A month ago, three human beings were in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Now they are in Canada, and I am part of the team helping to take care of them. It has been wonderful to watch Canada welcome them. Continue Reading »

Email addresses and domain names are NON-latin! Now what? (IUC41 tutorial)

Posted by Jim DeLaHunt on 28 Feb 2018 | Tagged as: Unicode, i18n, meetings and conferences, multilingual, web technology

Last fall I attended the Internationalization and Unicode Conference. That year was the 41st conference, or IUC41.  In addition to a presentation (described in a blog last October), I delivered a tutorial: Email addresses and domain names are NON-latin! Now what?  I should have blogged about my slides last October, but better late than never. Here are my slides. Continue Reading »

Next »