Unicode — The Beginnings

“For me, the need for Unicode first struck about 12 years ago [1985]. While I had done some internationalization while working in Europe, I hadn’t worked on any of the more interesting scripts.  Two programmers, Ken Krugler and I were working on a “skunkworks” project in Sapporo, Japan. Our goal was to produce the first Kanji Macintosh.

Working with our Japanese counterparts was made somewhat more challenging because of the translation issues. In the best of all possible worlds, we would all have spoken a common language. Second best would have been having a technically savvy translator, experienced with software engineering design and concepts. What we actually had was one, lone Apple marketing person, who happened to be bilingual.

Imagine yourself in that situation, having to discuss how to combine Huffman encoding and run-length encoding to compress Japanese input dictionaries. We soon learned the full impact of the phrase “to lose something in translation!”

But then our translator had to leave, and we were left with just vestiges of English on their side, and miniscule Japanese on ours. We then found out just how useful a white-board can be.

Yet one day we hit a stumbling block, and were just not making progress. We had known that Japanese needed two bytes to encompass the large character set, and we had prototyped how to adapt the system software to use two-byte characters. However, we were having trouble figuring out exactly how things fit together with our counterparts’ data formats.

Remember [that] we were new to this, so it didn’t hit us right away. But all of a sudden, we could see the light go on in both of our faces: we had assumed that the standard Shift-JIS character set was a uniform two-byte standard. We were so, so wrong. You needed a mixture of single and double bytes to represent even the most common text. Worse yet, some bytes could be both whole single byte-characters, and parts of double-byte characters. We weren’t in Kansas anymore!

We persevered, and ended up producing a successful product [Apple KanjiTalk].  But — although we kicked around different ideas for a radically new kind of character set — we never did anything with these ideas. That is, not until we heard about a proposal from colleagues at Xerox for such a new kind of character set, a character set originated by Joe Becker, a character set that he baptized ‘Unicode’.”

Mark Davis, President and Co-founder of the Unicode Standard and the Unicode Consortium:
Quoted from Keynote Address,“10 years of Unicode”
September 1997 Eleventh International Unicode Conference #11 (©Unicode, Inc. 1997)


Making a Go board

I like the game Go.  Wikipedia says it was invented about 2,500 years ago in ancient China.  You can read more about it here:


I was eating M&Ms yesterday and realized they would make great Go pieces.  The added benefit is that if you capture your enemy…  yum…  We got some big bags of the colorful candy and sorted them.  Note this is being done on our dining room “chess” table.


The plans were drawn up using DraftSight CAD (from the makers of SolidWorks).  It looked like this:

2015-01-09 - B130610

I imported that into VCarve Pro and generated toolpaths.  Here is what some of the gcode looks like:

2015-01-09 - B130704

I started by screwing down a leftover piece of pre-finished oak plywood and double-checking some tool measurements.  Here is a picture of the grid being cut with a 90 degree v bit.


Subsequent operations included using a 0.50″ ball nosed bit for the edges of the pockets, a 1/2″ straight bit for the center of the pockets, a v bit for the outside chamfer, and a 0.25″ carbide upcut bit for cutting the board out.


Since I lack a vacuum table, I used both onion skinning (a very thin final layer) and tabs (leftover connections you remove with a chisel) to keep the board from moving during cut out.


Here is a closeup of the grid.  I need to understand a bit more about feeds and speeds with v-bits because of the very small diameter at the tip of the bit.


Here is a close up of the orange side during game play.


And finally a view of all-out-go-combat from above.  I think orange is winning, don’t you?


Old hand forged nails

We have some old hand forged nails. The nails were made by a blacksmith.


We polished them with a Dremel tool using a wire brush.  Did you know that a Dremel tool can spin 500 times per second?  Wow.  We wore safety glasses to protect our eyes.


Here is a polished nail.



Here are some facts on old nails.

  • Old nails were once so valuable that when a building burnt or fell down people went through with magnets to find the nails and save them.
  • Nails provide one of the best clues to help determine the age of historic buildings, especially those constructed during the nineteenth century.
  • Between the 1790s and the early 1800s, various machines were invented in the United States for making nails from bars of iron.


Here is the a chart for nails. (Copyright Thomas Visser)



You can read more about it here: http://www.uvm.edu/histpres/203/nails.html

That is all for now!