3.1161 polyglot's lament (52)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Sun, 11 Mar 90 22:27:43 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1161. Sunday, 11 Mar 1990.

Date: Sat, 10 Mar 90 12:09:02 CST
From: Richard Goerwitz <goer@sophist.uchicago.edu>
Subject: fonts, Note Bene

It was only with a touch of annoyance that I read the recent posting
about installing new fonts on Nota Bene. Three years ago there were
no special language versions, and I remember vividly spending hours
designing fonts for my Hercules Plus and my Toshiba printer, and then
hacking the printer and font tables to recognize all the new charac-
ters. At the time I was quite proud of my achievement, but in retro-
spect it seems like quite a lot of wasted effort. It is absolutely
rediculous that an operating system, and in fact a whole system archi-
tecture, should be so confining as to make it necessary to hack it
just to display a new character.

Even if we are lucky enough - and, incidentally, have the time and de-
sire - to be able to hack one software package to accept a new charac-
ter or character set, the very fact that it is a hack means that it is
not portable. This makes interfacing with other software packages a
nightmare. It even makes upgrading Nota Bene (or whatever package is
being hacked) a problem.

I'm an inveterate MS-DOS and Unix user, but it still seems painfully
obvious to me that anyone who has a lot of diacritics and new fonts
to deal with never should have bought an MS-DOS computer in the first
place. I'd say that they should have bought a Mac, except that Apple's
policies as a corporation are so hideously self-centered and short-
sighted. Still, a Mac is the best thing going right now for multi-
lingual processing just because the designers had the sense to design
the operating system so that it offers low-level support for multiple
fonts. No need to hack everything separately. Just one "hack" does
the trick.

I pray for the day when I can afford to put a NeXT on my desk, and have
the time to develop the software I need for that environment.

It's an imperfect world, and it's time for MS-DOS users (like me) to
admit that they have turned down an alley which dead ends a few blocks
up the street.

-Richard L. Goerwitz goer%sophist@uchicago.bitnet
goer@sophist.uchicago.edu rutgers!oddjob!gide!sophist!goer