Print Story A Day in the Life
Working life
By ReallyEvilCanine (Fri Apr 13, 2007 at 03:34:49 AM EST) A Day in the Life, Chinese Whispers, Unicode, AIX monkeys, pie (all tags)
Hooptiously Drangle Me

Dragging my ass into the office today after another night of insomnia that a full bottle of vodka couldn't help, I was in no condition to take any of the 30-odd tickets in the queue. I finally managed to get some of our internal applications loaded and they suck as much as the ones they replaced... and in some cases, more.

Mail time: Junk, junk, stupid notice, junk, dumb question, 14 dumber replies-to-all, unplanned California outage notice which doesn't affect me, junk, stupid mail joke from 1996, notice of customer update, notice of California service restoration, Premium Assistance Nomination, junk, more sales department info none of us give a shit about, ju...

x-posted to da brog.

Hold on! What was that? Premium Assistance Nomination? Hot diggety! I definitely need a few more of those. Undelete that thing but quick! Oh, and it's from $HugeKoreanKorp, the company which filed a ticket that some toerag stole from me. Good thing I stole it back.

The questionnaire responses were almost all 10s and he clicked the "Nominate This Monkey as 'Premium Assistance'" checkbox. Yes! Friday the 13th's looking up. And then I got to the comments.

Satisfaction Comments: ÍêÈ«½â¾öÎÊÌâ¶øÇÒ·½·¨¼òµ¥
Son of a bitch.

How the fuck can this guy sing my praises when the company which handles these surveys is too fuckwitted to implement Unicode, turning everything outside of Western European languages (codepage 1252 / ISO8859-1) into such gibberish?

Next to raw volume of tickets taken, the next highest metric we're judged by is customer response, so these surveys are important. And while it's clear that the customer is happy thanks to those high scores and the Premium Assistance, if managers can't understand the words written, it don't mean much. This is because only a small percentage of customers are moved enough (whether by anger or joy) to actually answer a ticket's survey. Of that group, only a similar percentage will actually take the time to fill in comments. This makes them the cream, but if a manager can't understand what the fuck is written then, effectively, nothing has been.

I set to work.

First: make it usable. Convert to hex, join pairs of bytes:


That's a little better. But something doesn't look right. They're all in the Bxxx and Cxxx pages of Unicode where we keep all the weird crap. I rather doubt this guy wrote his praise of me in old-fashioned poetry using nothing but obscure symbols, so I'm betting this comment didn't start off as Unicode.

So what is it? Well, every word starts off between A1 and D3, and there are only two characters on the Axxx pages. Most of it's Bxxx. The company's Korean but... «check the ticket»... yep, this guy's in a Chinese branch or division. I bet he uses Windows. I bet he's got Chinese Windows installed. I bet this shit's codepage 936.

In the CJK codepages, characters between 0x81 and 0xFE are more or less triggers. Each one leads to another 177 characters (0x00 through 0x3F and 0xFF are off-limits). Follow the codepage 936 link and see for yourself.

So I started clicking after first sorting the characters I had; some were on the same secondary page.

The chart Microsoft has on those pages is a graphic. I could copy characters and then, using PaintShop Pro do a bunch of quick cutting and pasting until I had something resembling a Chinese ransom note, but that's going to be a dead end. You can't paste that shit into Babelfish. Luckily they also give a Unicode reference.

Now to find out what the hell those Unicode bytes were. There's an excellent Unicode look-up at so I used that. Not only did it bring up the characters (with a full Han search), it also brought up the meanings. Sweet mother of dyslexia, I was almost done.

Except that Chinese rarely translates word-for-word the way Western languages like German or Spanish or Norwegian do.

After a lot more copypasta I had:

5168 全 maintain, keep whole or intact
89E3 解 loosen, unfasten, untie; explain
51B3 决 decide, determine, judge
95EE 问 ask about, inquire after
9898 题 forehead; title, headline; theme
800C 而 and; and then; and yet; but
4E14 且 moreover, also (post-subject); about to, will soon (pre-verb)
65B9 方 a square, rectangle; a region; local
6CD5 法 law, rule, regulation, statute; France, French
7B80 简 simple, terse, succinct, a letter
5355 单 single, individual, only; lone
So this is what he had to say about me: 全解决问题而且方法简单.

Time to go fishing:

All solves the problem moreover the method to be simple.

Solve all problems but also simple.

Looks good to me. Looked good to Vera, too. I resolved his problem and made it simple and clear for him.

But all is not well.

Mini-Me had a question about some third-party software support on AIX: "Which version of AIX does $WorkApp work on?" If you know AIX, you know just how touchy versions can be. I sent my protoge to internal support to get an answer.

He got a reply: "Unfortunately we do not have any additional information on the AIX version specifically supported when $WorkApp was released. The only detail to go by is to find out the version of AIX that existed and was released about 6-7 years ago."

Useless fucks. Two can play at that game.
"Write 'em back and ask them which version that was."
"Why bother? I'll fucking look it up myself. It'll be easier."
"You don't understand yet. Make them do the look-up."
"But it's faster if I..."
"Their shitball answer deserves repayment. We have a duty."
"I see," he replied, and fired off another mail to our AIX goons.

He's learns fast but still has a ways to go.

< Optimus Prime and the Long Read | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
A Day in the Life | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
Hmm... by Vulch (4.00 / 3) #1 Fri Apr 13, 2007 at 03:46:55 AM EST

95EE 问 ask about, inquire after
9898 题 forehead; title, headline; theme
800C 而 and; and then; and yet; but
4E14 且 moreover, also (post-subject); about to, will soon (pre-verb)
65B9 方 a square, rectangle; a region; local

So not just a social enquiry about the head shaped dent in your desk then?

You don't mind if I use that do you? by ReallyEvilCanine (4.00 / 1) #2 Fri Apr 13, 2007 at 03:49:53 AM EST
I still have time to edit.

the internet: amplifier of stupidity -- discordia

[ Parent ]
Please do by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Apr 13, 2007 at 05:29:32 AM EST

Not hometime yet.

[ Parent ]
my point by phoenixx (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Apr 13, 2007 at 04:41:10 AM EST
First, the Chinese sentence has some grammar mistakes. The correct one should be: 解决全部问题而且方法简单.
Second: Most of the time, you can't translate Chinese into English directly, character by character - you have to connect them to make idioms and phrases.
Third, the correct translation of that Chinese sentence's English meaning is: Use the simplest way to solve all problems.

I knew there were a couple Chinese speakers here. by ReallyEvilCanine (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Apr 13, 2007 at 04:55:26 AM EST
1) grammar mistakes: Everyone makes 'em. The guy's a tech, and a bit of a knucklehead.

2) Yes, yes, and Japanese is the same way. I know this. It allows for much mirth and merriment in the languages themselves as well as in translation.

3) Your "correct translation" makes no sense in the context of the line which, for that field, asked why the customer was satisfied.

It's possible that I got a couple characters wrong due to differencess in UTF8 vs. UCS-2 insert points. My methodology is above. Errors could also have come from some differences due to the GB18030 standard which might've been implemented on his side. I can't be certain since all I got was the mangled Windows code page line.

the internet: amplifier of stupidity -- discordia

[ Parent ]
Off-topic by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Apr 13, 2007 at 06:07:31 AM EST
Language question: If you had to enter Japanese characters in Linux, but didn't want an entirely Japanese language machine, what would you do?

Oh, and "Dear nVidia, in Windows, when I select 'English' as my language and 'Japanese' for the language for non-Unicode programs, don't show me the fucking display control-panel app in Japanese."
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

You need some sort of IME by ReallyEvilCanine (4.00 / 1) #7 Fri Apr 13, 2007 at 07:40:07 AM EST
There's kinput2 with the Canna back end, or you could try Anthy or SCIM (Smart Common Input Method).

One thing Windows does a hell of a lot better than SCO/Lunix is IMEs (Input Method Editor).

the internet: amplifier of stupidity -- discordia

[ Parent ]
alcohol assisted sleep = diminishing returns by fleece (2.00 / 0) #8 Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 01:05:58 AM EST
ultimately it will disrupt your sleep. You'll wake up at 4am hungover and shitty yet unable to sleep.

Spending all morning at your desk with a hangover sucks too...

worth considering medication?

IAWTP by Herring (2.00 / 0) #11 Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 02:11:28 PM EST
Having had some experience in this area. 4 hours sleep without booze is as refreshing as 8 hours with lots. Not as much fun though.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
WIPO by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #9 Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 08:56:24 AM EST

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
UTF-8 == Teh Uni Koad by ReallyEvilCanine (2.00 / 0) #10 Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 09:19:28 AM EST
One of a few variants, and the most common.

the internet: amplifier of stupidity -- discordia

[ Parent ]
A Day in the Life | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)