Humor: April 2009 Archives

Unifaces and Other Unusual Unicode Applications


A while ago, I pointed out that vision charts have expanded beyond the Western scripts, and now so have emoticons. Check out for ways to use the wide range of Unicode symbols to express different facial expressions. Thanks to the Twitter feed authors for sending this to me.

And while I was at it I checked out her site and discovered that:

  1. Mojibake is the Japanese term for the Unicode question mark of death when symbol cannot be displayed. I am glad to have a technical term, but since it's not translated, I do wonder what the literal meaning is. Hopefully it means "ghost character" or "character changing". It appears that the verb bakeru means "change spookily" or "appear in disguise". Ah the mysteries of Unicode.

  2. If you need a new hobby, you can try faking Cyrillic text with Latin characters (e.g. PyccKNN instead of Русский). Detailed instructions are on the Wikipedia Volapuk encoding page. Actually there was a scare a few years back where some Russian spammers were using Cyrllic characters to fake Western URLs (e.g. РЕИИ SТАТЕ ... or if you like Greek - ΡΕΝΝ SΤΑΤΕ) Only the "S" is Western Latin. It turns out to be tricky in both directions because it's the capitals that match the best. But I guess it's the global version of Leet (L33t/1337)

I'd be tempted to tell everyone to get back to work, but then I would have to get back to my work, and that's not always Unicode related.


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I am a Penn State technology specialist with a degree in linguistics and have maintained the Penn State Computing with Accents page since 2000.

See Elizabeth Pyatt's Homepage ( for a profile.


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