Re: Your Message Forwarded

From: Timothy Huang (
Date: Sat Aug 17 1996 - 23:47:07 EDT

Dear Edward,

The followings were what I wrote to Gary Liu.

>Hello, Gary Liu

>Your message to the is posted as followed.
>You do have a good point -- "How their product will shape the culture of
>other nations". Many Western vendors some times ignored this is an
>important issue. Some of them never thought about that yet. And some of
>them just can not think.

>As for the Unicode adopting the National Standards, they already did
>that. However, that also caused a great deal of problems. Many national
>standards were done by imcompetent government people.

Yes, in real life we do meet many novices like him all the time. They
are not expert of character coding, but just a bounch of fed-up users.
We heard a lot of promises from various sources (goverment agencies,
news paper, coding experts, companies, domestic and abroad) that Messiah
was coming "very soon". Meanwhile, we were all enduring all kinds of
difficulties of using CJK computing (mainly, short of some absolutely
needed characters). Well, the current available codings (GB, JIS, KIS,
CNS, Unicode, etc.) to an user can be explained to the Western coding
experts, if I used the following scenario:

Let's assume, when the English letters were coded, the "experts" did a
"great" statistic and found that letter "x" and "z" were used only in
neglectable percentages. Thus, these two letters are not coded in the
final coding standard. Now, if you have to use this kind of computer,
what kind of reactions will you have? Yes, the "experts" would heard
your complaints and promised to have a new solution "very soon". Do you
know different people define "very soon" very differently? As in Taiwan,
this "very soon" can mean 12 years. When you want to use your computer
to write a letter to a friend, and find out that your computer which
costed you a great deal of money, can not even type out his friend's
name. At this moment, the most important thing is not "Mr. Godot is
coming very soon", but a real solution. We just heard "the wolf is
coming" one too many times.

In fairness, the difficulties of using Chinese computing should not be
blamed on coding along. Operating systems, application softwares and
many other factors also contributed to the problems. However, the coding
is the foundation to the OS and applications. Most of the average users
do not understand that. And I think the Unicode 2.0 will sound just like
another "cure-all savior" to them. They were already promised so many
times in the past. Hey, I just remember one interesting story:

In 1984, Dr. Ervin Ho, CEO of III invited me to evalue the Big-5
integrated software (not the Big-5 code). After the demonstration, on
our way back to the room, I saw many people of III were handwriting
articles for their magazine, so I asked Dr. Huang (now, vice CEO of III)
who accompanied me: You just show me how great is your wordprocessor,
but how come these people are still using their hands to write? To my
supprise, Dr. Huang told me, he also think it's faster and easier to use
handwriting! And this still hold true even after 12 years. Many people
still have their name hand written in their National Health Insurence
Card NOW! What people say and what they do can be very different.
Chinese can not advance into information age without a good Chinese
computing environment, and that is why it is so important of the Chinese

However, I do think Mr. Liu does have a good point -- "How their
products will shape the culture of other nations". We experienced so
many American software companies do not even care about this. They
basically hold the attitude of "since our product works so well here in
America, so it must work well there too". I don't want to call names.
Users didn't feel the sensitivity (toward our culture) from these
companies, but felt they were pointed by big gun on temple and hear
"take it, or ..." Well, poor Chinese users. I don't blame the American
people or companies at all. Why they have to care? Can they care? NO! In
order to have good Chinese computing, it is the responsibility of
Chinese, not the American.

Timothy Huang

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