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Unicode sneaks into the most unexpected places. Do you ever wonder if your life would be much, much easier if your default encoding was not ASCII? Do you know what the difference between UTF-8 and Unicode strings are? Do you know what your default encoding is, or how to change it? Does it all seem to hard, and make you resent anything to do with the locale?
If 7-bit ASCII was good enough for me, it should be good enough for you! Have you been left behind with this whole Unicode thing to the point that you're confused and resentful of the whole thing? I know I was. When your name, and everything you write works wonderfully in ASCII it can be hard to summon the enthusiasm to learn about Unicode, even when you know that you should be handling your data better.
Imagine your code is using a logging library, that expects strings. What does it do when you pass it a Unicode object? It'll probably write it, encoding it in your default encoding (probably ASCII). And it'll probably work, on all of your test cases, and on most of your data. Until someone comes on with a non-ASCII character in their name, and causes your code to throw an exception. You probably weren't expecting it, it might not even be your library. Unicode works implicitly often enough that Unicode can sneak in well before you realise your code isn't robust enough to handle it.
This talk will cover the essentials of Unicode, locale and how they affect things like regular expressions. Perl will be the programming language used to demonstrate these ideas, but much of the content should be accessible to all programmers.
by Dave Hall
Newstead is located less than 2 hours drive north west of Melbourne and less than 1 hour north of Ballarat. The town has a population of around 400 people and has a thriving community. Per capita Newstead receives one of the highest levels of grant money in the country. One of Newstead's other claims to fame is that it is Australia's most open source town.
Over the last few years Newstead has embraced open source solutions for a range of community projects. Newstead has a community maintained website, which is powered by Drupal. Over 60 people in the town have been trained to manage their pages on the community site. The editors range from teenagers through to people in their 70s. The website is currently being upgraded to provide more functionality.
Like many rural areas, Newstead has poor quality copper and a variety of "technology blockers" that prevent many people accessing reliable broadband services at an affordable price. To provide internet access for locals and tourists, the community has built a free wifi network covering downtown Newstead. The use of the network has been growing steadily over the last 2 years.
Three years ago the local internet cafe was the biggest botnet in the district. Today the internet cafe uses Ubuntu and is almost zero maintenance. There were some initial teething problems as users adjusted to the new OS, but now people love it.
During the session Dave will give an overview of some other community initiatives in the town and opportunities for open source small communities across Australia.
Dave Hall has contributed to numerous open source projects, including Drupal core, phpGroupWare, StatusNet, and PEAR. Dave has a special knack for finding elegant solutions to complex problems and a keen interest in performance, scalability, and security. For example in 2009 he designed, deployed, and maintained more than 2000 production Drupal 6 sites for a single client. More recently he kept Al Jazeera's blog site online during the Egyptian crisis. Dave is based in the Central Victorian town of Newstead, where he lives with his family and a bunch of animals. Newstead boasts a community-run Drupal website and free wireless network. Dave is currently working as an Architect and Lead Developer for Technocrat while consulting to other large Drupal clients.
16th–20th January 2012