Unicode and Fine Tipped Pens

Update time!


Work was a little unusual this week. I’ve been given the go ahead to work on getting the code base for Karisma to compile in Delphi XE, which is much newer than the roughly 14 year old Delphi 5 that we are currently using. Getting the application to compile is easy enough, but the real challnge is getting it to work with and properly support unicode strings. Initially I was thinking that it wouldn’t be a super hard task; sure, there would be challenges and bunch of stuff that needed to be done, but I figured it would be reasonably straight forward. I’ve gotten into it far enough now to realise that I was fairly wrong about that. There is certainly a lot of work to be done, that much I was right about, but while some of that work is easy, much of it will not be so easy. There are a goodly number of library routines that we rely on that need to be replaced or fixed to code with unicode. Fortunately Grahame is working on a bunch of it as well, so hopefully he will handle the stuff that I’m not familiar with.

There’s still a fair amount of work ahead of us, but once it’s all done it should be worth the effort. It will be really nice to start using the new IDE and to be able to take advantage of some of the language features that have been added in the last 14 years. Ranging from something simple like using For Each loops to make writing loops a little nicer, through to perhaps taking advantage of Generics in order to reduce the number of list classes that are largely boiler plate code and only exist so that we can have strongly typed list classes for our objects.


Home life had been fairly uneventful this week. I can’t really say that all that much has happened. I finally got around to doing my tax return, paid my council rates and had to buy a new kettle.

The kettle was a slight adventure. I needed a new one because the old one, which I think is actually less than a year old, seems to have just up and died one day while I was at work and it was sitting idle. Now when I try to turn it on it trips my power. Given that this is the second kettle to die in this fashion since I moved in hear about two and a half years ago, I decided it might be worth getting a kettle that didn’t require power, which meant a stove top kettle. It’s not the kind of thing you see much these days, but they still make them and sell them, so I guess I’m not the only one buying them. I got one that will work on just about any stove top, so I should always be able to use it. It works just fine on my gas stove top (though it does take longer to boil than an electric kettle would) and I now have the added benefit of still being able to boil water during a power outage without having to resort to using a saucepan.

Oh, I nearly forgot. The pens I ordered on ebay finally arrived. After reading about some of the really fine tipped pens that were available from Japan I decided to get some and try them out. So I ordered five black pens with a 0.25mm tip. Looking at the writing produced from such a thin tip it really strange at first, an I’m still not used to it, but I think I like it. It kind of looks like the text was written with a really sharp pencil, an appearance that the black ink no doubt aids. The only slight drawback I’ve encountered so far is that, because of the fine tip, writing can feel (and sound) a little bit ‘scratchy’ depending on how you hold the pen and how hard you press. I’ve found that using the pen a little differently to how I’ve historically used a pend seems to mitigate the worst of it, so it’s probably something that I could train myself out of given a little time and effort.

I guess that’s about it for this week. This has gone on long enough writing about not much at all really, and I’m not quite in the mood to produce another epic like I did last week.

Craig Reynolds @wyldphyre