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I think it's a common misconception that only applications that are targetted at an international audience have to deal with the topics we usually think of as internationalization, such as non-ASCII character sets, handling time zones and international addresses correctly, and so forth.

But in this day and age, you can get most of these "international" data variations even from dealing with a strictly domestic audience. Most common word processors emit non-ASCII characters like directional quotes, and users are increasingly aware of how to make use of characters with dïacritics, symbols like ©, and so forth. Besides, if you're working on a web app that'll be going on the public internet, trust me when I say that you'll get all kinds of different data thrown at it from all over the world, whether you like it or not.

StickyMinds just posted my take on the subject as this week's weekly column: Bare Minimum i18n.

rickscott: Bemused-looking picture of Rick (Default)

I love this song by the Afro-Cuban All Stars, and not just because it has a great beat. (lyrics)

Yo le puse el corazón // también le puse la mente //
y el producto resulto // bien distinto y diferente.
I put my heart into it // and also my mind;
the product that results // is very unique and different.

A lot of the value I bring to a test team (or indeed any team) comes by virtue of being different -- of bringing a different life experience, different perspective, and different set of skills to the table.

To take one example, I interact with the Internet through a medium that's very different from that of most people. I use Linux and other open-source software well-nigh exclusively, often via a textual interface. I read mail with mutt, chat with people using irssi, and tweet using ttytter. For many years I browsed the web using lynx simply because my outdated pittance of a computer couldn't handle anything more demanding. Even now, my default view of the web doesn't include javascript, java applets, or flash. A lot of things fall apart when the assumptions that they're developed under crumble.

To take another angle, I've worked as a programmer, sysadmin, and a tester in recent memory. While I'd likely lose out on a kernel hacker job to someone who's spent the last 20 years coding in C, small shops (like the one I'm in now) really appreciate having someone around who can kick servers together, debug CMS modules, and come up with testing tools for the open source project we're hacking on. So it goes with other aspects of my background -- knowing i18n and a few snippets of Japanese because of my time as an exchange student; being sensitive to the ethical ramifications of a piece of software on account of my background in Philosophy; thinking things out in terms of concepts, theories, principles, and strategies, because that's simply how my mind works.

It may be presumptuous to think that you can be the best programmer in the entire world, or the best tester, or what have you. But you can be the best you in the world; the best at at offering the unique set of skills and perspectives that only you have. Though I endeavour to give my best, I'm not so presumptuous to think that I am the best. But I hope you will always find my work distinto; diferente.


rickscott: Bemused-looking picture of Rick (Default)
Rick Scott


Canadian philosopher-geek who's profoundly interested in how we can collaborate to make technology work better for everyone. He's an incorrigible idealist, an open source contributor, and a staunch believer in testing, universal access, and the hacker ethic.


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