Internet and e-mail policy and practice
including Notes on Internet E-mail


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10 Jul 2011

Email in the World's Languages (Part II) Email
In our
last installment we discussed MIME, Unicode and UTF-8, and IDNA, three things that have brought the Internet and e-mail out of the ASCII and English only era and closer to fully handling all languages. Today we'll look at the surprisingly difficult problems involved in fixing the last bit, internationalized e-mail addresses.

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  posted at: 15:40 :: permanent link to this entry :: 3 comments
Stable link is

Email in the World's Languages (Part III) Email
In our
last installments we discussed the various ways to encode non-ASCII character sets, of which UTF-8 is the winner, and some complex approaches that tried to make UTF-8 mail backward compatible with ASCII mail. After years of experiments, the perhaps surprising consensus is that if you're going to do international mail, you just do it.

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  posted at: 15:40 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

08 Jul 2011

Email in the World's Languages (Part I) Email

Back when the Internet was young and servers came with shovels (for the coal), everyone on the net spoke English, and all the e-mail was in English. To represent text in a computer, each character needs to have a numeric code. The most common code set was (and is) ASCII, which is basically the codes used by the cheap, reliable Teletype printing terminals everyone used as their computer consoles. ASCII is a seven bit character code, code values 0 through 127, and it includes upper and lower case letters and a reasonable selection of punctuation adequate for written English. It also includes some obscure characters, such as @ which was chosen for the middle of e-mail addresses in part because it was on the ASCII keyboard and otherwise not much used.

But nearly every other written language requires characters outside the ASCII set. On the modern Internet, mail users live in every country in the world and write in a vast array of languages, and e-mail has been slowly evolving to handle everyone else's language. In today's note I'll describe the changes already made to Internet mail to handle other languages, and in the next message I'll describe the work in progress to handle the last missing parts.

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  posted at: 02:36 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
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04 Jul 2011

A politically incorrect guide to IPv6, Part II Internet

In a previous message we looked at the question of how hard it will be to get IPv4 address space once the original supply runs out. Today we'll look at the other end of the question, how much v4 address space do people really need?

The end to end principle says, more or less, that all computers on the Internet are in principle the same, any of them can be a server, any can be a client, and the Net should just be a dumb pipe between them, allowing people to invent new applications without having to get permission from, or even notify anyone in between. While this idea has great appeal, for consumers Internet connections, it's much more common to have several kinks in the pipe.

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  posted at: 15:22 :: permanent link to this entry :: 5 comments
Stable link is

A politically incorrect guide to IPv6, Part I Internet

Every packet of data sent over the Internet is sent from one IP address to another. The IP addresses in the Internet serve somewhat the same function as phone numbers in the US phone system, fixed length numeric identifiers where the first part tells what network the address is on. Since the dawn of the Internet in the early 1980s, the IP addresses in use have been IPv4, 32 bit addresses which means there are about 4 billion of them. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've doubtless seen reports that the supply of IPv4 addresses is running out. Earlier this month IANA, the master allocation authority, handed out the last so-called /8, a large chunk of 16 million addresses, to one of the regional address registries, and sometime months or perhaps a few years after that, the registries will hand out the last pieces of their chunks. Then what?

The conventional wisdom is that everyone needs to support IPv6, a mostly compatible upgrade to IPv4 with much larger addresses, by the time the v4 space runs out. But I'm not so sure, particularly for e-mail.

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  posted at: 15:22 :: permanent link to this entry :: 7 comments
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