Fidonews Page 5 30 Jun 1986 An Introduction to ASCII The proper and correct names for all

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Fidonews Page 5 30 Jun 1986 An Introduction to ASCII The proper and correct names for all those funny characters on your keyboard, and in computer related text. Here is the correct explanation. Ignore all others; this is of course the absolute truth. ASCII characters sometimes use parity; parity is a method of confusing your computer into thinking that the characters sent are something that they are not. Parity has no practical use in real life; large computers use parity as part of their religion. Space. You can't see it there. ! Surprise mark; dammit; Incorrectly called "exclamation point" by foolish grade school teachers. Usually you will find either none or too many; every! other! word! will! have! one! or! more!!! " Quote; double quote. Usually put around words the author is afraid he doesn't understand; for computer programs, it is the latter. # pound; sharp; it must be called either pound or sharp, even though it never means either. This is a secret password into computer priesthood. $ bucks; or, as originated by Digital Research, "the end". Actually, as far as DRI goes, its pretty prophetic ... % percent; Used in drawing ugly boxes around useless text, as in bulletin boards and the like. & and, in logical expressions; ampersand elsewhere. It looks nice and is hard to draw by hand. Let your printer do it. ' little quote; single quote; apostrophe to ignoramuses. Since it is very small and hard to see, some computer languages use it as an important operator. ( paren; left paren; open paren; or parenthesis, which is way too long a word. Used to correct compiler bugs in operator precedence, or by incompetents who cannot memorize a few hundred simple rules. ) paren; right paren; close paren; parenthesis. See above. * star; blob; blatz; asterisk. Yet another horrible character used to draw boxes. Like most of these, it is used far too often to be of any use. + plus; "and" if you're sloppy. Connects things together, and is sometimes used by people who want to draw boxes but can't afford graphics. , comma; what can I say? - minus if near a number; dash otherwise. Some word processors try to fool you that a bunch of these in a row is really the end of a page; we know better than that. . point if near a number; dot otherwise. Three dots together (like ...) can be called "dotdotdot", but it is really an ellipsis. This is another test for computer priesthood. / slash; divided by; a good compiler will find many different, conflicting uses for this in different contexts. 0-9 You know these. 0 is not "oh", it's zero, and is greater than 9, as we all know. : colon; I have heard that human colons do not resemble this in the slightest. ; semicolon. (Actually, its more than a colon, not part of one, it has a tail, but alas ...) < angle bracket; less than. Can be put to great use when attempting to define the syntax for a computer program, like so: PROGRAM ARGUMENT [optional { ... } ] = equals > angle bracket; greater than ? question mark; what; denotes confusion. @ blob; at; bang. Usually what your terminal displays just before going south with all your days work. A-Z If I have to tell you ... [ bracket; square bracket \ backslash. There is usually a slash (regular style) to be found near by to check that you are paying attention. ] bracket; square bracket ^ hat; incorrectly called caret. Sometimes means "Control-", as in "Control-C", syntactically similar to "Shift-A". ^A is to a as A is to a. Sometimes used to cause arithmetic overflows; as in 100^5000. _ Underscore; incorrectly called underline. This is a wonderful character, because you really can't underscore another character without writing a long letter to your word processor, requesting it do do so. a-z See note above on A - Z ` accent; backwards quote (sic). Not used in any computer worth anything. These are meant to be deleted when found. { wiggly bracket; squiggly bracket; incorrectly called brace. While you may think it is like angle brackets and square brackets, it most definitely is not. | bar; vertical line. Why does it have that little piece missing? } wiggly bracket; squiggly bracket; incorrectly called brace. ~ wiggle; squiggle; traditionally called a tilde, which is obscure enough to continue using. Only very good languages find a use for this. It is extremely hard to see, especially when near a dash, little quote or back quote. Aha! Can't see that either! Its a delete!


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