RogerBW's Blog

The perils of in-band signalling 28 November 2014

It's often tempting, but usually an error, to allow control signals to be sent by the same channel as the data. This is an example of why.

When I changed my name I had no intention of becoming Little Bobby Tables. I simply wanted to move from a form which people consistently got wrong to a form which people would still get wrong, but in ways that might amuse me. I must now regard that as a success, since this letter from the Free Software Foundation reveals a problem:

…because, in TeX, an underscore character introduces a subscript (and in whatever the FSF has built on top of it apparently italics too). Knuth assumed that if anyone wanted to use a literal underscore in a TeX document it would be escaped with a backslash. Which is fine when you're composing the material yourself, not so good if you're importing a list of names from non-TeX sources. (Yes, this one's harmless. What if there'd been a backslash in the source text, followed by typesetting commands? And if they wanted to represent my name correctly, they'd have to insert a backslash in front of the underscore.)

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