Python usage numbers

Roy Smith roy at
Sun Feb 12 16:13:07 CET 2012

In article <mailman.5715.1329021524.27778.python-list at>,
 Chris Angelico <rosuav at> wrote:

> On Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 1:36 PM, Rick Johnson
> <rantingrickjohnson at> wrote:
> > On Feb 11, 8:23 pm, Steven D'Aprano <steve
> > +comp.lang.pyt... at> wrote:
> >> "I have a file containing text. I can open it in an editor and see it's
> >> nearly all ASCII text, except for a few weird and bizarre characters like
> >> £ © ± or ö. In Python 2, I can read that file fine. In Python 3 I get an
> >> error. What should I do that requires no thought?"
> >>
> >> Obvious answers:
> >
> > the most obvious answer would be to read the file WITHOUT worrying
> > about asinine encoding.
> What this statement misunderstands, though, is that ASCII is itself an
> encoding. Files contain bytes, and it's only what's external to those
> bytes that gives them meaning.

Exactly.  <soapbox class="wise-old-geezer">.  ASCII was so successful at 
becoming a universal standard which lasted for decades, people who grew 
up with it don't realize there was once any other way.  Not just EBCDIC, 
but also SIXBIT, RAD-50, tilt/rotate, packed card records, and so on.  
Transcoding was a way of life, and if you didn't know what you were 
starting with and aiming for, it was hopeless.  Kind of like now where 
we are again with Unicode.  </soapbox>

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