Following on from previous thoughts on unicode, I've found some Windows 2000 voodoo which made a stack of new glyphs appear. I'll say from the outset, I really don't understand what the hell is going on... but stuff is working better so I'm not complaining.

The big trick? Drumroll please... I installed a font. Hey I didn't say it was complex, just weird the way it worked.

Scenario: I'm writing up study notes for a test in my information modelling class (I'm doing some postgrad study in the evenings). Information modelling uses lots of mathematical symbols - duh - so my initial idea about writing them up in XHTML hits a snag (or rather a bunch of broken entity symbols). How I (broken entity) Unicode!

So rather than give up, I tried installing the Code2000 font (shareware, US$5 via Unicode Support in Your Browser). From some reading, I hear that OpenOffice comes bundled with a similar Unicode font; but I haven't looked into that. I'm currently pondering if it's worth braving the horrors of signing up for PayPal to pay for Code2000. Might go oldschool and use a money order. Anyway, I digress.

So - font installed - I added a symbol class to the relevant tds to specify font-family: Code2000, thinking it would be necessary. As an experiment later, I removed the font-family statement from the CSS... yet the entities still displayed. I also noticed the Mezzoblue glyph test worked a whole lot better.

That's kind of weird. I installed a new font... and the system did some kind of mind meld, so even when that font is not specified it finds the glyphs.

Sure, Windows handles fonts in a weird way. A friend of mine once removed every single font from his machine - Windows 98 or 2000 I think - and the machine became unusuable in GUI mode. Windows did not have an extra display font stashed away somewhere. From memory he managed to reinstall Windows off the boot CD, or maybe he managed to get into the command prompt and copy a font back that way.

The point is, Windows uses its display fonts for everything. The Window manipulation widgets can be found in the Marlett font, as another example. The Unicode stuff wasn't working before I installed Code2000; so for Unicode to start working, it must be getting the glyphs from Code2000. But you don't have to specify Code2000 as the display font for Windows to wander off and grab the glyphs. Que?

So anyway, I've got no idea how it worked; but my lecturer asked me to email him a copy of my notes - apparently there's a particular glyph he hadn't been able to find. Meanwhile my classmates muttered darkly about having to "just leave spaces" and fill in the gaps after printing their notes out. They gave me a couple of those special "man, what a geek" looks, but they still thought my notes looked pretty.

Here's hoping I actually passed the test, after all that.