November 27th, 2004

IDN Top Level Domain


Update: This article is also published on CircleID.

Last month, John Klensin wrote an article published on CircleID regarding Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) Top Level Domains (TLD). Based on his Internet Draft, John suggests using language translation in the application for TLD. The advantage of this method is that all existing TLDs can now be represented in any number of languages without additional need for ICANN to create new TLD.

While this sound like a clean solution to the IDN TLD problem, I don’t think it is viable for the following five reasons:

1. Similar idea has been proposed in the IETF IDN Working Group for IDN (See uname and vidn). While John proposal has some minor technical differences, the fact that these similar ideas has been considered and discarded by the IDN Working Group is worth noting1.
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October 8th, 2004

Happenings at WTSA

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I totally screwed up on the IDN presentation yesterday. Jetlag hits me pretty badly so my brain is totally blanked out. I remember looking at the confused look at the audience and wanted to dig a hole right there. (I did much better on my IPv6 presentation which went very smoothly)

Anyway, as I mention, this is an extremely political meeting. I witness political maneuvers by different Member States both publicly and also privately in getting their positions through. Every words said in public, every private conversations, who has been whispering to who and even who tapped the shoulder of who have different layers of meanings and implications.

Case in point: after my presentations, a friend approached me and congulate me of the job well done. I was very embrassed until she told me that I did a good job of confusing the audience. And that, apparently, is a good conclusion.

(No, I am not going to explain why. It is a long story.)

Update: I was told I was too harsh on myself. Even though I dont remember what I said, apparently, I didnt screwed up too badly.

September 20th, 2004

Internationalization and IDN

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Today is the 2nd day of APEC TEL 30, which is hosted by IDA in Singapore. I spend my afternoon at a side event, organized by APDIP to soliciate feedbacks from AP region on Internet Governance issues as part of the WSIS process workings towards Tunis 2005.

And I gave a presentation on my fav topic, Internationalization and IDN (What else? :-)

September 10th, 2004

IDN support in browsers


I just left NIDA stealing some of the IP packets :-) While there, I bounced in Dongman Lee and Chanki Park. Park is an old friend who is currently the manager in charged of the .KR domain names registry and we have a brief chat about Korean domain names.

Apparently, they have over 80,000 thousand korean domain name registrations (wow! that’s more then the whole of .SG) but Park expect that the numbers will be going down in the next few months. The main reason cited was the lack of support of IDN in Internet Explorer, the pre-dominate browser in Korea.

Of course, there are plugins to IE to support IDN but nothing beats native support in the browser. In fact, IDN is already support in all the alternative browsers (Mozilla/Firebox/Conquerer/Opera/Safari) except IE. (Apple actually have a marketing campaign in Japan regarding the fact that Pathner nows supports IDN)

I am aware of friends in the Middle East to Asia (Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan..) who have organized numerous discussion with the Internet Explorer team (like Michel Suignard1) but none seem to be able to get Microsoft moving. *sigh*

Park suggested that I should pull together a meeting again with Microsoft. I hope the folks at the IEBlog are listening.

1 Don’t get me wrong..Michel is a good friend and I dont meant to embrass him here. But the reasonings for not supporting IDN is plausible 2 years ago but sound very silly now.

July 25th, 2004

Back from ICANN…

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I feel quite bad to controdiact Vint Cerf in the open forum but my comment that whether to have IDN Top Level Domain is an ICANN issues and not IETF was well-received with an applause from the audience. So I am really glad that ICANN board passing the resolution to form a new President committee on IDN and gave acknowledgement to the RFC 3743 JET Guidelines ;-) I wish we could have more concrete action plan but at least this is a start. I believe we should also try to rope in the Arabic community, particularly those who are doing real work on the ground like GCC. I may not agree with everything they do (like the alt. Arabic root) but I respect them for doing work to move their community forward.

I stayed on one more day because Jonanthan from BBC World wants to do an interview with me on IDN issues (in my personal capacity of cos). We end up wandering various part of Chinatown in KL looking for interesting location shots. It is suppose to be shown 2 weeks from now and I wonder how it will look like…too bad I dont subscribe to cable.

Incidently, the corridors conversations, bar and dinners discussions clearly indicate the recovery of this industry. I feel I am back in the dotcom days with companies investing in new ideas. If the last ICANN is gloomy, this one certainly feel good!

[Update 31st July: Jonanthan informed me the radio session is now available on BBC Webcast]

[Update 10th Aug: the TV interview is also available online]

July 21st, 2004

ICANN IDN Workshop

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ICANN-KL.jpgI am back in KL today for the ICANN IDN Workshop. Yes, I am one of the unnamed speaker for the morning session chair’ed by Sharil and Vint Cerf.

John Klensin basically took over the stage giving a tutorial of the higher level problem, the Internationalization or more accurately the multilingualism of the Internet. John noted at that this is either a risk or opportunity. Do it well and we will bring Internet to the next stage and do it badly, we risk fragmentation of the Internet. I was asked to give a tutorial on the IDN standard but really, IDN is only a small piece of the bigger picture.

The afternoon was more of series of presentations of updates from different countries and experiences of IDN deploymnet. I gave a presentations on the JET Guideline in this session. Interesting stuff in this session includes (1) Japan is getting their mobile browsers to support IDN (2) Korea domain names registration shot up t0 70k almost overnight (3) Verisign already migrated their IDN registrations to standards.

I am waiting for an exciting deployment experiences from Arabic world (I recommended Prof. Al-Zoman to be included in this session) and also the next step discussion by Vint….more of it later :-)

July 18th, 2004

Pre-ICANN meeting

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I am in Kuala Lumpur this wekend to give an overview of IDN to Government Advisory Committee of ICANN.

This ICANN meeting seem to be political charged, surrounding mainly on the 15M USD proposed budget for ICANN and heated discussion in ccNSO. There are also some discussion about new sponsorred TLD and and .net redelegation. Rumors also goes around that ICANN should consider auctioning TLDs in future to make up for their budget :-) (heck, why not just auction .net? :-)

Anyway, on the way back to Singapore now but will be coming back again on Tuesday…See you all at the IDN Workshop on Wednesday.

July 16th, 2004

Going up to ICANN…

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Just concluded a successful APEET meeting in Singapore (thanks you!) and I am getting to leave for Kuala Lumpur in 10mins time. But before I leave, I thought of leaving two interesting news I saw today.

First, is a report of Verisign SiteFinder by Steve Crocker (a representive of Security and Stability Advisory Committee of ICANN) titled Redirection in the COM and NET Domains, A Report from the ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC). An executive summary of the report can be found at CircleID. Bravo! Bravo! I taken the same position which you can read here, here and here.

The second is this excellent contribution from SaudiNIC on their experiences in deploying Arabic Domain Names (via ITU-SPU). It is the best written report I seen from Arabic world..well-written, well-thought and technically strong. I actually learn a lot reading from the report. I am really encouraged at this work…and there might be hope for Arabic Domain Names after all. (Is it the same guy that show me the Etisalat Arabic Domain Name … I will know soon :-)

May 26th, 2004

WTF!? 6M USD for MINC?


According to the article from Reuters (via Internet Policy), Khaled Fattal of MINC is asking 6M USD to solve the Arabic Domain Names.

WTF!? 6M USD to do Arabic Domain Names1? I suppose CJK has 1000x more characters then Arabic, we probably should ask 6B USD to produce RFC 3743. Okay, maybe it is not fair to compare by absolute character count so lets just say 50x. I will settle for 300M USD okay? :-)

I was one of founding member of MINC. The original vision is to have an organization that can help faciliate and resolve the language issues with IDN that will not be tackled by the IETF IDN-WG. But after been hijacked by certain commerical interests, and then hijack again and again, I stayed away from them as far as I can.
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May 9th, 2004

CircleID on RFC 3743


CircleID asked me to write an article on our recently published RFC 3743. Check it out and let me know what you think (apart from the grammer mistakes which I keep finding everytime i read it again :-)

It is difficult to explain RFC 3743 or commonly known as the Joint Engineering Team (JET) Guidelines without some lesson on Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK), particularly how it relates to Internationalized Domain Names (IDN). Luckily, an Internet-Draft [PDF] we wrote back in 2001 discusses the issues quite neatly in this context.

In brief, Chinese characters (Hanzi) or Han ideographs are evolved from pictographs (writing made up of pictures) across thousands of years. Unlike other writing systems, Han Ideographs are constantly evolving. In the 1950s, China underwent a major exercise to simplify the Chinese writing using an almost systematic process. The resulting simplified form or Simplified Chinese is now being used in China and Singapore while the original form or Traditional Chinese is still being used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and most oversea Chinese communities.

Because of the almost systematic simplification process, there is a somewhat 1-to-1 matching between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. It is easy to associate it to the like of uppercase/lowercase in English but at best, it is a bad analogy that grossly underestimates the depth of the problem.

If that is not complicated enough, Han Ideographs are also used to write Japanese (Kanji), Korean (Hanja) and old Vietnamese (Chu Han and Chu Nom), and each language has its own simplification history and rule. In addition, there are many Han Ideographs that look exactly the same (CJK Compatibility) or have similar looks (zVariants) but assigned different code points in Unicode.

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