Internationalization is not good for Postal Services!



  •  Once upon a time - well, in fact not so long ago, I lived in a small place in Germany where, among other things, people had the strange habit of giving
    houses fractual numbers. No kidding: there were houses with addresses like 'Somethingstr. 12½' or even 'Someotherstr. 4¾'. Strange, but, hey, why not.

     I actually lived in a house with the number 3½. And I liked the idea, well, because it was something out of the ordinary (even in Germany).

     That is, until the first time I waited for a delivery from my favourite online bookstore, which didn't seem to arrive. So I went to track the shipment, and according to the carrier's web site, it was returned to sender because the address was wrong. Hm...

     I went to investigate, and finally I found that in house no. 31, in appartment 2 (or 31/2 for short) lived a nice old lady who was aware of the problem, and usually brought my letters to my letterbox on her way to the bakery but just didn't want to accept the package because she'd have to sign something. Well, we found a nice arrangement (involving a bottle of wine for her) and I removed the '½' from all my customer accounts at the various online stores.

    So far, so good.

    Later on, I moved again, found another job, then yet another - and eventually ended up at a company which makes software for - well, printing labels for packages. An American company that was, which should explain a lit of the following:

    Well, As you can imagine I was surprised to find that this praised software would not really fall for the above error - in fact it would just print '½' as '�'. Not sure if that would really be an improvement, though, 

    Any other non-ASCII-character (like 'ä' or 'ö') would just be turned into some ASCII-transcription (in this cases 'ae' and 'oe' respectively), regardless of whether it makes any sense (usually it doesn't). I saw a couple of seemingly harmless names or addresses that became incomprehensible
    (like the common Finnish family name 'Hämäläinen') or even turn into
    insults (like the German city of 'Haßfurt') by such replacements.

    Of course, I felt I have to come to the rescue: because I knew a bit about this stuff, I suggested to support the programmers to do a bit of internationalization work.

    Well, to keep it short: I decided it was easier to leave that job rather than to fight against windmills. Not only because of this issue, but also.

    if your  address sticker has some funny transcriptions on it, or if your package (to house no. 7¾) went to the wrong guy at 73/4, you know now that a lack of understanding of internationalization issues can lead to a lot of your customers laughing about you. Unless they feel insulted, of course.



  • I used to live in a 1/2 address as well.  It's not exactly common in the U.S., but certainly not that bizarre.  Never had a problem with mail or packages. 



  • I lived in a small town in the USA with 1/2 in my address. Never had a problem with mail or anything. I was living in an apartment that was above a house.



  • @Da' Man said:

    Once upon a time - well, in fact not so long ago, I lived in a small place in Germany where, among other things, people had the strange habit of giving
    houses fractual numbers. No kidding: there were houses with addresses like 'Somethingstr. 12½' or even 'Someotherstr. 4¾'. Strange, but, hey, why not.
     

    Maybe there used to be 1 big lot, but somebody decided to build 2 houses on it?  Making everybody else on the street change their address so that you could assume the number 4 wouldn't be very polite, so what other solution do you suggest?

     Well, I guess in America we're more likely to do something like "123 Fake St, Unit 2" or "123b Fake St" but that might not technically be appropriate if they're two buildings on the same lot, or two separate lots that used to be 1 lot.



  • Somewhere in America on a recent road trip I encountered a town where the roads were named as mile markers. So you'd have (I sh!t you not) 3 5/8 St.

    Then of course there's Utah. 



  •  @medialint said:

    Then of course there's Utah.

    I live in Utah, you insensitive clod!

    Seriously though, I don't know of any streets named based on mile markers (no streets with fractions), what we do have is a grid system - so 9000 S is farther south than 8000 S, 1300 E is further east than 700 E.  I don't see what's so confusing about that (there are only two or three streets that don't follow the grid), and it's easier than having to just learn where all the streets go and where they all connect like you'd have to do in most other places.  You can just get an address and even if you've never been to that area before you'll know how to get there.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, if I got a job offer outside of Utah I'd probably take it, just to get out of Utah...   Every time I move away from Utah I end up back here a few years later.  I've lived in Hawaii (three years), Switzerland (three years), and the Dominican Republic (two years), and I ended up back here going to school.



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    Well, I guess in America we're more likely to do something like "123 Fake St, Unit 2" or "123b Fake St" but that might not technically be appropriate if they're two buildings on the same lot, or two separate lots that used to be 1 lot.
     

    I have relatives in Jersey who had a fractional street number (some integer + 1/2).  Never cared to ask them why.



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    @Da' Man said:

    Once upon a time - well, in fact not so long ago, I lived in a small place in Germany where, among other things, people had the strange habit of giving
    houses fractual numbers. No kidding: there were houses with addresses like 'Somethingstr. 12½' or even 'Someotherstr. 4¾'. Strange, but, hey, why not.
     

    Maybe there used to be 1 big lot, but somebody decided to build 2 houses on it?  Making everybody else on the street change their address so that you could assume the number 4 wouldn't be very polite, so what other solution do you suggest?

     Well, I guess in America we're more likely to do something like "123 Fake St, Unit 2" or "123b Fake St" but that might not technically be appropriate if they're two buildings on the same lot, or two separate lots that used to be 1 lot.

     

    In New Zealand I've lived at numbers 1/9 (apt 1, number 9), 5a, 12-1 (number 12, unit 1 - one house with a flat attached, 12-2), and 19a (there was also 19, 19b, 19c, 1/19 and 2/19, each a standalone house with garden - used to be a biiiiiig section).  Never an "x and a half" before, though!  There must be a rational reason for it, surely? Did you ever find out?  (Hey, it is Germany...)

    And here in Prague, every building has 2 numbers - an 'orientation' number (ie, numbers are sequential in the street), and another one, which I believe is a sequential number of when the section was allotted or something.  But both numbers are always displayed.  I've never had an answer for what the other number's used for.  In smaller villages, only the other number is used.  So my old was 587, on one side was 932 and on the other was 600-something.



  • Funny, I've always seen apartments and such simply numbered like "96, 96B, 96C..."



  • @Da' Man said:

    I went to investigate, and finally I found that in house no. 31, in appartment 2 (or 31/2 for short) lived a nice old lady who was aware of the problem
     

    I should also point out that the 31/2 syntax is a big WTF along the same fractional lines.  Since you live and three and a half, why not just have your mail sent to 7/2?  Should clear things right up.



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    I should also point out that the 31/2 syntax is a big WTF along the same fractional lines.  Since you live and three and a half, why not just have your mail sent to 7/2?  Should clear things right up.

    And if you live at 2907 1/2? 



  •  @vt_mruhlin said:

    Since you live and three and a half, why not just have your mail sent to 7/2?  Should clear things right up.

    I would address it to lim_x->0 ( 3 * sine(x) / 2x ).  Let's hope the postman is up on his trig.



  • In the last town I lived, they had sequential numbers for all the houses in town, starting at 1. They still had street names though, but the houses within a street were, therefore, not numbered sequentially. I lived in somestreet 578 and my neighbour lived in somestreet 313. The numbers were assigned to each new house as it was built, and they were used as the unique so-called fire insurance policy number.



  • @TheRider said:

    In the last town I lived, they had sequential numbers for all the houses in town, starting at 1. They still had street names though, but the houses within a street were, therefore, not numbered sequentially. I lived in somestreet 578 and my neighbour lived in somestreet 313. The numbers were assigned to each new house as it was built, and they were used as the unique so-called fire insurance policy number.

     

    Sweet mother of mercy, say it ain't so! That's just about the worst numbering scheme you could come up with, short of a random number generator.



  • where I live in OR, USA.. we have addresses like 123 Main St. A,  123 Main St. B, 123 Main St. C... etc

     distinguishing between addresses by a letter not a fraction.

     



  • @CodeSimian said:

    I have relatives in Jersey who had a fractional street number (some integer + 1/2).  Never cared to ask them why.

    This is very common.  What ususally happens is this:  A house is built and assigned an address (123 Main Street).  Years later, it gets converted into 2 apartments -- 123 and 123 1/2.




  • @El_Heffe said:

    This is very common.  What ususally happens is this:  A house is built and assigned an address (123 Main Street).  Years later, it gets converted into 2 apartments -- 123 and 123 1/2.

    That's still not a very good excuse. What happens of the house gets another unit attached? Address changes all around to 1/3's ? It's easier to just add another letter. Also, letters are easier to say and read than a number followed by a fraction, especially if the address is handwritten. For residental, I usually see the letter stated as "Unit" or "Apt". For business, it's "Suite". Much cleaner.



  • @AbbydonKrafts said:

    @El_Heffe said:
    This is very common.  What ususally happens is this:  A house is built and assigned an address (123 Main Street).  Years later, it gets converted into 2 apartments -- 123 and 123 1/2.

    That's still not a very good excuse. What happens of the house gets another unit attached? Address changes all around to 1/3's ?

     

    No, they become 123, 123 1/2, and 123 2/3. 



  • @AbbydonKrafts said:

    @El_Heffe said:
    This is very common.  What ususally happens is this:  A house is built and assigned an address (123 Main Street).  Years later, it gets converted into 2 apartments -- 123 and 123 1/2.

    That's still not a very good excuse. What happens of the house gets another unit attached? Address changes all around to 1/3's ? It's easier to just add another letter. Also, letters are easier to say and read than a number followed by a fraction, especially if the address is handwritten. For residental, I usually see the letter stated as "Unit" or "Apt". For business, it's "Suite". Much cleaner.

    The place I lived was on the same lot as the "whole number" building, but was a completely separate duplex.  My actually address was not only a fractional, but included an apartment letter to disguinish it from the other apartment in the duplex.  Like I said, I never had a problem with receiving mail, because the postal carrier seemed quite acquainted with the practice.  In fact, there were several fractional addresses in this city, in any place where a building was on the same lot as another but was physicall separated. 



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @CodeSimian said:

    I have relatives in Jersey who had a fractional street number (some integer + 1/2).  Never cared to ask them why.

    This is very common.  What ususally happens is this:  A house is built and assigned an address (123 Main Street).  Years later, it gets converted into 2 apartments -- 123 and 123 1/2.


    Actually, it was a house, not an apartment.  I was just pointing out that the "fractional street numbers" approach exists in the United States, despite a comment implying otherwise.



  • @CodeSimian said:

    Actually, it was a house, not an apartment. 
     

    I should also add that it was in the suburbs, not the city. They had their own front yard and back yard, so I sort of doubt that 1 lot got split into 2 or something.  But who knows.



  •  Your sig makes me most simultaneously delighted and mournful that I don't follow the SS threads.  There must be barrels of crude lulz there, but I fear I can only subsist on premium, refined lulz.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

     Your sig makes me most simultaneously delighted and mournful that I don't follow the SS threads.  There must be barrels of crude lulz there, but I fear I can only subsist on premium, refined lulz.

     

    I sure hope you are not calling SpectateSwamp's life's work a "joke".  That would be just cruel.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

     Your sig makes me most simultaneously delighted and mournful that I don't follow the SS threads.  There must be barrels of crude lulz there, but I fear I can only subsist on premium, refined lulz.

    SpectateSwamp once wanted to box his former supervisor after he was fired for going to New York to curse the United Nations (due to their opposition of marijuana) using replicas of some stones with holes in them he found twenty-seven years prior and which he is convinced make him a shaman who will have to dance with said stones in 2012 to stop the end of the world.  And that's just barely scratching the surface.

    Interested yet?



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Like I said, I never had a problem with receiving mail, because the postal carrier seemed quite acquainted with the practice.

    Ours doesn't even have a problem with an entirely wrong number. However, substitute carriers can't seem to get it right even when the address is completely correct and legible. We don't even have that many houses on our street, and we all have the standard "# Street" format.



  • @bstorer said:

    SpectateSwamp once wanted to box his former supervisor after he was fired for going to New York to curse the United Nations (due to their opposition of marijuana) using replicas of some stones with holes in them he found twenty-seven years prior and which he is convinced make him a shaman who will have to dance with said stones in 2012 to stop the end of the world.  And that's just barely scratching the surface.
     

    C'mon, man, nobody's gonna believe that!



  • @CodeSimian said:

    @bstorer said:

    SpectateSwamp once wanted to box his former supervisor after he was fired for going to New York to curse the United Nations (due to their opposition of marijuana) using replicas of some stones with holes in them he found twenty-seven years prior and which he is convinced make him a shaman who will have to dance with said stones in 2012 to stop the end of the world.  And that's just barely scratching the surface.
     

    C'mon, man, nobody's gonna believe that!

    All of that comes from a single 37 reply thread.  We've got over 3500 other replies worth of stuff on this site alone.  I look at my life as being two sections: pre- and post-SSDS.



  • @bstorer said:

    All of that comes from a single 37 reply thread.  We've got over 3500 other replies worth of stuff on this site alone.  I look at my life as being two sections: pre- and post-SSDS.
     

    I know.  It was a poor attempt at a joke. 



  • @CodeSimian said:

    @bstorer said:

    All of that comes from a single 37 reply thread.  We've got over 3500 other replies worth of stuff on this site alone.  I look at my life as being two sections: pre- and post-SSDS.
     

    I know.  It was a poor attempt at a joke. 

     

    And actually, you were right: nobody should believe what I wrote, because it wasn't true.  In actuality, he only found one of his stones twenty-seven years ago.  He found the other ones later.



  •  

    Um, can we keep it in one thread rather than filling up the whole forum with meta-SSDS discussion?

     

    Hmm, I live at number 11+2i which sometimes confuses the delivery services as they're not sure whether the imaginary plane is positive in the up or down direction.



  • @Eternal Density said:

    Um, can we keep it in one thread rather than filling up the whole forum with meta-SSDS discussion?

    Where's the fun in that?

    Hmm, I live at number 11+2i which sometimes confuses the delivery services as they're not sure whether the imaginary plane is positive in the up or down direction.

    I don't know where you live, but 'round these parts, we map complex addresses to polar coordinates.



  •  The fun is that now we're having discusson of the meta-discussion.

    Fortunately I don't live too near the pole...



  • The Real WTF™ is that you haven't gone decimal yet.

    I live in an xxxA address. I just tell myself that it's hex. 



  • The Meijer near my house is located at 666½. I'm guessing they requested the fraction.



  • @medialint said:

    Somewhere in America on a recent road trip I encountered a town where the roads were named as mile markers. So you'd have (I sh!t you not) 3 5/8 St.

    In Finnish countryside (at least some time ago, I have no idea if this is still common) the houses are numbered based on how far they are from the intersection, to the precision of 10 m - so number 350 would be 3.5 km from the intersection.



  • @TheRider said:

    In the last town I lived, they had sequential numbers for all the houses in town, starting at 1. They still had street names though, but the houses within a street were, therefore, not numbered sequentially. I lived in somestreet 578 and my neighbour lived in somestreet 313. The numbers were assigned to each new house as it was built, and they were used as the unique so-called fire insurance policy number.


    is this like the "obfuscating my code is my job security insurance policy"?



  • Isn't this how the houses in Venice, Italy are numbered?

    "In Venice, Italy houses are numbered within districts known as sestieri, resulting in just six series for the entire city ... Each sestiere has its own house numbering system. Each house has a unique number in the district, from one to several thousand, generally numbered from one corner of the area to another, but not usually in a readily understandable manner."



  •  All I see is tag spam



  • Hey, this one actually managed to make its post sound almost on topic!



  • I have ordered online for quite a while now, and i can understand your 1/2 problem :) Most delivery website have crappy ways to handle addresses :/ Amongst funny things i got:

     

    • on a french website delivering to belgium, i had to "trick" my phone number and my postal code so it meet "french" ones (that is, and additionnal padding 0 for both) 
    • one site or delivery service simply cut the delivery address at the "é", making the house number disappear. But the postman know my address, he could guess from the name
    • one site asked me to "pickup post code in list" then "pickup city in list for that postcode", "pickup street for that city". My village was in the list, but not my street. There was a link aside that mentionned "help me my street is not there". When i clicked, i was greated with a javascript popup "not available yet".
    • The classical strange characters or ISO/UTF-8 misintepretation artefacts
    • On website just cut-off first letter of city everywhere in order

    Unreleated to delivery, i also played a week ago with online banking, making a wire transfert with a comment written in russian. All went well in webbanking interfaces. However, when i went to bank to get details of my account transferts of the month, i discovered html entities instead of the typed characters :D

     



  • Maybe there used to be 1 big lot, but somebody decided to build 2 houses on it? Making everybody else on the street change their address so that you could assume the number 4 wouldn't be very polite, so what other solution do you suggest?

    Have you ever used BASIC? The old one, not Visual Basic? Remember how there were line numbers? And remember how whenever you added a line to the file, you had to change all the numbers on all the lines below it? Oh, wait...



  • @Random832 said:

    Have you ever used BASIC? The old one, not Visual Basic? Remember how there were line numbers? And remember how whenever you added a line to the file, you had to change all the numbers on all the lines below it? Oh, wait...
     

    You say that like it doesn't still exist.

    http://www.telusplanet.net/public/stonedan/source.txt


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.