The key assumption of any database key is that it uniquely identifies an item. As observed in previous entries, GTIN fulfils that role, most of the time. We recently bought some hair accessories at Migros and the ticket showed three times the same item even though we bought three different things. Upon checking, I realised that all three products share the same GTIN:
As all three items share the same code, they also share the same price and the same receipt label. What is interesting is that this is not a case of product variants, these are different products which share the same code.
Migros has a pretty neat mobile app which lets you visualise your shopping tickets. What is interesting is that the product name does not match, the packaging says Fashion Girl, and the receipt Hair fashion standard. There are no identifiers on the packaging nor any information (country or origin, recycling codes), which is pretty unusual for Migros products. One of the product has some bad english indications
It can be used for arranging different hairstyle from the well populan pony tail to the latest fad.
All the information is on a stick-on label with the Migros brand, the barcodes, an indication that these are not toys. Each product has a different SKU: HF 231301, HF 231323 and HF 231410.
This code has the Swiss prefix (76) and is assigned to the company Herba-Imodac AG. But I highly doubt this product is produced in Switzerland, most probably these were built somewhere in Asia, and the labels added by the importer, who did not bother giving them different GTIN even though they have different SKUs.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about Unicode skin colour selectors which lets you change the skin colour of certain characters. Meanwhile a new version came out, which specifies how to select the gender of characters. Interestingly, the mechanism used this time is different, instead of a gender modifier, this is implementing by merging one character with a gender symbol using the zero width joiner character (
U+200D). The gender symbol is either ♀ (female)
U+2640, or ♂ (male)
Why is there an offset of two between the female and male sign? These are actually astronomical symbol for the planets. The female symbol is also used for Venus (and in Alchemy, Copper) and the male symbol for Mars (and in Alchemy, Iron). Between them, there is the symbol for earth (♁). It also means that there are a few spare planets to encode other genders. There are many more alchemical symbols encoded in the range
U+1F773, so if you need the symbol for antimoniate 🜥, or another symbol for earth 🜨, they are there.
Using an existing character with a clear semantic meaning gives nicer degradation, the combination 🏃︎ + ♀ is kind of understandable, if you know the gender / planet symbols; I had the impression these were not taught in the USA. What is annoying is that there are now two different mechanisms to affect the appearance of a given character, so for instance the Runner character (
U+1F3C3) now has 12 variations, two genders (implemented using a zero width joiner + a gender symbol), and six skins modes (implemented using skin colour modifier characters). The table below shows all the combinations (which might or might not work in your browser).
Regular readers of this blog know that I am fascinated by the various symbols and icons found in our everyday life. In Europe, you will often find the following symbols: ℮ . The first symbol typically follows a weight or volume indication, the second usually contains a number followed by an ‘M’ letter, the last can be found on many types of packaging. What do they mean?
The first symbol is the estimated sign, the symbol is defined by the European Union, and has its own Unicode character (
0x212E). It specifies the precision of the quantity specified on the container. The way this is defined is a bit smarter than just a tolerance, the standard also specifies that the average quantity in a batch of the product cannot be less than the quantity indicated on the packaging. This ensures that producers do not systematically fill the product at the lower end of the error tolerance. Consider a product manufacturer which can produce packages with a 2 ml precision, if the tolerance is 5% and the package is 200 ml, then they could systematically fill the bottles with 192 ml, and always be within the 5% error margin. A very long time ago, I worked in a factory counting machine parts, and this is exactly what happened with packages of screws.
The second symbol is the period after opening symbol, for products that have very long shelf live (say shampoo), it specifies how long the product can be used after opening the container, in months. So if your shampoo bottle has a 12M mark, it can be used one year after opening.
The third symbol is the green dot, it does not mean that the packaging is recycled, or recyclable, just that the producer joined the green dot scheme, which basically means he paid some fees. Depending on the country, packaging with that symbol can be put into a separate trash – this is not the case in Switzerland.