I've been sifting through the MSN protocol thanks to a thread over on lowendmac.com's Vintage Mac list.

The docs at the hypthetic.org site are actually pretty good reading. No more errors in grammar than one would expect, and though I [as one might expect for someone who has done this jive as long as I have] already knew most of the character encoding info, he does a good job breaking it down for the proverbial layhuman.

One thing that I did learn was a good way to figure out if you need to "escape" a char in an http:

MSN Messenger Protocol - General - Connections:
Where URL-encoding applies, the RFC says that everything except numbers, letters, and the special characters $-_. !*'(),;/?:@=& should be URL-encoded. In practice, you need only encode those characters whose hexadecimal value is 20 or below (i.e. space and below), and the '%' character, which has a hexadecimal value of 25. However, you may encode any other character if you wish.

Now that's easy to remember and implement.

if you're interested in what ASCII & Unicode are, that is a good place to go find out.