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Can't We All Just Get Along?

What are all those hieroglyphs plastered on product tags?

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Ever wonder what makes a product truly global? One answer lies in the United Nations-worthy patchwork of technical compliance standards that are stamped on the back of everything from an iPod to a two-by-four to — in this case — a Microsoft computer mouse. This one accessory has repeatedly been dropped, shocked, scratched, spilled on, and sent to altitudes upward of 3,600 feet just to win a bunch of inscrutable approval codes. Here's your decoder ring.

A version of this article appeared in the May 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.