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I usually just simply open them in vanilla notepad and check what encoding it autodetected. This autodetection isn't perfect though, but still one of the best.
VS also has an autodetect built in. I don't know how it works though.
Same for me, only ever seen it mentioned on websites. Suspect that like may Xmas "facts" that do the rounds every year, someone made it up and all the rest copy it without any checking.
By way of an example, looking for a quiz tiebreaker question, I recently found a "fact" on a company website about three popular Christmas songs and how many times they would be played in the UK on radio over the festive period.
After a quick google of "How many radio stations in UK" and firing up the calculator, it transpired that if the stated answer was correct, every radio station in the country would have to play one of the three songs once every 5 seconds, 24 hours a day for 40 consecutive days.