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My work has been with computers, mostly planning and deploying systems that provide email services. When dealing with a lot of computers, one of the problems you quickly have is what to name them all.

I've seen environments that have had (in my opinion) a complete failure of creative thinking, and decided to come up with a pattern for names that encode information about what the system does into the name. I always find this extremely awkward to work with, since the patterns chosen tend to combine about a half dozen different pieces of information, award each of those pieces of information one to three characters, and the result ends up looking like a random jumble of characters to an outsider. Even for insiders, it takes time and care to think about what the string of characters mean. Plus, I find that this leads into a great deal of fragility in names, and a tendency for an explosion of names - any little change in one of the pieces of information encoded into the name implies a need for either a new name, or a name change.

Personally, the naming pattern for systems that I strongly prefer splits names into two classes: service names, and host names.

Service names are names exposed to end users for a service that they are supposed to access. The most well known of these is "www" This implies that what is behind the name is a web server. There's quite a few other well known ones. I like things like "mail", "ftp", "ns", "webmail". These are short, to the point, and give users an idea of the service that is accessed with that name.

Host names generally aren't exposed to end users, and should be something: a) short, b) unique in the environment, and c) recognizable as a name. Sometime before I started my current job, the people working in my group decided to name most of the systems I work with now after spices. I think this is fantastic, and a smart and creative way to pick names. It hasn't always been easy to pick new names that fit with the pattern, since a lot have been used, and there aren't a lot of commonly known spices - but seriously, I got to name one of my hosts "catnip" and one "cinnamon". How cool is that?

Now, I've got a naming problem that is a bit different. On some of my machines, I divide data up into different buckets, and each bucket needs a name. I inherited this environment with names that are based on latin words for ordinal numbers - almost. The first few you would recognize - "primary, secondary, tertiary." After that, rather than use the anglicized version of the latin ordinals, they switched to the latin ordinals "quatro, quintus, sextus, septimus, octavus". I hit a point where I needed new names, so I chose to extend the pattern - "nonus, decimus, undecimus, duodecimus." Now, I need new names again.

I could keep extending the pattern, but the words that follow get pretty long and hard to write: "tertiusdecimus, quartusdecimus, quintusdecimus" .... uh, no thanks.

I could take the "failure of creativity" route, and pick something simple like "1, 2, 3, 4". Not pretty. I can do better.

What I'm tempted to do is use one of these two lists - the names of the dwarves from Snow White ("Bashful," "Doc," "Dopey," "Grumpy," "Happy," "Sleepy" and "Sneezy"), or the names of the dwarfs from the Hobbit ("Thorin", "Dori", "Nori", "Ori", "Balin", "Dwalin", "Fili", "Kili", "Oin", "Gloin", "Bifur", "Bofur", "Bombur").

Are there any suggestions from the audience? The criteria I'm looking for here include that the names are recognizable as a set, that the set includes at least six names (hopefully more), that each name is reasonably short (preferably under 8 characters long), that the names are at least somewhat recognizable and pronounceable to speakers of American English. They don't have to have an implied or explicit ordering.
holyhippie: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] evannichols inspired me to do this ...


  1. Do you like your birth-name? Why?

    Yes, I do like my birth name - mostly. I'm not fond of my middle name, so I only really use the initial. My name is simple enough to be easily understood, seems to fit me, and unique enough that I'm rarely around others with the same name. Although, there was a period in college where there was another computer science major a year ahead of me, also with a beard and my first name ...


  2. If you could change your name to anything else, what would it be?

    I wouldn't change my name. My online handle almost everywhere I go is some variant of "Capitan Holy Hippie" - but I wouldn't want that to be my legal name.


  3. What names would you consider giving your children?

    I have two children, Corwin and Kjersti. I do not intend to ever have another.

    There were lots of names considered ... I won't list them all. More simple would be the guidelines I used - the names should be rare (not in the social security lists of the top 1000 names), should be easy to pronounce, and should be easy to spell. Corwin was a winner on all three counts, Kjersti was a winner on the first two. Although 90% plus of the time when I tell someone Kjersti's name, the response is "Oh! That's a pretty name!"



  4. If you had a band, what would you name it, and why?

    I've never thought about this. I'm not very musical, and wouldn't be in a band, so I don't know what name I would want.


  5. Is there a name that you completely hate? Why?

    I can't think of any names I hate. There are names I don't like, and names that make me cringe when I hear them, but I can't say that I hate a name.

    There are many modern technical terms and jargon that I severely dislike. "Web Services", "SOA", and "Web 2.0" are at the top of my list right now.



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