The best advice for anyone who might want to name their computer is “Don’t anthropomorphise computers – they hate that”. It’s not bad advice. After all, it’s just a tool, in much the same way as a pen and paper is – and when was the last time you saw someone naming their favourite pen?
Some people, though, can’t just take the Windows default name of HOME-E523B890A3C and be done with it. So… how do you pick a naming scheme for your computers?
This is one of the most common ways of picking a naming scheme, and for good reason. Everyone has a TV series or two that they like – the most frequently picked seem to be Buffy, Star Trek and Red Dwarf – RMIT Business uses Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and the University of Melbourne’s CS department uses Red Dwarf. The reasons for those choices are beyond the scope of this article, but I hypothesise that it means UniMelb has a sense of humour where RMIT does not. This correlates with empirical observation.
Mnemonic ease: 9. Buffy, Angel, Spike. Gadget, Penny, Brain. Or, if you’d rather, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda. It doesn’t get much easier, and you already have the associations built up in your head.
Spellability: Varies, but let’s say 7.
Shiny factor: 8. You can be extremely geeky and try and match names to personalities, which is kind of fun.
Namespace size: 3. I can think of a few shows with enough characters to fit a decent small business network, but only a few. I guess there’s Pokemon… they’ll be coming up with new pocket monsters for a few years yet. That said, I’d pay money to see an actual company name its servers Jigglypuff and Clefairy.
Elements of the periodic table
This one is more the domain of university networks, which seem to have quite a lot of this thing going on. It’s all well and good – your fileserver is Gold, your switches are Iron and Titanium, and your thin clients are Hydrogen and Helium. The devil is in the details, though – if you start naming by elements, you will eventually have to call a computer Praesodymium. And then there’s the small matter of Yttrium, Ytterbium, Terbium and Erbium. (I swear, these are all elements.)
Mnemonic ease: 5. Once you get beyond the first twenty or so, you’re in trouble. Does Polonium come before or after Vanadium? And what on earth is Technetium?
Spellability: 2 to 9. It’s very hard to misspell Gold or Silver, but Lead and Dysprosium are probably gonna cause problems late at night when you’re tired. Average: 5
Shiny factor: 10. Gold is shiny. Platinum is very shiny. Uranium is shiny – well, glowy. Carbon is especially shiny when you squeeze it hard.
Namespace size: 6. You’ll fit a decent-size business inside the periodic table and still have room for your printers and your managed switches.
When I was googling for ideas for other schemes, I stumbled across this. It’s kind of boring, but very practical.
If anyone has any suggestions for other naming schemes, leave a comment, and I’ll add them to this review. It’s good to be the editor ^_^
But what did I plump for, when all was said and done? If you’ve been to the main page of thinkshiny.com, you’ll either have made a pretty good guess, or you’ll be thinking “Fuuma? What sort of name is Fuuma?” He’s one of the characters from X/1999 (or try the much more interesting sites here and here).
X is a good example of the “TV series” naming scheme. It’s something I’ll remember, it’s easy (for me) to spell, and there’s plenty of namespace (I can think of fifteen or sixteen off the top of my head). Oh yeah, and it’s very shiny.
If you haven’t given up by this point in this geekout-thinly-disguised-as-a-review, there are four other computers in this namespace…
* Kamui (my desktop)
* Subaru (my PS2/Linux box)
* Sorata (my iPaq 3850)
* Daisuke (my SonyEricsson T68i)
Daisuke, at least, deserves a review one of these days. He’s seriously cool. Watch this space.