Don't call me Ishmael

Choosing a name for your new PC

Rule 6: It is quite tempting to adopt a domain as a source of names. In this context we mean domain not in the Windows domain sense, nor yet in the TCP/IP sense, but in the non-technical 'walk of life' sense. 

For example, you might name your principal machines for characters in the Addams family, and it works pretty well: 'Lurch', 'Thing', 'It'. You have an instant 'small office' domain. 

'First names popular in New Zealand' is a much larger affair, suitable for a whole medium-sized company network, and comes with a pleasing mixture of Scots and Maori: Angus, Gavin, Morag, Ngaire, Rongo. If your network cabling is that new type of Cat5 doubly-insulated against high levels of whimsy, you might consider using railway stations closed by Dr Beeching.

The fictional works of JRR Tolkein provide sufficient proper nouns for a larger domain yet but, as I think I may have mentioned in passing, the committee does not think this advisable.

Rule 7: Jim demanded the right to file a minority report against Rule 6. He is against the use of groups of names, having been traumatised by an experience in his teens. He was trying to gatecrash a party in a certain area of town. He knew that the flat number was 56b, but could only remember that the road name was 'something to do with flowers'. Setting off he supposed he could nail the precise location by asking passers-by.

Naturally enough - you are ahead of me here - when he arrived in the Estate near the Gas Works, he discovered that every single thoroughfare bore a floral name: Rosemary Walk led to Daffodil Hill, adjoining Poppy Lane and Lavender Avenue. It goes without saying, yet somehow salted Jim's wound as he crunched around over broken glass in futile pursuit of unlocatable fun, that the district had barely a blade of grass growing among its wee-stained concrete and burned-out cars, much less the burgeoning blossoms implied by the nomenclature.

I'm not quite sure how this parable applies to the company LAN, but I agreed to put it in rather than disappoint.

Rule 8: Some people like to name their machines thing like '001Aaaargh' in order to come first in a sorted list. This behaviour should be discouraged. We are not firms of cowboy plumbers, competing for first place in the Yellow Pages.

Rule 9: A lapse into a pico-gobbet of real, useful technical information here. (Cor, but I am good to you. I could have saved this up for Stack Overflow and likely got 100 bounty points and a silver medal.) Don't use an underscore in the name of a Windows machine. I think the wizard discourages this, and it is right. You might think it has worked, but DNS misery is the sure-fire sequel. You are listening to the voice of one who was sent out to doom on a demo in front of the customer with a machine named 'Something_Sim' by a supposedly friendly party.

Rule 10: A good name ages with the machine to which it is attached. For example, it all very well to call the brand new server 'Zeus' in honour of the all-powerful leader of the Greek gods, but a few years later mighty Zeus has become an overstretched single-core Pent III 500 with a massive 256MB of RAM, and the name is distinctly silly.

We find that naming machines for contemporary politicians works well. I can't tell you the pleasure we had in putting out our fat old Dell server, 'Prescott', for the recycling man to take away to render down to cattle feed, and I hope to secure an early upgrade for my prematurely obsolete netbook 'Blears'. Its running costs are much too high.

That, then, is the Pre and Pretzel drinking club's guide to PC naming, and I wish you joy of it. 

What's that you said Sooty? It's company policy that all your PCs are given names like 'nplqe5' and 'nlhy9b' as a matter of course, and therefore all the foregoing is irrelevant? Well, perhaps that is telling you something. If they can't be bothered to give their machines proper names, is it not possible that they think of you as a hash code too? ®

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