August 13, 2004
Naming conventions

creative perspectivesI am the sort of person who names inanimate objects—cars, stuffed toys, and particularly computers.

I tend to work in computer-rich environments where names are necessary to identify the machines. At the bank, all the computers had alphanumeric codes. I think my testing suite server was tk2t126-something. Neither creative nor memorable.

By long-standing tradition, geeks name machines in sets. At Telerama, where the mascot was an elephant, we had africa, asia, tusk and ivory. In one of Duquesne’s media labs, the computers honored film directors. In another, we used color names.

Since I own one or two computers at a time, my naming scheme runs serially. Most express passions: desire, joissance, yen, ravary, iru. My laptops and external storage devices reflect travel and movement: portage, ferry, texel, siphon.

Many of the names have personal double meanings. I named yen right after my first trip to Japan. Iru means both to need and to exist and it came into existence when I needed it to finish a project. Ferry’s purchase required a boat trip to Dover, Delaware.

Soon a new computer arrives on my doorstep. While sitting in Hibiya Koen the other evening, I hit upon the right name: koi. You might know koi as a Japanese carp, but with different kanji it means romantic love. Change the kanji again and it means entreaty or request. It can also mean intention and yet another meaning is “deep, dark, dense, strong”. Koi fits in nicely with my passions.

How do you name your objects?

Posted by kuri at August 13, 2004 08:27 AM


Once I named all the machines in our web development office for Soul Calibur characters. My next naming thing will either be Kubrick movies or characters from Shaolin Soccer (Iron head, Mighty Steel Leg, etc) :)

Posted by: Mike on August 13, 2004 09:36 AM

At the company I work at, we once named software releases after different Pokemon. And at Dell, some of the development projects and machines go by beach names, Kapalua, Pensacola, Bondi, etc. And I think the Precision workstations have codenames after Japanese cities, Tokyo, Nagano, etc. They seem to like Japanese names at Dell. Some of the past projects were Tsunami, Samurai, etc.

Posted by: barron on August 13, 2004 10:48 AM

“Koi” also means “Come!”, an imperative command.

Posted by: Distal Zou on August 13, 2004 11:50 AM

When I worked in the serum laboratory, we named all of our floor centrifuges as they all had different “personalities”. Plus when you work with large equipment for 16 hours a day you really need to personalise an otherwise sterile environment.

Posted by: Tracey on August 13, 2004 11:53 AM

Also, now that I work consult at that Finnish phone company, all the projects are code named. It is most amusing to imagine how much fun the planners have when choosing these code names.

Posted by: Tracey on August 13, 2004 11:54 AM

When UltraBob partitioned the hard drive on my old computer, I awoke to find that each drive had a creative name. I can’t remember them all, but some were “The Terminator”, “The Exterminator” etc……the F Drive was “Steve”. Come to think of it, those names don’t inspire much confidence and, fortunately, did not foretell (for the most part) the way that they handled data storage.
My sister names her cars.

Posted by: UltraMom on August 13, 2004 01:05 PM

testing, cause mom said she couldn’t type z’s

Posted by: ultrabob on August 13, 2004 01:53 PM

zzzzzz Huh. Now I can, but I couldn’t before when I was trying to tell you that one of my partitioned hard drives was named “The Pulverizer”.

Posted by: UltraMom on August 13, 2004 01:55 PM

We used to name our machines after animals like badger, ferret, bear. Actually, more like furry mammals.

If length weren’t an issue, I’d go with Culture ship names.

Posted by: jon on August 13, 2004 03:47 PM

“Koi” also means “testicle” in Romanian, which I learned after a game of “Koi-koi” in Transylvania.

Posted by: Maktaaq on August 19, 2004 12:26 AM
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