Naming Conventions the Fun Way

Written on October 8, 2009 in Technical, Short.
Adam Fortuna

Hey hey! I'm a developer who lives in Orlando, FL. Right now I work at Code School, listen to a lot of audiobooks, set way too many goals, write at minafi.com and tweet often.

Most people don’t think about what they name their computers. It’s just not important enough in peoples lives to be a question of relevance. But for us programmers who set naming conventions and coding standards, prefering convention over configuration, it seems like the next step to use see how these rules apply to naming other things in our lives. Remember - it’s all about having fun. You wouldn’t have a variable named Batman , but what’s to stop you from naming your computers after superheroes?

Naming Computer at Work

At one job I worked they took naming very seriously, in the fun way. All servers would be named after characters from The Matrix. So we might have a development server called Agent-Smith , or a database server called Trinity . If you’re connecting to a small set of servers, you won’t soon be confused over the names. It’s a great improvement over application-1, application-2, etc if you’re naming a small set of servers. There’s plenty of names to choose from . I wouldn’t recommend using the alternate Agent names though, unless you want to get Agent-Smith , Agent-Jones and Agent-Brown confused. Desktop computers throughout the office were then named after Transformers. There’s plenty to select from, and it adds a personal touch to everyone’s computer. You could even take it a step farther and couple each computer with a Transformer. :) You could split the office into Decepticons and Autobots if you have a clear divide, and then the two sides can go to war- - or something like that. It’s a lot easier to look at the network and see Starscream than “pc-rover-2245”. You can have all kinds of fun with this- - big transformers are power computers, flying transformers are laptops.

Naming Computers at Home

My naming convention for devices in my home is largely copied from one of the above. All computers in my home are named after Matrix characters (aside from a few of my girlfriends devices which still need to fall inline). My computers that I use are named after human males - Link and Bane (Bane is the Windows partition on my Mac). Other devices of mine around the house that are named after male programs. So Keymaker is my router, my Drobo is Merovingian , portable hard drive is Seraph , my airport express is Trainman and our shared media center Mac Mini is Persephone (always coupled with Merovingian , you see?). At home you probably don’t have enough devices to really need much in the way of naming conventions, but if you have a few USB drives it suddenly makes a lot more sense.

Table of Elements

I don’t remember where I heard it, but someone mentioned to me that they’d organized their servers based on the periodic table of elements. Domain controllers would be noble gasses, halogens might be file servers, transition metals (which are the bulk of elements) could be desktops used by everyone in the office. There’s a few more groups built in for you to use, so long as you don’t have too many devices. This allows for a little more “professional” sounding names, or at least a different kind of nerdy.

Fun of Functional?

Whether you go with a fun or functional naming convention, or even have one at all, will depend on the atmosphere of where the devices will be. If you have a chance to have a little fun, go for it! Anyone have any other fun naming conventions they use or have heard about? Always looking for more examples.

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