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I have absolutely no sympathy. :)
Sunday's kernel releases
Posted Oct 28, 2012 22:48 UTC (Sun) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
Your name could be Steve.
Posted Oct 28, 2012 22:54 UTC (Sun) by neilbrown (subscriber, #359)
Posted Oct 28, 2012 23:26 UTC (Sun) by man_ls (guest, #15091)
Posted Oct 29, 2012 10:53 UTC (Mon) by ledow (guest, #11753)
Also, working in schools, I can assure you that ANY naming scheme you choose for users will inevitably invite a double-entry because of the way probability works - even in a school of only a few dozen students.
And where you come up with a smart-alec user naming scheme, there will always be doubles or you'll have to add a number to the end because of exactly the same problem. Every single place I've ever worked has had a duplicate username identified by, say, "username2" or similar, and the same problem with every influx of new users.
And, worse, if you use a smart-alec scheme like "first four letters of surname followed by first two of first name", you will invariably end up with something approaching a rude-word and it will ALWAYS be the most senior person in the place (so, obviously, you are then asked to explain and to change the naming scheme or provide an exception which breaks all your user scripts). I actually have to audit pupil names for pronunciation and possible connotations before I issue users (very easy to get swear words, insults and I guarantee you the pupil with the most fanatically religious parents will end up with something blasphemous under the naming scheme).
Posted Oct 29, 2012 11:07 UTC (Mon) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784)
Posted Oct 29, 2012 12:13 UTC (Mon) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167)
Since they are picking the username, they are solely responsible for its perceived meaning if any. If you're dealing with kids I suppose you might thus want to have oversight/ veto.
If absolutely necessary also forbid usernames which conflict with system identifiers, but prefer where possible to simply separate the two namespaces altogether so that it's impossible for either the system or the users to confuse a person with a machine, or an ordinary user with an administrator or other higher power.
While working at a university I selected the username "ruth" (a now rare word meaning roughly "remorse" and the source of the still common word "ruthless") and the associated email address was assigned to me automatically. Over the years I discovered that humans who can't use their email client properly are about as common as automatic systems that are too dumb to know the difference between a username and a person's real name. I received confidential correspondence, invitations, enquiries, bounces, and numerous other emails that should have been sent to (and in some cases, explicitly were addressed to) members of staff with the forename "Ruth". Nobody showed any interest in either fixing the automated systems or retraining the staff, but they did eventually institute a system in which they gave everybody an email address of the form Firstname.Lastname@University. This system had all the flaws you have mentioned above, it fixed nothing, but most likely it made some barely computer literate new VC feel that they could email anybody by guessing at the correct address and then probably blaming "those IT people" when their confidential union settlement proposal was mistakenly sent to a janitor or whatever.
Posted Oct 29, 2012 13:19 UTC (Mon) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106)
There are no good answers, but here's a bad one that I like: assign each person a name-based username and then *always append a numeric suffix*, so that each name is e.g. firstname.lastname.123@host. Of course you have to deal with the fact that nobody really knows what a name is, allow for exceptions and never hard-code this assumption in to any software.
Perhaps the best way to name people is to use something like DNS. A unique number that identifies plus a global name-to-number resolution system, which is non-authoritative and permitted to change over time, geography, etc.. Of course, then you'd need to know he point in time and locality to know how to resolve the name... which is pretty much where we are now.
Posted Oct 29, 2012 13:31 UTC (Mon) by ledow (guest, #11753)
You can't even GUESS at their username, because it's numeric. They won't remember it, even months later. You will have to print little cards with their usernames on, which they will be unable to read until years after they've started (BY LAW!) using computers in a network environment so the teacher has to go around one-by-one logging them in.
Not saying it's insurmountable (it's not - for a start, I push for dongle-logins because it's just easier even if they lose them in the first five minutes), but it's a problem.
Hence why humans memorise alphabetised mnemonics (i.e. a username based on their name) and let the computer convert it to a unique identifier (i.e. user-SID or equivalent).
The only place that gives me a numeric username is the UK's Government Gateway (which also needs several highly-secure passwords and security procedures to access because it lets you do everything from file your taxes to renew your driving licence). And that's been phased out because they get so much hassle with people forgetting their logins and they're planning to tie it into email addresses or social network accounts or similar.
We use usernames for a reason. If I wanted to use numbers, I'd just allocate them a login-dongle of some kind. Good luck tracking down user123127854738's history on all your systems, even if you *do* implement logging and searching. And username auditing (is this account still in use?), and lots of other boring admin tasks which are solved by using some variation of real name even despite the inherent namespace problem.
Posted Oct 29, 2012 18:01 UTC (Mon) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
Tattoo it on their foreheads. Make it a barcode for easy machine readability.
Duh, that one was easy.
Posted Oct 29, 2012 13:21 UTC (Mon) by ledow (guest, #11753)
My boss at a previous school was called Ruth, for instance. I know someone in American called Ruth (though she goes by a nickname because Ruth is seen as old-fashioned). And then there's Babe Ruth and other famous "Ruth"s, first or last name. It wouldn't be short-sighted to assume it was a person's name at all. And that's exactly my point. Any system of naming will run into a name from some other place sooner or later.
Posted Oct 30, 2012 2:51 UTC (Tue) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167)
You somehow thought that while I was aware of the existence of a fairly obscure English word, I hadn't noticed it's also a popular name?
I chose the username purposefully. The account which it corresponded to was not of great importance to me (I had other accounts with which to get real work done), so its value as a lesson and example more than compensated for the trouble it caused.
The argument that "it wouldn't be short-sighted to assume that it was a person's name" mistakes the problem. It /would/ be short-sighted to assume that blindly addressing email to "ruth" in an organisation of several thousand people will have any particular effect at all, still less that it will ensure your confidential missive is received by whichever person named "Ruth" you happened to be thinking of when composing it. It would also be short-sighted to create a system which "helpfully" redirects email sent to, say, "Ruth.Smith@University" to a user named ruth on the basis that the email address didn't match anything and maybe this "ruth" account will know what to do with it. It would be even more short-sighted to invent a system which attempts to match named employees to accounts based on the similarity of the username when a perfectly good system for exactly matching corresponding accounts by payroll number already exists. And still more short sighted to write software which treats the human readable part of an email addresss (e.g. the Ruth in "Ruth Stevens" <stevensr@University>) as a username to which the mail should be delivered. And yet all this short-sightedness and more happened.
Posted Oct 30, 2012 10:32 UTC (Tue) by jezuch (subscriber, #52988)
Slight correction: it's common among English-speaking peoples, but the name apparently is Semitic.
Posted Oct 29, 2012 14:51 UTC (Mon) by deater (subscriber, #11746)
Posted Oct 29, 2012 18:03 UTC (Mon) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
(for those missing the context, read Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon")
Posted Oct 30, 2012 9:29 UTC (Tue) by ghane (subscriber, #1805)
Posted Nov 1, 2012 16:44 UTC (Thu) by daglwn (subscriber, #65432)
Much entertainment ensued.
Posted Oct 29, 2012 19:23 UTC (Mon) by NAR (subscriber, #1313)
Posted Oct 31, 2012 23:31 UTC (Wed) by Wol (guest, #4433)
Then in another job, we had four Anthonys in a company of about 60. So we had two Tonys, an Anthony (me), and a Stiffy (his surname was Stiff).
And my boss there was Brian Smith. Apparently, when he was in short trousers, there were four Brian Smiths in his class (of about 30 kids).
Posted Nov 1, 2012 6:34 UTC (Thu) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
At work a few years ago we had the 'david meeting'
my boss (David)
his boss (Scott)
his boss (David)
From Engineering David
From Operations David
and his boss David
Scott opened the meeting by asking if he should change his name to David for the duration of the meeting :-)
Posted Nov 3, 2012 0:59 UTC (Sat) by Wol (guest, #4433)
David Clark the MD, David Wheatley the Operations Director, David ... the Company Secretary, and David Geldart the IT manager.
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