Then there is the joke about the combined business/home/portable version of the operating system...
Microsoft's Raymond Chen has continued his odyssey through the Windows vendor's back catalogue of awkward product names with the story behind WinCE. Fresh from the spanking it had taken over Windows NT, the company was keen to avoid another initialism or backronym incident. After all, according to Chen, NT was sometimes …
I'm (still) using WinCE to this day, the embedded version is the OS in one of our 3D printers. My experience with WinCE up to v6 helps when I need to dig down into the system settings, I know exactly where they are and how they work.
I came up with an initialism for the label on an interface test adapter for implantable cardiac devices that also happened to be the (vulgar) Swedish word for a lady's private parts. AFAIK there are dozens of them still deployed, and the name is proudly displayed in professionally produced labels with 5 cm tall text. A/C so I can't pick the facepalm icon...
NASA had a spaceplane project for the ISS called Crew Return Vehicle - CRV. During the prototype phase this would have to have Experimental (X) appended, as per Nasa regulations
Somebody decide that CRV-X was too close to lady parts and the projected had to be hurriedly renamed.
Guaranteeing the names you choose are innocuous in every language in the world is hard, and that's why big brands have localized names for some products
The Chevy Nova might be an urban legend, bur there are examples in the auto industry, for one, the Mitsubishi Pajero was renamed Montero for the Spanish markets because driving a "Wanker" might not suit everyone. And in Portugal, the Hyunday Kona was renamed Kauai - "Kunt" might not be very popular among potential buyers - and it may be the reason why Kona bicycles don't sell that much there
Zyklon (German for cyclone) was the brand name for a pesticide which was later used as one of and probably the most well-known gassing agent in Nazi Germany's death camps. That was Zyklon-B, and for all I know, German speakers don't immediately associate the word with the gas. Non-German speakers who don't know that it's also a normal word may immediately associate those together; that's certainly the first thing I would think of even if it wasn't relevant and I later corrected my brain's initial assumption.
Fluke - a very expensive brand of various measurement tools.
WTF and WTF II - an "innovation park" and a BMW's factory (Westlicher Taxölderner Forst).
Ass - Ace. You see innovation asses and education asses everywhere.
Hell - Light beer. Bavaria Hell available at every shop.
There are many more, these are still fresh in my memory as I had an hour for a Bavarian Hell this week while an electrician ass checked my desk appliances with his Fluke. And the recent expansion of WTF to WTF II doesn't need any explanation to anyone who's driven a BWM recently.
> Mitsubishi Pajero ... "Wanker"
Interestingly, the story 20-30 years ago was that it was renamed for the _South American_ markets, because pajero was local slang for homosexual. As in: ' [*irony*]Oh yeah, he's a real "mountain lion"....'
Just in the last coupla years the story has resurfaced and is now using the (differing) European slang as the reason. As here.
I was once told that when Esso renamed themselves to Exxon they were very careful to check the name in every language they could find.
It turns out that only Maltese has double x's so if one names a product with a double x in the name they only need to check one language.
Mind you, while "Exxon" is safe, a lot of the more vigorous words usuitable for Aunt Enid's parlour sport double x's.
>Guaranteeing the names you choose are innocuous in every language in the world is hard
On a simple level, a list of naughty words, slangs terms and phonetic variations- at least in a dozen major languages - shouldn't be too hard to compile. Then it becomes like a spell checker. Of course this would never be a replacement for having real local knowledge- there are many cultural hazards to trip over.
Checking a dozen languages is far from enough if you plan to sell globally. The EU alone has 24 official languages, and a number of others that are not so official.
The proposed list of naughty works is also not static, slang terms come and go, and meanings shift. For example: decades ago "gay" did not mean homosexual in English. I have an English-Finnish dictionary from as late as 1957 that does not list this as a possible meaning.
I once worked on a concept project for a greenhouse in space. We named it GRASS. (the acronym was something like Greenhouse Aboard Space Station or something, absolutely nothing to do with the alternative name for Marijuana, no, no, no...), however, once we actually started attracting some interest and potential funding, the bosses ordered a name change - and we changed it to something inoffensive and totally non-memorable (so much so, i cant actually remember what it was anymore). It did get its funding and evolved away from space, developed a new name (EDEN), and is actually installed in Antarctica.
Moral of the story, internal names can be as fun as you like, but as soon as it goes external you'll probably have to change it.
Second Moral of the Story, funny names tend to be the most memorable.... ;)
>Moral of the story, internal names can be as fun as you like, but as soon as it goes external you'll probably have to change it.
Movie effects software internal code names based on famous directors.
Namesake of our latest release became famous for a hands-on approach to young talent.
My choice was always to pick project names after famously insane, unreasonable, slave driving, directors.
The professionals class this as a "maybe". One suggestion is that the IE root of "fuck" is 'to strike' (as in Latin pugnus 'fist'). German ficken 'to rub' may or may not be related. My emeritus colleague Roger Lass wrote on this: R. Lass ‘Four letters in search of an etymology’ in Diachronica 12 (1995) 99–111. Unfortunately we don't subscribe to old issues online, so I can't read it.
THANK you! My German has mostly been learnt at evening classes and in polite conversation with my neighbours, so my knowledge of profanity etc is a bit limited, and I was trying to work out what was wrong with "vixen", neither Leo nor Google were being any help - and I checked that they knew rude words but I was completely failing to pronounce "vixen" in my head as a German would.
One that did make it was Active Roles Server for managing AD. Shortening it you get ARS, but every technician at my previous place of work simply called it Arse. And of course the common queries between technicians of "I can't find this user in my arse", "Is your arse working?", "Arse seems to be f*cked" etc.
We also had a programmer there that wrote a simple user-data backup tool called "Back-Up My Stuff". Albeit it was deliberate, and as a personal tool, BUMS never attracted sufficient attention higher-up for anyone boring to complain about the name.
At a previous job, I deployed a management server named "CLAM" which was a plausible acronym. The second data center later got CLAP. I planned DRIP for the Disaster Recovery center, but left before that was built. These were among thousands of other servers, so the pattern was not obvious.
It was a private joke until my last week there.
Too late... a few months ago they renamed all our application modules with unpronounceable and idiotic acronyms... without telling anybody in the dev teams before. So now there's a lot of references to the old names in the code and some of the directories and files...
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I don't know how many of you have spent a while listening to synthesized speech, but if you have ever used it in something, you may know that it will guess at the proper pronunciations of things and sometimes get it wrong. One tactic that is annoyingly popular is to expand abbreviations. This seems safe but really isn't. People seem not to like hearing effectively "Deck, 2021"* when the computer could expand it to "December 2021", so it's often unturnoffable. I once used a system that would expand all occurrences of "wince" to "Windows CE", no matter the case or position in a sentence. This led to such annoying sentences as "The design made me Windows CE, but I had to live with it."
That wasn't the only such example. It also liked to expand "No." to "number", which had to be filtered out in scripts because it could result in some very confused users when the answer was no. It expanded all uppercase cases of "ACT" to "Australian Capital Territory" despite there being other acronyms for that. And needless to say it constantly misstated dates between the DDMM and MMDD systems when the day number was less than 12. That's just what it did with English.
*The string would be "Dec. 2021", so if the abbreviation wasn't expanded, it would pause between the two parts.
We had a not so tech savvy, but politically rather more clever person promoted to be the leader of the tech support group.
We always referred to him as the supreme head of information technology. And the team as global it support.
Rumour has it he actually tried to get the title printed on his business cards, but couldn't because it was not compliant with the company guidelines
About 10 years ago, a new head of computer security came in and decided to clean house. He re-branded the dept to <RedactedCo> Information Security, or ISIS. He had shirts made with the new name. His staff tried to stop him because of Da'esh, but he didn't listen to stupid people.
He changed his mind after a trip to Israel. Apparently Mossad had pulled him aside to discuss his shirt.
...here in Finland, years back, our national alcohol monopoly launched a pre-mixed liquor that was pink in colour, featured a lady dressed as a cat on the label, and was named Koskenkorva Pink Pu**y. Really.
It was subsequently, and quite hurriedly (after a quick lesson in contemporary English, I presume) renamed as Koskenkorva Pink Cat. Those were the days...
A company I worked fo used to produce thousands of tpa of a commodity product but for internal use only. As part of a major expansion scheme they started to sell the product on the open market against some very big, well established names. The material was identified, in 20 tonne lots, by a consecutive Lot number, with the unimaginative format L ######.
There were several reasons to differentiate between internal and sales material and, after much debate. we production people decided to identify sales lots by a 'P' prefix and a new series of numbers.
After three months the sales people reported back that our material was being called 'that poo stuff' by the production crews using it. We apologised and offered to change the system immediately to whatever they recommended. The answer was 'No way'. It might be a joke but they like it and they're asking for it by name. We couldn't buy advertising like that.
Reminds me of the first time I listened to the Apollo mission control recordings, and wondering why they kept talking about the crew being in poo, or selecting poo... And then I learned about how the Apollo Guidance Computer uses Pnn identifiers for its preloaded programs, and that P00 is the ID for the default/idle program, and it all started to make *far* more sense.
I was once involved with the creation of a new school, which was a joint venture between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic dioceses. Apparently the new name had got as far as being approved by the bishops, and it was only when the uniform company pointed out that having the initials "C.O.C.K." might not look so good on the blazers, that minds were changed.
I once spent ten minutes asking a contractor to please not to put the acronym "CRUD" in a report that was going to elected officials (mainly retired navy types with next to no IT experience) as they would take offence and the consequences would be somewhat suboptimal. Most of those ten minutes were spent with him scoffing at me, sating it was an industry-standard term and he couldn't believe an IT professional would be so stupid.
I wasn't there when the report got seen by senior officials, but I do know that I never saw him again. I did meet his replacement a few days later, though.
Well, I tried...
Drawing inspiration from an old Dilbert cartoon, I once proposed “Policy-based Heterogenous Large-scale Entity Group Manager” as a project acronym. Sadly, I then had to explain why I wasn’t serious.
In another job, I once worked in a Tools & Architecture group, abbreviated to T&A, which was something our American colleagues found hilarious but none of us had thought of.
Years ago, the German mother of a family member’s girlfriend came to visit Ireland, and on seeing the TV weather forecast map with “MIST MIST MIST MIST” written all over it, she just turned to her daughter and just said: “nun, das stimmt!” (well, that’s for sure!). “Mist” means crap, garbage or, literally, dung, and in fairness, is a fine summary of an Irish Summer.
That said, you can buy the whiskey liquor Irish Mist under that exact name in Germany. Could be worse, they could have called it “an ideal gift” (das Gift = poison)
Speaking of booze and Germans, the -ficks problem is why you can’t buy the Irish beer sold across Europe as “Kilkenny” anywhere in Ireland. Here, it goes by its original name of Smithwicks. The irony here is that the pronunciation of the name in Ireland, /'smidhiks/, doesn’t even contain the offending “ficks” consonant - it was a pre-emptive defence against German pronunciation of the name.
While I'm at it, in VAX 11/780 class, we learned about a processor status register called FUBAR (serious business, not making this up), where you looked for values flagging errors on your CPU, hence the "FUBAR" moniker. As in "Failed UniBus Address Register". Some engineer slid that right past the Documentation folks... Who says engineers don't have a sense of humor?
Might as well chip in with this one, although it's pretty far off tangent.
we used to have our domain controllers named after certain comedians, namely the three (and then fourth) Stooges.
When we replaced them, the person running that project named the first two "kirk" and Spock. Then I took over, and while I would have continued the tradition, we were also wanting to look slightly more professional, so the remaining ones got something much more generic and corporate sounding.
I did have the pleasure of killing Kirk and Spock when they were retired.
(I might go back to a less corporate sounding convention for the next iteration, though, if only to try to bring the sense of having fun whilst working back.)
At Essex University in the 1970's, the University proudly introduced an internal telephone system for the student residential towers. It was of course called the Towers Internal Telephone System. They didn't realise what they had done until after the directories had been printed, with very large initial capitals on the cover. Much merriment ensued amongst the students.
The freshman dorms at my uni were separated. Males on the east wing, females on the west. Phones on the second floor east men's were answered "SEMENS", but only for internal calls. A few had trouble distinguishing the internal and external ring patterns, more than a few times you heard "SEMENS,...sorry mom."
A certain second university in a Quaint northern English city got quite close to being called the "City University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne" until very shortly before they started publishing paperwork, a proof of a prospectus just that capitalisation ...
Lets say there were heads that rolled.