back to article When product names go bad: Microsoft's Raymond Chen on the cringe behind WinCE

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 …

  1. Thomas Gray

    Then there is the joke about the combined business/home/portable version of the operating system...

    Windows CEMeNT

    1. Ordinary Donkey

      Re: Then there is the joke about the combined business/home/portable version of

      I remember pointing out that MS, Me and XP are all diseases and wondering when Windows VD would be released.

      1. MatthewSt

        Re: Then there is the joke about the combined business/home/portable version of

        Check out its old name - https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/services/virtual-desktop/

    2. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Then there is the joke about the combined business/home/portable

      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.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I swear it was unintentional...

    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...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I swear it was unintentional...

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I swear it was unintentional...

        More embarrassing was that incident with the crew launch interface ticket that they never found.

    2. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: I swear it was unintentional...

      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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I swear it was unintentional...

        Rolls Royce tried to launch a silver Mist in German to compete with Merc

        But Bosch are probably the winners with their Zyclon vacuum cleaner - launch in Israel

        1. OssianScotland

          Re: I swear it was unintentional...

          And it's relaunch, the -B version?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I swear it was unintentional...

          why, what's wrong with Zyclon in Israel...

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: I swear it was unintentional...

            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.

        3. pavel.petrman

          Re: I swear it was unintentional...

          Oh Germany...

          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.

      2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: I swear it was unintentional...

        > 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.

      3. Stork Silver badge

        Re: I swear it was unintentional...

        I am not sure how well RR Silver Mist did in the German market

        1. sebacoustic

          Re: I swear it was unintentional...

          what about the Toyota MR2 in France? Is it true it didn't sell well because of the name?

        2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: I swear it was unintentional...

          It never got there, or anywhere else. It was renamed the Silver Shadow.

      4. davcefai

        Re: I swear it was unintentional...

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I swear it was unintentional...

          Esso is Exxon? I know of both, but Esso is still around in the UK

          1. keith_w

            Re: I swear it was unintentional...

            Still in Canada too.

      5. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I swear it was unintentional...

        >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.

        1. MacroRodent

          Re: I swear it was unintentional...

          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.

          1. Captain Scarlet

            Re: I swear it was unintentional...

            Needs to check what you say in many game these days, mentioned I would brb to check my faggots were in the oven. This was apparently enough for a 3 day chatban in Rocket League.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I swear it was unintentional...

              Could have been worse. You might have said that your were going to throw some bundles of sticks on the fire. Out of context that causes all sorts of upset.

            2. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: I swear it was unintentional...

              In British English "fag" is not at all impolite. It is a cigarette, and smoking a fag, well that is what people normally do with them.

              In American English, it apparently means something very different.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I swear it was unintentional...

                In the US, if you "stepped out to smoke a fag" we imagine you noticed an effeminate chap walking past and shot him.

              2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: I swear it was unintentional...

                And faggot is still in places the appropriate name for a dish of minced offal. Why the Americans decided to use it differently.....?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I swear it was unintentional...

                  It's also a word for a bundle of sticks used for starting a fire. Probably they think they're hot.

      6. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: I swear it was unintentional...

        Hence why the Honda Fit is sold as the Honda Jazz in Europe. 'Fit' is apparently too close to fitta which is a rude word for lady parts in some Scandinavian countries.

      7. katrinab Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I swear it was unintentional...

        Or the Toyota MR2.

        Read that out as a French person would - em er deux, sounds a bit merde.

  3. StevieB

    My issue is with certain kitchen appliances, I watch too much Red Dwarf and the name is very proudly displayed.

    I cant even..., not in my kitchen!

    1. DJO Silver badge

      I watch too much Red Dwarf

      Is that possible? *

      * (disregard season 9)

    2. Stork Silver badge

      I am in that club too.

  4. longtimeReader

    WTF

    Some of us were SO CLOSE to getting IBM to rebrand one of its products as WebSphere Transaction Facility. (And we did know what we were doing.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF

      On a related note, I was *this* close to getting IBM to name a proposed cloud-hosted tape archive "Blue Ice".

      Unfortunately, IBM Cloud (Softlayer as it then was) backed out of the proposal...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: WTF

        There was a debugger/in-circuit emulator back in the day called, Neuromancer inspired, BlackICE

        I always wondered what it did to you if you made a mistake

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF

      The VAX 11/780 has "Failed UniBus Address Register" as a possible fault condition - shown abbreviated, of course.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF

      We were so close to getting Reactive Templating For Mobiles as an option on our platform...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF

      We have a local burger van that proudly displays: "What The Fork".

  5. a_yank_lurker

    Meaning

    Windows CE; CE means 'crippled edition'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meaning

      The joke was that it meant Cheap Electronics or Chinese Electronics.

      I heard about the CE naming before it was announced publicly and inmediately notified them of the unfortunate "wince" abbreviation. No reaction, but they were warned.

  6. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    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.... ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >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.

  7. demon driver

    Vixen

    Just some nitpicking: in the 'vixen' case the issue is not a translation but a homonym in the German language, which is the indicative form of an indecent verb.

    1. JacobZ

      Re: Vixen

      And for completeness, the word in question has cognates in the Nordic languages, and of course in English as the F in WTF.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vixen

        But I thought our English "F" word originally came from a German word for breeding horses. No?

        1. MJB7

          Re: Vixen

          The German translation of "to fuck" is "ficken". I see no reason to suppose they don't come from the same root in proto-Germanic (which may well have meant "breed stock")

          1. Julian Bradfield

            Re: Vixen

            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.

    2. MJB7

      Re: Vixen

      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.

    3. Golgafrinch

      Re: Vixen

      "... the issue is not a translation but a homonym in the German language ..."

      I don't mean to be pedantic, but it's not a homonym - it's a homophone.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish I had taken a picture of the giant billboard announcing "Nothing Sucks Like An Electrolux"

    (https://adland.tv/content/nothing-sucks-ad-myth ... the myth being that the Swedish parent co didn't understand that it was a Brit joke)

    1. sebacoustic

      i saw a sportswear shop in Krakow named "the athlete's foot", sadly it was before the days of phome cameras so no pics.

      1. Wo

        The Athlete's foot is a trainers/running shoe store chain in the Netherlands

        https://www.theathletesfoot.nl/

        1. mtp
          Facepalm

          Low quality

          About 10 years ago there were big signs for a furnature shop proudly saying "50% off quality"

          1. Stumo
            WTF?

            Re: Low quality

            While in the USA I found a shop advertising "Brand New Antique Furniture"

    2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      The systems manger at the engineering department where I did my first degree, back in the 80s, had a genuine "Nothing sucks like a VAX" advert framed above the departmental 11/780.

  9. Jaspa
    Happy

    Could have been worse...

    In a previous existense, some wag suggested we be rebranded after a buy-out.

    Cards Loans IT.

    Hiya ex Colleagues as this is damn obvious ;)

  10. PerlyKing
    Go

    The BASTARD system

    My boss tried to get our new system named the Buy-sell And Sell-buy Transaction And Reporting Database, so that support calls would be along the lines of "The BASTARD system's gone down again!" :-)

    Someone higher up with no sense of humour nixed the idea :-(

    1. Dave K

      Re: The BASTARD system

      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.

      1. jtaylor

        Re: The BASTARD system

        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.

        1. Fred Daggy Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: The BASTARD system

          Its ... almost ... like Roger Mellie was naming your infrastructure. Please continue.

  11. jollyboyspecial

    Surely everybody has heard the story that Windows NT was so called because it was one letter further on in the alphabet from VMS. Of course you have to be pretty old these days to understand the reference.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      And even older to know that the joke originated with HAL

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        And equally old to remember that ICL was occasionally referred to as "KEN" (two steps forward, rather than the single step back to get to "HAL").

    2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge
      Pint

      I actually hadn’t heard that, and never made the connection between VMS and WNT, but it makes perfect sense given Dave Cutler’s previous job at DEC. Also explains the evasiveness of Microsoft PR at the time when asked what “NT” actually stood for...

      Have a beer.

  12. brotherelf
    Pint

    While we're sharing these…

    … a beer for the people who managed to backronym the Bavarian income tax software (used in all of Germany) to be called "magpie" (Elster, supposedly ELektronische STEuErerklärung). Most humor the taxhum has ever shown.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Do everything you can to prevent upper management from naming your product"

    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...

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Conman

    I worked on a contracts management system. It was called Conman. Went live like that, the customer had a sense of humour.

  16. doublelayer Silver badge

    It affected other things too

    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.

    1. Thomas Gray

      Re: It affected other things too

      When the exam board MEG (Midland Examining Group) merged to form OCR, they did a quick search and replace on all syllabi. What fun we had in the Physics department teaching our young charges about power stations producing Ocrawatts of power…

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: It affected other things too

        Being kids, I assume you needed to use an ocraphone to get through to them.

      2. Evil Scot Bronze badge

        Re: It affected other things too

        Had similar experience Porting from SPARC station code to Windows 3.1.

        All word sizes had to be doubled.

        Took great joy in calling out a colleague as a polonger.

    2. J. Cook Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: It affected other things too

      Ah, using grep to search and replace without context. A clbuttic tale, that one is.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Supreme head of information technology

    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

    1. jtaylor

      Re: Supreme head of information technology

      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.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Supreme head of information technology

        Some people only learn by experience.

  18. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Aside from, or in addition to, the levity. This is just one more ( and early) example of the Microsoft, "What were they thinking" moment.

    It does appear that higher levels of their management have too much autonomy and not enough thinking power.

  19. OzmoOzno

    Another Microsoft one…

    I have a sealed box on my shelf of Microsoft “OneCare”

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another Microsoft one…

      I spent may happy hours with a Wayne Kerr measuring set

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another Microsoft one…

        I was sooo tempted to get a ladder and pot of paint out to the sign of one of our Chinese take-away (take out) shops.

        It was named WAI KING!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Another Microsoft one…

          There used to be a hairdresser nearby named FLICKERS in a slightly dodgy font

  20. Juha Meriluoto

    Not directly computer related, but...

    ...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...

  21. Pangasinan Philippines

    reminds me of a song

    By Fred Wedlock about a cleaning product which would clean anything but was without a name.

    Suggestions included:

    Best Universal Grit Grime and Effluent Remover

    or

    Finest Universal Cleanser Known

    The song is quite funny also

    1. ChemEng
      Facepalm

      Bad publicity?

      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.

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        Re: Bad publicity?

        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.

    2. IJD

      Re: reminds me of a song

      From Mike Harding:

      "Best Universal Grit Grime and Effluent Remover -- best ever marketing slogan...

      If OMO won't whiten it and DAZ won't brighten it -- BUGGER it!"

    3. ChrisElvidge

      Re: reminds me of a song

      If OMO doesn't whiten it and DAZ doesn't brighten it - FUCK it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft aren’t the only ones…

    How about Dell, who had a service called Custom Factory integration. Basically, they’d build hardware and software to your exact spec for a large order. The customer care function was CFI Care.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft aren’t the only ones…

      service still exists, but under a different name, obviously.

      I know that Lenovo's iteration of large product orders with a specific spec for a specific client are all CTO (Custom To Order or some such).

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

  24. Mr F&*king Grumpy

    My two career highs:

    - getting an unused bit in ESA satellite telemetry assigned to "loss of sense of humour flag"

    - in a Big Bank, getting "Area 51" assigned as the code for calculating a risk parameter with "-X" appended to the name.

    bit sad really

    I suppose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Our network model has two nodes next to each other on the map labelled HARD and SLAP.

      I also created a new node for a Biogas facility, which got the fantastic acronym BOGS.

      A/C because giveaway ID relating to other posts!!

    2. Chairman of the Bored

      That's ok

      My main IT policy accomplishment was convincing leadership to change the policy on username conventions for first inital, middle initial, full last name.

      This had nothing to do with one of my colleagues having the name B.G. Dick

      1. gryphon
        Happy

        Re: That's ok

        Back in the day company had a username policy of <first 6 letters from surname><first initial>

        Had a few 'interesting' ones from that.

        Funniest one was for an Italian lady that worked out to 'ALLPORN'

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's ok

          Similar story from a colleague of mine. His abbreviated name ended up as CAMEHARD

  25. mhoulden

    Over summer 2000 I had a temp student job where I had access to the Windows API reference. Hungarian notation was quite a big thing back then. A variable with a name like intCounter was no big deal. A Windows structure called shItemID on the other hand...

    1. sinsi

      You could at least internally vocalise it sh-Item-ID.

      Now it's called SHITEMID :)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was once involved with a project looking at putting more computing power into traffic signals in order to do non traffic signals stuff.

    Engineering wanted to call it 'Advanced Road Side Equipment'.

    Marketing had other ideas.

  28. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    I have in my workshop an OBD-II code reader made for cars manufactured by the Volkswagen Audi Group, which is why it says "VAG Scanner" on the front. I was disappointed that it didn't come with a tube of KY jelly, as that plug is pretty big.

  29. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

    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.

  30. Sam Therapy

    Many moons ago I worked for Aon, or Aon Risk Services, as they were properly known. Some genius wanted to call our part of the business Aon Risk Services Europe. Oh very dear.

  31. JpChen

    I’m sure the vixen thing was about the commodore VIC-20, not a game.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
  32. Mr. Goodprobe

    Funny thing about Windows NT (WNT). It was written by David Cutler, who was lured away from his job at DEC working on VMS. Handed a check for a million dollars. WNT ... VMS? Coincidence? Cheers, and Happy Holidays!

  33. Mr. Goodprobe

    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?

  34. J. Cook Silver badge

    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.)

  35. plrndl
    Happy

    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.

  36. hayzoos

    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."

  37. EnviableOne

    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.

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