What do a great emperor, a horrible country singer, and an IMAP server have in common?

That's right, they're all named Cyrus.  I knew about the first one because I was named for him.  The second I unfortunately had to learn about when I was in HS.  Oh that was a fun time.  My nickname was both “The Virus” and “Billy Ray.”  The last was a new discovery for me.

How did I find out?  I was trying out gentoo on my home box and I was running into the weirdest problems.  I'd successfully gone through all the stages and I was trying to make an account for myself.  The name I picked was, of course, “cyrus”.  For some reason this wasn't working.  Me being a clueless n00b wasn't stumped for quite a while.  I eventually was able to trace it back to the fact that one of the IMAP servers contained in the base install made a default user for itself called “cyrus”.  Sigh...

That was an exercise in pain and frustration.  I couldn't ever figure out the right thing to do so I just settled with a different user name.

This experience reminded of something similar that happened to me oh about 15 years ago.  Back when I had my original NES one of the first games I had was The Legend of Zelda. When I played that game the first time I decided that I would call my character 'Zelda' (i wasn't a very original child).  Little did I know that if you did this the game designers had made it so that every location of dungeons, items and enemies would be placed in a completely different location vs. the default location if you were any other name.  This wouldn't have been a problem, except that several of my friends had gotten the same game at the same time.  So we would get together at school to talk about how far we were, what we had accomplished, and where everything was.  We created little maps and tried to plot out the entire world.  But none of it made any sense to me.  None of what they were saying (like “move right two screens and place a bomb three squares in”) would work and we just couldn't figure out why.

Who would have thoughts names would be so important and the simple act of choosing them could so drastically affect your ability to function and interact with the world.

Comments (2)
  1. MacSqueeb says:

    I used Gentoo as my primary *nix distro for about a year. It is a great distribution; please keep us posted on your experiences with it.

    Assuming you visited forums.gentoo.org, what did you think, specifically from the perspective of a Microsoft Dev? It’s a pretty friendly board for a Linux forum, but anyone attempting to claim Microsoft is anything less than a boogeyman is still labeled a troll or flamebaiter — at least it seemed that way when I was frequenting there. I’m sure you have a thick skin and would just brush it off, but I do get annoyed at the myopic assumptions ingrained in the thinking of a lot of members of the *nix culture. Do you see any indication that regulars at a board like forums.gentoo.org are lessening their tendency to paint all persons associated with MS with the same brush of mindless minion dedicated to do Bill’s bidding? (Whoa, who fired the alliteration gun?) I wonder how many of them would be surprised to learn that a dev on the C# team uses a Mac and Linux, and that as developers you have the same concerns as them — namely making the best software possible?

  2. I love the gentoo forums. They helped me through some issues i had with setting up firewalls and proxies as well as showing me how I could try (but ultimately fail) to use my dxr3 card to do hardware dvd decoding

    I don’t take zealotry to be indicative of any community. Especially not the *nix community. I only have to look as far as Linus Torvalds to see that much of the drive behind linux is simply to create a great OS. Any kind of move to make that into some political battle I just find mostly depressing and annoying.

    What I do enjoy is strong debate centered around technology. The ArsTechnica battlefront (http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/ubb.x?a=frm&s=50009562&f=48409524) is fantastic for that. For the most part people care more about a good debate than about slamming others. There are a few zealots, but they tend to die off when their arguments get about 50 million holes poked in them by experts from the field.

    Linux is a wonderful example of the power that a community of smart developers can have. Through the use of licenses like the GPL they’ve created a system where anyone can contribute and everyone benefits. I’m fascinated by this system and I believe that it will be more and more important in the near future.

    Everyone I know here is excited by new technology and I don’t think I would love working here if that wasn’t the case. My office mate runs all of his home network off of linux and was a contributer to the Subversion (http://subversion.tigris.org/) project. People play with gadgets, use a variety of different software, and most importantly they aren’t afraid to try new things.

    I see the next few years as being an amazing time for everyone in the computing field. New cultures are fundamentlaly changing the way we see softwre development being done. Companies are focussing more on integrating customers into the entire process, the technology is just advancing at such a breakneck pace that what we thought of as cool just a few years ago is totally passe.

    Anyways, I guess that was somewhat of a rant. But you just got my ball rolling. All I would say that’s impotant is: don’t look at any myopic views and judge the whole based on that. Look at the system in the large and realize that’s is a pretty awesome thing 🙂

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