Personal Musings

This blog is intended to be just a jumble of thoughts that hit me and need not necessarily mean anything.

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Location: Kerala, India

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Name problem with softwares

I hope Google AdSense will be coming up in this blog shortly. Anyways, I suffered again in the hands of wrong naming procedures. This time courtsey Google.

I am not anti-Google. I just disagree with their way of handling some things.

The reason for this post is to simply point out how nameing is a difficult task.

My Name as on Records is "Murali P". I had no choice in that. The Teacher in first standard (i dont blame her for that), just wrote my name as "Murali P" in the attendance register. Neither me nor my parents bothered about this. It is common in our school have a first name followed by an initial (first letter of father's name) written as name of student. There have been instances where people have a first name and a last name, as with my sister. There were people with three names as well. Now how is a common man about to think that every name must have a first name, middle name/initial and a last name. Asking for such a thing is preposterous.

If needed to insert, I should have written my name as Murali Paramaswaran Iyer. Murali is my first name. Parameswaran is my father's name. and iyer would be my "surname". Iyers are basically Tamil Brahmins. and I am a tamil brahmin. But, from my grandfather's (father's father) time, we never used to add Iyer to our name in our family. My Grandfather's official name is P B Rajan. My father's is just B Parameswaran.

Now, when we go to North India, everyone is assosciated with a surname. The is indicative of the caste of the person. In mumbai especially, you will hear a lot of Kulkarnis, Malhotras, Iyers etc. In fact, when my cousin went to Mumbai for job, he had to forcibly use Iyer along with his name, because that is how people address there. Its part of the culture their. Unfortunately for India, there has always been too much North India in the government procedures. So, you can find the column "Surname" in most of the application forms. WE dont NEED a surname. But then, you cant change a culture of a section of the nation, just because your part dont agree with it.

I am not quite an authority in Naming schemes followed elsewhere. But my observations have been like this. In general, many places have three parts in their name. A lucky few are bestowed with even seven or eight. I have heard of a chat friend mentioning name containing a first name, a church name , a latin name, a fathers name, a family name. Sorry fellow, the names seem quite confusing to me.

Anyways, coming back to the topic, When softwares started to pop up, they drew their line on the Name criteria. They started following their own "general" rules for names. SOme places, they dont really mind if the name is entered as "zzzzzzzzz". some places they are quite certain that a name must be of the form "XXX YYYY ZZZ". Some places insist on "XXX Y ZZZ". Some others leave the middle one optional. Poor VVS Laxman. COnsider him applying in a online form, which has porvision for just 3 parts. But then again, take the example of my friend Vaibhav, whose official name is just that.

Should the sites ensure some rule for the names? Well, just because I happened to learn to write an "int main()" in C, I would say that some rules are needed. It is easy for a person to give a simple name as "zxcv" because that is easy to type. I dont know whether in any culture, a person can have such a name. [If any reader knows such a line, please send comment]. The question is where do the rule makers have to draw the line.

I myself am quite confused about this problem. A better question for the designers will be, "Can i trust the user to enter his/her ACTUAL name?" Difficult Question. But then, a person inclined to write a bogus name will do that, no matter what rule you apply. Even if a form accepts a list of names as legal entries, still some tom, dick or harry will come in and pick up a name randomly from the list. I am of the strong opinion that users must be given the freedom to use their names.

My Google AdSense application was first rejected, because I had gven the name as "Murali P". When I responded to the AdSense team stating the reasons for the name change, (and I changed the last name feild -- i knew the fault is with the code script only and not on the person per se) a Mr. Andrsej responded to me promptly with a reply. I am thankful for the team members response. It at least shows that Google is run by real people and not by some bot. Still, there is nothing that the poor man could have done. Even Google is not at fault, because their design team must have thought of following this rule of first name-last name out of convention. Nothing wrong in that. But then to a user like me, it still is a jolt to hear that my name, the name in which I am known in my official records, is not acceptable in some place.

I hope, some day people will start using the proper names in all forms, and the programmers can start easily assuming that whatever their user enters in the field is going to be correct. But till ten, this will continue.

[I will enter my usual thoughts in true significance of name in some other post.]

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