When a Name is more than just a Name
(February 21, 2008)

I test a lot of "software" which operate using databases, I use the Internet for hours a day conducting business and living my life. So what, you say? Well, me, myself and I have an apostrophe in our name and we all too often get hiccuped out of a service or are unable to make things work no matter how hard we try. I suppose I have an advantage over say my sisters, because at least I have an idea of what the trouble is.

Like I said, I work in development and have all too often hit upon the "bug" that the character between the O and the B in O'Brien causes in programming. The thing is, it's not actually a "bug"; it's lazy programming. An experienced programmer is generally aware that there are many names which have

In general, online forms have a filter that checks for unfamiliar terms that might mistakenly or maliciously be entered. Sloppy programming means computer system will not be able to handle an apostrophe, a hyphen or a gap in a last name and will block it immediately. That is to say, return an error preventing the user from advancing until the "error" is corrected. Thus, in all too many cases, I end up being an OBrien. It's not the end of the world.

But I don't want to give up my Irish identity and it bugs me to no end when some lazy programmer demands that I, temporarily at least, pretend to be an OBrien in order to buy an airline ticket or set up my home network router (read hours of frustration before I figured that one out!). And it's not just the Irish that have something to be frustrated about: French, Italian, and African names use the apostrophe, French and Dutch have a space between "Des" and "Van" and the rest of the name, and of course the many Arabic names that have a hyphen. Do the O'Donnel's, Des Vires', D'Angelo's, Van Der Kamp's, Al-Hadid's all have to suffer?

When this happens as I'm trying to spend my money, I have mixed feelings. If I can make my purchase elsewhere I'm off like a bat out of hell to bring my business elsewhere. When there's only one game in town, I'm ready to pull my hair out - no not red hair. The thing is that my credit card won't be accepted without my apostrophe.

So I guess every programming team should have an O'Brien on it.

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.
Leave comment