Starcraft Network

I’ll cut right to the chase: my network naming convention is spectacular. I highly suggest emulating it.

Non-nerds, read this first

For the non-techies reading this I have some explaining to do.  When you have more than one computer connected together you form something called a Local Area Network (LAN).  For instance, you have a LAN if you have more than one computer connected to the internet at home.  Computers on networks like to communicate to one another and so they have an address on the network called an IP address, which is a series of numbers (e.g. 192.168.1.100).

If you know the IP of a computer, you can send messages to it.  The problem is that normal people won’t remember all those numbers, and most of the time those numbers actually change when you turn the computers on and off.  For these reasons, most Operating Systems let you name your computers and they do the translation for you.  This probably happened the first time you turned it on and it asked for a name.

For average users the name will be something like “Living Room PC” or “Dad’s Laptop.”  The more tech savvy tend to enjoy goofing around with these names; for instance my friend Julia named one computer “Red” and the other one “Rum.”  Once you get more than a few computers, though, you naturally move toward a theme for your network.  This makes computers more fun, like collections, and gives the buckets of bits and bolts a touch of personal flair.

Here are some examples: you might use the planets in the solar system (I would never do this; who wants to have to wait for the discovery of new planets to buy your 9th computer?), or famous scientists or sports players.  Or Pokemon!  Or musicians.

For most people it stops there, but I recently realized that you can do oh so much better.  Your network names can be truly meaningful.  For instance, name your computers based on elements on the periodic table.  Mobile computers are given gas names and desktops are heavy metals.  Maybe the number of electron clouds reflects the number of processor cores!  Creativity is key

Long story short, some metaphors are better than others, and, quite frankly, I have found the best one.  My theme is StarCraft; an incredibly popular strategy game which has every single feature you could want in a network naming convention.   The game features 3 different races and about 70 units with a variety of shape, size, and function.  Well look at THAT!  It turns out there are 3 main flavor of operating system, and I plan on owning about 70 computers with a variety of shape, size, and function.

Back to the point

My network is named based on StarCraft/StarCraft2. The name of the unit should reflect the power, size, and special abilities of the hardware. To some extent this is an art, however there are a few set rules which must be followed.

Rule 1: Flying vs Ground

Starcraft units, in general, can either fly, or they are stuck on the ground.

Computers, in general, are either mobile (laptops), or they are stuck on the ground.

Summary:

  • Laptops and other wireless devices are flying units.
  • Boxes that are not inherently mobile are ground units.

Rule 2: Race

Starcraft has three main races: Zerg, Protoss, and Terran.  Zerg are the icky gooey alien race (think “Alien” alien); Protoss are the super intelligent shiny sleek technological aliens (think ET);  And Terran are the more traditional space age humans.

Computers have three main operating systems: Unix, OSX, and Windows;  Unix is the icky, gooey nerd computer (think “command lines”);  OSX (Mac) is the super pretentious shiny sleak technological computer (think Unibody Macbook); And Windows is the more traditional normal day human computer.

Starcraft also has other kinds of creatures in the universe.  Loveable animals called critters which mindlessly roam around, and mostly unknown super beings called the Xel’Naga.

Computers also have other kinds of operating systems in the universe.  Random things like the Wii which are based on who knows what, and the mostly unknown Google OS called Crome OS.

Summary:

  • Unix / Linux varieties is Zerg
  • Windows is Terran
  • Mac is Protoss
  • ChromeOS is Xel’Naga
  • Other is Critter

Rule 3: Non-computers

The real world has tech that aren’t computers, and Starcraft has things that aren’t units (buildings are another type of object in StarCraft.).  Anything that doesn’t have an Operating System like Windows or Unix but can still have a network name (e.g. a shared computer peripheral like a printer or disc drive) or is a piece of tech that you want to be able to easily reference in casual conversation should have a building name. Ideally the building would be a non-unit producing structure (buildings are what make the units in Starcraft), unless of course the hardware in question is something that is used directly to produce computers.

Examples from my network

  • Zergling - A tiny little zerg unit that runs around all the time || A tiny little  Ubuntu box that runs all the time
  • Overlord - a zerg unit that isn’t used in combat but instead floats around and feeds other units || A unix based Network Attached Storage (NAS) that isn’t often used directly but instead hosts data and media for the other computers.
  • Goliath - A pretty standard terran “mech” unit which isn’t insanely powerful, but packs a reasonable punch || A pretty standard Windows PC which isn’t insanely powerful, but packs a reasonable punch
  • Thor - A big-ass giant warrior zoid type of suit thing (think transformer style) || A big-ass giant computer case (although currently in hibernation)
  • Viking – Terran unit that replaced the goliath in StarCraft2; it can transform from flying to being on the ground || Erek’s Windows desktop (same build as my Goliath desktop) but it also has a wireless card!
  • Wraith – !%*#ty flying Terran unit || Erek’s !%*#ty laptop
  • Dark Templar – Stealth Protoss ground unit, it is invisible to the naked eye || Stealth Apple mac mini, it is invisible to the naked eye
  • Corsair – Sleak and thin air unit for Protoss || Sleak and thin Macbook Air 11″
  • Scout – Standard Protoss air unit || Macbook 13″ — pretty standard Apple laptop
  • Interceptor – a tiny Protoss air unit that gets launched from a bigger “Carrier” ship || a tiny iPod Touch which you plug into bigger computers
  • Kakaru - A flying critter || A Wii with wireless connection
  • Spore Colony – A zerg building that spews out spores || A printer plugged into the NAS that spews out paper and ink.
  • Pylon - The protoss building which provides energy to other protoss buildings || An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) which provides energy to all my computers.

Feel free to adopt this naming convention. If you have a perfect fit on your network post the name here!

Amazing Opportunities

The nice thing about this convention is it makes you want to buy / build technology just to have the perfect fit for a unit.

For instance:

  • Apple AirPort named Carrier
  • Macbook Pro 19″ (doesn’t exist… YET) named Mothership
  • A partitioned box with unix and windows. Windows OS named Marine, Unix OS named Infested Marine
  • A unix box dedicated to masterminding trojan attacks called Infestor
  • USB based unix install named Larva
  • Two apple computers called High Templar 1 and High Templar 2 which can combine to form an Archon.

The potentials are limitless!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3500209 Julia Ma

    the Marine/Infested Marine names should switch OSs

    • mr_ewe

      the only computer i have thats dual boot is a laptop… and marines/infested marines dont fly :(

      • Asdf

        but a infested command center does fly :)

        • Geep

          neural parasited mutalisk?

  • pschultz

    Haha, this is great

    Not sure what you’ll do with eight iPod touches though….

  • http://www.leftbraintorightbrain.com/ Scott Carleton

    Dan, This is freakin awesome. Love it

  • https://nealpoole.com Neal Poole

    I <3 slifty

    • https://nealpoole.com Neal Poole

      - Smartys

  • http://catechu.org Saketh

    Awesome idea!

  • http://twitter.com/CamonZ CamonZ

    MBP’s are v-rays, airs are phoenixes, imacs inmmortals and pro’s are colossi.

  • Clark

    Very nice, I do the same thing but with Ender’s Game as the theme. Routers all get planet names, computer’s are named after characters, then I link technologies to other things that need naming (for example the wireless network is named ansible). I do like the use of races to differentiate the OS on the computer.

  • http://christopher.lord.ac clord

    The only change I’d make is to use terran for unix, and zerg for windows. The unix philosophy is hacker-based, like the hacked-together tech of the terrans. The Hive Mind directing all the minions fits well with MS and their ecosystem (it’s even called an ecosystem)

    • Brett

      I’d disagree. The unix philosophy is about small programs that do one thing and do it right. I think this fits the Zerg a lot better.

      And besides, there are many things about Windows that could be considered hacked together. :P

      Sending this from my black Macbook 13″ named Rogue… from my X-Men naming scheme. Apart from Xavier being the name of my AP and Cerebro being the Wireless connection’s name, I mostly pick names willy-nilly :P

  • mihn

    Great post. I really enjoy when people try to name their servers with some convention, not some random names and numbers.
    Personally, I use Eve Online naming convention, so far applied that to two computers:
    15″ Laptop named Phobos – named after medium sized ship can withstand a bit.
    And standard, Bigtower PC named Leviathan – after one of the biggest ship in the game. :)

    Reusing your convention I would have to go like this:
    Gallente for nicely designed boxes (like Apple products), because of their curvy lines.
    Minmatar names for various UX boxes, because they look like they were found in scrapyard.
    Caldari for normal Windows, because those ships look like there were made from one block of steel (well, MacBooks are unibody ;-).
    I still don’t know about Ammar – they designs are neat, but they miss thing or two.

  • Luke

    Shouldn’t the overlord be a mobile device since it’s flying?

    • http://www.slifty.com Daniel Schultz

      You caught me :( I should probably have actually called it either Cerebrate or Overmind but those are buildings… Although NAS is kind of a utility and less a computer so it might be OK. This is where that art comes in.

  • TheChess92

    someone has too much time on their hands … or plays too many video games

  • Stew

    When you dual boot linux on a previously windows machine, is that what you call an infested terran?