Patrick is co-founded Starfighter, founded Appointment Reminder and Bingo Card Creator, and presently works at Stripe on Atlas.
Get a free 45 minute video by me on improving the first-run experience of your software, absolutely free.
Two people have told me that implementing some of the advice from it achieved measurable increases in their sales.
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[This post has been translated into Japanese by one of our readers: 和訳もあります。] John Graham-Cumming wrote an article today complaining about how a computer system he was working with described his last name as having invalid characters.
It of course does not, because anything someone tells you is their name is — by definition — an appropriate identifier for them.
John was understandably vexed about this situation, and he has every right to be, because names are central to our identities, .
I have lived in Japan for several years, programming in a professional capacity, and I have broken many systems by the simple expedient of being introduced into them.
(Most people call me Patrick Mc Kenzie, but I’ll acknowledge as correct any of six different “full” names, any many systems I deal with will accept precisely none of them.) Similarly, I’ve worked with Big Freaking Enterprises which, by dint of doing business globally, have theoretically designed their systems to allow all names to work in them.
I have never seen a computer system which handles names properly and doubt one exists, anywhere.
So, as a public service, I’m going to list assumptions your systems probably make about names. Try to make less of them next time you write a system which touches names. If you need examples of real names which disprove any of the above commonly held misconceptions, I will happily introduce you to several.