Archive for April, 2007


Fake names for documentation

April 30, 2007

Last week a discussion on one of my tech writing lists focused on using fictitious names in documentation, such as in Name fields in software and websites that are used in training, demonstrations, and screen shots in the manuals. One thing you don’t want to do is use a set of real names from a real client. In fact, I heard of an instance—it may be an apocryphal tale—where a real person’s name was projected on a large screen, and some in the training session got very upset as that person had died very recently.

So this discussion offered some ideas for ‘dummy’ names that you could use. Now, whether you would actually use any of these is not my call—you’d have to make your own decision based on who you work for and who your audience is!

Here’s a sample of some that were offered:

Punny Names

  • Patty O’Furniture
  • Paddy O’Furniture
  • Olive Yew
  • Aida Bugg
  • Maureen Biologist
  • Teri Dactyl
  • Peg Legge
  • Allie Grater
  • Liz Erd
  • A. Mused
  • Constance Noring
  • Lois Di Nominator
  • Minnie Van Ryder
  • Lynn O’Leeum
  • P. Ann O’Recital
  • Ray O’Sun
  • Lee A. Sun
  • Ray Sin
  • Isabelle Ringing
  • Eileen Sideways
  • Rita Book
  • Paige Turner
  • Rhoda Report
  • Augusta Wind
  • Chris Anthemum
  • Anne Teak
  • U.R. Nice
  • Anita Bath
  • Harriet Upp
  • I.M. Tired
  • I. Missy Ewe
  • Ivana B. Withew
  • Anita Letterback
  • Hope Furaletter
  • B. Homesoon
  • Bea Mine
  • Bess Twishes
  • C. Yasoon
  • Audie Yose
  • Dee End
  • Amanda Hug
  • Ben Dover
  • Eileen Dover
  • Willie Makit
  • Willie Findit
  • Skye Blue
  • Staum Clowd
  • Addie Minstra
  • Anne Ortha
  • Dave Allippa
  • Dee Zynah
  • Hugh Mannerizorsa
  • Loco Lyzayta
  • Manny Jah
  • Mark Ateer
  • Reeve Ewer
  • Tex Ryta
  • Theresa Green
  • Barry Kade
  • Stan Dupp
  • Neil Down
  • Con Trariweis
  • Don Messwidme
  • Al Annon
  • Anna Domino
  • Clyde Stale
  • Anna Logwatch
  • Anna Littlical
  • Norma Leigh Absent
  • Sly Meebuggah
  • Saul Goodmate
  • Faye Clether
  • Sarah Moanees
  • Ty Ayelloribbin
  • Hugo First
  • Percy Vere
  • Jack Aranda
  • Olive Tree
  • Fran G. Pani
  • John Quil
  • Ev R. Lasting
  • Anne Thurium
  • Cherry Blossom
  • Glad I. Oli
  • Ginger Plant
  • Del Phineum
  • Rose Bush
  • Perry Scope
  • Frank N. Stein
  • Roy L. Commishun
  • Pat Thettick
  • Percy Kewshun
  • Rod Knee
  • Hank R. Cheef
  • Bridget Theriveaquai
  • Pat N. Toffis
  • Karen Onnabit
  • Col Fays
  • Fay Daway
  • Joe V. Awl
  • Wes Yabinlatelee
  • Colin Sik
  • Greg Arias
  • Toi Story
  • Gene Eva Convenshun
  • Jen Tile
  • Simon Sais
  • Peter Owt
  • Hugh N. Cry
  • Lee Nonmi
  • Lynne Gwafranca
  • Art Decco
  • Lynne Gwistic
  • Polly Ester Undawair
  • Oscar Nommanee
  • Laura Biding
  • Laura Norda
  • Des Ignayshun
  • Mike Rowe-Soft
  • Anne T. Kwayted
  • Wayde N. Thabalanz
  • Dee Mandingboss
  • Sly Meedentalfloss
  • Stanley Knife
  • Wynn Dozeaplikayshun
  • Mal Ajusted
  • Penny Black
  • Mal Nurrisht
  • Polly Pipe
  • Polly Wannakrakouer
  • Con Staninterupshuns
  • Fran Tick
  • Santi Argo
  • Carmen Goh
  • Carmen Sayid
  • Norma Stitts
  • Ester La Vista
  • Manuel Labor
  • Ivan Itchinos
  • Ivan Notheridiya
  • Mustafa Leek
  • Emma Grate
  • Annie Versaree
  • Tim Midsaylesman
  • Mary Krismass
  • Tim “Buck” Too
  • Lana Lynne Creem
  • Wiley Waites
  • Ty R. Leeva
  • Ed U. Cayshun
  • Anne T. Dote
  • Claude Strophobia
  • Anne Gloindian
  • Dulcie Veeta
  • Abby Normal

Fish and Food

  • Ann Chovey
  • Barry Cuda
  • Barry Mundy
  • John Dory
  • Murray Cod
  • Coral Trout
  • Red Salmon
  • Tiger Prawn
  • Rock Cod
  • Rock Lobster
  • Ray Manta
  • E.L. Moray
  • Hazel Nutt
  • Chris P. Bacon
  • Chris P. Creem
  • Marsha Mellow
  • Barb Akew
  • Pete Tsar
  • Marge Areen
  • Violet Crumb-Ball
  • Rosemary Lamb
  • Cesar Salad
  • Frank Furter
  • Polly N. Satcherayted
  • Des E. Kaytedcoconut


  • Con Junktivitas
  • Di Ahreya
  • Gus Stroentereyetus
  • Arthur Rightus
  • Al Zeimers
  • Uri Nerybladda
  • Uri Nalisis
  • Perry Tonitus
  • Gene Therapee
  • Di Allysis

Fictional, Movie, and Biblical characters

  • Lois Lane
  • Clark Kent
  • Ralph and Alice Kramden
  • Holly Golightly
  • Liza Doolittle
  • Henry Higgins
  • Joseph Arimathea
  • Mary Magdalene
  • Simon Cyrene
  • Dixie Normous (“Austin Powers”)
  • Felicity Shagwell (“Austin Powers”)
  • Ivana Humpalot (“Austin Powers”)
  • Plenty O’Toole (“Bond” movies)
  • Tiffany Case (“Bond” movies)
  • Shady Tree (“Bond” movies)
  • Kissy Suzuki (“Bond” movies)
  • Pussy Galore (“Bond” movies)
  • Honey Ryder (“Bond” movies)
  • Sylvia Trench (“Bond” movies)
  • Lupe Lamora (“Bond” movies)
  • May Day (“Bond” movies)
  • Jenny Flex (“Bond” movies)
  • Penelope Smallbone (“Bond” movies)
  • Holly Goodhead (“Bond” movies)
  • Mary Goodnight (“Bond” movies)
  • Chew Mee (“Bond” movies)
  • Ruby Bartlett (“Bond” movies)


  • Melody Sunshine
  • Dustin Trailblazer
  • Donald Canard (Donald Duck)
  • Michael J. Reynard (Michael J Fox)
  • Michael Souris (Mickey Mouse)

If you need ‘real’ names, you can always try some of the many random name generators on the internet. You can get some very weird ones (like Klingon names, fantasy names, etc.), but there are ‘real’ names among all that too. Some use names from the various US censuses and mix them up according to popularity, gender, etc. Some example sites:

(Thanks to the contributors on various technical writing discussion lists)

Update (1 March 2008): I found more in some very old emails that I was cleaning out, and have now added them to these lists.

Random name generators (thanks to Karen M for these links [checked February 2012]):

Fake Australian phone numbers for use in fiction etc.:

[Links last checked July 2020]


Oh yummmmm!

April 27, 2007

I just discovered (pron. ‘ruby’)! Wow!

To just say that Rouxbe has online videos of food preparation would be doing this very professional and beautiful site a disservice. At the moment, all the recipe and ‘drill-down’ videos are free, but soon a subscription model will apply – some $50 US per year or $99 for a lifetime membership.

As of today, there are already some 80+ videos available that take you through each step of the cooking process for a recipe, from preparation to final presentation. In addition, there are as some 100+ free ‘drill-downs’ which describe ingredients you may have heard of but don’t know what they are, or that demonstrate various cooking tips and techniques.

You will need headphones/speakers to get the most out of these *gorgeous* videos.



If I was a Klingon…

April 24, 2007

Today, on one of my tech writer lists, someone posted a link to this website where the rules of Klingon tech writing are documented.

In case this list ever disappears, gets moved, whatever, I’ve reproduced it here, with thanks to whoever put it together! (My favourite is #4.)

Klingon Technical Writers
The top 16 things likely to be overheard if you had Klingon technical writers working on your documentation team:

  1. Klingons do not sit in meetings, we take what we want and kill anyone who opposes us!
  2. Certification?! Taking your head and putting it on a pike in my office is all the certification I need!
  3. I will return to the homeworld and my documentation will arise triumphant in the STC Documentation Gauntlet, leaving all others drowning in their own dangling modifiers. It will be glorious!!
  4. Not returning my review copies by the agreed deadline is a declaration of war. Indeed, it is a good day to die.
  5. These software specifications are for the weak and timid!!
  6. This version of Word is a piece of GAGH! I need the latest version of Framemaker if I am to do battle with this manual.
  7. You cannot really appreciate Dilbert unless you’ve read it in the original Klingon.
  8. Indentation?! I will show you how to indent when I indent your skull!
  9. What is this talk of “drafts”? Klingons do not make document “drafts”. Our documents escape, leaving a bloody trail of SMEs in its wake!
  10. Passive voice is a sign of weakness. Its elimination will be quick.
  11. Proofreading? Klingons do not proofread. Our documents are purified with pain-sticks which cleanses the documents of impurities.
  12. I have challenged the entire Marketing and R&D team to a Bat-Leh contest! They will not concern us again.
  13. A TRUE Klingon warrior riddles his document with bullets, leaving it to beg for mercy.
  14. By changing the layout of my manual, you have challenged the honor of my family. Prepare to die!
  15. You question the worthiness of my grammar? I should kill you where you stand!
  16. Our users will know fear and cower before our suite of manuals and online help! Ship it! Ship it and let them flee like the dogs they are!

Smart wizard?

April 16, 2007

… I don’t think so!

David Pogue, the NY Times technology guru/columnist had something to say about the complexities in setting up a home network, but really it was a rant about the overblown “Wizard” he was faced with when trying to install some Netgear hardware.

One reading his post, it sounds as though everyone from the developers to the lawyers had input into the Wizard – everyone, that is, except the tech writer or “user experience” (UX) expert! An hour of the tech writer or UX person’s time could have dramatically improved this Wizard… such a small price to pay – and much cheaper than lawyers!


Giving something back

April 12, 2007

I make good use of sites such as Wikipedia and EatingWA (a Perth/West Australian restaurant reviewing site), so thought it was time to give back and contribute to both.

My efforts to date have been very modest – a few restaurant reviews, and some editing of the information about the town where I live – but I hope to contribute more, especially editing typos in Wikipedia!


Purging of a different kind

April 1, 2007

It’s a bleak sort of day today, so I decided to do some purging of a different kind – my LONG list of web bookmarks. How long? Just under 1000 links! That’s a serious problem.

First, I exported the bookmarks to an HTML file (in Firefox: Bookmarks > Organize Bookmarks, then File > Export to a bookmarks.html file). Then I ran Xenu Sleuth link checker over the file to find all the broken links. Then I manually checked the broken ones, fixing those I could and deleting those that lead nowhere – as well as deleting categories and links that were no longer relevant to where my life is at at the moment. So now I’m down to just under 700 over 900 links…

That’s as far as I’ve got so far. The next stage is to reorganise the links into better categories so that I don’t end up with a list of 50+ links in a category as broad as “Reference Material”! And to double check each link too as many that Xenu said it could find are now just placeholders for web hosting companies. So even though Xenu found a link, it may not be the link I saved way back when.

Of course, a simpler process might be to purge ALL my links right now and start afresh. Keep the exported bookmarks.html file in case there’s anything I need, but go back to a clean slate. Hmmmm… that option’s looking VERY attractive about now.