The Name of the Beast

I’m cautious and patient about the names I give to the computers and storage volumes that are part of my daily workflow. They’re inanimate objects and they don’t come when called. I know it’s silly. Does this level of self-awareness make the process seem somehow less undignified?

And yet…? Our pets don’t care what they’re named, do they? All they care about is that a certain consistent short sequence of sounds is associated with cookies and/or belly scratchies. Naming a new puppy “Begtap” will serve just as well as calling her “Della.” But she somehow seems like a Della, doesn’t she? And once that name pops into your head, it’s hard to think of her as anything but. Names have a certain magic that binds a soul to our reality.

This is why the MacBook I’m using to write this is called “Lilith Eleven.” I didn’t choose to name my first portable Mac (a PowerBook 100, which I could only afford because Apple had sold a truckful of them to Costco at clearance prices). One day it occurred to me that the name of this object was “Lilith.” It was an act of discovery, not creativity. I shrugged, and ever since, the primary machine I write with has always been a portable Mac named “Lilith.” 

It’s not as though picking a name for my iPad Pro was a project or anything. I knew I wanted something that connoted its size without being negative. “Mr. Creosote,” for example, wouldn’t do. 

Movie spaceships? Nothing reminded me of an iPad Pro. I took a quick tour through Wikipedia’s list of minor Hitchhiker’s Guide characters, but nothing leaped out at me and the whole thing seemed forced, anyway.

I was okay with keeping iOS’ default name in place until something good hit me.

Then tonight, I was moving some files (okay, my digital comics) from my iPad Mini to a hard drive so I could move them to the Pro. It was the first time in ages that I had a device docked to iTunes and the name of the Mini in the upper corner caught my eye: “Cyd.” I’d named it after the glorious Cyd Charisse, of course.

I’d chosen that name because it was short — small, like the iPad Mini. Also, Cyd Charisse’s character in “The Band Wagon” is described as having a “gamine” quality. Compared to my previous 9.7” iPads, this one certainly seemed to have “a mischievous charm,” so all in all, I knew I had a winner.

And so, I discovered the name of this iPad Pro. “Charisse.” If “Cyd” is small, “Charisse” is almost three times bigger.

As with any good name, it’s not the logic that sells it. It’s the realization that yes, that’s definitely the name of this thing.

10 thoughts on “The Name of the Beast

  1. Scott Boone

    Hmmm, that sets off my OCD, tho, Andy. Because “Cyd” and “Charisse” both imply the same “spirit”. I’d have gone with “Astaire”…or “Fred” (which has a great secondary connotation as Snowman’s best friend from ‘Smokey and the Bandit’). ((Or, to go super tangential, “Flash”…Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane’s basset from ‘Dukes of Hazzard’. Cyd > Fred > Flash, because the iPad Pro is so FAST!))

    But computer naming is fun, and hard. I’ve always named my computers, since my first //e. And hard drives/partitions. There is an entire “strategy” for naming, and you’re right, it takes a lot of effort and thought. So glad I never had children…I’d be the dad with Baby Doe kids!


    I tend to like names from NASA programs and spacecraft and scifi movies. Given the frequent images of Jupiter used in the marketing of this “Monolithic” device I went with: TMA2.

  3. Ihnatko Post author

    It’s handy to have formal conventions. That way, when you’re doing maintenance on your home network, it’s easy to figure out what device corresponds to what group of hardware, even if you don’t remember what it actually corresponds to.

  4. Bush Williams

    I literally sent a text of the iPad Pro on my lap to my best friend two nights ago that said “What to name this beast”… lol it hasn’t come to me yet but I completely get what your saying and am glad you were able to figure it out. As for me, it may be a while. Thanks Andy.


  5. jimmy

    I use Bond references. My current lineup is as follows:
    Computers are Villains:
    iMac – Blofeld
    MacBook Air – Dr. Julius No
    Work MacBook Pro – Max Zorin

    iPads are Henchmen/women:
    Current iPad mini 2 – Vesper Lynd
    Old iPad mini – Honey Rider
    iPad (original!) – Oddjob
    iPad 3 – Scaramanga

    Daily carries are Bond’s supporters:
    Watch – Q
    iPhone – Moneypenny

    Any taxonomy works, as long as it works for you!

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