George Armstrong Cluster

I bought a laptop computer on Tuesday. This is to replace the rather anemic one that I bought three years ago. That one was light and cheap, but it was also too light-headed. I found it increasingly frustrating to use, hence this purchase. This time I have followed my sons’ lead and bought a Hewlett-Packard. We use Hewlett-Packard server class machines at work that we euphemistically refer to as PC clusters, or simply clusters. They are powerful machines and dwarf the capabilities of my new laptop in every respect save portability and of course, affordability. I’ve used a number of these machines over the years, for some, I have been their sole user. You could justifiably think of these machines as my own personal computers. Personalizing these computers, they are all given unique names. Their names are sometimes cute, geeky or just plain stupid, but once given a moniker it generally sticks with them for the rest of their days.

As you would expect from a group of geeky guys the list of PC cluster names have paraded through the Star Wars trilogy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, video game and comic book characters. The current generation of machine names have evolved beyond my ken. I dare not ask, nor really care to know the explanation behind this latest crop of cluster names. I’ve had the privilege to name two of these clusters. Somewhat embarrassingly, I am credited, at work, as being the father of this PC cluster technology. I feel like Al Gore must feel, every time someone recounts his claim that he invented the internet. I did buy and build the first two PC clusters at work, but like any real success, it has a thousand fathers and I am only one of them. Still it does gladden my heart to be so attributed, especially in the context of the latest generation’s capabilities, which brings me back to the title of this post. One of the wags at work coined the name George Armstrong Cluster. While these three words wouldn’t work for a single machine, it would make for a great name for a triumvirate of computers. You could have the George cluster, Armstrong cluster and of course the Cluster cluster. Hey, it sounds better than the Mongolian cluster, the Cluster cluster, etc.

3 thoughts on “George Armstrong Cluster

  1. We used to have all of our printers named after movies — Thunderball, Thelma, Louise, etc. it was great – somehow it all worked and we always knew what printer was being referenced.

    Then we replaced all the printers and some numbskull decided to give them a completely different naming convention. Now it means nothing — 3W-B-07 vs. 3W-B-08. sure, they’re both on 3rd floor West and print black and white vs. color, but beyond that? I got nothing. Luckily the BIG plotter that wasn’t replaced retains it’s name — Tootsie. Although I hardly ever print there.

  2. LOL – yeah we have totally impersonal printer names where I work, too. Functional names are BORRRRRINGGGGGG!

    For example, instead of the printer in the room where I sit being named some long set of characters with “Ricoh” and my room number and “plc5” appended to it, why not just call its location “Geek Isolation” or “Padded Cell” or “The Other End of Nowhere”, or, less-imaginatively, “Bullpen”??

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