JP Vossen on 5 Apr 2008 12:38:24 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] userID format (was Suggested reading)

 > Date: Fri, 04 Apr 2008 22:40:42 -0400
 > From: Michael Leone <>
 > JP Vossen wrote:
 >>> break.  Perhaps my favorite example of this is the idiotic
 >>> first-initial/last name user name convention that Windows/Exchange
 >>> have created.  Unless you are trying to be obscure, I can't think
 >>> of a more stupid way to do this, but most new sysadmins who don't
 >>> know any better will just take that default.  (For the record, IMO
 >>> user IDs should be {first 6 letters of last name}{FI}{MI} or {first
 >>> 5 letters of last name}{FI}{MI}{#} as needed.)  Just about anything
 >>> having to do with setting up an SMTP server properly is another
 >>> example.
 > Why is it "idiotic"? And why is your way "better" (as opposed to
 > "different")?

Well, I wouldn't say it's "my" way, since lots of well-run places do it 
that way.

As for idiotic, perhaps that's too strong a word, but that's how I feel 
about it.  The reason is for sorting and general administrative 
efficiency.  Sorting any list of people by first name is simply 
ridiculous (IMO).  Sorting my first initial then partial last name is 
even worst.  Where is William Smith, bsmith or wsmith, and what about 
the nicknames that some people are known by?  In small environments this 
may not matter, but in large ones (where I learned stuff like this) it 
matters a lot.  The length limit is another aspect.  Most modern systems 
can handle more than 8 characters; until you hit an old one that can't. 
  If you want to pretty much guarantee that your users can have the same 
ID anyplace, 8 characters is it.

When I read over this, my arguments on this issue seem trivial.  I don't 
know how else to explain that it's not when you get into large 

I have a similar pet-peeve for dates.  Dates should be in ISO-8601 
format: CCYY-MM-DD_THH:MM:SS_TZ or similar.  This avoids the US MM/DD 
vs. EU DD/MM confusion, and more importantly, CCYY-MM-DD *sorts* 
correctly.  Try sorting dates like 040507, 04-05-07 or even worse 
4-5-07.  GAAAAAA!!!  `date '+%Y%m%d'` is your friend!

 > (for the record,we use 1st 6 letters of last name, first initial.
 > Middle initial if known, but it's not a requirement)

Right, you don't always have or know a middle initial.  No big deal.

JP Vossen, CISSP            |:::======|        jp{at}jpsdomain{dot}org
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