Generating Fake Company Names

Daniel Hutmacher has a great way of generating fake company names:

This query is actually a lot simpler than it first appears. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Pick 100 words at random (table “a”)

  • For each word in “a”, if possible, pick a single random word (“b”) that doesn’t start or end with the same three letters as the “a” word.

  • For each word in “b”, if possible, pick a single random word (“c”) that doesn’t start or end with the same three letters as the “a” nor the “b” word.

  • The UPPER(), LEFT() and SUBSTRING() stuff is just to turn the names into title case.

  • As before, the ORDER BY NEWID() randomizes the order in which the TOP (1) row is returned.

My favorite name when running this was Disaster Votes, followed closely by Fail Users Vendor and Terminated Enterprise.  Apparently my SQL Server instance has a very negative impression of my made up companies’ leadership skills.

Names Matter

Chris Webb is concerned about the under-use of the name “Power Query”:

In more recent times I’ve written posts with unwieldy names like “Introduction to Insert Topic Name Here in Power Query/Power BI/Excel 2016 Get & Transform” and in the future I suppose this will have to grow to “Introduction to Insert Topic Name Here in Power Query/Power BI/Excel 2016 Get & Transform/Analysis Services Data Loading/Common Data Service”. Tagging and categorising blog posts can help here, I know, but it’s the title of a blog post that’s the main determining factor as to whether it gets read or not when someone is looking at a list of search results. It’s getting ridiculous, but how else can I ensure that someone searching for the solution to a data loading problem in Excel 2016 Get & Transform will find a post I’ve written that contains the answer but shown in Power BI?

Commenters agree that there’s a lot of ambiguity and multiple naming, and that this hurts end users who don’t necessarily know that all of these technologies are really the same Power Query engine.

Naming Graph Edges

Greg Low is trying to find a common nomenclature for edges in graphs:

Positive (Forward) Direction

I’d also like to see the tables use a forward direction naming rather than reverse (like “Written By”). So perhaps:

($from_id) the member Wrote the post ($to_id)

($from_id) who Likes who/what ($to_id)

($from_id) the reply to the main post RepliesTo the main post ($to_id)

Avoid passive voice.  That’s good advice in general.

Spell Checking With Visual Studio Code

Andy Levy shows how to create a custom dictionary for a programming language in Visual Studio Code:

But as you can see from the marketplace page there, by default this plugin doesn’t know PowerShell. In my user settings file settings.json, I added PowerShell to the cSpell.enabledLanguageIds section so it’s always recognized:

"cSpell.enabledLanguageIds": [

And with that, VSCode was giving me green squiggles under lots of words – both misspelled and not. Code Spellchecker doesn’t understand PowerShell in its default setup, it doesn’t have a dictionary for it. Just to get things started, I added a cSpell.userWords section to my settings.json and the squiggles started disappearing.

It’s an interesting post, so read the whole thing.

Picking An R Package Name

Kevin Feasel


Naming, R

Marcelo Perlin has fun looking at package names in CRAN:

Looking at package names, one strategy that I commonly observe is to use small words, a verb or noun, and add the letter R to it. A good example is dplyr. Letter d stands for dataframe, ply is just a tool, and R is, well, you know. In a conventional sense, the name of this popular tool is informative and easy to remember. As always, the extremes are never good. A couple of bad examples of package naming are A3, AF, BB and so on. Googling the package name is definitely not helpful. On the other end, packagesamplesizelogisticcasecontrol provides a lot of information but it is plain unattractive!

Another strategy that I also find interesting is developers using names that, on first sight, are completely unrelated to the purpose of the package. But, there is a not so obvious link. One example is package sandwich. At first sight, I challenge anyone to figure out what it does. This is an econometric package that computes robust standard errors in a regression model. These robust estimates are also called sandwich estimators because the formula looks like a sandwich. But, you only know that if you studied a bit of econometric theory. This strategy works because it is easier to remember things that surprise us. Another great example is package janitor. I’m sure you already suspect that it has something do to with data cleaning. And you are right! The message of the name is effortless and it works! The author even got the privilege of using letter R in the name.

Marcelo uses word and character analysis to come up with his conclusions, making this a good way of seeing how to graph and slice data. h/t R-bloggers

What’s In A Name?

Kevin Feasel



Kenneth Fisher explains the different parts of an object name in SQL Server:

One Part Name
This is just the name of the object. This is probably the most common usage and yet the only one I would recommend never using. (I’ll freely admit I’m not great at this myself btw.) When you only use a single name the schema is implied by the default schema of the user running the statement. That means that the same statement run by two different users could have two different meanings. Since most users have a default schema of dbo this would probably hit the object dbo.vIndividualCustomer. Assuming one even existed.

Click through for more.

Naming Procedures

Aaron Bretrand shares rules that he uses when naming stored procedures:

I’ve talked about this in my live sessions, but this is an extreme case that really happened – a team took over a week to fix a bug in a stored procedure, and the delay was caused solely by poor naming standards. What happened was that the application was calling dbo.Customer_Update, but the team was hunting for the bug in a different procedure, dbo.Update_Customer. While there was no formal convention in place, the real problem was inconsistency – a consultant charged with writing a different application didn’t check for an existing procedure, she just looked for dbo.Update_Customer in the list; when she didn’t find it, she wrote her own. The bug itself wasn’t crucial, but that lost time can never be recovered.

I’ll repeat again that the convention you choose is largely irrelevant, as long as it makes sense to you and your team, and you all agree on it – and abide by it. But I am asked frequently for advice on naming conventions, and for things like tables, I’m not going to get into religious arguments about plural vs. singular, the dreaded tblprefix, or going to great lengths to avoid vowels. But I think I have a pretty sensible standard for stored procedures, and I am always happy to share my biases even though I know not everyone will agree with them. Again, I touched on this in my earlier post, but sometimes these things bear repeating and a little elaboration.

I agree with this:  pick a standard and stick to it.

Field And Record

Kevin Feasel



Michael Swart introduces Field & Record magazine:

I’m definitely a descriptivist. Language is always changing and if a word or phrase gets adopted widely enough, it is no longer “wrong” (whatever that means).

So when I hear “Field” and “Record” they’re acceptable to me. But if I’m explaining something, I don’t want to distract from the thing I’m saying. And from that point of view, I try to use “Row” and “Column” because I don’t know anyone who blinks at those terms.

Entity and Attribute or bust.  That’s my philosophy.

Extensions Are Important

Kenneth Fisher on database file extensions:

So what does this mean? Should we start naming our database files whatever we want? No, absolutely not! It means that you need to be extra careful when specifying the name of the files. You really don’t want to use non-standard file names. The confusion! The misunderstandings! Do you really want the operating system to think your database file is a really big picture? Or even worse (and while I realize this sounds like a stretch I’ve had it happen) you accidentally give your file a .bak extension. Then one day your automated process that deletes old bak files runs as the same time your instance is down. Bye bye database file.

You can use whatever extension you want, but be smart about it.  Also check out Sean McCown’s dirty fun trick.


September 2017
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