How DARE you get to use your own name!

Flashback to 1998, when this pilot fish in Brazil is providing IT consulting services to a university -- and in short order becomes the defacto IT manager for the institution.

"I was an Internet user since the late 1980s, thanks to a hack into the Brazilian national research packet network and a satellite link my company had with its headquarters in California," fish says.

"So as soon as it was possible, I registered my family name as a domain, and I could proudly send email messages from an address of name@familyname.com.br."

One day fish gets a visit from one of the university's deans. The school has assigned him an email address with the university's domain name, but the dean has also received email from fish and seen the address with fish's family name in it. He demands that fish provide him with an email address with the dean's family name in the domain name, too.

Fish knows this is a VIP at the university, so he patiently explains how domain names are assigned by registrars, complete with a whiteboard sketch of how the Internet handles domain names.

Fish also checks to see if the dean's family name is available. Not surprisingly, the fairly common name is already taken, and fish explains there's nothing he can do about that.

"I knew he didn't get the whole idea, and although I was very polite and answered all of his questions, he left my office quite mad," says fish.

"A couple days later, I got a copy of the formal complaint he sent to the university's rector, telling him I was pretending to be the owner of the Internet and the one thing he was sure was that if I, an undergraduate snob, had an email address with my family name on it then he, a Ph.D., also would have his."

In fact, the dean vows that he'll make sure every teacher and student at the university will have a domain with their family name in it, even if he has to sue fish to make that happen.

Fish ends up having to draw his whiteboard Internet diagrams all over again at a meeting with the rector and some other deans.

And while they may not get the whole idea either, the issue is settled thanks to the new coordinator for the soon-to-be-offered Computer Engineering course, who takes fish's side.

"Still, from that moment on, everyone who got an email address in the form of name.familyname@universityname.br had to sign a document agreeing this kind of email address was the only one the university would provide," fish says. "And if they needed something different, they should buy data services from a commercial provider."

Yeah, Sharky's domain name is already taken too. So send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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