Names that break databases

Jennifer Null is impossible: her name can't be entered into most modern databases (plane reservations, wedding registries) because "null" is used to separate fields in databases themselves.

She is the star of Chris Baraniuk's BBC story on people whose names break databases due to their length or other features, and who must phone a customer service line and explain their edge-case-dom to a bewildered and disbelieving representative every time they do anything, forever.

The article makes some important omissions, though. As Danny O'\'\'\'\'\'\Brien has pointed out, the entire nation of Ireland is a PHP code-injection attack, and then there's the well-established critique of the idea that "real names" even exist.

And let's not forget little Bobby Tables.

Before the birth of her child, Null was working as an on-call substitute teacher. In that role she could be notified of work through an online service or via phone. But the website would never work for Null – she always had to arrange a shift by phone.

"I feel like I still have to do things the old-fashioned way," she says.

"On one hand it's frustrating for the times that we need it, but for the most part it's like a fun anecdote to tell people," she adds. "We joke about it a lot. It's good for stories."

These unlucky people have names that break computers [Chris Baraniuk/BBC]

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