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Station Naming Strategies

Naming stations is a very important step in preparing your inventory data for TEC-BASE. Deciding on your strategy should be one of the first things your do.

How you name your stations can determine the degree of specificity you can get in your reports. There is only one rule for station naming: station names must be unique across the entire database.

The best way to explain station naming strategies is to explain the way I do it at my district.

Location Names

I create a location record for each room in the district. Classroom, office, computer lab, etc. all get a location record. Basically, every place that might someday hold a computer or another piece of technology equipment should have a location record.

Each location name includes two parts: a building code and a room number. I use two letter codes for each building and/or department (e.g. HS for the high school, MS for the middle school, TO for the Tech Office, etc.). I also try to keep each room number to a consistent four digits—affixing leading zeros if necessary.

For instance, a computer lab at the high school has a location name of "HS-A101" and my office has a location name of "TO-0001." You'll notice that I use a hyphen to separate each section of name. It is not necessary, but I find it very useful. Other characters like underscores should also work—but beware of symbols reserved on certain operating systems like slashes, back slashes, and colons.

Station Names

I separate each location into multiple stations. In the same high school computer lab there are many stations. Each station number is affixed to the end of the location name: HS-A101-01, HS-A101-02, HS-A101-03, etc. Each computer in the lab is "placed" in the appropriate station. Each monitor is placed in the same station as the CPU to which it is attached.

My computer is placed in station TO-0001-01. Likewise, my USB printer and scanner are also placed in TO-0001-01.

I change the network names of each computer to match the station name in which it is placed. This allows network management applications like Network Assistant, Remote Desktop, and DameWare to coordinate with TEC-BASE—meaning a technician should be able to use information in TEC-BASE like installed software, user assignments, jack connections, etc. to provide more effective service to the computer and its users.

I also create special station names for network printers. Since a networked printer requires a network name I place it in its own station. For a laser printer in the high school lab, I name the station HS-A101-P1. For a second network printer, I use HS-A101-P2.

All of the above stations are, of course, related to a location. It may seem redundant to name both the location and each station with the same information (i.e. "HS-A101"), but in most cases I find this to advantageous. It makes searching more useful and helps produce more specific reports.

Special Situations

General stations

Often you'll have items that don't necessarily fit the station concept and they seem to fit more with a certain location in general than to a specific station. I find this to be true for digital cameras, video projectors, and shared items. For these, I create a general station for the room (e.g. HS-A101-00) and place all such items there. This "00" station is also good for temporary placements—you know something is going in that room, but you aren't sure which station, yet.

Extending this general station idea further, I have created a building general station (i.e. I know it goes to the high school, but I don't know specifically which room). The station name for this is "HS-0000-00." Every tagged piece of equipment should be placed somewhere, and these general stations give you some flexibility.

If you are not yet ready to specify stations for each item, and all your inventory is currently "location-based," you could begin by placing everything in the general station of each room.


Servers usually require their own special name on the network, and if you are like me, you'll won't want to rename your servers just for TEC-BASE. I have been naming new servers with a similar convention to all my other stations, for instance, HS-Data-01. I name the station to be the same as the server. In this case, "data" is not a room but the type of server. I also have older servers with less structured names (e.g. hslibserv). In these cases, I also name the station to the server name—assuming that someday I'll have the chance to rename it properly.

Each server station then gets assigned to the location in which the server resides. For these cases the station name and the location name don't match, but that is OK.

Shared spaces

I have a few combination buildings: two schools, one building. At times, computers and users from one school are temporarily occupying space "owned" by the other school. Instead of renaming the locations, I just change the station names. For example, computers owned by the middle school would be in MS-1234-xx stations. These stations would be in the ES-1234 location.

Why? If I wanted a report of how many computers were in use at the middle school, I could now search current placements in stations beginning with "MS-". If I searched by location name, my numbers would be inaccurate. But if I wanted to know how many computers I had to support in that side of the building, then the location search would be best.

Although somewhat confusing, I have found this strategy to be very helpful when submitting DOE reports.

Laptop carts

For computers on laptop carts, I create a station for each slot and a location for the cart itself. If the cart is called "HS-MLM1" (Mobile Lab Macintosh 1), then each laptop would be in a station like HS-MLM1-01, HS-MLM1-02, HS-MLM1-03, etc. In this situation, the physical location of the cart is not known beyond the building name—something I can live with.

If you have other special situations that you'd like suggests for, please send me an email message (tecbase@hansensolutions.com).