From The Erbo Files
Sunday, July 1, 2012

This evening, I sent out a couple of tweets that I send out from time to time:

Periodic Tweets

This prompted some responses from my friends, like "Or are you?" and "Wow, you learned Turkish fast!" (No, I didn't, that was Google Translate.) But it occurs to me that I haven't adequately explained why these periodic broadcasts are necessary. Hence, I shall elaborate.

It started last December, when I got a message from the guy presently using Twitter handle @_erbo_, a guy by the name of Erbatur Ergenekon, basically wanting me to hand the "@erbo" Twitter name over to him. Mr. Ergenekon is a sports reporter over in Istanbul, who seems to mainly cover soccer matches and Formula 1 racing. He looks like a nice enough guy by all accounts, and heaven knows I have a great deal of respect for the Turkish people as a whole. (I have somewhat less respect for their current Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, an avowed Islamist who I believe is looking to take the country in a direction that Atatürk, one of the great badasses of all time, would not have approved of.) But, with all due respect to Mr. Ergenekon, I think the record shows: I was here first.

As you probably know, my use of the name "Erbo" is as a shortening of my full name: ERic BOwersox. I first started using this as a nickname when it was used for me as a file code by a college professor at UCSB. Mr. Ergenekon, if his Web site is correct, would have been about 3 years old at the time. I liked the name because it was short and easily prononceable; it's usually pronounced as "UR-boh," though some have used the pronunciation "AIR-boh." Naturally, one of the first things I thought of using it for was as a login name. When I joined the UCSB Campus Computer Club and got my account on the PDP-11/70 they had access to, I became "6001erbo" on that machine. Later, when I became an upper-division Computer Science student and got my first Internet account (on the Sun 3/50 network they had in the Computer Science Instructional Laboratory, or "CSIL lab" ), I became "". An example of my use of that handle as of about 1988 may be found here in Google Groups' USENET archives. I later used the name "erbo" when I was on BIX, the BYTE Information Exchange (one of the big pre-Internet online services). Over the years, I have used it as a login name at RAIN (Santa Barbara's first ISP, a nonprofit), Silicon Beach (Santa Barbara's first commercial ISP), Ricochet (one of the first wireless ISPs), and now on Comcast XFINITY...not to mention various Web sites.

GMail didn't like "erbo" as a name; they believe that short names tend to attract more spam. So on their site and a few others, I use "obreerbo", which is a palindromization of "erbo." This was suggested to me by Harry Pike, Community Host of Electric Minds. (His user name, "maddog," lent itself well to this construction, becoming "goddammaddog." ) Facebook also wouldn't give me a page name with just "erbo," so I use "erbo111," where the 1's represent my birthday, November 1 or 11/1. On some other sites, such as Xbox Live, I use "ErboColo," this meaning "Erbo from Colorado." On Second Life, where (at the time) you had to type a "first name" and select a "last name" from a list, I picked "Evans" as my last name, for its Colorado reference (to John Evans, 1814-1897, Governor of Colorado Territory 1862-1865; Mount Evans, one of the states "fourteeners," is named after him), and became "Erbo Evans." My first foray into blogging was under that name, on Evans Avenue Exit. (Evans Avenue is named after the mountain, and does run close to where I live.) I would later use the same name on EVE Online. The pictures of those two avatars, along with mine, now grace the very masthead of this blog, which is hosted on, another reference to me.

Twitter, though, had no problem with "erbo" as a username, and that's what I picked. And, when it comes to usernames, Twitter seems to believe (except in certain special cases involving impersonation or name squatting) that "First in time is first in right." I had noticed the odd message directed at my account that was written in Turkish, but, until Mr. Ergenekon's message, I had no idea why. (I had also posted explicitly that I wasn't Turkish.) I'm not trying to impersonate Mr. Ergenekon; I probably know much less about his field of endeavor than he does. (I doubt he knows much about software development, either, so I'm not worried about him impersonating me.) So he's probably stuck with the underscores. But at least now I know who to direct Turkish Twitterers to, and, every so often, I post those two messages, which I save in Evernote so it's a simple copy-paste operation.

And now you know...the rest of the story. Paul Harvey



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