What’s in a name?

Cachalot Icon

Those that have followed this project over it’s short life may have recognized early on that “Marine Megafauna” or Megafauna of the Week” are names that don’t necessarily roll off the tongue with ease. They also don’t work well with the software – the iPad OS allows only a certain number of characters in the name of an app, and otherwise truncates them with a series of periods. Our app in development always showed up as Megaf…Week on my iPad. Huh?

We needed a name, badly. Something that really captured the main idea of the app – large, compelling sea creatures. I canvassed my friends and colleagues, we collected a number of names. We’ve finally settled on one for now – Cachalot. Cachalot is a french word often used for the sperm whale – the common cachalot; The etymology of the word itself is unclear. It may be derived from an archaic French word for ‘tooth’, or perhaps comes originally from the Portuguese word cachola, meaning ‘big head’. At right is how Amy Chapman-Braun (Art Director of the Nicholas School) translated this name into our application icon. Clean, modern and fun.
[blockquote align=”left”]Cachalot is a french word often used for the sperm whale – the common cachalot; The etymology of the word itself is unclear. It may be derived from an archaic French word for ‘tooth’, or perhaps comes originally from the Portuguese word cachola, meaning ‘big head’.[/blockquote]

We are also getting close to releasing the application on the iTunes store. The public side of the application is essentially complete, and the private course portion of the app isn’t far behind. We’ll be doing some beta-testing next week, and hopefully that will ferret out most of the nasty bugs and bring us to a nice stable final version.

We’ve also been developing the art that surrounds the species entries and course materials. The splash page and the credits page. ¬†Drafts of several of these are included below. Thanks again to Amy for the splash pages, they are fantastic. I tackled the credits page. I think it is fun.

Finally, we’re starting to reach out to folks about the future of the application, and how we might provide the best content for each species. I’ve delivered a proposal to the Dean of the Nicholas School seeking more support and at present we are in discussions with several professional societies and research groups to help us provide the best information possible. I’m also hoping that we can work with the next computer science class in the fall of 2011 to take the application to the next level.

We’re getting close now, stay tuned.

[image title=”Splash 1″ size=”large” align=”center” icon=”zoom” lightbox=”true” autoHeight=”true”]http://sites.nicholas.duke.edu/digital/files/2011/03/ipad-splash-FINAL-D.jpg[/image]

[image title=”Credits Page” size=”large” align=”center” icon=”zoom” lightbox=”true” autoHeight=”true”]http://sites.nicholas.duke.edu/digital/files/2011/03/creditscachalot.jpg[/image]

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