Reading Usable Help
@UsableHelp on Twitter
Gordon R. Meyer
Nom de Plume
Documentation is almost always dry and humorless. (See also Make 'em Smile.) But sometimes the author will sneak in a few inside jokes. This is often done in screenshots or in example data, where puns or the names of family members make their appearance. For example, one product that creates MP3 files shows a song called "Lars' Lullabye" being ripped, a subtle jab at a Metallica musician and his outspoken contempt for music sharing.
But far more often writers must be careful to use names and data that are not just free from copyright, but are also politically correct. Some corporate style guides include a list of approved names for use in documentation and marketing material, but in most cases it is up to the author to make something up and hope it doesn't offend or create legal problems. Relief is here. Thanks to Keri on Techwr-l for pointing out the Random Name Generator. (You can even download the census data it uses to create the names, should you care to whip up your own list.)