It's better to know a little, well

This past year, I've met more people wanting to be right about a wide range of subjects than I'm comfortable with. The worst part about their obsession with being right, is that they keep treating me like I want to be right.

On being right

As far as being right is concerned, I believe it's statistically more probable that a person will be wrong about more things than they could ever hope to be right about. This is because billions of people have been working hard for years. A rate an individual might find hard to keep up with.

A "devils bargain" may be struck by having vague ideas about lots of things. In the same way that masking numbers can make so many seem similar, or tying to common events like birth month, year, or decade can help people feel they know something about what being a Libra, a may baby, a boomer or a millennial might mean. I'm not a fan!

On being wrong

I don't care about being right, and find more value in being wrong, so long as it can be shown that I am, preferably why I am.

I refuse to let the possibility of being wrong get in the way of confidence in what I do feel I know, and can feel in the moment. That isn't always good, but it's honest and combats indecision paralysis.

I don't feel a fool for not knowing everything, or being wrong. Instead I focus on knowing what I know, well, trying to embark using what I know, rather than being daunted, disturbed or deterred by what I do not, or cannot.

A more frustrating concept is being explained something I do know, poorly, or incorrectly; inferring magic or new science that is both cutting edge, available and known to a person or group. It's frustrating because it's so-often untrue.

My privilege

I benefit greatly from growing up in a nation where we are at least told we have freedom of expression. It shapes the mind in a specific way to be able to have ideas, and to be able to have incorrect or imperfect, perhaps personal ideas. When an idea is personal or expressed in an environment where it has no consequence, it doesn't matter if it's right.

Because so much is unknown, we have to experiment. History is filled with cautionary tales of explorers that went over the edge and were never seen again.

A thing that came up

Today someone critiqued my distain for a question that was raised at an industry event they day prior. Someone asked why asyncronous replication for cross-region data was chosen, rather than synchronous. Why waiting for something to be generally available throughout the planet was not happening.

I brought up the speed of light, insisted computers still operate within physics, certainly at the commodity level this question could be contextualised in.

The pushback was that with Quantumn entanglement it was possible.

The ability of the modern world, to shit the word Quantumn in-front of other words or phrases and infer magic is really annoying.

They linked The wikipedia page about Quantum teleportation. They in-fact linked a very specific section of it, which was a little distressing as it confirmed exactly what I'd stated.

Work in 1998 verified the initial predictions, and the distance of teleportation was increased in August 2004 to 600 meters, using optical fiber. Subsequently, the record distance for quantum teleportation has been gradually increased to 16 kilometres (9.9 mi), then to 97 km (60 mi), and is now 143 km (89 mi), set in open air experiments in the Canary Islands, done between the two astronomical observatories of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. There has been a recent record set (as of September 2015) using superconducting nanowire detectors that reached the distance of 102 km (63 mi) over optical fiber. For material systems, the record distance is 21 metres (69 ft). The wikipedia page about Quantum teleportation

So hardly planetary scale systems then. Perhaps I misunderstood. I must continue to read... There were of course notes about larger distances, progress right up until 2018, and I have no doubt that in 2019 there has been progress.

Because it depends on classical communication, which can proceed no faster than the speed of light, it cannot be used for faster-than-light transport or communication of classical bits. While it has proven possible to teleport one or more qubits of information between two (entangled) quanta, this has not yet been achieved between anything larger than molecules. The wikipedia page about Quantum teleportation

So not relevant when talking about a complex database information-system from 1995 then.

Grumpiness

I realise as I write this I can sound quite grumpy.

The oldest person in my family died recently at 93, shaving 7 years off the basis which I calculate my life to be of 100 years. No other family member I'm aware of has lasted longer and in fact many die sooner than I would like.

I'm not grumpy, I just can't buy more time. When you waste my time, particularly with misguided pedantry, or mis-explain, or infer magic, you've stolen a part of my life. The longer it is, the more grumpy I'll be.

Positivity

I feel like the sales team at Oracle were amazing at fielding questions, even when they didn't benefit from the answers, which wasn't often, they have a great product in MySQL and were kind and respectful. They gave an amazing day, presenting with facts, figures and dynamism; a product which has moved mountains since I started using it. Dynamism is so often missing from IT and learning of the rejuvination of Liverpool, the success of Sky and of features I was not aware of, was a great use of time to learn about something tangible. I've even been urging our CTO to allow me to experiment with MySQL at the startup I work at, as an alternative to Postgres, which is great, but a bit free and easy.

There was a talk which was like preaching to the choir, where Sky representative Raja M Naveed spoke about avoiding fragmentation, partitioning and retiring data.

I spoke with people from Portugal, Italy and Spain, and was glad to find a Biologist from a London University who wants to continue growing database use as an alternative to spreadsheets.

Takeaways

  • We have a limited life, be precious with time.
  • It's more likely we'll be wrong than right.
  • Being wrong is an opportunity to learn and not something to avoid.
  • It's easier to learn about underpinning things to try to increase chance of initial reasoning.
  • The only way to not be wrong is to be general.
  • Try to avoid magical thinking.
  • If you cannot avoid magical thinking, do it what the consequence isn't large.
  • I will be a grump, possibly blog if you confuse me by inferring magic.
  • If you are honest and focus on facts, or at least don't misrepresent things as facts; I might say lovely things about you.