Wednesday, 22 September 2010

PostgreSQL docs reloaded

If you regularly reference the online PostgreSQL docs, you may have noticed that they have just had a face-lift in time for the big 9.0 release. If not, take a look. This went through quite a few revisions with input from many folk in the Postgres community. As with all things, you won't please everyone, and this is no less true in the case of this redesign. But look at this as a pilot change, where we've come up with a first version with possible "bug-fixes" to follow. I've also provided similar changes for the French version, although there's only been feedback from one person for that. Regardless, they appear to have gone with it anyway.

I'm no designer, and neither are the majority of the people who contributed their recommendations, but the original cause of me wanting to make some changes is so that the examples which appear throughout the docs would be distinct from the main body text. Previously they appeared to all merge into one which made it difficult to pick out the various elements on the page. This involved simple indentation, but I thought that while I was there, I'd get rid of the horrible default borders on the tables, and then show warnings in a red box, and notes in beige... etc.. etc.

So now I'm soliciting feedback. I firmly believe that PostgreSQL seriously has some of the best documentation out there; clear, comprehensive and organised. So design changes mustn't be distracting, should aid readability and help communicate. Is it confusing? Does it make you want to cry?.. with joy.. with pain?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Why I refuse to use transporter technology

As you are aware, transporter technology has allowed us to deliver objects across great distances almost instantaneously. Not only does this mean we don't have to wait for items we've ordered to take a long journey across land and sea, but we also saves us a huge amount of money in postage costs.

However, while people have started to use this to travel across the globe, I can't bring myself to do it. The reason is simple. I will be killed off forever. Here's my rationale...

When the Transmat sequence begins, it starts by converting your matter to energy and during this process, every molecule and electro-chemical reaction in your body is recorded with the exact position, electrical charge, temperature... everything copied down into the network's distributed memory. This data is then sent to the rematerialisation hub nearest to your destination. The hub then generates the required energy to reproduce you, and then proceeds to convert your energy back into matter. Now in theory, this data could be duplicated and 2 copies of you could be generated. And here's where the disturbing truth comes in to play: you're no longer yourself.

Imagine you hacked a Transmat program to run through its routine, but instead of taking your matter and energy, it just copies it into memory. It then contacts a rematerialisation hub, say the one nearest you, to generate another you from that data. That "you" that has arrived will be completely the same as you, and he'll think "I'm a copy?". And you'll look at him knowing that's not you as you're looking from your original self. So that person *isn't* you. But in the normal Transmat process, you would have been converted to energy and this other "you" will go about convinced he's still the original, just arriving in a new location.

So you can see, transporter technology kills people and then creates people, but does it in a way to give the illusion of "transportation". It should really be called "destroying and cloning". I'll stick with the subterranean highways for now, at least until this promising portal technology becomes mainstream.