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Is the Government even trying?

This isn’t a political post, but it is a funny story.

So, from time to time, because I live in DC, I get sucked into reading a government RFP. I was reading one that just came out about how the government wants a tool for searching twitter for terrorists tweeting when I saw this line:

This must be a secure, light-weight web application portal, using mash-up technology.

So that is a virtually meaningless, yet buzzword compliant line, specifying how the solution is built, but not what it does – A CLASSICALLY SILLY THING TO DO. But the next paragraph put me over the top:

The application must be infinitely flexible….

Are you serious? The great thing about asking for a product that does something infinite is that I know the price: Infinity!

  • Infinite scalability: Infinite hardware: Infinite price
  • Infinitely flexible: Infinite development time: Infinite price

Clearly, someone was thinking about how flexible the product needed to be and chose the word “infinite” to describe it. Serious engineers would laugh this person out of the room.

I am telling you now that someone will probably win this contract (it sounds like it was written with a very specific idea in mind, so it may be pre-sold) and that person will build something not infinitely flexible – unless your idea of infinitely flexible is “you own the code, so you can add whatever you want to it.” In which case, everything is infinitely flexible – I could hack the binary of Batman: Arkham City to be a word processor!

Honestly, who could write something like that.


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