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Another Thought...

PostHeaderIcon Weinberg’s law of programming!

A reply letter to Weinberg”s law of programming, which is: “If builders

built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first

woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.”

Dear Mr. Architect,

Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need,

so you should use your discretion. My house should have between two and

forty-five bedrooms. Just make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms

can be easily added or deleted. When you bring the blueprints to me, I

will make the final decision of what I want. Also, bring me the cost

breakdown for each configuration so that I can arbitrarily pick one.

Keep in mind that the house I ultimately choose must cost less than the

one I am currently living in. Make sure, however, that you correct all

the deficiencies that exist in my current house (the floor of my kitchen

vibrates when I walk across it, and the walls don”t have nearly enough

insulation in them). As you design, also keep in mind that I want to

keep yearly maintenance costs as low as possible. This should mean the

incorporation of extra-cost features like aluminium, vinyl, or composite

siding. (If you choose not to specify aluminium, be prepared to explain

your decision in detail.)

Please take care that modern design practices and the latest materials

are used in construction of the house, as I want it to be a showplace

for the most up-to-date ideas and methods. Be alerted, however, that

kitchen should be designed to accommodate, among other things, my 1952

Gibson refrigerator. To insure that you are building the correct house

for our entire family, make certain that you contact each of our

children, and also our in-laws. My mother-in-law will have very strong

feelings about how the house should be designed, since she visits us at

least once a year. Make sure that you weigh all of these options

carefully and come to the right decision. I, however, retain the right

to overrule any choices that you make. Please don”t bother me with

small details right now. Your job is to develop the overall plans for

the house: get the big picture. At this time, for example, it is not

appropriate to be choosing the colour of the carpet. However, keep in

mind that my wife likes blue.

Also, do not worry at this time about acquiring the resources to build

the house itself. Your first priority is to develop detailed plans and

specifications. Once I approve these plans, however, I would expect the

house to be under roof within 48 hours. While you are designing this

house specifically for me, keep in mind that sooner or later I will have

to sell it to someone else. It therefore should have appeal to a wide

variety of potential buyers. Please make sure before you finalize the

plans that there is a consensus of the population in my area that they

like the features this house has. I advise you to run up and look at my

neighbour”s house he constructed last year. We like it a great deal. It

has many features that we would also like in our new home, particularly

the 75-foot swimming pool. With careful engineering, I believe that you

can design this into our new house without impacting the final cost.

Please prepare a complete set of blueprints. It is not necessary at this

time to do the real design, since they will be used only for

construction bids. Be advised, however, that you will be held

accountable for any increase of construction costs as a result of later

design changes.

You must be thrilled to be working on as interesting project as this! To

be able to use the latest techniques and materials and to be given such

freedom in your designs is something that can”t happen very often.

Contact me as soon as possible with your complete ideas and plans.

PS: My wife has just told me that she disagrees with many of the

instructions I”ve given you in this letter. As architect, it is your

responsibility to resolve these differences. I have tried in the past

and have been unable to accomplish this. If you can”t handle this

responsibility, I will have to find another architect.

PPS: Perhaps what I need is not a house at all, but a travel trailer.

Please advise me as soon as possible if this is the case.


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