In odd Twitter speak, Air Force says GPS is fine

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05/22/2009
This is one of the strangest stories I've ever come across - and only emboldens my extreme dislike of Twitter (despite the fact that I use it regularly). So, people are rightly concerned about the GPS satellite system because the GAO, a pretty respectable body, issued a report saying the GPS system was in danger of failing, at least in part, because the Air Force was way behind and over budget in its satellite upkeep and repair schedule. And what does the Air Force do to reassure people? They tweeted, or twittered, or whatever the past tense is of acting like jackasses. To quote (and I had to retype this because ABC has figured out a way to make it so you can't copy text from its web site - how very convenient): "Agree w/ GAO thr's a potential risk, but GPS isn't falling out of the sky--we have plans 2 mitigate risk & prevent a gap." Oh, well, if you tweet so... Seriously, is no one else offended by the fact that the Air Force is answering these very serious (for business and common usage) issues with 140-character asinine tweets? Who said GPS was falling out of the sky? The GAO indicated there could be gaps in service. Maybe the Air Force doesn't think a few gaps in service is a big deal, but I'm thinking that if I'm tracking my child with GPS and all of a sudden she disappears off my map, I'm going to think that's a pretty big deal. The dismissive tone, the dismissive medium, the lack of attention shown by using the number 2 as a frigging preposition pisses me off, quite frankly, especially coming from an agent of the government whose salary I pay with my tax dollars. (You can check out the whole Twitter conference here.) I'm sorry you're being held accountable for your terrible planning and budgeting in the past, Colonel, but the least you could do is take the situation seriously. I love mealy-mouthed statements like this: "Since 1995, GPS has never failed to exceed performance standards." This is like when an employee calls in hungover and says, "I've been on time every day this month." Good for you! You've been doing your job! Huzzah! How many medals have they pinned on your chest for making sure you don't suck at your job, Colonel? Or here's a great tweet: "Good article in terms of the risk...very, very low. However, one of the best things about GPS is it's free to the world!" So, Space Command, you pay for all these satellites with the gold you found at the end of the rainbow? I thought you used billions of dollars in tax money collected from people like me. How silly. Look, I know a bunch of you are thinking about how magnanimous the Air Force is for opening themselves up to the public and answering questions from the average Twitter Joe, but don't be fooled. In these forums they control the message, they control the questions they answer and don't, and they love that they can't write more than 140 characters because it's impossible to say anything of substance in 140 characters, therefore they can't be accused of not saying anything of substance. It's a bunch of PR-orchestrated crap, and a way to avoid actually addressing the issue. They've got GAO egg on their faces and they don't like it so they hit the web for a counter offensive. Good plan by them, but I'm not buying it.