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Some Levity For the Programmers Out There

September 21, 2016

Now that most projects are rolling along post-summer holidays, people seem slammed with work. Programmers are typing their fingers off and I just thought sharing a bit of fun would help lighten the mood a bit.

Normally, I try to keep things a bit more serious but I think right about now most of us could use a bit of a chuckle so I would like to pass along a list of jokes that I think are totally hysterical!

First, suppose that Chuck Norris is not just martial arts expert but also an expert programmer. Here’s one tidbit you might appreciate about him: “Chuck Norris can write infinite recursion functions…and have them return.”

If you don’t find that as hysterical as I do then don’t bother reading the rest at .  ;-)

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

Three Ways to Ruin Your LabWare LIMS / ELN and Other Systems

September 20, 2016
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I had made some previous posts that talk about the fact that you need to be careful what you do when managing your LabWare LIMS / ELN or even other brands of these systems. The last such post was poorly titled as How to Create Huge Problems With Your LabWare and Other Systems because it was more of a warning than a “how to” guide. Today, I will talk specifically about the LabWare system and the terrible things people do to it to make it unusable. However, these tips often can be used with other brands, as well.

Some of you will read this and think that it is the kind of list of things you would do on the day you become entirely unhinged. However, these are real things that real people have done to ruin their implementations. I have not yet heard that these implementations were ever able to be fixed and move into production but, if they did, they probably had to entirely start from scratch. As such, here are three things that you can do to make your system unusable:

  1. Reckless use of the Wait() command. At some point, when you find your system is out of sync running some functions before others and not in the order that you intended, rather than find a way to get it all running in the correct order, throw in lots of Wait() commands. As the system gets yet bigger and continues to slow-down, just add more time into these Wait() commands. At some point, users will get frustrated. If your wait times are set into the minutes, you should warn users with a MsgBox() telling them to go get a cup of coffee or do other work. After all, they get frustrated when you have them just standing there doing nothing but, um, waiting. They will spend most of their day, now, peering around the corner at their screen, wondering WHEN OH WHEN will the system come back to them but, after all, they probably have a lot of other work they could be doing so they’ll keep busy and, at some point, they’ll be gone for so long that they’ll forget they even have a LIMS so it’s all good.
  2. Giving end-users untested programs. You can hack something together and just hand it to the user without even trying it. After all, isn’t this what “rapid application development” and “prototyping” mean? (no, not really, in case you actually were wondering) Do this every time the user asks you for new features and they’ll get tired of asking. They’ll give up. The LIMS might not be more usable than it was but the users will stop pestering you and you can get back to streaming whatever TV show you need to get caught-up on.
  3. Pretending that the programming tool doesn’t need management. In our industry, we call the programming we do at the executable level “programming” and the programming we do at the higher level “configuration” but this doesn’t mean that both don’t need management. As just about everyone working with these tools will tell you, not just anyone can become a LIMS Basic, VGL, C# or any other kind of programmer. They need training, the code needs to be managed, and you can’t just let anyone come in, hack just anything together, and then be surprised when it causes problems in your system. These programming tools are powerful, they change data, they cause things to happen that affect other users – ignore that at your own risk.

The other benefit to causing these problems is that, if you want to ensure you have work for a long, long time, once you ruin these systems, in too many cases you can turn around and just ask for more money to fix all that you just destroyed, giving you more longevity and an assurance of work for a long, long time. After all, it’s all about charging the customer as much as possible to make the project last longer than in providing the best project possible, I hear.  :-(

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

More on the LinkedIn LIMS/LI Group

September 16, 2016

Yesterday’s blog post talked about my involvement with the LinkedIn LIMS/LI Group in Gone in LinkedIn LIMS/LI Group and Others. Today, I want to say a few separate things about the group.

First of all, Terry Iorns had taken it over and been leading it for years, now. I want to make sure people know he’s been continuing to work to keep the group going and I’m sure we all appreciate his hard work. Thank you, Terry. In addition, for those who are interested in it, search for it in the LinkedIn Groups area.

Past that, then Alex Birch took it over from Terry and, while Terry does remain active in the group, we should also remember to give thanks to Alex for keeping the group rolling along.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

Gone from LinkedIn LIMS/LI Group and Others

September 15, 2016

Overall, I’m cleaning-out my LinkedIn groups to only those that I find useful, either by the great information they give or because I feel some kind of purpose in belonging to them. As part of my Fall “back to business” initiative, I’m in a “declutter my world” mode and this is one of the many results.

I was looking at the LinkedIn LIMS/Laboratory Informatics group, as I looked at every LinkedIn group that I belong to. When I had started the LinkedIn LIMS/Laboratory Informatics group a number of years ago I had turned it into, what was at the time, the largest such group for our industry in LinkedIn. Several years ago, I turned the group over to others who had an interest in managing and running it. I just thought that it was taking too much of my time away from my business development and chargeable work, and that I needed to move on. I made a plan to make sure that I “let go” and let them manage it as they saw fit, putting their own ideas forth, and was doing a fair job of it.

Since then, I’ve remained with the group and tried to be active to support it. However, in doing that, I have come to realize that I hadn’t “let go” 100%, after all. I found myself still rooting for the group, hoping it could become something that I wanted it to be, and realized I still had emotional ties to it.

Yesterday, as part of my effort to force myself to focus on actual work that relates to my business AND to totally “let go” and let the group do its thing without me, I left the group.

I Know You Didn’t Notice
I’m not telling you this because you’ll notice that I’m gone. I don’t pretend that I was doing much for the group that you’d notice my absence. However, having started the group, most people who know me will assume that I’m still in there.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

Thank You Scientific Computing World!

September 14, 2016

As I’ve previously mentioned, sending out press releases is a tedious business and not guaranteed to produce many postings. However, Scientific Computing World just yesterday posted the press release of my company’s award from GHP (Global Health and Pharma) Magazine for a 2016 International Life Sciences Award.

Here it is for anyone who wants to see what one press release format looks like, for those of you who might want to someday write one for your own company Global Health and Pharma magazine gives GeoMetrick Enterprises 2016 International Life Sciences Award.

As far as I know, Scientific Computing World is the first media outlet to publish this press release in our industry so I want them to know how much I appreciate it.

For those of you who might be skeptical as to why they would post it, well, probably just because it’s news. It’s not because I pay them advertising dollars (because I don’t) or because I write so many articles for them that they’re hoping for more (it’s a puny amount compared to what they need per year) or that we’re close friends (we just e-mail each other with questions and such and have never met).

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

Changes at “Scientific Computing”?

September 13, 2016

First of all, I need to make sure that readers can discern between our two industry magazines, Scientific Computing and Scientific Computing World. At Scientific Computing World, things seem to be rolling along as usual. But at Scientific Computing, I’m confused about what they’re up to.

Suzanne Tracy Disappeared
This query began because I’d e-mailed the Editor-in-Chief of Scientific Computing, Suzanne Tracy, and received no response. That was unusual from my past experience with her. In looking her up to make sure I actually did have the most current e-mail address, I found that she is now working for Dell. A lot of us in the industry knew her from conferences, writing articles and reading the magazine, so I’m certain many people will be surprised to hear that she is off to new opportunities and will have good wishes for her in her career path.

The Magazine Might Have Disappeared
Past that, I don’t know what to think about Scientific Computing. I went to their web-site to see who is now in-charge over there and I can’t figure that out. I’ll admit that I had gotten out-of-touch with what they were doing as I had long thought their grabs for readers with topics such as the poisonous killer frog links wasn’t quite in-line with the types of articles I’m interested in. When I now look at their web-site, I don’t even have an idea what it’s all about. I can’t find the magazine, itself, not sure what the advertisers think about this, and just confused.

Now, while we do still have Scientific Computing World to read, where both magazines used the same free subscription model for those in the industry, it does have a different flavor to it. Many readers will probably find it informational but some might not care for it, so I don’t want to suggest that they’re identical in any way, shape or form other than their subscription model.

The Advertisers: Will They Disappear?
I have long wondered whether the advertisers care much about the articles that are more sensational than laboratory informatics-based, since I’m certain they’d be more interested in links to potential business than sensational stories. As such, I’m curious to know what their thoughts are on the current state of the magazine. However, these aren’t the types of conversations I often have with the companies in the industry. I think I’ll start asking them, but asking people if whether they think their money is being wasted is a sensitive topic so I can’t say whether I think I’ll get much from it.

Sad days are here when the magazine that used to be on all our desks doesn’t seem to be found, anywhere.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

Paradigm Changes

September 7, 2016

It takes us a long time for our paradigms to change. We’re so heavily invested in the products that are prevalent in our industry that change is hard for everyone. It’s the customers who have paid a fortune for their systems who resist change, the services portion of the industry that is invested in the knowledge they have for the current product offerings, and every other aspect you can imagine stands in the way of change.

Few Early Adopters, Here
There’s a model that describes selling high-tech products outlined in a famous book entitled Crossing the Chasm. It puts customers into categories. One such category is the “early adopter” which would be those people so excited about a new technology that they’ll try it, first. Few of the customers in our industry are early adopters. Most will wait until the technology is turned into an easily-usable model.

For example, many customers might have been interested in cloud-hosted products but waited until other customers came up with lists of questions that would allow a customer to evaluate whether a cloud solution was appropriate for their needs.

Meanwhile, Paradigms are Shifting
Since I occasionally do product selection activities with customers, I do see some of the newer products coming available and becoming popular (I hesitate to say what they are since I haven’t yet determined why they’re so popular and if it’s just advertising, that’s not sufficient for me to be excited about it). Also, since I sometimes work with software vendors to add features to their products to make them more salable, I do pay general attention to some of what is available.

However, last week, something happened to shake me up – I was working with a new software vendor to evaluate their system and they showed me something that is simple and is common but also powerful AND that I don’t see other vendors doing. I was blown-away because it was just so really fantastic (and, no, I can’t tell you what it is).

Two days later, I was having coffee with someone I know who is a board member for a software company in a different industry. We were discussing how hard it is for established products to change and how the company he is working with is working to accomplish this. Thus, we got into a conversation that led me to tell him what had happened in the software I just mentioned in the last paragraph (we discussed it, in general, not specifically; I just want to let every software vendor I work with on their product growth know that I’m not out there giving out your details).

Actually, what made me laugh a bit is that I didn’t really tell him as much as he guessed before I could finish my sentence. Every industry has the same issue. We all think other industries are ahead of us and we’re not. But, I digress…

Change is in the Air but it Sometimes Stinks
Established vendors have to determine what it is that will bring them to the new paradigm without ruining what they’ve already built. Let’s be honest – when you have a large customer base, you can’t ignore them for the possible future customers that you might or might not obtain. However, you can’t let yourself fall entirely behind, either.

Yet it’s not an easy transition. Using the cloud as an example, there are some legacy products that are now offering cloud solutions but the solutions are horrible – slow and with too much downtime, for example. As a warning, it’s not an easy transition to make. If you’re a customer, I would suggest you make a copy of what you’re running, internally, and insist your vendor host it for you to try out. It’s hard to do because you’re busy but if you switch to something that’s unreliable or not fully thought-out you’ll be sorry for a lot of reasons.

Change is here, it’s finally starting to happen in a bigger wave and, soon, what we think of as “change” will be our normal that we will hold onto as if our lives depend upon it, refusing to change, again, until absolutely forced to.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises