More and more, people seem to take to the internet to find answers to their questions, doing general searches to look for information. I see quite a few searches for LabWare LIMS, StarLIMS and SQL*LIMS coming into my blog. Since I write so much about the LabWare LIMS, it’s just natural that so many of those searches hit my blog but I can’t quite figure out why so many of the StarLIMS and SQL*LIMS searches hit it, since I probably have just a very few posts that only mention those products and don’t give information on them. However, with so many of the LabWare searches hitting my blog, I noticed a few that caught my eye and want to speak to them, today.

What IT Needs to Do With the LabWare (and Other) LIMS
I noticed this search term “how to use used labware lims in it” and my take on it is that someone wants to know what role IT needs to play in supporting this system. When you own one of these large systems, such as the LabWare LIMS, StarLIMS, SQL*LIMS or Sample Manager, you’re probably running on a database such as Oracle or SQL*Server and you need to plan maintenance.

Work with your IT department to plan database maintenance and backup (both of the system and of the database). They also need to be involved with regard to the software run on the laboratory PCs. For example, some laboratory software is guaranteed to run with specific operating systems, database or other software versions and you need to make sure IT isn’t pushing the standard corporate package into those PCs or you’ll invalidate your IQ.

In most companies, the laboratory provides a LIMS system administrator to handle adding new analyses and other lab-oriented software tasks. However, the issue of writing new code (configuration to the squeamish) sometimes falls to the LIMS system admin, other times to the IT department, or to departments with names such as Research Informatics and other such titles that indicate that they handle the software for the labs.

LIMS Tricks
Another search term I saw was “tricks labware lims” and I’m not sure if someone was looking to generally learn some tricks for working with their LabWare LIMS or if they were specifically looking for the old LabWare “Tips & Tricks” file.

My general comment to all people working with all LIMS is that you learn the tricks by suspending what you know about other systems. Part of learning any system is looking at it with as fresh an eye as possible. When tricks you’ve learned with other systems don’t work, think up any nutty thing you can that could cause your problem and one of those nutty things will actually solve your problem. It’s powerful to work with experienced people as they’ll have an arsenal of tricks, and that’s true even if you’re already experienced, yourself. No-one knows EVERY trick, so you’ll always learn something from someone else if they’re willing to share their tricks. One big mistake people make is to get passed along but to refuse to believe it’s a good trick. Trust me on this, the best tricks seem bizarre but they work. Just take them and try them. If they work (and they probably will), use them and just know you’ll probably never really know why they work.

But for the old LabWare “Tips & Tricks” file, I don’t have to know whether it actually still exists or been entirely replaced with some of the LabWare databases. My favorite tip/trick from that old file was a way to create a list with a default. Personally, I can never remember whether the default goes in the first array element and the list in the second or vice versa. Whenever I have to do this I just try it, but I used to look it up every time I did it. It’s so fast to just try it that I suppose I didn’t try that hard to memorize some of these things.

Wikis and You
I’ve been on a couple projects that started project wikis so I wasn’t surprised to find this search “labware lims wiki” but I don’t happen to know of a wiki for LabWare LIMS nor any of the other systems, offhand. While wikis could be powerful tools for us to use with regard to some of the software, many companies have so much information already sitting in their databases and discussion lists that it would be difficult to pull that out to start putting into a wiki, I’d think. However, I have to wonder if this wouldn’t be a great tool for a new system. And, of course, there are actual systems built on wikis, such as the product WikiLIMS.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

Do you agree? Disagree? Have something to Add? Here's your chance - make a comment!