[proteomics] A Day At The Proteomics Lab

  • From: Mavi Gozler <mavigozler@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: proteomics@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 11:45:22 -0800 (PST)

Today was the last straw.

While I admit I am not sure about how good or bad companies like Applied 
Biosystems or Bruker or Thermo-Finnegan are when it comes to their mass 
spectrometers and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, the software that makes the data reducible 
movable in a high-throughput way, I am sure about what I am seeing with the 
instrument system and software our Institute has saddled me with.  I wasn't 
present during what I hope was an intense educational effort to learn who sold 
equipment and software that makes a proteomics laboratory efficient, but now I 
have to do what I can to make this stuff work.

I am talking about the Waters/Micromass line.  The vendor is convinced of its 
greatness and continually proclaims it, but walks away from the simplest 
challenge I give to him.  He admits, for example, that he doesn't know really a 
thing about the Protein Lynx Global Server (PLGS) and does not care about its 
defects or capabilities.  He only tells me that people are publishing their 
results with it.

I have made a promise to myself now to (1) find an alternative to all 
Waters/Micromass products and (2) if I can get away with it, not to mention the 
use of these products in any data I happen to get IN SPITE OF these systems, 
not BECAUSE OF them.

Certainly with all the open source software out there, doing database searching 
should be easier than using PLGS.  PLGS is a $25,000 (my guess) headache that 
creates more work than it reduces.  If PLGS really does work in a meaningful 
way, then I sure don't about it, something that is the fault of the vendor and 

The MassLynx software was malfunctioning yet again, giving nondescriptive error 
alerts.  The vendor took about a week to find time to make it into the lab to 
fix the problem.  His automatic reflex is to re-install MassLynx, which he did. 
 Not just that: he re-installed Windows XP too.  He convinced himself that it 
was all the user's fault for installing this or that software or just operating 
the instrument.

The funny thing was that he saw the same problems even after the XP and MLynx 
re-install.  The bizarre thing was that he has a pathological reflex not to 
admit that the error was in MLynx.  he complains about service pack 2 being 
installed or that the PC that runs the MS was networked or that there was a 
firewall software installed.  He was blaming just about everything else except 
the shitty product that MassLynx is.  In fact, Micromass by its own admission 
says there is a software defect in MassLynx that makes it impossible to install 
upgrades on the instrument system we have because it loses the ability to 
spatially register the target plate in the plate positioning system.  And 
MassLynx is a gem compared to PLGS by comparison.

So the vendor stomps out of the lab because after we have bent over backwards 
to set up the environment that makes it impossible to get work done but keeps 
the software running the MALDI according to the vendor, he's upset about how we 
name our files on the filesystem!!!  Can you believe this???  We're using legal 
Windows filesystem names, and I ask him if it will break MassLynx, and he 
insists "no," but he gets a hair up his ass because he just personally does not 
like the way we name our files??  He can give no reason to back up his 
"feeling" about why he does not like the file naming system, but if he does not 
get his way, he's going to walk out???


I come from a culture where the customer is never told by the vendor that he is 
wrong or he is stupid, and especially when the customer is truly neither wrong 
nor stupid.

But in this culture, the vendor does not hesitate to call the customer wrong or 
stupid or to demand that the customer bend over backwards or give in to the 
smallest of whims!!

And if the customer doesn't, then the vendor is going to get an attitude????

Tell you what, you vendors out there:  BAD BUSINESS MODEL!!!

If you are going to insult or tell your customers they are wrong, you better 
FIRST be damn sure that they are wrong or stupid. And don't let that be the 
first thought out of your mouth.  Make sure too that you have exhausted all 
avenues with the customer before you decide to get an attitude with them.  It 
should NOT be your first resort.

I know that I am living in an alien culture and that I probably will have to 
make some accomodations for the stubborn refusal of a developing country to 
make the transition to being developed, something that really should have 
happened a long time ago.

But there are really some principles I won't compromise on.

And one of those principles is where the vendor thinks that the customer should 
jump to his call without having any reason whatsoever to do so, rather than the 
other way around where the vendor is the one who should be trying to please the 
customer.  And another principle is where the vendor gets an attitude on the 
customer because the customer won't give in to a whim with no basis in reason!

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