specimens examined lists, again

Julian Humphries jmh3 at CORNELL.EDU
Mon Aug 7 09:22:06 CDT 1995

>Somehow biologists always behave as if their problems, in this
>case tracking specimens, lots of specimens or whatever, are
>somehow unique. Has it ever occurred to any of you that industry
>has not only managed but mastered how to track anything from
>individual widgets to warehouses of stuff. As a result, if you look
>outside the biological community you may be suprised to find that
>these problems have already been solved in simple easy to
>implement ways, usually with software and hardware available
>off the shelf (so to speak).


Would you be surprised if people had already done this?  Um, maybe
you would be.  I spent lots of time tracking down "industry solutions."
Lets see, have you ever seen barcodes on single screws or transistors?
How about inside jars of pickles?  Guess what, most of the barcode
solutions are for box size, dry, replicably shaped "things".  Sure,
they make specialized solutions: for a cost.  For two years I subscribed
to a magazine: ID Systems, looking for reasonable bar code solutions
for specimen jars and small material.  For the most part, they simply
don't exist.  The paper is wrong, the ink is wrong, the market is
geared toward a different kind of operation.

>The same could be said of any kind of database needs. It is sheer
>arrogance to assume that somehow our problems are unqiue and
>that only we can solve them. I might add that an enormous amount
>of federal funds have been wasted because of this attitude.

Who is "we"?  Do you think that somebody else can write functional
specifications for loan and tranaction management for biological
collections?  Do you think somebody else will?  Have you actually
looked at the only close model that we might adopt from an industry
similar to ours (libraries)?  Or do you think we somehow are in
the pet food industry or whatever?  Where are we going to buy off
the shelf solutions? (Don't give me the old saw about Paradox or
dbase, those aren't applications, they are development environments).
Can you name somebody else we can get our solutions from?

Julian Humphries                          Email: jmh3 at cornell.edu
The MUSE Project, Cornell University
83 Brown Road, Building 3
Ithaca, NY  14850  USA
Voice: 607-257-8143                       Fax:   607-257-8109

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