Four words I dread to hear or utter: the laser is down. This morning I had been happily aligning our laser system and bopping away to tunes on my iPod, when I moved over to the computer to switch the microscope into scan mode and found the display black and the keyboard and mouse dead. I punched keys, unplugged and replugged cords, shut down and restarted the system. Nothing. I called in the IT guys and we agreed...fried motherboard.
Our laser/scope system is not even four years old, but the computer controlling the system is ancient. It's not that we were cheap when we set up the system; apparently it is always the case that microscope companies prefer that their consumers use well-tested (aka old) computers to run the necessary software because there is known and documented compatibility. Even with little else installed on this computer, an old computer is an outdated computer, and just isn't capable of handling such long and heavy usage. And because we have proprietary PCI cards installed and there are apparently known software compatibility issues with some motherboards, I'm not at will to frantically run down to the computer store and buy a cheap Dell and load it up. Instead, I'm in the middle of a phone/email tag game, looking for recommendations for the right system to buy as a replacement. This will probably take the better part of two weeks or more. And so I had to send out an email to the lab this morning, subject: the laser is down until further notice.