An anonymous reader writes: One of the main problems with scientific instrumentation is that while the hardware is often cutting edge, the software you need to run it is often...lacking...in many respects. We have a flow cytometer with this problem. It has a dedicated Win XP desktop machine to run it, collects megabytes of data in minutes, and according to the manufacturer *cough* BD Biosystems *cough*, will suffer unspecified "damage" if it's ever connected to a network. No-one can tell me what kind of damage, the sales people don't know and never get back to me, the guy who updated the software put up the warning sign, but he just had a protocol and no understanding of what the problem was etc. My suspicions are that it has to do with either virus worries (although since the AV is never updated, but everyone and their dog is plugging their personal USB key into it to get their data off, I'm not sure that's such a bright idea), or the fact that their software requires Java 1.4.something-or-other and won't run if that is updated. Does anyone have experience with anything like this? Can you even write software bad enough that the mere presence of a network connection will cause an implosion? Is there some hardware/software combination I can suggest that will allow it to write data out to the network without being soiled by contact with the outside world? To complicate things further, it's not my machine, so I will need something like a "magic one-way ethernet cable" in order to convince the people responsible for the six figures machine that it won't cause it to burst into flames etc.