Sharky

Questions that Sharky gets a lot

Q: What's a pilot fish?

A: There are two answers to that question. One is the Mother Nature version: Pilot fish are small fish that swim just ahead of sharks. When the shark changes direction, so do the pilot fish. When you watch underwater video of it, it looks like the idea to change direction occurred simultaneously to shark and pilot fish.

Thing is, sharks go pretty much anywhere they want, eating pretty much whatever they want. They lunge and tear and snatch, but in so doing, leave plenty of smorgasbord for the nimble pilot fish.

The IT version: A pilot fish is someone who swims with the sharks of enterprise IT -- and lives to tell the tale. Just like in nature, a moment's inattention could end the pilot fish's career. That's life at the reef.

Q: Are all the Sharky stories true?

A: Yes, as best we can determine.

Q: Where do the Sharky tales come from?

A: From readers. Sharky just reads and rewrites and basks in the reflected glory of you, our readers. It is as that famous fish-friendly philosopher Spinoza said, "He that can carp in the most eloquent or acute manner at the weakness of the human mind is held by his fellows as almost divine."

Q: How do I get one of those fabulous Sharky T-shirts?

A: Here's how it works. You send us your tale of perfidy, heroism or just plain weirdness at your IT shop. If Sharky selects it for publication, you get the shirt -- free and clear, no handling charges.

Q: Do I have to write my story in Sharky-ese?

A: No. Not at all. Just be sure to give us details. What happened, to whom, what he said, what she said, how it all worked out.

Q: I've got a really funny story, but I could get fired if my old trout of a boss found out I told you. How confidential is what I send to Sharky?

A: We don't publish names: yours, your boss's, your trout's, your company's. We try to file off the serial numbers, though there's no absolute guarantee that someone who lived through the incident won't recognize himself. Our aim is to share the outrageous, knee-slapping, milk-squirting-out-your-nose funny tales that abound in the IT world, not to get you fired. That would not be funny.

Q: You published my tale. Where's my T-shirt?

A: Hey, hey, cut us a break. You sent your tale over the Internet. If we could send your Shark shirt that way, you can bet we would.

Because most Shark Tank submissions don't include a full mailing address, we have to contact each pilot fish to get the address before sending out a T-shirt. That's done in batch mode, so it can take anywhere from a day to a few weeks. When things really get backed up, it can fall behind as much as a month or more.

But be assured: Sharky vows to forget no one!

Occasionally by the time your tale sees print, your e-mail address will have changed. If your e-mail address changed after you sent your contribution and you never got your shirt, let us know at sharky@computerworld.com. We'll get right on it.

Q: How do I get each new Shark Tank tale emailed to me?

Easy. Subscribe to the newsletter.

Q: Where are the Sharkives?

Tales of old can be found in Sharky's archive.


IT enough for ya?

After a series of company acquisitions, this IT pilot fish is on the team tasked with migrating everyone to a standardized desktop -- but not every user is happy with how that process works.

Another satisfied customer!

IT analyst pilot fish buys a new PC, and it turns out that a key application fish uses won't load -- and the newest version of the software is subscription-based. Fortunately, fish has another option...for a while.

Hey, if he can't even bother to use automation...

This pilot fish is in the office to finish some data analysis with a tight deadline, and he notices a pattern in how one of his co-workers is working late -- so to speak.

We call this game 'Bluff the Blowhard'

This insurance company's IT shop has strict requirements for documenting development processes and especially code walk-throughs, and that's great -- unless somebody important isn't on board,

Missing question #576: 'And when did this start?'

It's fashion-show week in New York City, and for this apparel maker's IT department, that means all the users are in one place. Good thing, too, because one user's laptop is mysteriously shutting down.

That's one way to get the contract...

IT consultant pilot fish gets an urgent phone call from the consulting firm he works for: Some higher-ups want to meet with him immediately -- and it turns out his boss's boss is making a sudden exit from the firm.

Duty bound

Programmer is assigned to create software to help recover the import duties for some components in products his company manufactures -- a complex process that's currently done manually by a single user.

Well, SOMEBODY'S unclear on the concept here...

This manufacturing plant's managers decide to go for a VPP safety rating from the federal government -- which not many plants achieve. What could go wrong with that plan?

So by definition it's a hardware problem, right?

This pilot fish is working for a major airline, doing onsite IT support at an airport, when he gets a trouble ticket. Problem: Bug in terminal. But he knows they've just patched the terminals -- so now what?

But everything's a lot faster nowadays, right?

It's the 1980s, and this big bank is consolidating its data centers spread across the U.S. The bank's secret weapon for distributed processing? Satellites.

Why we still do deskside visits

This high-end hairdresser is having problems with two of the Macs used in her salon, and the issues are baffling to the IT pilot fish who supports the business -- mainly because they're intermittent.

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