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.


See, we're NOT the only ones who get tech shock

This telecom sales rep has been selling business phone systems for decades -- everything from PBX to VoIP and IVR, with a lot of acronyms in between -- but he remembers exactly when his universe changed.

But we DID meet the deadline, right?

Software vendor has a contractual requirement to deliver a product design to this company by a set date -- and the vendor delivers right on schedule. So what's the problem?

Because tablets are just naturally secure, right?

This state agency has been doing a field rollout with Surface tablet computers to go paperless for inspections, and the section managers just love them -- but it seems someone forgot something.

Why we love decentralized IT

This bank tracks deposits and loans with a widely used and well-supported application, and it has always worked fine -- even though it's administered by the Deposit Operations department, not IT -- until now.

Why, is that a problem?

This company buys a small vendor that's been providing some business services, and the buyer is pretty sure all the due diligence is done. Or maybe not.

Or sit between them, so she'll get even more heat

Help desk pilot fish gets a trouble ticket from a user who says her PC suffered a "thermal event" the day before, just before she went home -- and now the computer won't boot.

Paperwork or a work around? Hmm, tough choice...

Telecom pilot fish working for this community college gets a work order to put in an extra data cable for a new classroom wireless access point. But when he gets to the classroom, what's the first thing he sees?

Not the house call he had in mind

This pilot fish mostly supports small businesses, but he also does occasional house calls for users who need it -- and this one's not the usual computer-and-printer problem.

But they ARE still going to fix it, right?

IT pilot fish in a regional office of a big federal agency gets a call from the IT guy in HR -- and what he's seen is pretty clearly impossible.

How to save money in IT: Broadcast edition

It's the early 1980s, and this pilot fish is working at a TV station as an electrical engineer -- and lightning strikes are a problem in ways they really shouldn't be.

Or we could just filter out anything with @ in it

Sysadmin pilot fish works for a company whose clients include several large pharmaceutical companies -- including one with a product that's very popular among spammers, which turns out to be a problem.

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