Do You Really Want an Answer?

This e-business project connects customers and suppliers to a utility company's mainframes, and the managing pilot fish takes no chances - there are weeks of user training and nine months of testing before it goes live. Result: On Day 1, there's exactly one user who reports a showstopping problem. "I've logged into the system," user says. "Now what do I do?"

Count On It

Company wants to give discount cards to its customers. And executives want to be able to support 100 million customers - but with just a six-digit ID number for each customer. That's mathematically impossible, IT consultant pilot fish points out, even if you used every number from 000000 up to 999999. Next question: "What if we don't assign them sequentially?"

That Often?

IT pilot fish sets up e-mail for each salesperson at this auto dealership. "The idea was that prospective car buyers could e-mail them via a form on the dealership Web site and, hopefully, end up buying a car," says fish. "A week later, one salesman stopped me in the showroom to say how wonderful his e-mail was and to tell me he intended to check it every week."

Yeah, Really

Upset engineer needs some files restored that he accidentally dragged to the Windows recycle bin, he tells help desk pilot fish. Didn't you see the "Confirm File Delete" message? fish asks. Nope, says engineer - he turned that off. "It's poor engineering," he says, " when it should be perfectly clear that since I've dragged them to the recycle bin, I do want to delete them."

Heck, Why Not?

What this company needs is a network management system, bosses decide. Some $80,000 and months of late nights and weekends later, it's finally in place. "Only missed the production target date by six days," says a pilot fish on the project. That very week, operations manager who approved the new system sticks his head into fish's office with a question: "This network management system - is this something we could target for outsourcing?"

Much Better

User hates her keyboard: "The keys stick, the response isn't good," she tells IT pilot fish. So fish replaces it. Now the keys are too high and it doesn't feel right, she says. "In the end, I cleaned up her old keyboard and gave it back to her," says fish. "She came back and said this keyboard was wonderful - much better than either of the keyboards she had previously."

Feed the Shark! Send your true tale of IT life to You snag a snazzy shark shirt if we use it. And check out the daily feed, browse the Sharkives and sign up for Shark Tank home delivery at

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon