Shark Tank: Next time, aim for the ferret's apple

Ever since last August, when Sharky related the tale of an enterprising pilot fish who used a radio-controlled toy tank to pull network cable above a dropped ceiling, he's been hearing from other pilot fish who came up with creative ways of solving that problem.

One fish used cat food to train her pet rat to scurry over ceiling panels, under floors and inside walls, using its teeth to pull a long string toward a tapping sound at the other end of the cable run. Once the rat emerges, the fish attaches the cable to the string and pulls it through.

"It took about 20 minutes a day for three months to train Rattie to negotiate the maze, avoid dead ends and travel toward tapping sounds," the fish says.

A little less dedicated to the task is another IT pilot fish's ferret. Same basic approach -- the ferret drags a string, which will eventually pull cable -- but with an apple slice instead of cat food for bait. "It stops every now and then to scope out the territory," says the fish. But, he adds, "in the end, the ferret goes for the apple."

But the prize has to go to the ill-starred team that tried using a high-powered hunting bow to shoot the string the length of the room.

"Everything was going great," says a pilot fish on the team, "until one day during business hours. The arrow glanced off a sprinkler pipe and was deflected down through the suspended ceiling tile, where it embedded itself into the top of a very shaken office worker's desk!

"Needless to say," says the fish, "we went back to the old-fashioned way of lifting ceiling tiles to route cable."

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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