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.


Back pay payback

This IT staffer is hoping his pay will go up after his annual performance review, but that depends on his manager actually doing the review -- and even that isn't enough.

Leadership, demonstrated

This company's CIO has a shiny MBA to go with his limited grasp of technology, and he puts both on display in the weekly incident review meetings he decides to launch.

The banana problem

This pilot fish slips and takes a hard fall, but fortunately he's not badly hurt -- the damage is mostly to his pride and his mobile phone, which now has a new shape.

Why we love metrics

This company has had its share of IT death marches, so it launches a big effort to improve estimating and project delivery. The key: detailed metrics for IT project time.

Throwback Thursday: Why we love sales people

Sales rep promises this customer a discount, but while it's on the sales order, there's no discount on the invoice generated by the ERP system. Who removed it?

Where THAT consultant came from

This IT consultant isn't exactly well thought of as a technical professional -- but that doesn't stand in the way of a long and varied career at a big consultancy.

That user's name wasn't Barney NEWTON, was it?

It's almost Y2K, and this small recruiting firm is converting its key systems to client/server and switching from Macs to PCs -- and there's just a bit of culture shock.

But thanks for keeping in touch!

Pilot fish runs an IT support group that's announcing new PC power management settings, which will roll out on Friday -- so you know what's going to happen on Thursday.

Time to lock the security team in a hotel room?

IT security at this company has laptops really locked down, which isn't a big deal for most users when they're traveling -- unless a hotel has its own security ideas.

Throwback Thursday: How (not) to save money in IT

The servers in this computer room are having problems with their disk drives, but fortunately there's a simple short-term fix -- and, unfortunately, a longer-term agenda.

Self promotion

It's the early 1970s, and a new intern turns out to be extremely interested in the strategic planning model this pilot fish is writing -- on punch cards in Fortran.

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