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.


Guess who didn't take care of it?

This software team supports a big financial application for Microsoft and Oracle databases -- and that's a problem when the Oracle code becomes an afterthought.

Hey, it may be the best idea this project has seen!

Pilot fish's team is working on a massive upgrade project -- complete with outside contractors, unmanageable management expectations and (surprise!) lots of problems.

Well, DID she ever change her password?

This pilot fish manages an email system for several clients, and he needs to pick good passwords from the get-go -- because these users will never bother changing them.

Big Data -- the 1970s version

It's the late 1970s, and this non-techie pilot fish gets a data processing job with his state's Motor Vehicles department -- where the tech is a little out of date.

Throwback Thursday: Just one thing

IT consultant pilot fish gets a panicked call from a client: The network and VoIP phones have all stopped working, but all anyone in the office did was go into a meeting.

No good deed goes unpunished

Pilot fish handles anything computer-related for this family-run business, which provides business services for large public events -- one of which has a large problem.

Root Cause Analysis

The company this pilot fish works for is acquired by a larger one, and everyone gets a new login based on just the employee's family name -- which in fish's case is Root.

Don't know about the pony, but that dog won't hunt

This vendor's free workshop on machine learning and big data is really a sales pitch for letting users create their own personal clouds. What could go wrong with that?

Shhhh!

IT admin at this public library is repurposing an old PC for use by the library's patrons -- but as he puts it in place, it sounds like something inside is falling apart!

Throwback Thursday: And they do this every month?

It's time to service this server room's air conditioning, and the AC vendor has sent a new team this month. So why does this pilot fish hear them screaming for help?

Why DOES it take IT so long to solve user problems?

This seasoned accountant has years of experience at a government agency, and plenty to keep her busy -- if IT can just keep the systems up long enough for her to log in.

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