Questions that Sharky gets a lot
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 one of the workers. Not a honcho, not a shark.
The tricks for both kinds of pilot fish are finding a shark they can live with and staying out of range of its teeth. And to always stay alert and away from those tooth-packed jaws. A moment's inattention could end the pilot fish's career.
That's life at the reef.
A: Yes, as best we can determine.
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."
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.
A: No. Not at all. Leave something for Sharky to do. Just be sure to give us details. What happened, to whom, what he said, what she said, how it all worked out.
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.
A: Hey, hey, cut us a break. Just reading Sharky's voluminous mail to filter out the death threats and Ponzi scheme offers is practically a full-time job. And there are only a couple of us to serve all of Sharky's needs and wants. (You think your boss is demanding? Hah!)
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 two.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll get right on it.
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Tales of old can be found in Sharky's archive.
This IT pilot fish's company hires an outside vendor to conduct Windows 7 training for its users -- but maybe not exactly the right training company for the job.
This consultant pilot fish is taking care of the PC network at a citrus processing plant in Florida -- one where the head accountant considers himself a tech expert.
This local school is holding a special celebration that includes inflatable toys in the gym, costumes, candy and a barbecue -- which seems like a good time to have a contractor do some work in the IT office. Or maybe not.
This museum has a constantly rotating list of special exhibitions on the website, and a pilot fish who has to keep the list updated manually -- so it's fish who has to handle a middle-of-the-night call from the frantic CEO.
It's the 1980s, and this IT contractor is working on a big project to install an accounting system for a utility in the days before ERP. And with a little downtime on his hands, he gets his first opportunity to try using a virtual machine.
One employee is being laid off at at this manufacturing plant, and a pilot fish is tasked with disabling the newly-ex-employee's accounts while he's getting the bad news. How hard could that be?
This IT consultant really likes his job, including the opportunity to go to conferences and training. To make the most of that, he makes a list of the conferences that will be most valuable -- and to his surprise, they're mostly approved.
IT consultant pilot fish is managing a big project for a utility company, and every two weeks his team holds a workshop to demo the state of the work. But when fish needs to change the start time, there's a problem.
One of the responsibilities this IT pilot fish has inherited is an automatic gate with key-card access that's getting pretty creaky. But management doesn't want to sink money into repairs -- after all, it's working, right?
Company deploys new do-everything enterprise software, and two weeks before it's scheduled to go live, this analyst working on the project requests that unencrypted FTP service be turned on. Who could object to that?