Bio

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 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.

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. 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.

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. 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 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.

 

Latest Posts by Sharky

This systems analyst pilot fish is trying to keep things working at a manufacturing plant in the southern U.S. -- and management isn't making it easy.

July 25, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

The financial institution where this pilot fish works is moving to a new disaster recovery site, and that means arranging the transfer of several financial-market data servers -- which could take months.

July 24, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

This local bank has an old-fashioned two-story lobby and its own mainframe upstairs -- and a disaster waiting to happen.

July 23, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

This medical supply company has a number of older, less tech-savvy users. But how many ways are there to misunderstand "click on the Start button"?

July 22, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

It's been a long, hard effort, but this pilot fish's organization has finally managed to get rid of all its Windows XP computers -- almost. Now how to get rid of that last one-tenth of 1 percent?

July 21, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

Pilot fish is tasked with fixing a critical new system, and he's getting no help from the vendors. But when he tries a different approach, he's still getting no help -- but with a different response.

July 18, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

This company auto-generates and sends out faxes to a large number of its vendors and clients. But in a rack with dozens of fax modems, individual modems keep failing randomly -- and no one knows why.

July 17, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.

July 16, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

This office needs an expedient way to send documents to another office in the same building. Just one catch: It can't use fax or email.

July 15, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

This non-IT pilot fish who works for an air-conditioning equipment distributor has to head into the office on Saturday morning to pick up a part for a customer -- and there he finds the IT guys, who have racks full of servers to move.

July 14, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
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