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Support pilot fish gets tired of complaints from one office whose PCs are all five years old. Fish manages to get them all upgraded. But now there's a new problem. 'It seems they don't like the computers because they're all black, and the users say they look very unprofessional,' grumbles fish. 'I wonder if they'd like pink.'

Support pilot fish gets tired of complaints from one office whose PCs are all five years old. Fish manages to get them all upgraded at once -- which gets rid of the weird errors and downtime. He's proud of his efforts, but now there's a new problem. "It seems they don't like the computers because they're all black, and the users say they look very unprofessional," grumbles fish. "I wonder if they'd like pink."

The rules of the game

This pilot fish long ago gave up calling the not-very-helpful helpdesk when servers go down. But when the server he needs has been unavailable for more than an hour, he calls a buddy in the server room. "Yeah, we know it's been down for 73 minutes," his friend says. "All we have to do is reboot it, but the new outsourcing agreement says we can't touch it until a user calls and opens a trouble ticket. We've been taking bets on how long it would take."

Raising the bar

IT shop at this manufacturer generates barcodes for different departments, and though no two formats are alike, they all get done -- until one manager's sample barcode stumps this pilot fish. "Even our best scanner beeped back an error on the sample," fish says. So he calls the manager -- who admits he created it with a drawing program. "We don't really use bar codes," he tells fish. "We just thought it would look really professional."

Out of sight . . .

Fledgling HR rep emails IT manager pilot fish an Excel spreadsheet that includes his staff's salaries, ratings and last merit raises. But fish notices some hidden rows, so he "unhides" them. "I was greeted by the same information for the entire division, from senior VPs down to the tape operators," says fish. After he shows the HR rep the problem, she turns bright red and asks him to delete the email. "I did so," fish says, "after saving the file elsewhere -- just to cover my bases, you know."

Lookin' good

Pilot fish is fed up with executives who say they need the latest technology, so he comes up with a new system. "Every six months, we have execs turn in their laptops for a technology refresh," he says. "Their laptop cases and keyboards are cleaned and fitted with new, upgraded OEM stickers. They love their refreshed laptops, and never catch on that all they get are new stickers. And of course this frees up considerable budget for users who actually do need the power but who are too far down the food chain to actually get it."

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