Shark Tank: Spike it

Whenever this office's air conditioner kicks on, the power spike scrambles fonts on the laser printer. Can we please have a UPS for the printer? pilot fish asks. Nope. 'We're aware of the problem,' fish is told, 'but we don't want to use a UPS, because the power fluctuations will wear it out.'

          Whenever this office's air conditioner kicks on, the power spike scrambles fonts on the laser printer. Can we please have a UPS for the printer? pilot fish asks. Nope. "We're aware of the problem," fish is told, "but we don't want to use a UPS, because the power fluctuations will wear it out."

          Lost and found

          User swears he hasn't deleted anything, but the eight years' worth of files that were on his laptop are gone. Support pilot fish can't find them either, and there's no backup. "Sorry," says fish, "but your data is lost." Angry user blocks the door, refusing to let fish leave, until a co-worker walks in and asks what's wrong. After user explains, co-worker laughs, "But that's not your laptop -- yours is over in the corner."

          No tailgating

          Security requires swiping a badge through a reader to get into or out of the computer room at this Army facility. "Problem is, if you followed a co-worker into the room and then tried to leave, it wouldn't unlock the door," grumbles a pilot fish there. "The program determined that since you never officially entered the room, you couldn't possibly be inside for it to let you out."

          Who wants that?

          Long-delayed GUI-based application finally replaces an old mainframe program. "It looked pretty and had all these great features, but it took between 10 and 45 minutes to respond," says pilot fish. "The mainframe system had a half-second response time." Development team's response to user complaints: "A fast response time wasn't in the specification."

          Green is good

          It's 1977, and this Air Force mainframe pilot fish gets tapped to design a database reporting application for test information. But the requirements puzzle fish -- there's no specification for a screen for entering future data. "No need," user tells fish. "This is a one-time test, so there will be no future entries." So why develop this system anyway? fish asks. Says user, "Reports look more official on green bar paper."

          Wireless, for sure

          Helpdesk pilot fish at this big biotech company gets a call from a user. He complains that the company's electronic ordering system says his mice arrived, but he hasn't received them. Fish calls the hardware group, but they can't find the mice anywhere. "Were they optical, wireless or regular corded mice?" fish asks user. "No, no," says user. "I'm wondering where my mice for lab experiments are. Not computer mice, but real live ones."

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