The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

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Ice Cream Jonsey
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The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:20 pm

Our own Flack but his first(?) fiction novel up on Amazon. It can be had for $2.99.

Link: http://a.co/d/75vSSRB

Having read a copy, I enjoyed it thoroughly and I recommend that everyone here buy a copy. Flack is a man that has given us so much. The entire point of this BBS is for us to share our creative ventures together, and here is a perfect example of that. It really is a great book. Buy it now!
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

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Billy Mays
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Re: The Human Element by Rob O'Hara

Post by Billy Mays » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:14 pm

It's actually titled The Human Library.
Above all else... We shall go on... And continue!

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Re: The Human Element by Rob O'Hara

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:24 pm

Thanks! I'm a fucking idiot. Will change the thread name. Christ.
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Casual Observer » Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:00 am

I bought it and gave a 5 star review. This could be the first book I've read since the internet.

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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Flack » Sun Dec 02, 2018 6:48 am

Aw, thanks guys. I don't know that it's 5-star material, but all the parts are there.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by AArdvark » Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:06 am

Is this the director's cut with the extra chapters?

I'm getting it later today!

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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Casual Observer » Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:28 am

Flack wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 6:48 am
Aw, thanks guys. I don't know that it's 5-star material, but all the parts are there.
I have a short attention span so only made it a few pages so far. I really like your detailed cynicism about federal work so far and detailed descriptions and of course the comedy.

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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Flack » Wed Dec 05, 2018 8:59 am

Amazon approved the paperback edition this morning, so it's now live as well.

"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Tdarcos » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:17 pm

I read the first three chapters from the Amazon website, I might buy the book. I note there are 2 or three errors in phrasing in the piece; I'm not sure if anyone is interested.

In reply to Flack's fictional story. I decided to report some of my own stories about working as a federal contractor.

I got a temporary assignment around late 1995-'96 as a tech support person at a Federal Commission located in Bethesda, MD. I'd just gotten off a three-month assignment doing over-the-phone tech support for a contractor for Verizon dial-up Internet service customers. The tech support staff which consists of me, John and one other guy from our company, plus eight federal employees of the IT department's tech support/help desk.

My boss, John, was the other contractor who worked for the same company, and my boss above him was the department head who was a federal employee, Jim. At that time there was about a four month backlog in handling tech support calls, so Jim announces to the staff, that if we can get the backlog down by one month he'd buy lunch for all of us at the pizza restaurant down the street and if we got the entire backlog eliminated he'd do it a second time.

Well, anyway, that had no real effect on me as I had only been there a day or so, I wasn't going to be doing anything spectacular or extra special, I just have my own speed of doing my work.

When I get a call about a problem if it didn't already have one I'd open a ticket on the reporting system, listen to the person describe their problem, then propose a solution to solve it and explain to the person over the phone how to fix it. Since this usually fixed the problem, I closed the ticket, then hung up and waited for the next call (if I had nothing else to do) or went back to whatever i was doing before I was called.

So anyway, after about two weeks Jim announced that we actually had cleared a month's worth of the backlog, so, as he promised we went to Shakey's Pizza and he bought lunch for everybody. He was even more surprised when, a month later, he had to take us all back for a free lunch again as the remaining three months of backlogged help desk calls had been cleared up.

What I discovered was the difference between the way I and everyone else there responded to help desk calls. Since I'd just come off an assignment where you answered the customer's call and explained to them how to fix the problem during that same call, that was how I responded to tech support help desk calls. (I had to do it that way; I'm in Maryland answering calls, while the customer could be anywhere from Maryland to Pennsylvania through New York.)

The other people at the Commission would take a call, then go out to the person's desk to fix whatever the problem was, then come back. As a result of this, I'm giving the customer the solution over the phone and listening as they followed my instruction to put in the fix. Total time I spend on their problem, maybe 2-3 minutes.

On the other hand, let's say it takes 15 minutes to go to someone's desk plus 5 minutes to fix the problem, that means any time any of the Commission's employees fix a problem they're busy for at least 1/2 hour. As a result of this, I'm spending very little of my time handling tech support calls, all of the time I'm not on the phone I'm available to answer the phone, thus I can take more of them.

By the end of the contract, we had completely cleared all backlogged tech support calls since I was doing the immediate calls the employees there could handle them, and there was a huge batch of same-call closed tech support calls. One guy there took a look at the number, and it was like 3:1 in call volume, with me having handled something like 2,000 completed tech support calls with the #2 person handling about 600 calls.

The only difference between the staff before and their four month backlog on handling calls and six weeks later and the entire backlog being cleared was me.

One call I was proud of was while I was handling another problem, the guy complained that he had a problem he'd been waiting three months for a fix was having to do with collecting e-mail over the phone but not have it auto-answer (because that office did not have a dedicated modem line.) I said, "I can fix it," and did the research to do so. It took me 90 minutes to find the reference manuals and look up how to tell the program to set up the modem. I called the guy back, and walked him through how to fix the problem. He was shocked, because he had reported this problem 90 days ago and nobody fixed it until I came along and did so in 90 minutes.

I got written up for a commendation for that and two other support incidents, where someone was so pleased with my work they sent a letter into the department head saying so.
The lessons of history teach us - if they teach us anything - that no one learns the lessons of history. tdarcos@tdarcos.com

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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by AArdvark » Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:23 pm

I know this sounds naive but how does anything get done with a three month wait to fix computer related problems?

ten minutes and I'd be beating the machine like that viral video...


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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Tdarcos » Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:13 am

AArdvark wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:23 pm
I know this sounds naive but how does anything get done with a three month wait to fix computer related problems?
My guess is some problems took longer to fix. Some required someone go get a piece of equipment and repair or replace. Those I never handled; equipment problems went to John, who would pick up and return for repair or replace of defective equipment.

We had one particular brand of CRT monitor - flat screen and LCD were about 10 years in the future - that we routinely had problems with, CTX. John nicknamed them "Certified To eXpire." Whenever someone had a monitor failure we could expect over 95% of the time the culprit was a CTX monitor.

I remember that out of thousands of help desk calls only one required me to make a visit to the customer. We were using CC:Mail and in order to send mail over the Internet required you specify a gateway and a routing. I decided to write down the method, and took it over to talk the customer through the specifics.
The lessons of history teach us - if they teach us anything - that no one learns the lessons of history. tdarcos@tdarcos.com

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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Tdarcos » Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:23 am

One time one of the customers called me because he was having a problem. He explained it, and I talked him through how to fix it by changing some settings. Net time on the call, maybe 8 minutes, his problem was solved, and he's back to work.

A few days later the guy came by to say thank you. He wasn't the Help Desk supervisor; that was Jim. He wasn't Jim's boss; he worked in the office next to Jim. Nor was he Jim's boss' boss. He was the head of the IT department, which was three levels above. That level of VIP almost always got someone to come out to his desk right away. But I, who have no office politics to play and just fix things, had walked him through how to fix his problem, about 3 times as fast as it was normally taken care of.
The lessons of history teach us - if they teach us anything - that no one learns the lessons of history. tdarcos@tdarcos.com

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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Flack » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:06 pm

All of these tales and more are included in The Human Library, available now in eBook and paperback. Pick up your copy today!
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Sun Dec 16, 2018 2:51 pm

I do need to buy a hard copy of this.

Flack, is there a story behind the cover?
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Re: The Human Library by Rob O'Hara

Post by Flack » Sun Dec 16, 2018 3:06 pm

Don't buy a hard copy yet. I have a few corrections to make tomorrow.

The cover... well, I started to go super realistic and then decided to go super minimalist instead. The cover represents the Human Library out in the middle of the desert. I didn't want people to know what it was until they had read the book -- one of those things that would "click" at a later date.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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