Help for Help's Sake
Phone rings. Hm. I'm alone; I get to answer.
DianeV: DianeV Web Design Studio …
Caller: Are you a web designer?
<Tap tap tap. Oh boy. Doesn't sound like a client call.>
Caller: I need a little help.
<DianeV: Aha. Probably wants something for free.>
Caller: I'm working on my Dad's site. He's a doo-wop singer …
<DianeV: Oh. A fellow artist. Got the son working on the site …>
… he wants to put video on the site, and I want it to start playing when they first access it. While it's still downloading.
DianeV: Go to blahblah.com, click here, click there. This band is our client; they did the videos — mixed them, and all that.
Caller: That's exactly what I want! See how it starts playing before it's finished downloading? It's playing and the download bar is still moving.
… Okay, now what?
DianeV: Can you turn that off? <lol> I can't hear you.
Caller: Oh, sorry!
DianeV: Right click, select "Source" or "View Source" and grab that code. That's what you need.
Thing is, WYSIWYG can help you, but you eventually need to learn to read code; otherwise, you can't control it. But that's the code you need.
Caller: Thanks. Someone told me I need to buy the Sorenson program and …
<DianeV: Sorenson … a video format.>
DianeV: Actually, we don't do that; I haven't a clue. <Not exactly true, but …> But if you want help with that, [our client] does it. They did all these videos and sound tracks, and he mixed them. He also did Michael Jackson. If you want world class help — well, you'd probably have to pay him — but he's the one.
Later, someone asked why I went to the trouble, especially given that I have little free time on my hands, and we're not exactly encouraging calls for free help.
Thing is, it's not exactly giving away the farm to pass someone a little code for embedding video files. And I know that artists have a tough time of it, having forsaken the security of a paid job to do what they do best — something that contributes to society.
And I still think of it as giving back. I remember when I was just starting out in web design, when I knew nothing and nobody. That was nearly a decade ago, but it wouldn't really matter if it was only last year. It was when I discovered that "the kindness of strangers" on the Web was … stupendous.
Would any of us be better off if the immense amount of information-sharing on the Web was non-existent?
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