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?

DianeV: Yes.

<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.

Caller: Thanks!


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?

3 Comments to "Help for Help's Sake"

  1. Phil says:

    I think you did the right thing. I am sure that you learned from the help from others as I have. If it wasn't for "Free" help on the web alot of websites wouldn't exist. I do alot of free work for non-profits and they really need it and appreciate it. Not only that there is a thing called Karma which I do believe exists.

    :) Phil

  2. DianeV says:

    I know what you mean, Phil — and glad to hear others have the same thinking.

    We're now into the (supposedly) slow time of year when we select a worthy cause to help support by donating a whole project's worth of time to. It does feel good.

  3. Sophie says:

    Karma – another believer here. Besides it's nice do do something kind when you can.

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