[Updated 12-05-07: the story continues! Jump to the end to read the latest.]
In the course of my job, lots of people email me with questions about their Macs, Mac software, and—more recently—their iPhones. As someone who writes publicly about these topics, I’m expected to be conversant with many of their intricate details, and in most cases I am.
But what I’m not is a personal tech support guru. I try to help out people who email me, because, well, I spent years working in tech support and I like to do what I can to make sure people have a good experience using technology. As someone with specialized knowledge, I feel an…perhaps obligation is too strong a word, maybe call it an inclination to help out those who don’t possess that knowledge, just as people with more money often feel an inclination to help out those who are less fortunate. Again, to be clear, it’s not my job, and I don’t respond to every email, but I try to when I can.
Most of the time the people I deal with are polite and appreciative that someone has even responded to their emails. I don’t want to get into a position of saying “Hey, you should be glad you even got an email back,” but let’s face it: a lot of people whose positions are similar to mine don’t have the time or interest to respond to queries that will take hours away from their actual paying work. But the rule of thumb seems like it should be this: when you ask a favor from someone, you should be civil and gracious for any time they take to help you out. That goes for dealing with people in pretty much any walk of life, in my opinion.
My latest email help request started innocuously enough. It wasn’t sent to the catch-all for the iPhone blog, or through Macworld’s contact form, but directly to my work address:
i put a video on youtube.com and it worked fine. I listed it as global
event as the key word search and then I tried to view it on the iphone. i
couldn’t find it in the listing. Do you know why this is?
Matt [Just as a note, I’ve changed the man’s name.]
A valid question, but not one I was prepared to spend a lot of time on: the fact is that YouTube is a closed system and I don’t know the intricate details of how it works. But I’ve uploaded a video or two to the site and a quick check shows that at least one of them shows up on my iPhone when I search for it. Going on the basis of that, and my general knowledge on the topic, I jotted back a quick reply:
My first question would be how long between uploading and trying to find it on the iPhone? YouTube videos need to be specially encoded in a format for the iPhone, and I don’t know if YouTube does this when the video is uploaded or later on. My suggestion would be to wait and try again later. Hope it works out.
Admittedly, not the most in-depth reply I could have offered, but I did invite further information from Matt to see if we could try to approach this in a logical fashion.
Twenty minutes later, I got a response. I quote the entirety of the reply below:
this was a lame response. Do some digging. jeez.