Yak shaving for fun and profit

Today started with an experiment; since I didn’t have any meetings in the morning, I decided to work out immediately after taking Jeff to the JCC instead of trying to squeeze it in between work and dinner.  So I spent the 90 minutes between 6 and 7:30am “at work”.  And that led to the first bout of yak shaving for the day.

One of the tasks I had to accomplish during that time was to talk with a colleague in Belgium.  I had hoped to find him on Sametime, but he wasn’t logged on.  And I didn’t really want to call him on my home phone and have to deal with filing an expense claim for a few dollars (nor was I willing to subsidize IBM by not filing a claim if I did make the call).  Instead, I wanted to use the Cisco softphone on my laptop to call Belgium; that way, the call would originate from my desk, and the billing would be handled properly.

But if I was going to use the softphone, I was going to be stuck with using the Thinkpad’s built-in speakers and microphone, which doesn’t lead to great sound quality.  Instead, I wanted to use my Bluetooth headset.  But I’d just reinstalled Windows XP, and the only services that showed up when I paired the headset with the computer were virtual COM ports, not audio.  I vaguely remembered having had problems the last time around, so it was off to Google.

It took a little digging, but eventually I discovered that the problem was that the Windows XP SP2 Bluetooth stack is crippled; it only supports mice, keyboards, and COM ports.  I had to uninstall its driver, which let the Widcom driver supplied by <strike>IBM</strike> Lenovo take over (once I told Windows that I really wanted to use an evil unsigned driver).  And then I was able to properly use the headset and even do file transfer to and from my phone, which had failed earlier.

With that accomplished, I phoned my colleague, who was busy.  But he phoned me back a bit later, and we had our conversation; then I rushed out the door, took Jeff to the JCC, did my workout, and finally drove to the office, where the hallways were mostly deserted.  I’ll give this schedule another try on Thursday and see if it’s really viable — it sure felt good!

There were other yaks to shave later in the day and after I got home; perhaps tomorrow, I can stay on track a bit better.  I can only hope.

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