Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spent the Day Yak Shaving

Familiar with the term "yak shaving"? It's my new favorite phrase. Seth Godin calls it the best phrase he's heard this year. I first heard it this month on Ian McAnerin's blog, but apparently the term was coined back in 2000 by Carlin Vieri of MIT after a poignant Ren & Stimpy episode.

So what exactly is yak shaving? The definition I prefer is:

"Any seemingly pointless activity which is actually necessary to solve a problem which solves a problem which, several levels of recursion later, solves the real problem you're working on."

And that's exactly what I've spent the day doing. You see, I received an invitation to advertise Search Engine College for free in a popular magazine, as long as I could provide a high resolution graphic of our ad in a particular size and color format. Not a problem, but when I went to create the image today, I realized that the image manipulation software I wanted to use was on a different computer.

So I booted up the other computer and then realized that the keyboard was missing because I had connected it to my laptop. So I disconnected the keyboard from the laptop and tried to plug it into the other computer, but all the USB drives were used up so I had to disconnect the digital camera. But that forced an error requiring me to reboot the computer so I rebooted, plugged in the keyboard and opened the image software. Only to realize that I had installed just the trial version on that computer and it had expired. And I needed the purchase key to activate it again. Which was on my laptop so I copied it from the laptop onto my flash drive and brought it over to the computer before remembering that there were no USB drives available.

So I copied the key down on paper and manually typed it into the software program. Thankfully it recognized it, but then informed me that the software version I was using was out of date and I had to download a priority update. Which was 200MB. So I decided to make a cup of coffee while I waited. When the download was at 97 percent, the electrician who was working on the flat downstairs blew a fuse in the building, the lights went out and all the computers switched off automatically. An hour later, the electricity was back up and I was able to start the software download again while drinking my cold cup of coffee.

I finally got the priority update installed and began working on the image I needed. But the color formatting didn't match the magazine specifications and my HEX to RGB converter didn't help. I really needed to print the image out to see if the logo color matched other magazine print ads I'd created. So I pressed print. And waited. And waited some more. Before realizing that our inkjet printer had run out of magenta ink and wasn't going to print anything at all until that magenta print cartridge was replaced.

So I got in the car and drove 30 minutes to the office supplies shop, only to find that it had been replaced by a Gloria Jeans coffee shop sometime in the last month. So I asked for directions to the printer repair shop 10 minutes further away who happened to have magenta cartridges on sale. Feeling pretty relieved I drove the 40 minutes home and pulled out the empty magenta cartridge from the printer. Only to realize that it didn't match the one on the box that I'd just bought. I'd bought the wrong cartridge!

So I did what I should have done in the first place and emailed the magazine publisher to take up their free offer to create the ad on our behalf. And then I poured myself a large glass of wine. I'd spent the whole day yak shaving. Aaarrrggghhhh!


Subscribe via: Yahoo Feeds | Feedburner | Technorati | Bloglines

Labels: ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button