Yak Shaving, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Waste an Afternoon

I love the term “yak shaving.” It completely describes my afternoon yesterday, when I needed to scan a document.

  1. Look for Vista drivers for my old, freebie scanner. Install them. (15 minutes)
  2. Remember that I had unplugged the scanner from everything. Crawl under the desk to plug it back in. Discover $0.73 in change dropped under my desk. (5 minutes)
  3. I don’t have any free power outlets under my desk. Find a power strip. (10 minutes)
  4. I’d taken the USB cable and used it on an external drive. Find another. (5 minutes)
  5. Let computer detect device. Wander away, get a soda with the change I just found. (Less than 15 minutes)
  6. No light in scanner. Press every button on front of scanner in futile attempt to get it to do something. (10 minutes)
  7. Cable scanner to laptop to verify that it sucks. Yup, it sucks. (10 minutes)
  8. Unplug scanner. Throw away. (5 minutes)
  9. It’s a slow afternoon and I have an increasing pile of stuff I’d like to scan, so go to store with corporate credit card. Find HP scanners. Discover three nearly identical models, all $50 apart, all indistinguishable based on the packaging. (60 minutes)
  10. Find a salesperson to ask. “Scanners? Um, what does the box say?” (10 minutes)
  11. Find a working PC on sales floor, use a web browser to investigate differences between scanners. (15 minutes)
  12. Return to work with a brand new HP ScanJet G4010. (60 minutes)
  13. Unpack new scanner. Ooooh, shiny. Discover my cube does not have enough free desktop space to place the scanner, which is larger than my old one. My cube is a disaster. Clean my cube. (30 minutes).
  14. Assure coworkers that I have not quit. Just cleaning my cube, which some of the new guys have never seen me do. Explain what I’m doing with a token ring MAU in my cube. (15 minutes)
  15. Download drivers for the new scanner. Install them. (10 minutes)
  16. Plug scanner into PC. Scan with Photoshop. Works great. (5 minutes)
  17. I really just want a PDF of the document. However, Acrobat won’t start. Repair Acrobat installation. Reboot. (10 minutes)
  18. Scan document, successfully. Wonder where my day went.

Just about 5 hours, plus $149.99, to get a working scanner. *sigh*