If you are working under a tight deadline, then yak shaving is a mortal enemy. Nevertheless, yak shaving is a useful skill for a programmer to have. Multitasking and tangential thinking are often the only way to avoid local minima, in programming and in life.
Are you a yak barber? See if this story sounds all too familiar:
2:10 pm. This blog will be much better with some pictures...
2:13 pm. My Grab application saves files as TIFFs by default. Not very web-friendly. Any way to change this? Hmm, not in the preferences.
2:15 pm. Wait a second. The built-in key commands for screen grabs are easier to use than the Grab application, I'll just use them.
2:19 pm. The built-in key commands save files to the Desktop. I promised myself that the next time I touched the desktop for any reason, I would clean up the 200+ files of cruft there.
2:21 pm. Decrufting of desktop proceeding well, except that opening text files in the default editor is surprisingly slow. How do I change the default application for a file type?
2:22 pm. Jason again: "Bring up the info panel for a single file. Choose the 'Open With:', and then 'Change All...' of that type."
2:24 pm. Awesome. Now several file types open in Emacs by default. But I bet there is an easier way to change a bunch of types all at once, by editing a plist file somewhere.
2:26 pm. Judging by file modify times, I probably should be looking at com.apple.finder.plist.
2:27 pm. The Property List Editor does not have very powerful search and replace capabilities, so I open the file in a text editor instead.
2:27 pm. Surprise! The file isn't XML. Aren't plist files XML?
2:30 pm. Aaron: "I have the command line fu you need to convert a plist to XML, and back again after you are done." No thanks! I usually open files from Quicksilver anyway, and having spent nine minutes on Finder is enough. (What do you think I am--some kind of yak barber?)
2:31 pm. I should bookmark those screenshot instructions in del.icio.us. I click on the Firefox toolbar item, and del.icio.us prompts me to login--but in a popup window that doesn't have the 1Password button. So I open 1Password directly to copy the password.
2:32 pm. Why do I have a super-secure password on del.icio.us anyway? I am likely to use it from a random browser where I don't have 1Password, so I will go ahead and change my password while I am here.
2:33 pm. Jason mentioned at lunch that Quicksilver can actually manage your social bookmarks, so I should go and install that plugin.
2:36 pm. Victory is mine. Plugin installed, original mission accomplished. I think. What was I doing again?