I spent about 2 hours this afternoon and nearly spent $40.00 trying to solve the problem of how to avoid having to swap the plug on the back of my computer between the headphones I use for making Skype calls and the system’s speakers. It serves to illustrate for me that once you fixate on a solution, it is easy to lose all perspective and perhaps waste a lot of money. Fortunately, I have a very smart son with some common sense (that apparently came from his mother’s chromosomes rather than mine) who saved me from myself.
Paul Moor and Phil Petty and I had successfully carried on a conference call using Skype earlier in the afternoon. Phil and I had been talking about what a pain in the neck it is to have to swap out the speakers and the headphones when you want to use the headphones to make a Skype call. So I left the house and headed to Radio Shack to see whether they had a switch for a stereo line.
The part in italics in the previous sentence was the solution I fixated on and the beginning of my path down the road to stupidity. The young fellow at Radio Shack was very willing to help, and we looked at all the possibilities he had, exploring the various kinds of A/B switches in a variety of configurations but all to no avail. He then suggested that we could build one, and we started putting together the necessary parts. We eventually amassed about 8 to 10 different pieces of the puzzle that would be required for the project. When I looked at the total for the solution we had come up with, it cost just a bit over $40.00 — all just to avoid having to reach to the back of the computer to unplug one device and plug in another.
At that point I left Radio Shack with the ingredients I had assembled and headed to my son, Mike’s, house to see if I could borrow a soldering iron from him. Fortunately, he couldn’t find one, and as I was leaving his house, he said to me, “All you really need is a Y-adapter.” I said, “no, I have to have a switch so I can turn off the system speakers when I want to make a Skype call.” He asked, in a brilliantly insightful cut-to-the-chase question, “don’t the speakers have an on/off switch?” It then dawned on me that the speakers, in fact, do have such a switch, and that he was right. That was all I needed. So I called Radio Shack and found that they have just the adapter I needed for a total of $5.99.
I felt a bit sheepish at my tunnel vision in searching for a switch, but I was greatly relieved that someone in my family had some common sense. And I was very grateful that I hadn’t spent too much money to solve a minor problem when all that was needed was a different way of looking at the situation.