Bluetooth headset with my MacBook

I had an experience today that has once again sent my mind on an anti-microsoft path.

For the last several weeks I’ve been working on an indepth project for the Community Advisory Board of Cumberland County. This project is set to debut in 10 days. As an experiment I decided to do all of my development on my MacBook pro, using only native Macintosh software. I have to say that for the most part I am happy with how the project is turning out. I can honestly say that I have not found using OS X to be any detriment. I only wish that I could find a better WYSIWYG html editor, but I’m not really happy with the ones I’ve found on Windows either, so I can’t not claim that to be much of a hold back.

What has inspired this resent round of anti-microsoftisum actuality has nothing to do with the project at all. As the project is coming down the wire, I have been using my laptop in place on my desktop, hooking it directly into my desktops Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse, for convveniouse. Well, at one point this afternoon I needed to make a Skype video call to a colleague in middle Tennessee. This is not all that unusual for me to do from either my MacBook or my XP Desktop. However I did want to use my wired headset to make the call, and at the moment I needed to make the call it was firmly entangled and attached to my desktop.

Anyone who works with technology nows that the stacks of papers that once was the blight of offices in the 1970s and 1980s have been replaced with the blight of snake nests of tangled cabling. Honestly I’m not sure which is worse. I am by nature a lazy person, and I dreaded having to exert the effort to divorce my headset from the mess so as to use it with my MacBook.

On a whim, I decided to try something. In my ear was my trustily bluetooth headset, one I normally use with my phone. My MacBook has bluetooth, so perhaps they could be used together. Now this concept of pairing and using a bluetooth headset with a computer is not new to me. I have been trying with limited success off and on sense 2004 to use a bluetooth headset with a computer. Honestly, i’ve never been able to make it work consistently. The first stumbling block I encountered was that Windows XP did not have native support for bluetooth functions until service pack 2. Before that, those of us on Windows had to use the Widcomm bluetooth stack and associated programs. Now the Widcomm stack as not half bad, but because it was not core windows some of the functions, like headset support, where/are quite spotty. When Microsoft finally decided bluetooth existed, they forced on us a substandard stack with fewer features and less capable associated programs. I have never been able to make Microsoft’s bluetooth stack in XP work with a headset. I have read conflicting reports that it is or is not possible, however in my experience, I was unable to.

When Vista came out, the Bluetooth stack supported headsets, but again, while I could “pair” my various Jabra headsets to Vista, I could never make them work. After a while, one learns that some things are not possible, regardless of what the hype/manuals/wikis say. So I just stopped trying. \

But, I’ve never been one to take “no” for an answer very well. So in my moment of dread for that tangle of cables, I tried to use my bluetooth headset with OS X 10.5.

It turns out that I did not have to even take the headset off of my head. I simply paired my MacBook with my Jabra BT500 (OSX has a specific headset option in Bluetooth), and within 20 seconds I was making my call via Skype with my bluetooth headset. Now in the interest of full disclose, I did have to tell Skype that I wanted to use the bluetooth headset in place of the system speakers and microphone, but still after 4 years of disappointment with Windows and Bluetooth, it was incredible to have that up and going that quick. I had a nearly hour long conversation, without any hiccups what so ever.

I guess it remains to be seen if my headset will continue to function with my MacBook under various combinations and situations, but for today, I have to say Apple scored another point in it’s favor with me.

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