How to quickly soften butter (without melting it)

Stack of softened butter on a red checked cloth
 
Stack of softened butter on a red checked cloth
 
There is this spot on my counter where I leave my butter to warm when I have it intended for a baking project.  But sometimes (many times) I will have an itch to bake something without previous planning.  The trouble with that is that my butter is cold.  Can you cream cold butter?  No.  In fact, I actually broke a beater blade on cold butter.  
 
So what is a gal to do?  Take the stick of butter straight from the fridge and put it into the microwave for give or take 12 seconds.  You may need a little trial and error to get exactly the right amount of time for your particular microwave.  Start with just 5 seconds, squeeze, and go from there.  Softens the butter without melting it.  Perfect.
 
Read here for why we soften butter for our recipes.
 
This method also seems interesting, but a little more labor intensive than just putting a stick of butter in the microwave.