Keys arranged to spell out Control-Alt-Backspace.

Welcome to Control-Alt-Backspace, a place for collecting ideas on regaining control in an increasingly complex world. Check out the manifesto to learn more about the purpose of this site or the sitemap for an overview of series and topics, or jump right in with recent posts below.

Control-Alt-Backspace updates every Monday. Got questions about something you read or suggestions for new posts? I love hearing from people – shoot me an email!

Recent posts

Gather Information

6 minute read

It is impossible to solve a problem without some kind of information about the problem.

Talking to Ducks

4 minute read

Have you ever called or gone to bother a friend or coworker for some information you can’t think of, only to remember the answer the moment you ask? ...

Does Speeding Make Sense?

23 minute read

Most Americans exceed the speed limit almost every time they drive, to the point that we rarely even think about it. The conventional wisdom is that we’r...

The Power of Names

13 minute read

I have found people have a tendency to discount or ignore the important role of having names for things in human thinking. This can lead to neglecting or...

The Paradox of Documentation

9 minute read

When you buy a new consumer product, do you usually read through the manual? What if a small warning on the product says “read manual before using”? (I once ...

Dealing With Duplicate Files

14 minute read

In the physical world, we encounter much difficulty because it’s hard to create copies of things: objects use finite resources and are expensive to produce, ...

When to Delete Files

8 minute read

By now we’ve studied a variety of organizational questions relating to filesystems in detail. But here’s a seemingly foundational one we haven’t touched ...

Just Get Started

11 minute read

If you like reading Control-Alt-Backspace, I expect there’s a decent chance that you also like doing things right. Maybe you’re not a perfectionist, but you ...

Why I Hate Texting

6 minute read

Except perhaps for the fax machine, texting is my least favorite extant form of communication. (Come to think of it, fax machines seem kind of cool and r...

Edit Week 1

3 minute read

This is the first occurrence of an institution on this blog that I’m going to call Edit Week and hope to repeat every few months. As you might have f...

A Blizzard Postmortem, Part 2: Analysis

18 minute read

As the title suggests, this is part 2 of a two-part post which began last week with my story of getting stranded in a blizzard. As discussed more ful...

A Blizzard Postmortem, Part 1: The Story

32 minute read

You may have noticed, if you read Control-Alt-Backspace regularly or if you pay close attention to the dates on my posts, that there was no scheduled...

Managing Temporary Files

9 minute read

So you’ve followed the tips in the design section of this series, and you have a nicely laid out, organized filesystem. That’s great when you know where ...

Why and How to Follow Websites with RSS

9 minute read

How do you get most of the news and other material you read nowadays? If you’re like most people, a lot of it comes from social media of one type or anot...