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

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...

Scripting as Effective Communication

11 minute read

Take a moment right now to recognize how amazing a device a computer is. That little hunk of metal on your desk or in your pocket or in a vast se...

Spaced Repetition From The Ground Up

17 minute read

Last week we looked at three principles that combine to create an extraordinarily effective, scientific study method called spaced repetition. You ce...

Spaced Repetition

6 minute read

In today’s fast-paced, information-driven world, everyone must constantly learn new things. While learning itself can be challenging at times, rememb...

Why and How to Focus on Requirements

6 minute read

I got in an argument at work during a meeting last week. It was one of those annoying arguments where you’re sure you actually agree with your opponent, ...