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

Why Keep Notes?

5 minute read

Nearly every literate person has written notes for herself at some point in her life. However, most people haven’t spent much time thinking about all...

A Brief Pause

less than 1 minute read

I neglected to mention last week that I was planning to take two weeks off from Control-Alt-Backspace posts due to a particularly busy period in my m...

Updated Likable Software Catalog

less than 1 minute read

This week, I added several new entries to the Likable Software Catalog, which is based on my article about likable software. Each application in the...

The Art of the Sign

3 minute read

Ever since smartphone cameras became commonplace and you could quickly and conveniently grab a picture of anything anywhere, I’ve been taking pic...

Fix it Forever

8 minute read

The pursuit of “lifehacks,” or solutions to small annoyances, seems to have recently caught a lot of flak. And there is good reason for some of the disli...

No More Google Analytics

1 minute read

Since the beginning, Control-Alt-Backspace has been using Google Analytics, the most popular analytics service for websites. You likely visit dozens ...

A Design-Centered View of Digital Piracy

11 minute read

While the rage has died down in recent years, many of my readers will remember a time in the 2000s when big media companies were screeching nonstop p...

A Complete Definition of Badness

10 minute read

One of the classics of The Onion’s video series is entitled “Sony Releases Stupid Piece of Shit That Doesn’t Fucking Work.” The segment discusses how...

On Scales, Skills, and Leaky Abstractions

12 minute read

Imagine for a moment one of the old-style balance-beam scales at a doctor’s office. You get on the scale and the nurse slides the weights across the beam...

One Big Problem

4 minute read

When I help family and friends with computer problems that get thorny, they often apologize for making me frustrated or causing trouble. The thing is, ...

Time Assets and Debts

5 minute read

Time is the scarcest resource for many people in industrialized countries, and no matter what, it’s the only resource we can’t directly get more of. ...

Reverse Polish Notation

5 minute read

Reverse Polish Notation is a curious way of writing arithmetic operations. Instead of writing the operations between the numbers they apply to (called in...

The Magic of Index Cards

7 minute read

I find that nowadays the humble three-by-five index card is extremely underappreciated. True, some of the former roles of index cards are much better...

Slow Pumpkin Bread

8 minute read

After last week’s post on slowing down and given the season, I figured this would be a good time to share my recipe for pumpkin bread, titled “No...

How to Slow Down

19 minute read

Reading and thinking lately, it’s becoming more and more clear to me that we all feel the world is moving too fast. I don’t pretend this feeling is u...

Introducing the Likable Software Catalog

less than 1 minute read

This week I am introducing the Control-Alt-Backspace Catalog, which will gather together content and tools of various types that align with the philo...

Two Problems

6 minute read

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think, “I know, I’ll use regular expressions.” Now they have two problems. Jamie Zawinski

In Defense of Chalkboards

3 minute read

How many cruddy whiteboards have you used in your life? We have a bunch of them at my workplace. You draw on them and your marker squeals and skips. Then whe...

Fix Your Control Key

5 minute read

Here’s a keyboard trick: although you may never have noticed it, the Control key on most keyboards isn’t in an effective position. If you have a desk...