Control-Alt-Backspace is written by Soren Bjornstad, software developer, organizer, musician, geek, and thinker. I can get interested in almost anything, but a lot of my interests revolve in some way around organizing and working with information, which takes me into keeping a journal and other personal records, writing, reading about completely random stuff on Wikipedia, writing software, experimenting with old technologies, and so on.
I’m good at solving problems and adapting to new situations. My job consists almost entirely of investigating new technologies and helping other developers with difficult or novel problems with them, so I exercise these skills frequently. Given my background, I think one reason we’ve recently gotten ourselves into some of the technological and social problems we have is that our technology has allowed people to have less personal responsibility and need for tasks and problems-solving. That means we find ourselves more helpless than we need to be when we do. I try to use this background to suggest ways that others can improve their problem-solving and adaptation skills.
Although my day job involves creating technological solutions to problems, the solutions I present on this blog are usually free or low-cost and involve as little additional technology and complexity as possible. Andrew Tanenbaum, one of the giants in the field of computer operating systems, famously says that we should “fight features” – because the more we try to do and the more complicated we make a system, the more frustrating and less effective it typically is. That’s why I try to start solving a problem with the basics, and only if they don’t help get more complicated. In so many cases, the basics involve fixing yourself, not something else; even if something else is at fault, you may be able to avoid dealing with the problem by changing your response.