CTRL – ALT – Delete

April 18, 2011

“Ah bollox… the bloody machine froze again” “It not my fault, why won’t it do what it’s supposed to?”

It’s one of the first things you learn that’s mildly geeky when you ‘get into computers.’ You’ve spent your cash, spent three hours following the quick 15 minute assembly guide provided in 6 different languages and, and, it’s on! Way hey, information superhighway, here I come. Oh so many benefits. This technological marvel is going to make my life so much easier you proclaim to anyone that will listen.

Sooner or later, in fact, sooner if your anything like me, you utter the phrase (hopefully without young family members present), “Ah bollox… the bloody machine froze again.” “Why does it always happen to me?”

David Bradley, a designer of the original IBM PC, designed Control-Alt-Delete. That wasn’t his first blast at the fix though, it started out being Ctrl – Alt – Esc but was changed to the method we now know and love because the original combination was too easy to hit accidentally. It’s kind of nice to know that even Mr Bradley, IBM PC designer needed a way out.

The CTRL – ALT – DELETE key combination couldn’t be done one handed. You had to intend to do it. It was the magic wand to get yourself out of the computing quagmire that you’d just submerged yourself in. When all else failed, after you’d tried the huffing puffing, the occasional bang on the keyboard or even trying to peer inside the CD tray to see if some malicious sprite was occupying your computer box. Then you swear. It’s time to press the keys.

In technical terms they called it a soft reboot. It’s an ironic term to describe what you would really like to do with the bloody computer. Press the 3 magic buttons and everything that is chugging away in the background comes to a halt. Maybe not straight away, it may take some time, but 99 times out of a hundred and untamed beast that is the source of so much tumultuous rage is tamed into controlled obedient Labrador, a family friend. Then come the options. Yes, you get options. Click on the ‘Applications’ tab and you can ‘End Task’.

Select the offending application and click. Moments later a re-assuring box asks, ‘Do you really want to end this application?’

Now here comes the feeling of power and relief. You’ve got choice in your life. The beast is nearly tamed, all I need to do is choose. Yes. No. Cancel.

If your anything like me you want to click that Yes button nice and slowly. Depressing the mouse button and holding, then, when the time is right, you let go. Normal service is returned. You rage subsides, birds sing in the trees and the gloomy clouds have passed, out comes the sun. Life is good! You’re ready to continue.

How much better life would be if ‘CTRL – ALT – DELETE’ could come to the rescue when things are going downhill fast, like a runaway train ready to jump tracks. When the proverbial hits the fan with your computer, you’re consumed; you’re singularly focused on beating the problem. Frustration turns to anger, anger to rage. What can you do?

Imagine having those three keys available in the palm of your hand ready when you need them.

There is away to regain control and give you choice again. You’ve been doing it all along but for this to really work you have to intend to do it right.


When your stressed angry and even scared chances are you breathing is shallow. It causes a reduction of oxygen getting out of your lungs into your blood stream. You can’t think straight, and you feel crap.

So breathe.

Type ‘Breathing exercise’s into the great god Google and there’s a plethora of advice but you need a re-assuring quick fix like CTRL – ALT – DELETE delivers and this is it.

Inhale fully then exhale fully. Fill every tiny inch / centimetre with air and push it out. Now here’s the trick. Do it with control. Try not to get out of breathe. A bit of concentration is needed, not much, after all you do this breathing thing without thinking but at this moment your computer processor is in overdrive and things are a bit out of whack. Poor breathing robs energy and negatively affects mental alertness.

Breathe full in through your nose and full out once through your mouth, do it ten times. By number three you will feel the vale start to lift and you start to feel better. By ten you’re back in control. The problem is still there, this breathing lark doesn’t make them go away, but it does give you the ability to look at them a fresh, think options and choices, devoid of the negative crap that was submerging your world. It’s not as easy as pressing CTRL – ALT – DELETE but doing that 3 fingered salute isn’t without consequences either, chances are you’ve lost your work or time trying to fix the bugger.

Try it, next time someone cuts you up in the car, you’ve just been transferred to the 10th person in the BT sales department with a query for your bill and the vale is starting to fall.

Press CTRL – ALT – DELETE and breathe

Richard Barnes

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