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The magical power of Ctrl S
Hi Everyone! Leo Notenboom here for askleo.com. So have you ever noticed when you’re watching TV, and there’s computer geeks or some computer professional onscreen, you can almost always tell exactly how fake they are, because they’re typing – sometimes it’s just as bad as waving fingers over the keyboard. Sometimes it’s just obvious that they’re not typing anything; they’re just making it up.
They never, ever hit the backspace key – never. And they never, ever save their work. Now, contrast that with real users, real geeks, real computer professionals. It might not be touch typing (I know mine certainly is), but it’s absolutely very real. They’re correcting errors constantly, and I have to admit, backspace by far is the most used key on my keyboard.
I’m not really a very good typist; I never learned touch typing or anything like that. I can get pretty fast, but it also means that I can do corrections pretty fast. And they’re also periodically typing the key sequence ‘Ctrl S’. So what is so special about Ctrl S.
Well, here’s the deal: Anyone that’s used computers for any length of time has had this happen. You’re typing along doing whatever it is you’re doing, creating awesome content, writing blog posts, writing a document, writing a wonderful email – whatever and all of a sudden “poof” – it’s all gone.
The computer has crashed, the application has crashed, the window is closed, something happened, and all of the work that you had just been doing has disappeared – poof. Have that happen enough times, and you start to develop some interesting habits. One of which is to periodically, randomly, frequently, save your work to disk.
Now exactly how you do that varies a lot depending on the application you’re using, but in a lot of applications, it’s the key sequence ‘Ctrl S’. In many Windows applications that’s a shortcut for hitting the File menu and the Save option. And all that does is, it saves what you’re working on to disk, so that if you crash, if something happens, then the work is still there on disk ready for you to reload it.
Now I know that a lot of applications have crash recovery, and that’s great. I’ve seen it do some awesome, awesome things, but it’s not something, to be honest, an experienced user really wants to rely on completely. And of course, it’s just not in all applications. In fact, there are applications that don’t really even have ‘Ctrl S’.
Composing an email in a web browser, for example, if you’re using something like Gmail or Outlook.com. Yes, they will save what you are working on to a draft folder periodically but it’s not the same. If your browser crashes at the wrong time, then the email you’re composing goes away. I go so far as to actually compose anything major offline – in another window, in another application that’s actually a file on my disk. I just use a text editor. You can use Notepad and periodically hit ‘Save’ so that no matter what happens, that email you’re composing never is lost.
When you’re done composing it, then of course you copy and paste it into your email program or into email web application and off you go. So, watch your local geek sometime. Notice how he or she types, but also notice how often they are saving their work as they go along.
Type, type, type, ‘Ctrl S’. Type, type, type, ‘Ctrl S’. Type, type, type, ‘Ctrl S’. You get the idea. Depending on how recently and how severely they’ve been burned by this kind of data loss, they could be hitting ‘Ctrl S’ very, very often. That’s a person with experience. It’s often hard won and painful experience but it’s experience nonetheless. They’ve learned from that and they’re protecting themselves.
And unfortunately, this experience apparently doesn’t transfer or doesn’t translate to interesting television. Or movies because once again, those folks behind their computers, fake typing, never ever seem to make a mistake. So what lessons have you learned from your experiences using your technology over the recent years?
What habits have you developed that helped protect you from the major crashes or minor annoyances that you’ve perhaps experienced over time? Let me know. As always, if you’re watching this anywhere but on askleo.com, here’s the URL. Go visit this link. That’s where you’ll find this video with comments enabled. They’re moderated. I’d love to hear from you.
Let me know what kinds of things you’ve developed over time that protect you from the kinds of things that can happen when you’re using your computer. Take care; I will see you again next week.