Technical Snafus Fueling 'Computer Rage'

In this week's "Cybershake," we take a look at "computer rage." Plus, we note how one famous, funny lady feels about the Net.

Rising Rage Against The Machines

Computers, laptops, cell phones, digital music players, camcorders, electronic organizers, videogame consoles ... They are all the rage. Literally.

In the digital age, we've all become dependent on many high-tech devices to keep our busy lives on track and entertained on a daily basis. But when the digital tools go on the fritz or don't work the way we expect them to, it's more than likely we'll lash out against our machines.

"There's this pent up frustration with all the little things [in life], and then this computer [error] just totally whacks you," says Kent Norman, a professor with the Laboratory for Automation Psychology and Decision Processes at the University of Maryland. "And you feel like whacking back."

Norman admits that digital glitches have gotten the best of him at times as well. And he's even documented with digital video some of the more "creative" ways he's vented his "computer rage" on the lab's Web page: http://lap.umd.edu/computer_rage/.

Although physically hurling a malfunctioning computer across a room or out the window might relieve some stress, Norman says there are a lot of support -- as in tech support -- groups that can help.

Organizations, such as the Geek Squad, can send technicians that can repair almost any consumer technical problem for a modest flat-rate fee. Others such as LightFrog in Boston, use a new technology to solve your computer problems remotely over the Net, rather than send out a repair guy.

But these are just small steps toward computer peace of mind, says Norman. As gear makers seem willing to add more, fancy -- and sometimes frustrating -- features into new gadgets, he believes "techno-frustration" among consumers won't get any better.

"Knowing the manufacturers at this point, I think you're going to see a rise in computer rage over the next few years," says Norman.

-- Cheri Preston, ABC News

Tracey Takes on The Net

There is no one quite like Tracey Ullman. The comedienne and actress is famous for her portrayal of a variety of characters. And since her debut on American television just over 20 years ago with her eponymous comedy variety show, Ullman has remained active with TV, theater and film projects.

A busy woman for sure, but like many other celebrities, she tries to keep up with what's happening online -- even if she's not sure how all this computer technology works.

"I have a 13-year-old son, so I have a tech guy in the house," says Ullman. "'Show me how do I to do this ... Show me how to do that ...' And, you know, he shows me how."

And like many, the Hollywood celebrity finds e-mail fun -- and naughty.

"Friends send me hilarious e-mails and disgusting stuff," Ullman told ABC News. "Good lord, if anyone came to my house and checked out what I've been lookin' at, you know, everyone would get arrested."

While Ullman admits she isn't hip to the latest Net bandwagons such as blogging, she is familiar with being "photochopped" -- where Net pranksters use digital software to place photos of her head on the often naked bodies of others.

"Oh I've got that, yeah. I've seen that. I'm quite impressed, it's really nice, the body they've given me," jokes the comedienne. "My breasts look fantastic on the Internet!"

-- Bill Diehl, ABC News

Cybershake is produced for ABC News Radio by Andrea J. Smith.