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Friday, May 28, 1999 Published at 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK


Business: The Economy

Your computer rage experiences


Is there any connection between the 'computer rage' symptoms listed, and Microsoft's ploy of displaying the 'Blue Screen of Death' at the slightest provocation?
Riley Williams, Christmas Island

I've only found myself swearing at my computer when Windows 95 decides to lock up on me. Though, the best error I have seen in a long time was (I think) EMM386.EXE on a Win3.1 box, "To prevent data loss, your system has been halted". Yeah right. It's suddenly locked my machine up thus making it impossible to save my work. I mainly use Linux though, and can report a disturbing lack of crashes. Indeed, I've used Linux for nearly 3 years now and it's only crashed when I've done something so mind-numbingly stupid to it....
Michael McConnell, Scotland

My computer likes to freeze right in the middle of my work, so I like to kick the case but nothing happens!
Adam Goswell, England

We all have to understand that computers crave attention, or "input"... it's all they have in life. If they can't get it by behaving properly, then they go after the attention by behaving badly. Be nice to your PC, it will almost always be nice right back.
Rick Purdy, USA

While I may bang my mouse, pound my keyboard and swear at my monitor, it is ultimately the software, not the poor machine, that is causing the problem. Give me a direct line to the person who designed Windows 98, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word and I'll stop abusing my HP.
S. Jarvis, USA

I am not enraged when I get error messages, illegal operations, they simply mean "what you are trying to have me do is beyond the scope of the mind of the programmer who designed me" They just don't say it plainly but just want to make you feel guilty.
Miriam Mutizwa, USA

As a computer help desk consultant, I can testify to the truth of the reactions reported here. Does my PC drive me crazy? No. The 'software' may...but the PC itself doesn't. I've found that most people who scream at their computers either are scared that they will break the machine (which they really won't) or have personified it and imbued it with all sorts of personality it doesn't really have.
Robert F. Tatman, USA

How to avoid computer rage? Remember it is a human built machine. Computers are not infallible and do breakdown, like any man made gadget. Time out and breath deeply.
Ed Edetm, USA

My anger is when the computer "locks up" and cursor won't move - no alternative but to turn it off - then message is because you have failed to properly shut down your computer data may be lost!!! As if you had any other choice than to turn the non-working thing off in order to get it running again. Shades of 2001 as "HAL" blames the humans for the machine failure!
Erkin, USA

I kick comptuers all the time. Well, more of a nudge with my foot. It works quite well to jostle a fan who's bearings are shot. The fan will usually quiet down and run for a few more hours until I have a chance to replace it. One of my hard drives at home tends to stick and needs a good thump to get started.
Jamie Town, USA

It is a good thing Canadians don't have the same gun rights as Americans because I would have blown this computer away months ago!
Trevor Morris, Canada

I work on an IT help desk and we don't really get too much except for people swearing at us. The worst case I saw though was one old man, who was in such a rage that he took the computer apart and snapped the motherboard in two. I've never seen anything so crazy!!
Jonathan Thomas, UK

I empathize with the frustrated. My tower is within punching distance; a range I test often.
Douglas White, Canada

It's been a problem at my work for so long I came to the point where I told myself I was getting out of control. Once I slammed a heavy dictionary against the side of my monitor and almost sent the whole thing flying. It was only through quick reflexes that I managed to prevent it from smashing onto the floor. Only this morning the monitor was telling me there was no keyboard present. After checking the cables and turning the computer on and off several times, I got to the point of thrusting the damn keyboard in front of the screen and shouting: "There it is!!" It's almost as if we're giving our computers human attributes by swearing at them and clobbering them, as if to say : "He he, you won't be doing that again in a hurry!"
Jon Fox, Brazil

Macs are the worst. They may have invented click 'n' drag but they decide how long they'll process a file or access a website. They can be instantaneous, a few seconds, a few minutes or freeze-up outright. They're far more temperamental than any PC I've worked on.
T.J. Cassidy, USA

I love it when they crash. Keep the populous ignorant and I'll keep charging to fix these simple problems. Crash = CASH
Scott Elsdon, England

One problem that should be considered is that many users seem to resent computers and are unwilling to even attempt to learn how to use them more effectively. Ask any computer professional, they will always be able to name at least one person who phones up with the same problem day after day. The fact that the solution has been explained to them several times doesn't appear to matter. But then again, I suppose that's what we're paid for.
Paul Bennett, UK

What annoys me the most is the attitude of the IT experts when you ask them to fix a problem. They treat you like a moron because you don't know what "runtime error 354x" means. A car mechanic doesn't make you feel useless when you tell him "it makes a squealing noise in 3rd gear". When IT people and software programmers realise that ordinary people couldn't care less how their computer works, then we might get problems sorted out efficiently and with a little more courtesy.
Steve MacDonald, England

I love my computer - in fact any computer!!!
Carolyn MacLean, UK

Yes I suffer from computer rage as my machine seems to crash every 5 minutes. There is a theory that it is activated by your stress levels, and is related to the body's magnetic field. I am also trying to launch an idea to fight against pointless e-mails - I call it e-ragemail. E-ragemail should be used against stupid irritating jokes and circular mails that take up time and phone lines. If we fight irritating e-mails with e-ragemail we will all be far more productive.
Jeremy Coysten, UK

When I work on a sales helpdesk I come so close to punching the screen in and regularly kick the box, due to crashes.
Peter Brooker, England

As a 3rd-line computer support technician, I'm often driven to distraction by the number of individuals swearing at me for faults that are inevitably of their own making!
Anne-Lise Pasch, England

It's uncanny, but as a colleague was about to print this article, our entire network crashed; I must admit, I swore at the monitor. I also saw another colleague, when he realised what had happened, stamp his foot, gnash his teeth and storm out of the office. Can management treat PC stress in the same regard as work related stress, i.e. under the embrace of Health & Safety? If so they might have something done about dodgy networks and not a minute too soon.
Suzy, Britain

Users are often dangerously half-informed about their computers. People often make lay-diagnoses like "oh it must be a virus" or something equally ignorant of the likely cause. They run 10 different applications at the same time and wonder why their computer is a little slow. Or install some "shareware" screensaver a colleague sent to them and are then surprised when it overwrites a system file with its own version.
A great deal of time is spent "locking down" machines so that users can't break their own systems through experimenting with things they know far too little about. IT departments find that people don't know what they want from computer systems and don't know how to get it...and then blame the under-funded IT departments for it.
Nick, part time IT repairer, UK

I've been using computers for nearly twenty years now and I have always talked/shouted/sworn at them. It doesn't do a thing, but makes you feel a lot better. For me, it relieves a lot of the stress.
Chris Adams, UK

Many times these are the same people that kick their cars, slam the door of the microwave, etc.. A bit more technical knowledge combined with patience can cure many ills.
D. Christian, USA

I think a lot of companies are making a rod for their own back by not replacing old (and less reliable) systems for cost reasons. That's really short-sighted and more expensive in the long run.
Paul Read, UK

The most annoying thing about Windows crashes is the cheeky message you receive when you restart - something like that: "You computer was not shut down properly last time please use appropriate methods to shut down..." it is not exactly what it says but you know what I mean!
Sergiy Lesyk, UK

I am a PC Support Specialist for a company in the Midlands. There have been many occasions where I have had to rescue expensive equipment from stressed and irate users because their machines have crashed. There is a problem and its nice to see that it has been brought to people's attention that they are not alone!
Andy Viner, UK

Don't be scared or intimidated by technology. Learn more about the way your computer works instead of lashing out! As a worker on an Internet support line, I've found that 90% of 'problems' are due to a lack of understanding on the part of the user. People need to learn the limitations on their computers. They are complex machines, not magical devices that will work perfectly 100% of the time.
Adam Meath, Australia

I just pray I can finish this comment before my PC cra...
Nigel Kendrick, England

"The program has performed an illegal function and will be shut down." What kind of evil, twisted, techno-mind came up with that one? It doesn't even give you a clue what is wrong or allow you the chance to put something right. That one really makes me want to kick the machine!
H Khattab, Canada

Sometimes I wish I'd the courage to grab the damn thing, crash it through the window, watch it falling down from 10 stories high, disintegrating at last into countless pieces on the roof of the fat Mercedes of the CEO. But I haven't. I only mauled several serial mouses to tiny bits.
Ron Brandenburg, Netherlands

Does your study turn up any differences between Mac/PC users? I love my Mac. The PC mishap was an accident, it slipped and caught my foot...
Steve Gregory, England

Complaining that a Pentium/Windows system is more difficult to use than a typewriter is like complaining that a Land Rover is more difficult to drive than a bicycle. If you want something simple, buy something simple. You have a choice!
Microsoft Windows and the Intel PC are not a monopoly, despite their best efforts. You could try Linux, a Mac, a word processing typewriter, a calculator or even just pen and paper.
Andrew Oakley, UK

PC rage is something we all suffer from. I have always 'talked' to the equipment that did not work as was required, but nowadays it is 10 times worse. It happened to me yesterday and I have no hope of having my system back up and running, so I simply switched off & went home !!!! My PC is better today but Ill see how long she lasts.
Simon Murtaghm, Germany

Crashes annoy me, but the thing which is most infuriating is minor bugs in programs I have to use constantly. To take an example probably familiar to most of the people out there: Microsoft Word. A small glitch in Word can permanently ruin an important document by, for example, not allowing certain numbers to be deleted in footers, meaning that each page of a document prints out with an error on it. I have wasted far more time trying to cope with major bugs in allegedly finished products than I have through crashes. And I do think much of the blame should be diverted from the IT departments to where it really belongs - the software programmers.
If our new televisions constantly broke down, would we blame the repair men? If new furniture kept falling apart, would we blame the carpenters brought in to repair it? So why do we let software giants such as Microsoft fob us off with substandard products without complaint?
Sarah Blake, UK

I don't suffer from PC problems I just support PCs, and have to suffer the inane questions from people who shouldn't even be allowed to touch a PC. What's that saying "a bad workman always blames his tools"!!!!! - 'nuf said
Stephen Monks, UK

When my computer crashes, I use swear words such as "Windows", "Microsoft" or when I'm really mad "Bill Gates!"
John Airey, England

I am a multimedia programmer and often find myself explaining really complex stuff about computers to clients and lesser knowledgeable colleagues. My greatest asset is not my knowledge of computers but the fact that I am capable of explaining these things in simple English (well, Dutch really since I live in Holland). It is my opinion that professionals dealing with 'computer users' should take a course in explaining stuff to 'computer illiterates'. This would help the professional dealing with the user in two ways. He or she will give the user a better feeling about the service provided since he/she won't feel so silly about asking 'stupid' questions and the professional will be more capable to ask what the problem is since really knowing the problem is half the answer.
Kaan C. Parr, Netherlands

I don't actually harm my machine (because I'm self-employed and my computer is the only thing keeping me from the poorhouse). But I'd say that computers, the computer industry, and computer industry working conditions are all highly frustrating, and that this problem will grow.
Steve Baldwin, USA

I work as an IT support technician and one of the most frustrating things that occurs during my work is when users demand instant solutions to problems with their PC's. People just don't understand what they are asking when they say 'please fix my computer', the complexity of the computers we use in our modern life makes correcting faults analogous to fixing a car. Unlike most machines, computer are not dedicated to a single task and the time it takes to diagnose a problem can often be greater than the time it would take to reinstall all the software on the computer.
Ewan Chilton, UK

It is only because the users tolerate this level of instability that it continues. I got fed up with crashing PCs a long time ago, and removed every iota of Microsoft software from my machine. It now runs Linux quite happily, and despite being in constant use, often by more than one person at a time, it has been running continuously for 41 days without a reboot.
Richard Stagg, UK

I recently purchased a Toshiba laptop computer, complete with Windows 95 etc, for which I paid over 3000. The machine crashes more than 5 times per day, resulting in great disruption to my work. I have been unable to resolve the problem with the manufacturer, and do not know if the cause is hardware or software. The point I want to make is that this is simply not good enough, between Toshiba and the Microsoft O/S monopoly in laptops, something should be done to stop IT vendors selling products which are not fit for everyday use.
Anthony Mason, UK

The really annoying thing is that many users do not appreciate that their actions are often to blame, especially if they are unsure of how to use a program.
Andy L, UK

No my computer does not crash in random unpredictable ways as it doesn't have any Microsoft software on it!
Glen White, Germany

I work in computer support, so I know how frustrating it is when the PC dies. Most supporters have a life expectancy of about 6 months, then it's off to the happy house. There is no escape. Aargh!!
Gary Evans, Germany


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