Ed Bedno, a graphic designer and professor at the University of the Arts, noticed something that surprised him after his computer went on the fritz a few months ago.
"My computer was in the shop for a week, and I got so many things done," he said. Work that had been piling up around him got completed. His design studio got cleaned.
And without the computer to distract him, he said, "I got so many things done around the house."
Bedno, 74, realized that by taking time off from computing, he could get a life. That, he said, is how he began his mission to assist computer addicts everywhere with -- what else -- a piece of software.
And, of course, he calls the program Getalife.
The $20 program does what many keyboard cruisers simply cannot seem to do for themselves -- shut down the computer.
"It will deactivate your computer for virtually any length of time, from an hour up to a month," Bedno said.
Because he is not a programmer, Bedno said, he turned to his son, Andrew, 36, a computer programmer who lives in Chicago, to create the program -- which is for sale from the Web site http://visionary2000. com/getalife.
For the incurable computer junkie, the program does provide a way to turn the machine back on.
"It's predictable that when you turn it off, you're going to want to turn it on for some reason. We thought, 'Well, you're going to have to pay your dues if you want to do that,' " Bedno said.
Those "dues" are a string of insults that flash on the screen for anyone trying to override the Getalife program.
Some examples: "It's OK to be a big loser, but you're overdoing it." "Step away from the computer!" "The sad thing is, you don't have anything better to do."
Getalife looks like a twist on existing software meant to reduce worker stress and repetitive-stress injuries by breaking onto the computer screen with messages to take a break, stretch, or go for a walk, said Barry Parr, consumer e-commerce analyst at the International Data Corp., an industry research firm.