Rogue Internet Cop

Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet at Seattle's EMP Museum

Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet at Seattle’s EMP Museum

When cops go rogue it is a bad thing. It is also front page news. Fortunately for all of us that is a rare event. When there is a rogue Internet cop it is just a major pain in the ass. Let me set the scene for you. Late Wednesday night, like sometime after nine, when I went to bed, something happened to our computer. I woke up to this dreadful news on Thursday morning. I tried fixing the problem, mainly by repeatedly rebooting the machine, but to no avail and all too soon I toddled off to work. My parting wish was, “Maybe it will fix itself, while I’m at work.” “Fat chance”, I said to that wish and walked out the door.

I came home Thursday night, after spending all day bent over a hot keyboard at work. The last thing that I needed to deal with was computer problems. Maybe I should clarify what those problems were, because on the scale of such things my problems weren’t all that bad. The hardware seemed to be functioning just fine. All the software with the exception of Internet Explorer (IE) and McAfee seemed to be working just fine too. McAfee seemed to still be working, it just wasn’t very responsive, like at all. IE worked fine too, except with websites like our email, Facebook and this blog. Websites that had a login associated with them, websites that communicated securely. To make matters even more perplexing Google’s Chrome still worked with all of the offending sites.

I could have let things ride. I certainly have enough other things going on that I didn’t need to spend all night trouble shooting some esoteric PC problem. In fact, I had an easy workaround; I could just switch over to Chrome. But no, there was the principle of the matter. It was a case of man versus the machine, me versus it. Besides there could be some more sinister underlying issue.

My first attempt at fixing the problem was to engage my handy-dandy AT&T technician. I’ve had good luck with their tech support in the past. I figured a little old problem like this one would be a piece of cake. After spending the better part of an hour instant messaging with ‘Kurt’, he decided that my problem was not really an AT&T problem and told me to go bother Microsoft instead.

Police Car 995 - Blade Runner at Seattle's EMP Museum

Police Car 995 – Blade Runner at Seattle’s EMP Museum

Left to fend for myself, I got to thinking that there had to be some connection between the secession of secure communications and the non-responsiveness of McAfee. I figured that if I just shut down McAfee, I could at least test this hypothesis. This was easier said then done. An Internet cop like McAfee doesn’t like to go quietly. I eventually figured out that I had to login to the McAfee website and deactivate my computer’s software there. Download their special uninstalling software and run that. That worked, but it took a while. Afterwards, I had to reactivate my computer’s account and then download and reinstall the McAfee software, which took even longer. In the end, I was successful, but it took all evening. I still wonder if it was really worth the effort. I guess that I should be happy that real life technological monsters are so mundane.

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