Three Days Of Lost Internet, With A Lesson Attached

A short little cautionary tale which may come in handy for those of you in the market for various software items…

Friday night I headed out for an excursion into the Baton Rouge nightlife scene, and when I returned I found some rather unhappy circumstances had unfolded in my office. It seems that the internet connection at Castle MacAoidh had gone the way of Mitt Romney’s campaign; the cable modem was cycling through a rather unhappy pattern of lights which indicated no connection was to be made, and as such my laptop was cut off from the digital world.

I’d been playing cheapskate with hardware around here, of course. Didn’t have a backup machine, and didn’t have a backup internet connection. This is a little like the Israelis not having an air force, mind you, and I knew that. But since we’re still something of a startup business I’d been planning on addressing those issues with future revenues.

And as it happens I’d just gotten AT&T service to back up the Cox internet. But while they’d sent the AT&T modem and I had it in a box on the dining room table, I hadn’t set it up yet.

So Saturday morning, I did. Followed all the directions to hook up the U-Verse modem, and that took five minutes. You’re supposed to wait 15 minutes for the blinking red light to turn green and then you’ll be live with AT&T.

Except the blinking red light never did turn green. So I called AT&T, and they said they needed to send a tech guy out to make sure the lines were active. And he’d be by sometime between 3 and 7 Saturday afternoon.

In other words, exactly when the LSU-Ole Miss game was going on. So much for my kinda-sorta plans to go to the game.

And the guy showed up in the middle of the first quarter.

Amid his opinions of Les Miles as LSU fell behind, no success in setting up AT&T service. So that was the end of that idea until Monday, when the line could be activated from the AT&T office a half-block from my house.

Next up was Cox, who I’d called Saturday morning. Sunday was the earliest they could send a guy out. Thankfully, he was able to get here prior to the Saints game. And he quickly diagnosed the problem as a fried modem. Once that was changed out, he said I was good to go.

To which my response was, “Hang on, dude. You’re not leaving here until I can get on the internet.” But when I attempted to use the wireless connection, no joy – it said I was connected to the network, but with “no internet access.” And an irritating little yellow hazard sign over my five bars in the bottom right-hand corner.

Not only that, I couldn’t even connect to the internet by plugging in with an ethernet cable.

Had one of the neighbors bring his laptop over, though, and he didn’t want to leave. “Damn, man,” he said. “Your internet service is FAST.”

And the Cox guy, as he was packing up his stuff, said “Sounds like your computer is the problem, bud. That stinks – it’s gonna cost you.”

This, of course, is not what I wanted to hear. So I called the guy who usually fixes my computer when there are problems I can’t handle, and found out he was in New Hampshire for Thanksgiving. No help there.

And no internet connection on Sunday.

So today, after taking care of some non-computer stuff in the morning I decided that (1) it was time to address the lack of a backup machine and (2) find somebody who could fix this computer.

And after driving around to a few different places I ended up getting a desktop with a pretty hefty chunk of power to it and a big flat-screen monitor. The latter bit I got at Best Buy, and that’s where I decided to drop off the laptop.

By the way, since Friday night I’d been noticing that my anti-virus program, which was McAfee, kept popping up a message that “Your computer is at risk.” And every time I’d open it up and attempt to have it scan the computer, it would shut itself down.

Which sounded to me like I’d perhaps caught a virus that wiped out McAfee and maybe my network adapter at the same time.

And that’s what I told the Geek Squad kid at Best Buy. And he patiently listened to the story, wrinkled his nose and said “OK, we’ll run a virus scan on your computer using our stuff. Maybe it’s a virus. I think it’s probably something else, though.”

Sure enough, he ran a scan and came back with no virus. Meanwhile, the message from McAfee saying the computer was at risk popped up at least twice more.

“How would you feel about me uninstalling McAfee?” he asked.

“Why? Won’t that mean I wouldn’t have virus protection?”

“Dude, McAfee isn’t really virus protection,” he said. “I’d say 95 percent of the computers we get in here that we have to scrape viruses off of, they’ve got McAfee. And what’s worse, McAfee does stuff like shut off your internet access at the first sign of trouble.”

“Say what? You think this is all because of McAfee?”

“I’ll bet any amount of money.”

So I let him kill McAfee off the computer.

And no sooner was it uninstalled than the hardwire internet connection to Best Buy’s network sprang to life. He then unplugged the cable and the computer immediately picked up the wi-fi inside the store.

And the Geek Squad kid had a smile on his face like he’d just hacked into Playboy Magazine’s server.

He said he’s pretty sure what happened was that when the modem went out Friday night, McAfee couldn’t do its automatic updates, and reacted by killing the internet connection.

He also said that ANY anti-virus program I can think of getting is better than McAfee.

Given the events of the last three days, I’m inclined to agree. You can make your own call on that one, but I’m switching to Norton Antivirus tonight. This is the first update on the Hayride in three days, and McAfee is the reason why.

Oh – and AT&T still hasn’t figured out why that blinking red light won’t turn green. Guess we’ll figure that one out at some point soon.

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