cyberspacial musings
bits about the real and virtual worlds

15 Oct

Symantec’s Norton Privacy Control and Mac OS X “Panther”

I spent a frustrating couple of weeks with my Mac recently. I noticed that when I pointed my web browser (either Safari or Firefox) to certain websites, my computer when into a tailspin, sending the kernel_task process through the roof (massive CPU utilization) and dumping my ability to connect to a network (“network unavailable” errors). After digging around my computer for a while, I stumbled on the problem — Norton Privacy Control.

Now Symantec claims that the current version of NPC works with OS X 10.3.5, but I can tell you it doesn’t. When visiting www.news.com, Safari chokes and I discovered that the NPC daemon crashes. That essentially kills your network connectivity and nothing short of a restart seems to work. I searched the web and Symantec’s website, but found nothing but a note from Symantec to run LiveUpdate to fix the problem. I had already done that and confirmed that I was running the latest code.

So the fix for this problem (if you have it also) is to remove Norton Privacy Control from your StartupItems. I did that by going into /Library/StartupItems and just moving the “NortonPrivacyControl” folder elsewhere, followed by a reboot. That has cleared up the problem and I’m back to normal.

Now here’s my real beef. After spending the time debugging their product, I went to the Symantec website to let them know about the problem so that they could fix it. Unfortunately, it appears that there’s no mechanism to submit bugs to them — no product support forum or anything. I finally went to the feedback page and submitted something under “product suggestions”, but I suspect that’s going to go right into the little trash can that we all have on our computers these days. Seems like they ought to have some sort of bug alert system when there’s a problem like this. You know, everyone and their mother has a user forum for product stuff that the staff reviews from time to time. Wouldn’t that be a great idea for Symantec?

Hopefully there will be enough keywords in this entry that anyone else who has this problem will find this posting. Google, do your stuff.

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