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Interview: John McAfee Answers Your Questions 239

Last week you had the chance to ask software designer and international man on the run John McAfee about his exploits in business, programming, and the jungle. Mr. McAfee provided some extraordinarily entertaining and frank answers to your questions. Read below and enjoy.
Do you still write code?
by sosume

Do you still write code, perhaps for fun?

McAfee: I haven't written code in 20 years. In truth I was a terrible programmer. At all the companies I worked at I did everything within my power to avoid coding tasks. I was just good enough though to be able to spot the truly outstanding programmers. At McAfee I hired the best and then stayed out of their hair. If I had been responsible for even a tiny amount of code I fear we would never have gotten off the ground.

McAfee Antivirus
by AmiMoJo

Doesn't it bother you that your name is being used to peddle one of the worst anti-virus products on the market? Often it comes pre-installed on computers as a 30 day trial (crapware), with dire warnings flashed up in the event that the user fails to pay (scareware). The performance hit it brings is huge. Would you advise anyone else to name their product/company after themselves in this way?

McAfee: I haven't been involved with McAfee Ant-virus for 21 years. When I ran the company the software was the best and least intrusive on the market, and in 1991 we had 87% of the world market. What happened after I left was none of my doing. As to name association, I am a master at sullying my own name and, all things considered, being associated with the worst software on the planet ranks way down the pole. It's barely a blip in the ocean of associations - madman, paranoid, child molester, murderer, drug addict, unstable, liar, to name but a few.Thank god I'm 67 and will probably be too hard of hearing soon enough to have to listen to them rattling around wherever I go. Amy, thankfully, did half the job already by bursting my left eardrum when she tried to shoot me in the head while I slept back in 2011.

What was the problem?
by lazylion

If I understand correctly, this whole episode began because a local politician visited you in your home and he had the expectation (for whatever reason) that you would pay him USD $30,000 as some kind of protection money for his campaign and your expectation was that politicians are supposed to work for people and not the other way around. Is this a reasonable characterization? If so, how do you think such a large missmatch in expectations came about? Do you think you were overly naive? Or is the political environment in Belize changing? I can easily believe that this might be the normal expected way that people do business down there based on other things I've heard, but I really have no idea. Now that you've had time to reflect, what would you say was responsible for the conflict in the first place?

McAfee: Had it been $30,000 I would have paid it in an instant, ushered him out and then returned to my task of molesting the underage girls (as some would characterize them) populating my property.However it was not. It was $2 million.I am not naive and I expect politicians and public servants, in all countries, to do one thing only - everything in their power to annoy, delay and inconvenience me. At least that has been my experience with public servants. Perhaps yours is different. In any case, two million was not even in a negotiating arena and, not being someone prone to wasting time, I told him to fuck off and not to come back.

German tourist disguise
by coldsalmon

Did you really evade the police by dressing up in a speedo and screaming at people in German, as you describe here?

McAfee: I favor disguises that change character rather than looks when running from the police. The German Tourist disguise was terrific. I looked exactly like me but no-one searching for me paid me any mind. Here is another common disguise I used that would work for any well known CEO.


What Happened with
by eldavojohn

While you were moving around, got to spend time with you. If memory serves me, it was later revealed that the image they uploaded with you had GPS data that you then claimed to be spoofed. Coincidentally the news styled documentary they were going to do with you never seemed to surface ... now that things have died down can you give more context to that whole situation?

McAfee: Yes....... well...... The exif data attached to the photo was supposed to have been removed prior to putting it on-line. Rocco Castoro, the senior editor at Vice, and Robert King, the intrepid war photographer who has been shot twice in the ass and proudly shows the scars, accompanied me for 11 days of my escape. Good comrades and brave companions - not quite the balls that Samantha, who also accompanied me, swings, but brave lads nevertheless. We became fast friends. After our escape from Belize and our illegal entry into Guatemala, we were all four breathing sighs of relief and were in good cheer. I went back to Samantha's and my room for a few minutes to search Sam's luggage for weapons. There were too many good looking women at the hotel for my comfort. Samantha is extremely jealous and twice tried to stab me when she thought I was looking at another woman.In any case, I happily found no weapons and was about to return to the group when I heard a knock at the door. It was a very agitated Rocco. "Bad news" he said.

Chills ran up my spine as I imagined Samantha sweet talking the hotel security guard into lending her his gun after seeing me glance at the undulating derrière of a striking Peruvian woman an hour or so earlier.

He then told me about the location data accidentally included in the photo and that there were already posts on the Net showing google earth images of the hotel we were staying at.It didn't sound so bad to me really - not in comparison to an angry Samantha.It meant that Guatemalan soldiers had probably already been dispatched to arrest us and that we were on the run again - this time from a different authority, but we had at least a half an hour before the authorities arrived and taxis, which did in fact effect our escape, were plentiful. I didn't see a problem.

Robert was beside himself with agitation about the exif data because, as he correctly reasoned, people were going to think that he and Rocco did it on purpose so that they could get a better story by documenting my colorful arrest In Guatemala. To calm things down and to get everyone focused on our need to hastily scram, I told Rocco and Robert that I would take the fall and claim that I manipulated the exif data myself and they would be in the clear. Satisfied, they got packed, we left 10 minutes before the soldiers arrived, and i did what I said I would do.It was a stupid plan but it did clear the minds of the two journalists long enough to allowthem to function properly in the shaky circumstances.

When we got to Guatemala City that night and we were safely ensconced in a new hotel, Sam hit me in the head with an ashtray.She she had not missed the overlong glance at the Peruvian woman.I still have the scar.

What would you do differently?
by oic0

If you had to relive the whole debacle, what would you do differently the second time around.

McAfee: Absolutely nothing. Everything that has happened has brought me to this present moment - and not a bad moment at all. You may view my life as chaotic, tragic, comical, whatever. From where I sit it's a great adventure and an unending mystery. I have no complaints.

Why Portland?

Why did you decide to camp out in Portland for 18 months? What was it about Portland that brought you there?

McAfee: Why not Portland? Everyone here has bumper stickers reading "Keep Portland Weird!", there are 17 Asian restaurants within a three block radius of where I live, coffee here is a high art form and the police smile and are actually helpful - providing that no risks are involved.

A couple of subordinate reasons are that the gentleman producing the comic novel of my life (Chad Essley) and the screenwriter for the feature movie of the Belize incident both live here.

As a microbiologist...
by acidfast7

I'm very interested in hearing about the natural antibiotics. Can you please describe some general background about how you became interested in the project and what happened to the project?

McAfee: I became interested in quorum sensing (the means of communication favored by bacteria) the instant I heard about the concept. I hired a young Phd who had written the definitive paper on the subject - a young woman named Allison Adonicio - and set up a lab in the jungle to research anti-quorum sensing properties of tropical plants. You can read all about it at Against all odds, the woman turned out to be crazier than myself. After a year and a half, the fractured elements of her psyche reassembled themselves into an exact likeness of a snarling ferret and she self destructed. She destroyed all of our research results, destroyed our bacteria samples, erased the hard drives of our computers, destroyed our carefully collect plant samples and went home to Boston. I cogitated the situation for a brief period, said "Fuck it!" And went into the coffee business. Thus was formed the New River Coffee Company.

Why George Jung?
by eldavojohn

"Boston George" Jung (a man who has lived quite an unusual life himself) has been tapped to write McAfee's biography titled, No Domain. I don't get it. Jung is a convicted drug smuggler. You have had no such charges ever filed against you (to my knowledge) by the United States so, if nothing more than a publicity stunt, why did you pick him to write your biography? If you feel you are wrongly accused, I can understand why you would pick someone wrongly accused to write your biography -- they can relate. But George Jung was certainly a key part of Pablo Escobar's deadly and pervasive criminal organization. You are (again, to my knowledge) far from that so why bait the readers with that author as a link? I have had very little associations with you and illegal drug activity but now I think you view yourself as a modern George Jung, am I wrong in making this assumption?

McAfee: It's odd that people focus on the possibility that I might now be doing drugs (I'm not) and totally ignore the fact that from 1971 to 1982, 99% of my income came from smuggling and selling drugs. It's a well documented feature of my past life. I was also taking more drugs weekly than most of you will do in a lifetime, and I was a totally indiscriminate user. Whatever came across my desk went up my nose, down my throat, in my veins or up the nether region. I never reached the notoriety of George and my writing, in comparison to him, did not merit writing books about my exploits, but we were not so totally different, he and I. I had my right testicle shattered by a hammer in 1974 when I ran afoul of some local drug barons in Oaxaca. Its the size of a grape now and shaped like a small frisbee. I have been in Mexican jails on three separate occasions and, frankly, I cannot recommend them. I was arrested in Bristol Tennessee in 1971 and charged with felony possession of a dangerous narcotic. A good lawyer got me of. (I always, oddly had tons of money that helped integrate me slightly back into humanity and smooth my transgressions).

All this madness stopped in 1982 when my life disintegrated. I joined AA in 1982 and stopped drinking and drugging. If have not used any drugs, except for caffeine, nicotine and adrenaline, since.

In any case, George seemed perfect.

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Interview: John McAfee Answers Your Questions

Comments Filter:
  • Interesting (Score:4, Informative)

    by kthreadd ( 1558445 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @11:38AM (#43665483)

    Thanks for making the interview. Highly interesting to read. Didn't actually know that he's not involved with the antivirus vusiness anymore.

    • Notice they didn't ask him about the "bath salts" which he was talking about how great it was for weeks...which just FYI also causes major paranoia as a side effect.

      This whole "story" frankly makes me a little sick, treating this guy like he was doing something great when he was running from a MURDER CHARGE, lets not forget that folks, he had an argument with the neighbor, he was doing a drug that causes paranoia and fear of persecution, and the neighbor ended up dead...frankly it don't take Kojack to see

      • by kthreadd ( 1558445 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @11:54AM (#43665617)

        Absolutely. I got tired of the whole murder story a long time ago. That said, this particular interview by itself is interesting.

      • So you do not think it is beyond the realm of possibility that it was a trumped up charge?
        • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:09PM (#43665757) Homepage

          Heck no, HairyFeet is known for his stance that if you are arrested or charged you must be guilty. He knows that all police and govt officials are honest saints that would NEVER made a bad decision..

          Especially in a perfect democracy of honesty that is Beliese...

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @02:12PM (#43667087)

          Maybe, but he's also an admitted drug smuggler, drug abuser, jokes about having sex with a compound full of children and people who associate with him seem to go crazy, self destruct and/or try to kill him.

          Maybe he's innocent of the murder accusations. He's still more of a sociopathic clown than a hero.

      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by morgauxo ( 974071 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:22PM (#43665859)

        I don't believe we will ever know if he killed the guy or not. Is there really any credibility on either side of that debate? We can't do anything simply based on suspicion, otherwise there would be a whole lot more inoccent people in jail, on death row or already executed. So... let's just sit back and watch the show. Actually, given enough attention to his 'adventures' maybe he will one day slip up and tell about an adventure he had with a certain neighbor... If such a thing actually happened. Meanwhile.. there doesn't seem to be anyone acusing him of attacking random strangers so if you are afraid he will kill 'again' just don't associate with him.

      • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:47PM (#43666121) Journal
        This whole "story" frankly makes me a little sick, treating this guy like he was doing something great when he was running from a MURDER CHARGE

        Meh. Regardless of what he did or didn't do, his adventures make for a hell of a lot more interesting read than coverage of Betty "Free Jahar" Crocker and his sidekick Speedbump, or Three Useless Girls Who Can''t Break Windows.

        just because the guy is rich does NOT mean he should just walk away.

        Absolutely not! And if the events described had taken place in the US or really any country without so much corruption that it refuses to even release enough information to rank them [], we'd have a much different story here, more OJ than Three Stooges. But as it stands, we have the story we have.
      • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

        by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @01:07PM (#43666385) Journal
        Running from a murder charge from a South American country doesnt really deserve bold lettering. If the charges held any water at all they would be moving for extradition.
      • by Holi ( 250190 )

        His comments from that time don't really mesh well with this:
        "All this madness stopped in 1982 when my life disintegrated. I joined AA in 1982 and stopped drinking and drugging. If have not used any drugs, except for caffeine, nicotine and adrenaline, since. "

    • by Aerokii ( 1001189 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @11:49AM (#43665583)
      This is probably now my favorite Slashdot interview. Nothing to do with tech, really, but it was an outright entertaining read. It also helps to put into perspective some of my failed relationships, given that none of them tried to kill me (well, not quite as blatantly, anyway.)
      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RobertNotBob ( 597987 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:56PM (#43666217)
        I'd personally rank it at 2nd.

        Just a suggestion, - check the WayBack(tm) machine for the interview of Alton Brown (of Good Eats fame).

        • by ldierk ( 1270930 )
          No need to check the WayBack(tm) machine if you are referring to this [] interview.
        • by GoRK ( 10018 )

          I'm curious why you like that interview so much; reading that is when I realized that that dude is nothing more than a talking head. Why do you think he needed the Internet to do commentary for Iron Chef America? IIRC he not only got a question about cooking with lava completely wrong, but he insulted the person asking as a way to avoid answering it. When Google failed him, he just bailed.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:01PM (#43665685)

      Didn't actually know that he's not involved with the antivirus vusiness anymore.

      Disappointing.... Guess I'll start getting my A/V from Peter Norton instead.

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        I'd like to ask the first question to Peter Norton as well.

        I think he should sue Symantec for Defamation of Character.

    • "Didn't actually know that he's not involved with the antivirus vusiness anymore."

      But still not sure if we have less reasons to dislike the guy now or not.

  • Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by schneidafunk ( 795759 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @11:43AM (#43665521)
    This reminds me of Hunter S. Thompson. One of my favorite interviews I've read on slashdot.
  • PROTIP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @11:44AM (#43665545)

    For a disguise, use an old scratched up hardhat.

    • Re:PROTIP (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:12PM (#43665785) Homepage

      It is actually accurate. If you want to gain access to a place you dont belong, dress like a utility worker, most security will not even look at you twice if you have a clipboard.

      When I used to do social engineering I gained access to many server rooms under the guise of a building maintenance guy looking for water leaks, they did not even question me taking photos.

      • One of my friends had a sprinkler installation business he ran when we were in college at the University of Florida. Parking on campus was a nightmare, so he'd just drive his work truck into the middle of the lawn at the student union, lean a rake up against the truck and walk to class. Never had a problem.

        • Similarly when in school, I would often park my beat-up old Honda right in the middle of campus in a construction zone. I never had a problem either (but I didn't do it often). It fit right in with the rest of the construction worker vehicles.

    • For a disguise, use an old scratched up hardhat.

      Nobody will question a person wearing a hard had and an orange vest.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )
        You show up on a job site with a brand new hard hat and you'll have the crew laughing you right off the job site. You must either be the new apprentice who needs the initiation rites. Or you are an engineer from HQ who has never seen actual construction in real life.
        • by Kelbear ( 870538 )

          I'm curious now, why is this the case?

          Do workers typically get stuff dropped on their head often enough to scratch up the hardhat such that veterans are easily distinguished from newbies by the amount of hardhat damage? Or do they use the hardhat as an adhoc tool for certain situations, resulting in hardhat scratches? Do veterans just slam the hardhat around on some concrete to make it look more worn down to blend in with the rest of the crew?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            As an engineer, I can tell you that a) construction workers don't go out of their way to insult the engineer... green or no, we can make their life difficult b) hard-hats get scratched a lot because your eyes don't move up the extra two inches to correspond to the hard-hat height... My eyes tell me that my head should be clear of that scaffold bar... and yet, the hard-hat still smacks into it... c) hard hats get scratched due to method of storage... if you drop your hat on the floor repeatedly when you use

    • And remove the barcode
  • nuts! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deadweight ( 681827 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @11:49AM (#43665585)
    Is it just me or this guy totally batshit crazy? Among other things, how many times do you have to be assaulted before you get rid of your crazy girlfriend(s)?
    • Re:nuts! (Score:5, Funny)

      by xQuarkDS9x ( 646166 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @11:57AM (#43665647)

      Is it just me or this guy totally batshit crazy? Among other things, how many times do you have to be assaulted before you get rid of your crazy girlfriend(s)?

      I have a secret to tell you. All girlfriends/wives are batshit crazy. It just takes varying degrees of pressure or stress or other factors to bring it out in them and when it does you better hope you survive or can escape!

      • there's a ton of misogyny in that statement but the long/short of any relationship is that if there is extreme pressure/stress there will be extreme responses to that pressure/stress, which usually involve inducing more pressure/stress.

        probably helps that if you decide you don't want that stress, you decide not to have a relationship as opposed to hating on that decision after it has been made, unless it's simply a bad relationship .

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        If all you girlfriends and wives go crazy, the common denominator is you.

        • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

          Yea, but the normal ones are not usually down for polyamory.

          • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

            Yes but everyone is abnormal in some way, or at least everyone the least bit interesting. In the end its just like any other central lifestyle choice, most people who make it will not be compatible with you, so you just sort through them until you find one who is.

            I was recently talking to a friend coming off a medium term relationship where they lived together, said how she constantly complained about him not making the bed.... didn't seem to get that this is a fundamental....if your habbits and hers don't

    • by ebubna ( 765457 )
      pro tip: when everyone around you is nuts or batshit or whatever, its not them, its you.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:05PM (#43665719)

      I hope this helps to answer your question

        I hope this helps to answer your question

        My first thoughts seeing this picture were...

        1) Ok she has large boobs... definetly a plus but then are they fake?

        2) At least she isn't an anorexic woman weighing 80 pounds that would snap in half if you banged her in bed. Gotta have some meat on a woman to look healthy

        3) Oh god help me.. she looks like a crazy batshit woman already when you look up at the face. The kind that is very jealous and over-protective of "her man" and would not think twice of beating the living shit out of him for not paying 100%

      • by Myopic ( 18616 ) *

        Beauty... beholder... she definitely doesn't get my dick hard but she probably would if I were 67 and still wanted to have crazy sex.

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      Sometimes, its the abuse that makes life worth living!

    • Is it just me or this guy totally batshit crazy? Among other things, how many times do you have to be assaulted before you get rid of your crazy girlfriend(s)?

      And if he is batshit crazy, how much of what he said is true, and how much is PR to keep him out of jail and to sell (sensationalize) his new book? I'd trust his responses rat spitting distances.

  • My brain read some of those answers in Hunter S. Thompson's voice.
  • I went back to Samantha's and my room for a few minutes to search Sam's luggage for weapons. There were too many good looking women at the hotel for my comfort. Samantha is extremely jealous and twice tried to stab me when she thought I was looking at another woman...

    Chills ran up my spine as I imagined Samantha sweet talking the hotel security guard into lending her his gun after seeing me glance at the undulating derrière of a striking Peruvian woman an hour or so earlier.

    Yeah, that's someone you want to have around on the regular.

  • I missed the question thread, but:

    How much time did it take to go through the laptop intercepts every day?
    Is your house in Belize for sale?
    Have you tried the Fish & Chips at the Frying Scotsman?

  • by Minter92 ( 148860 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:14PM (#43665801)

    It's to become a crazy old man and John McAfee is my template.

  • No regrets, yet I wouldn't want to be him. Still, he's got balls of steel, I'll give him that. But, no. I'll do without the drug dealing, the murder, the running, the acting like a lunitic, even if it is a fascinating life. He kind of makes it sound like he happened into the AV business. Right place, right time, no business plan? It happens. *mind blown*
  • Reading his replies left this going through my head: []

  • Kinda sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deuterium ( 96874 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @01:15PM (#43666473)

    It seems as though, since no one asked the question "how crazy are you?", he's simply steered all of his responses into answering it anyway. It also seems like half of what he does is only valuable to him if he can tell other people about it. Why does he care? It reminds me of a 12 year old bragging about the time he stole a car or slept with a teacher. They probably didn't happen, and even if they did, it's childish to broadcast it. And this guy's 67? Agh.

  • The only questions are, was McAfee involved in the murder of Gregory Faull and why are you giving space on slashdot to this nutjob?

    an-MDPV-Question []

    Stuffmonger Postings []

    `Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair'
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't know much about him, but his comments on the this scientist Allison Adonicio made me suspicious. So she was just a completely insanely crazy girl? It sounds too close to a classic argument of a macho. So I found here [] a plausible different version. I have no really a well informed point of view, but my gut feeling on this man is that he's probably as inteligent and funny as cinical and dangerous.
  • slashdot proves once again - softball horse shit gets views.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!