For school I am supposed to follow a lesson plan and complete assignments on a big educational site called Cengage. Yesterday I get online to do my first assignment, and I cannot connect to the site. In Firefox, Chrome and IE11 I get privacy/security warnings followed by 404 errors. For the entire cengage.com domain. So I load the site on my phone and it works like it’s supposed to. The phone is on the same wifi as my computer, BTW. Hours later it occurs to me to try connecting from using a virtual machine. So I load a Mint live disk inside VMWare and find out I am able to connect to the site using Firefox. VMWare is installed on the same host computer as the one I’m unable to connect with. The school’s IT department doesn’t know what is happening. I’m still waiting for a response from Cengage support. My instructor is worried. I have a test due at midnight. It’s 10pm.
Anyway, it turns out that several years ago for some old assignment in a different course at a different school I forgot about I for some reason added the cengage.com domain to my hosts file. WTF? The IP address I listed next to it was several years old and now apparently defunct. I removed the line from the hosts file and now I can connect again. I got lucky I think, because troubleshooting this could have gone on for another week without anyone figuring out what the problem was.