Microsoft's Vauge Errors

Did I mention I hate Microsoft. Hate is a strong word, I know. That’s why I use it in this situation.

Today is the first day of my Memorial weekend vacation. I drove 6 hours to arrive at my destination at 3:00AM and went directly to bed. At 7:15, I get a call from work. "The Intranet isn’t working". I’m tired. Really tired. But since I am the only IT guy at the company capable of troubleshooting such an outage, I have to get up. I have the caller look at the error in IE, but of course, all that comes up is the oh-so-useless "friendly" http error message.

"I’ll take a look at it and give you a call back with an update". So I hop on the VPN and check out the Intranet page with Firefox (my default browser)…

Persits.AspUser.1 error ‘800a0020’
A device attached to the system is not functioning.

I log onto the Intranet server and quick look at the event log implies a disk block problem, but other than that, everything seems fine. On the face of it, you’d think the error means that some physical device on the computer has failed. However, a Google search says differently. The error implies that either a file is inaccessible or a file is corrupt, but it doesn’t say what. Not even the IIS log file says anything usefull. So to attempt to get things running again, I re-install the Persits COM. No change. So I re-install Service Pack 4, thinking that some required file of IIS went corrupt due to the disk error. Nope. Still no change.

At 8:30 I get a call from work, this time someone can’t log on to their own computer with his password or the domain admin user. WTF! Just what I need. Two serious problems at once. He really needs to get back on his machine, so I connect to the Active Directory master server via RDP. Guess what. I can’t log in either. Something’s f’ed up with the authentication server. So I tell him to reboot the server for me. Five minutes later, he’s able to log in just fine.

Astoundingly, the intranet page starts working. I know now that the cause is the issue was that AspUser could not connect to the AD server, but WTF. That’s one absolutely misleading and vauge error message.

Hate. Yes, that’s the right word.