Portals Of Discovery

2011/10/20 § Leave a comment

In this post about Windows errors, I got the title from a James Joyce quote:

“A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.”

Seems appropriate, doesn’t it?

I think Joyce’s quote indicates the normal approach we should take towards errors: they should provide an opportunity to discover both what went wrong and what to do, or not to do, in the future.

Except when you’re dealing with Windows errors. These things verge on the bizarre, and as if the shock you get sonically and visually weren’t enough, the verbiage is sure to send you into an apoplectic shock.

The programmers for Microsoft seem to have this idea that they’re writing software for other programmers with access to the source code so of course, why wouldn’t error number 0x08233FF make sense?

Here’s an example of one of these delightful specimens:

The server {AB8902B4-09CA-4BB6-B78D-A8F59079A8D5} did not register with DCOM within the required timeout.

Yeah sure, I’ll just get on that.

Another I just walked into this nay this very afternoon:


This is what happens if you’re foolish enough to click on the link to ‘Get help with this error,’ another window bearing the following gifts:


You silly rabbit! How dare you ask for help by clicking on the link to get help? What’s wrong, you gonna cry now?

There are other injustices at hand, the Event Viewer which Microsoft has devised for the sole purpose of user torture to show what “events” have been logged to various Windows logs, ranging from System to Application and includes Setup, Security and Forwarded Events (in Windows Server 2008 because they changed the logging setup in the latest versions, continuity be damned!) contains the machinations of Satan’s keyboard.

Say you’re a junior sysadmin, “tasked” with the job of identifying all logons to the server between certain times. Your tongue hanging out because you’ve been allowed access to the servers and you click on the Security category of the Event Viewer. Your heart leaps with anticipation (GOD RIGHTS!!) and then you meet Satan:


Just what in Zeus’ armpit does this mean?

Compare and contrast with an entry from a random Linux box I happen to have on hand, for just this purpose:

Oct 20 11:48:50 SERVER sudo:     fred : TTY=pts/0 ; PWD=/var/log ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/usr/bin/less messages

H’m, whatever could this gobbledygook mean? It seems this user, fred, used the sudo command to impersonate the root user and the command he ran was /usr/bin/less messages.


Once in a blue moon, you get a message that reads like it wasn’t written by a three-year-old Mongolian with access to only the HEX number set, but the key is, it’s almost always a third-party software vendor who, you know, actually cares their customer can easily decipher what the problem is. Yeah.

Yes, I’m exaggerating for effect, but if you’ve run a Windows installation for time, t ≥ 5s, you’ll run into this buzzsaw at approximately time, t ≥ 6s. (I like to layer my exaggerations for maximum effect.)



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