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Internet, Technology

set_bugs = 0;

February 10th, 2009 by Jeff | Dump Core

This week an couple errors were reported in the custom CMS application I built at work a couple years ago. I haven’t touched this code in at least a year, so it took me bit to swap some mental virtual memory and recall how everything worked. I’m not sure if these “bugs” were something new that had manifested themselves after a recent platform upgrade or design flaws that had been there since the beginning only to be recently noticed. None of that really matters for the sake of this post, however. Suffice it to say there were two problems, one of which was likely to be entirely my fault but relatively easy to fix with a little bit of C# hacking.

The other problem was a bit obscure. The application is built in ASP.NET 2.0 and written entirely in C#. It also makes use of Microsoft‘s AJAX Toolkit for ASP.NET to “pretty up” some of the interface interactions. Unfortunately, one particular user began to experience problems with the system recently. Since she’s the project manager, needless to say the problem was escalated to top priority with little to no delay. To make things more difficult, the problem was especially cryptic. In true Microsoft fashion, the pop-up JavaScript error dialog offered little to no useful information:

Sys.WebForms.PageRequestManagerServerErrorException: An unknown error occurred while processing the request on the server. The status code returned from the server was: 500

Google, of course, is my friend and found no shortage of pages where this turned up. The odd thing was that none of the purported causes for the error were anything that I was using.

After much searching, I finally happened upon this site. It seems Ted Jardine hit the same problem I did. He had narrowed it down to something to do with the .NET session, which he wasn’t really using but I was using extensively. What I found most interesting was his solution:

So, based on one of the comments in one of the above posts, even though I’m not touching session on one of the problem pages, I tried a hack in one of the problem page’s Page_Load:

Session[“FixAJAXSysBug”] = true;

And lo and behold, we’re good to go!

I followed the various links he provided—as well as Googling for “FixAJAXSysBug” itself—and found lots more anecdotal evidence to support its usefulness. I applied this “fix” to the common header of the application to make sure it took affect everywhere and, so far, all reports seem to indicate its success.

Needless to say, I was instantly reminded of this GPF strip from the crossover with Help Desk. I can’t remember now if that joke was my idea or Chris Wright’s. It doesn’t matter now, really… it audacity is as brilliant now as it was eight years ago. The idea of setting a simple Boolean flag to “turn off bugs” is something I will always find hilarious.

Now if only all Microsoft bugs were so easy to fix….

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