back to article Generous Google gives Chrome users Inbox Zero: Sign-in outage boots own browser out of webmail, services

A bizarre outage left unlucky Chrome users unable to sign into Google services, from Gmail to Google Docs to even Chromebooks, earlier today. Using Chrome in incognito mode, or using a non-Chrome browser – such as Safari, Firefox, Edge, or Internet Explorer – allowed folks to get into their accounts, strangely enough. The US …

  1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Educated guess

    Sounds like an incompatible update in the data format used in a cookie on a chrome experiment. Incognito would have started with no local data to mess things up, and non-chrome browsers would not have been included in the experiment.

    Getting things like experiment transitions tested properly for the inside teams would be tough. Given that they flip the switch on experiments in GA, it likely would require a significant upgrade to their experiment architecture to have the GA experiment transitions tested internally.

    Someone will get a promotion if they figure that out & trumpet it properly.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Educated guess

      Well, officially it is:

      Description: Mitigation work is currently underway by our Engineering Team to address the issue with authentication to Google App Engine sites, Google Cloud Console, Identity Aware Proxy, and Google OAuth 2.0 endpoints. Error rates are dropping and we're seeing service improvement. We will provide another status update by Monday, 2019-08-19 13:45 US/Pacific with current details.

      Workaround: Some customers have reported success attempting to utilize an incognito window under the Chrome browser to login.

  2. IGotOut

    So..

    to me looks like their tracking technology fell over and borked the systems.

    Once they were able to restore the ability to track every single thing you do, service was back to normal.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: So..

      Where as I will just use their own advert against them, LOOK ITS A VIRUS, I HAVE ALREADY PRESSED CTRL+ALT+DEL!

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "Sorry, something went wrong there. Please try again" error message.

    It really grinds my gears how developers have started dumbing down error messages like this than giving actual details. As it makes it difficult to know whether its a problem with their service or your device.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Open the debugger pane and watch the network tab. You'll often see much more useful messages there.

      While the "something went wrong" message is useless there's no point in showing technical error messages to most users. A way of getting the technical error from the user error page would be helpful though.

    2. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Windows

      Remember the detailled explanations Windows 10 gave for updaters?

      Something happened.

      Something happened.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: dumbing down error messages

      Well that is kind of inevitable, isn't it ? Given the level of understanding of 99% of users, they'd be complaining that the error was incomprehensible.

      Something went wrong is something they can understand.

      That said, adding another line saying "Error #0068410B" wouldn't kill the devs either, and then we'd have something to Google and evaluate our situation better.

      1. Martin
        WTF?

        Re: dumbing down error messages

        "Error #0068410B" - really?

        There is surely something between "Something happened", which is so vague it's pointless, and "Error #0068410B" which is massively precise but also basically useless. Yes, you can Google it, but why not give us something more useful?

        I remember when I was having trouble updating a PC to the latest Windows 10, I had a collection of several different magic numbers. But they all basically meant "You haven't got enough disk space". Would it have been so hard for Microsoft to say that?

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: dumbing down error messages

          FFS! This is Google making it obvious that their browser gets special treatment by their back end and you're using that as an excuse to make a dig at MS error messages?

          Why would you do that?

    4. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Think more like a criminal

      Error messages are information dumps to crackers. Full stop. Modern security practices requires that NOTHING useful be transmitted back to the client/attacker in the event of an error. That's why, for instance, 400 is becoming more and more popular as a return code.

      Personally, I like a nice stack trace from a platform that has never been used by the company for anything but generating the stack trace, but that's me.

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