Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
6 October 2006
Filed under:Call for help at2:07 pm

Something in my configuration changed a while ago and now whenever I try to connect to Windows drives (either my PC at home or the network drive at the LSE) I get an error -50. Appleerrorcodes tells me this means “Error in user parameter list” but that doesn’t actually mean anything to me! I tried re-authenticating but the error message remains the same (and it doesn’t seem likely the keychain entries for two different drives would be wrong).

Moreover I can’t now connect to the shared printers at the LSE or at home. I connect to the Internet fine (thankfully)! I fear I must somehow have messed up SAMBA on my machine at a low level.
I don’t know what to do next. I will book an appointment at the Apple “Genius Bar” and see what they say but any other ideas would be welcome.


  1. How do you connect to the drives? Do you use hard-coded “smb://” URLs?

    I assume you are using Mac OS X at this point. To get more meaningful error messages you can use the Terminal and try out the mount_smbfs command. It might spit actually useful error messages at you.

    I find the way that Apple’s Cocoa-wrapping of Unix tools de-techifies error messages etc frustrating, because it often hides this kind of useful information.

    Of course, if mount_smbfs also says “error in parameter list” then all that’s left is to download the source for mount_smbfs (which you can do – it’s open source) and see for yourself what’s going on. This last step is certainly something you could never do on Windows. 🙂

    Comment by Reid — 6 October 2006 @ 3:19 pm

  2. Yes I am using hard-coded smb:// urls. I can’t seem to get the syntax right for mount_smbfs – mount_smbfs -I [PC’s IP address] doesn’t seem to work though I was previously able to mount smb://[PC’s IP address].

    I do not alas expect to be able to download the source and fix it – that’s what I trust you open source programmer types to do for me!

    Comment by David Brake — 6 October 2006 @ 3:40 pm

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