The 'Repair Permissions' function of Disk Utility has been under quite a bit of speculation as of late. There are those in one camp, such as John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who believe repairing (restoring, resetting, etc.) permissions is not much more than voodoo, while others in the support end of the Mac OS X community swear by it as the first line of defense. So what's a confused Mac OS X user to do when trying to draw up a formidable troubleshooting game plan?
Heading over to Dan Frakes' Repairing permissions: what you need to know article at Macworld is a great first step at trying to cut through all the confusion. Dan dissects virtually every aspect of the permissions repair process, from explaining what exactly 'permissions' are, to a few specific situations when it's a good idea to add the operation to your troubleshooting tool-belt. It's an informative read that helps demystify this much-debated aspect of Mac OS X.