Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’ apparently vibed too arduous for some laptops

Whereas it’s regular for buddies to guage our music tastes and take away your aux privileges, our units normally received’t complain about our listening habits (even when we ask them to repeatedly play a song that most humans would find insufferable). Nevertheless, in keeping with a story shared by Microsoft principal software program engineer Raymond Chen on his weblog The Previous New Factor, some Home windows XP-era laptops did find yourself taking exception to the music video for Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” as a result of it contained a sound that crashed their arduous drives.

In response to Chen, an unnamed “main laptop producer” found that a few of their computer systems had been crashing when attempting to play the music and that taking part in the music on one laptop computer may even crash one other laptop close by that was simply minding its personal enterprise. The producer additionally found that the difficulty cropped up on different corporations’ laptops as properly.

Chen says the corporate finally found that the music had a sound in it that resonated with a selected mannequin of laptop computer arduous drive. In different phrases, it was like a much less damaging model of when somebody plays a specific sound to shatter a wine glass — the sound waves the pc’s audio system made whereas taking part in the music would make its arduous drive vibrate, crashing the pc. In response to the story, the producer discovered a easy, if inelegant, repair for the difficulty: making it so their computer systems merely wouldn’t play that particular frequency.

The story is, sadly, comparatively mild on specifics. Chen doesn’t say which laptops or arduous drives had been affected, and there isn’t any video of a laptop computer truly crashing whereas taking part in the music. Nonetheless, it’s a enjoyable anecdote concerning the exceedingly unusual issues that physics can do to our computer systems and the method of nailing down what appears to be a totally random bug.

Whereas I can think about that troubleshooting this concern should’ve been some particular type of nightmare, it’s no secret that arduous drives are terribly vulnerable to vibrations of all kinds. Chen hyperlinks to a video from 2008 that exhibits information heart engineers disrupting arduous drives by screaming at them, and in 2017, safety researcher Alfredo Ortega demonstrated a program that purposefully crashes arduous drives by taking part in a sound at their resonant frequency. This system even warns that it may bodily injury the drive — resonance frequencies can truly be extraordinarily damaging within the improper circumstances. They’ve helped result in suspension bridges collapsing, and the Stuxnet virus reportedly tried to take advantage of them to destroy centrifuges.

Ortega and different safety researchers have additionally demonstrated how arduous drives can be utilized as rudimentary microphones to spy on folks’s conversations, due to the truth that they react to sounds. One of the examples included in a chat demonstrating the impact concerned taking part in an Iron Maiden song at a tough drive and seeing if Shazam may establish it. The experiment apparently labored, although the presenter doesn’t point out whether or not it crashed the drive.

PS: sadly, it doesn’t appear to be Paweł Zadrożniak, the one that creates music using old computer parts, together with arduous drives, has coated “Rhythm Nation.” However Zadrożniak positively ought to now as a result of the irony can be pleasant.


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