back to article Janet Jackson music video declared a cybersecurity exploit

The music video for Janet Jackson's 1989 pop hit Rhythm Nation has been recognized as an exploit for a cybersecurity vulnerability after Microsoft reported it can crash old laptop computers. "A colleague of mine shared a story from Windows XP product support," wrote Microsoft blogger Raymond Chen. The story detailed how "a …

  1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Resonant Feedback

    Is a vulnerabiluty which has been known for hundreds of years. It's why soldiers are trained to march across bridges out-of-step.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Resonant Feedback

      A friend has a neighbour who - as part of a campaign of harassment - discovered the resonant frequency of my friend's windows and often plays the tone on a big bass speaker the other side of the wall. The original tone itself is below audible range, and there appears no danger of glass shattering dramatically, but the various harmonics coming back off the windows and other strange noises from frames are surprisingly intolerable in a sort of quiet fingernails-on-blackboard way. Since experiencing it first hand I have a lot more respect for resonance.

      [Anonymous because this is an ongoing criminal incident]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Resonant Feedback

        fucking brilliant!!!!!!

      2. YetAnotherXyzzy

        Re: Resonant Feedback

        How does one discover the resonant frequency of a neighbor's windows? Asking for a friend.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Resonant Feedback

          Get a transducer (an acoustic guitar pickup will work), double backed tape, a small transmitter and receiver, a good sound system, and a copy of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein".

          Tape the transducer to the window in an inconspicuous place (bushes outside, curtains inside should work), and attach the transmitter. Verify comms before making your tactical retreat.

          Crank Frankenstein while watching the output of the transducer. Note peaks.

          Retrieve gear when expedient.

          Or so a friend told me

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Resonant Feedback

            "Get a transducer (an acoustic guitar pickup will work), double backed tape, a small transmitter and receiver, a good sound system, and a copy of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein"."

            Naw, try Toccata and Fugue in D minor played on a really big pipe organ. That usually roots out everything with a strong low frequency resonance. For something more modern, "Ambush" by Heart played on a stereo with a good subwoofer can be quite impressive.

            1. Antony Shepherd

              Re: Resonant Feedback

              "try Toccata and Fugue in D minor played on a really big pipe organ"

              And it'll make the neighbours think they have a vampire or mad scientist living next door!

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Resonant Feedback

                "And it'll make the neighbours think they have a vampire or mad scientist living next door!"

                So, a bonus.

                My neighbors already know I'm both undead and do sciencey things. The undead thing is really good for a photographer doing interiors. We don't show up in reflections.

            2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

              Re: Resonant Feedback

              Another good one is "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg" from Focus' Hamburger Concerto.

              This was my go to crank up when I lived in an apartment and had really annoying neighbors!

              1. KBeee Silver badge

                Re: Resonant Feedback

                Or the instrumental version of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" as shown in that great documentary The Wrong Trousers.

    2. swm Silver badge

      Re: Resonant Feedback

      At our college radio station there was one song that turned the transmitter off. Turns out that one of the notes in the song resonated one of the protection relays at the transmitter. We tested this during engineering tests with organ music and let the turntable slow down. We could hear the various notes of the chord vibrating the relay until, poof!, the transmitter turned off.

      1. Sudosu

        Re: Resonant Feedback

        I found that Blue Monday by New Order is the resonant frequency of the dishes in my kitchen cupboards.

        On second thought I think it was more of a volume issue than resonance.

        I should go test it again a few times just to confirm

    3. Antony Shepherd

      Re: Resonant Feedback

      Mentioning bridges reminds me that on a recent trip into London I was amused to hear a small child who was not even a flirty thought between its parents when the Millennium Bridge was built exclaim "Mummy! Are we going on the wobbly bridge?"

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    WTF?

    Unbelievable

    Just playing a tune can crash a computer ?

    Does that mean that our computers could eventually be made to crash if some evil genius found the right frequencies to put into an audio track ?

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Unbelievable

      Only if you've got spinning rust inside. SSDs should not suffer from this due to having no moving parts. And since they're are no moving parts on your processor, etc. They should all be safe too.

      I suppose you could damage someone's fans with the right frequency, but there are so many different fans in use, that finding the right frequency for your intended victim would be a lot of work.

      I'd say your safe for now...

      1. scrubber

        Re: Unbelievable

        Current computer parts may not have moving parts but that doesn't mean you can't have a well crafted program to generate frequencies that affect interior operations, e.g. getting something to clock at around 2.4GHz might be able to block and/or mimic a Bluetooth device.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Unbelievable

          Just crank up the microwave oven.

          1. O RLY

            Re: Unbelievable

            Relevant xkcd:

            https://xkcd.com/654/

            less relevant with 5GHz wifi more prevalent, though.

            1. EnviableOne Silver badge

              Re: Unbelievable

              yeah but IoT doesn't have the budget for 5GHz, its all working on b/g/n

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

            3. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Unbelievable

              "https://xkcd.com/654/

              "

              Randall is F'ing hilarious!

              Thanks for that post!

          2. Zarno

            Re: Unbelievable

            Or get some Custom kitchen delivery...

            Maybe move a refrigerator, if it's interfering with the color TV?

            1. ClockworkOwl
              Megaphone

              Re: Unbelievable

              Nahh, that 'aint working...

      2. Nifty Silver badge

        Re: Unbelievable

        "And since they're are no moving parts on your processor, etc. They should all be safe too."

        I'm not a fan of that idea. (Geddit?)

      3. EVP Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Unbelievable

        "they're [sic] are no moving parts on your processor"

        Electrons?

        I don't think that Janet can reach electrons' wave frequency, though.

        1. sqlrob

          Re: Unbelievable

          Maybe Tiny Tim?

      4. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: SSDs should not suffer from this due to having no moving parts.

        Until someone develops a RowHammer technique.

      5. some shmuck
        Coat

        Re: Unbelievable

        I'm sure any Janet Jackson fan wil do.

        On the other hand, they might have been damaged beyond repair already.

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Unbelievable

      I’m thinking maybe something like the 19 forbidden notes from the Boîte Diabolique?

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: Unbelievable

        Look Around You. Look Around You. Do you know what is now? That's right.

    3. simonlb
      Trollface

      Re: Unbelievable

      The manufacturer that found the problem apparently added a custom filter in the audio pipeline to detect and remove the offending frequencies during audio playback.

      If they added a feature to block out anything by Oasis and Coldplay then I'd definitely be in the market to buy one.

    4. Ken Shabby
      Devil

      Re: Unbelievable

      Reel to reel magnetic tape drive, quickly move tape head back and forth at certain frequency, and bounce it out of the rack.

  3. abstract

    It is a terrorist song

    It was done on purpose. Terrorists may now use your radio to target you. Be careful.

  4. jake Silver badge

    I smell a hoax.

    At the time XP came out, that song was a ten year old favorite, and played a LOT on radio stations nation-wide. And the tasteless freaks who enjoy that song frequently cranked it. Often, I am sure, around laptops of all makes and models (especially on college campuses).

    Shirley this would have quickly become a fairly well known problem to those of us in the trade if it were true? Sheer numbers alone suggest it could not possibly have been overlooked.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Boffin

      Re: I smell a hoax.

      Depends on the source of the sound, I guess. Sound waves from a relatively distant radio would probably have a different effect to sound waves from the internal laptop speakers. Which perhaps also accounts for why it was only certain models - positioning and size of the internal speakers would also be relevant.

      GJC

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I smell a hoax.

        How about the example where "playing the video on one laptop would crash another nearby laptop"?

        I'd like to see this one demonstrated in a trustworthy lab. I've searched online, all I can find is assertions (basically, every tech publication has picked up on the same story). But I see no proof.

        Note that I'll be equally happy if it's real or a hoax ... I have no dog in this race.

        1. Geoff Campbell

          Re: I smell a hoax.

          Indeed, I am sceptical about that remote action, too. Just possible if the two machines were sat together on the same desk, I suppose, but I'm more inclined to just ignore that bit.

          GJC

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: I smell a hoax.

      Indeed, my thoughts on this were "Cool story, bro". My second thoughts we 'why state video, when it's the sound that's allegedly having the effect?". Then I thought "why just this song, there's a lot of music with varying tempo and beats, so why just this one song?". Given I listen to anything from classical, rock, metal, Norse folk music, electronica, drum 'n bass, hip hop, jazz etc through a decent set of monitor speakers by my desk, at reasonable volume, and none of it has triggered anything.. I think there's a whiff about this story.

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Re: I smell a hoax.

        Perhaps El Reg could do a community-service poll - provide a link to the video, along with the poll question "Did this crash your laptop?". Some of us are still spinning our rust for storage, and might be affected. Or not, if it's a total crock.

        1. MrDamage Silver badge

          Re: I smell a hoax.

          Many of us have boxes of bits we could throw together to test the various brands of rust to see whose can resist the siren's warble.

        2. NATTtrash Silver badge

          Re: I smell a hoax.

          Perhaps El Reg could do a community-service poll - provide a link to the video...

          Great idea!

          [CLICK HERE]

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I smell a hoax.

        > Given I listen to anything from classical, rock, metal, Norse folk music, electronica, drum 'n bass, hip hop, jazz etc through a decent set of monitor speakers by my desk, at reasonable volume, and none of it has triggered anything

        Music produced in the 80s often featured the new toys - synthesisers and digital recording - available to producers... if any era of music was going to feature notes of unnaturally clean timbre, it'd be the 1980s.

    3. Daniel B.

      Re: I smell a hoax.

      It’s a specific type of HDD with the issue, not all of them have it.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: I smell a hoax.

        re: "It’s a specific type of HDD with the issue"

        If there was any merit in the story though, we'd expect different tempo music affecting different hardware in the same way, and we've never encountered that. If your datacentre dumps it's fire suppression gas, that goes off with a bit of a pressure wave, and that can damage hard drives, but it is an energectic event. I doubt a few watts of sound energy can have the same effect as gas stored at a couple of hundred bar being dumped in seconds.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: I smell a hoax.

          > I doubt a few watts of sound energy...

          A few watts is all you need if it is of a frequency resonant with the target object. Tempo has nothing to do with it.

          Where where you during GCSE Physics classes?

          1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            Re: I smell a hoax.

            "Where where you during GCSE Physics classes?"

            Getting a grade A.

            And tempo could have an effect, as it's also a potential source of resonance. A drum beat is like pushing a swing, if the timing is right, the swing moves. I don't know the song, as I'm not a pop fan, but I doubt it has sustained monotone sine waves, so whatever is allegedly going on, it is fairly complex and unique to this song, so you can't really disregard any component of the music until you've tested it.

    4. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: I smell a hoax.

      It could be misinformation, but we are a few months removed from April 1st.

      It is entirely possible this WAS a problem back in the day. We just never identified it as such. We probably just said 'XYZ Brand' is absolute shite and we all knew to buy something different. Never gave it this much analysis.

    5. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I smell a hoax.

      > Shirley this would have quickly become a fairly well known problem to those of us in the trade if it were true?

      To spot this problem, you'd have to work through all the other reasons XP might crash or be laggy. For starters, one, it's Windows XP, and two, it's XP trying to run on a 5200 RPM HDD.

      The noise floor is high.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Twilight light zone

    Heady days when IDE was king and disks would crash due to orientation, would seas control of the primary bus regardless of the jumper settings and Amstrad PC set on interleave settings of 1:1 did not make it faster but needed 1:3 to make it better.

    Miss it. Hell no!

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    First seen in a test run on a certain mfgs tape drives

    The Black Team found the right read/write pattern and supposedly got the whole drive rocking.

    Never thought you could do it on something so (relatively) small.

    Lesson learned.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: First seen in a test run on a certain mfgs tape drives

      We figured out how to make disk drives walk when I was at DEC ...

      1. Zarno
        Coat

        Re: First seen in a test run on a certain mfgs tape drives

        There's a fetch/seek/hunt joke in there someplace, but I can't get my head around how to serve it up on a nice platter...

        Might be time to grab another cylinder of cold drinkable and work on the low level format for it.

        Ok, Ok, I'll grab my coat and wander to another sector, stop reaching for the fragmentation grenade...

  7. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Spindle speed

    Few modern machines have hard disk drives, never mind drives that rotate at the unfashionably slow speed of 5400 revolutions per minute.
    Indeed everything consumer grade seems to have migrated to 5900 RPM...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely you’ve heard of the

    Jackson Five 400?

  9. revenant
    Meh

    Am I safe?

    I like to keep the past alive (and I'm a tight-wad), so all of my PCs have 5400 spinning rust drives. Am I at risk, I wonder?

    Following the CVE link takes me to mitre.org, which links to nist.gov, which links to the Raymond Chen blog. No mention anywhere, as far as I can tell, of what precise brand of HDD is affected.

    I guess all I can do is ban Janet Jackson from the house until I find out. I can live with that.

    1. sarusa

      Re: Am I safe?

      I wouldn't worry too much about attacks like this (nobody cares about you unless you're working in critical infrastructure), but everything you have is running 10x slower than it could be. Spinning rust drives really are the bottleneck on anything they're in.

      We had a 5 year old computer at work that had a 1 TB HD - it would take 5 minutes to boot chunka chunka chunka chunka. This week we replaced it with a cheapass 870 EVO SATA SSD (nowhere near the fastest drive you can get) and now it boots in 15 seconds. Compiles that took 10 minutes take 30 seconds.

      Not everything about the past was good.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Am I safe?

        > Not everything about the past was good.

        Including Janet Jackson's music?

      2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: Am I safe?

        The CVE-writer(s) should have named manufacturers and drive models! Otherwise, it's just sensationalistic click-bait.

        In my experience (scads of USB flash drives, few SSDs), flash drives tend to fail without warning. Spinning rust, much less so. Thus I use actual-disc-disc-drives for bulk data, and SSDs for compilation-related subdirs: /usr/src/, /usr/ports/, /usr/obj/, /usr/xobj/, and /usr/xenocara/.

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: Am I safe?

          "In my experience (scads of USB flash drives, few SSDs), flash drives tend to fail without warning. Spinning rust, much less so."

          A very good point. Also SSD tends to fail irrevocably, whereas if you have the dosh you can get spinning platters read in a cleanroom supposing the drive electronics have failed. There's also a so far largely undetermined potential for data loss from SSD due to charge leakage, but I have some 30 year old platter HDDs that can still be read reliably.

          So very definitely horses for courses, rather than 'bleeding edge' versus 'legacy', but the bottom line is nevertheless 'back up and back up'.

          1. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: Am I safe?

            A very good point. Also SSD tends to fail irrevocably, whereas if you have the dosh you can get spinning platters read in a cleanroom supposing the drive electronics have failed.

            No need for clean room. I recall recovering customer's data from "dead" drives by swapping in PCB from a working drive.

            Granted, these were old Seagate MFM/RLL drives and I also tried to use same/similar revision board if possible.

            1. hayzoos

              Re: Am I safe?

              I did the same PCB swap drive recovery on MFM/RLL and IDE and SATA drives.

              1. that one in the corner Silver badge

                Re: Am I safe?

                Also worked for a SCSI disk that let the magic smoke out (blowing a neat little hole in the controller IC). Luckily, that was back in the dim and distant days of 1994 (approximately), when local Computer Faires were a thing and there were so few drive types available to home users that it was actually a practical idea to go and hope to find a matching second-hand drive to be a board donor.

          2. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Am I safe?

            > Also SSD tends to fail irrevocably, whereas if you have the dosh you can get spinning platters read in a cleanroom supposing the drive electronics have failed.

            Why not just restore your redundant back-ups?

  10. John 73
    Unhappy

    Lay off Janet

    Fun story. But please, when writing, lay off the anti-Black prejudice. Sure, you may not like Janet Jackson's music yourself, especially the old stuff, but she's still an icon for many people. She's as talented as anyone else in that family, has been making music successfully for decades, and has suffered a *lot* of nasty attacks because of her race and gender.

    It's really not a good look to be bashing Black culture so casually, when the story's actually about something else. Do better, please, vultures!

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Lay off Janet

      WTF?

      For the record, I've been listening to a lot of the old Motown stuff for the last ten days or so, male and female artists, mostly black, in memory of Lamont Dozier. I didn't have to purchase any tunes, I already own them on CD, and they are all on the permanent rotation here at chez jake.

      Calling crap crap has nothing to do with race or gender.

      1. John 73

        Re: Lay off Janet

        The writing was lazy, talking about Janet Jackson as though her music is axiomatically rubbish. The story was a fun piece about music trashing HDs. No need for casual dismissal of the music and its creator, surely.

        I fully appreciate that El Reg has a casual tone, but there's casual-fun and casual-thoughtless. Let's try and avoid the latter.

        1. F. Frederick Skitty

          Re: Lay off Janet

          I find her music from that era really annoying (Jam and Lewis's music really - she didn't write a note of it). Horrible DX7 electric piano sounds, sterile production and no dynamics. Doesn't make me a racist, just music I subjectively dislike.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Lay off Janet

            You forgot gratuitous use of autotune ...

            1. VicMortimer

              Re: Lay off Janet

              Autotune didn't exist until 1997, making it relatively difficult for her to have used it on a 1989 album.

      2. Snake Silver badge
        Stop

        No. I'm calling you out on your Freudian slip

        "Calling crap crap has nothing to do with race or gender."

        And with that little slip of the tongue we actually know your true agenda.

        Janet's Rhythm Nation

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhythm_Nation

        is not only considered the high point of her musical career it is also her most popular album, with over 14 million copies sold, and is also critically well received. The hit songs are still being covered by modern artists to this day, and some of today's top-selling artists quote it as an influence.

        So with that Freudian slip we know that YOU choose not to like it and are trying to use your influential position to push that dislike as a acceptable position to others. Many, many "influencers" in today's society try to push that garbage, "I don't like it, therefore nobody should!" on others all the time - heck, it's the modus operandi to a lot of today's social and news media.

        Just own up to it: you don't like Ms. Jackson's music and wish to [openly] communicate this dislike to others. At least be honest in your intentions and people can then accept, or dismiss, your personal agenda inside the balance of the story.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: No. I'm calling you out on your Freudian slip

          It may well be true that the poster simply hates Janet Jacksons music, or at least doesn't like it. That still doesn't make it a racist or gender-based comment. At worst, the evidence may point to it being a Janet Jackonist comment.

          1. Snake Silver badge

            Re: No. I'm calling you out on your Freudian slip

            I'll agree with that, just because you don't like Janet Jackson doesn't mean, in any measure, that you do so because of her race or gender. You just may not like the genre / sound of the music.

            Still, the author hides his personal bias against Janet Jackson with 'weasel words' rather than let readers openly know his stance, and therefore why he/she might be so thrilled to cover such a story. I've simply grown tired of this personal yet hidden agenda in many media outlets (it is especially vivid in the motorcycle reviewer realm), I've been seeing it for way over a decade now, and I'm calling it out. If you have a bias against the object / person being covered, either expose your bias openly or simply don't cover the story at all.

    2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: Lay off Janet

      You're trolling, right? The only subjective thing written in that article is where the author wrote 'the song isn't THAT bad'. Anti-black? Are you one of those people who looks for AND successfully finds racism wherever you see fit?

      1. John 73

        Re: Lay off Janet

        Actually, I particularly noted the phrase: "hardly anybody listens to Janet Jackson anymore." Which is absolutely untrue.

        1. TheProf

          Re: Lay off Janet

          I saw her on 'Top Of The Pops' last, err, 2004?

          1. John 73

            Re: Lay off Janet

            Top of the Pops stopped in 2006...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Lay off Janet

              Not my type of music, but I thought her biggest moment was that wardrobe malfunction at the Super bowl?

              1. John 73

                Re: Lay off Janet

                You mean the time that Justin Timberlake ripped off her clothes live on stage, and she was the one whose career was harmed? Oh, you'd forgotten that it wasn't actually her doing, or that the display of her body on TV doesn't seem to have been fully consensual? Funny, that.

        2. genghis_uk
          FAIL

          Re: Lay off Janet

          If it said nobody listens to JJ any more that would be untrue - hardly anyone implies that some do but not many.

          I started a WTF post a few hours go but couldn't decide if you were trying to find offense somewhere like a woke teenage Twitter user, if you were an offended superfan who was just misguided in their musical preference or having a laugh and trolling... You may have answered that one - back to twitter with you!

        3. Blazde

          Re: Lay off Janet

          "hardly anybody listens to Janet Jackson anymore." Which is absolutely untrue.

          Indeed. She's got 5.5mil monthly listeners on Spotify. That's fully twice as many people as listen to Aqua's Barbie Girl each month..

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Lay off Janet

            That's fully twice as many people as listen to Aqua's Barbie Girl each month..

            You probably shouldn't judge Aqua by that track. They've released three albums so far and all were pretty good for the most part. I'd particularly recommend their last album - although not as a birthday gift for young children.

            Not safe for work.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Lay off Janet

            And if Spotify users I know are anything to go by, they just keep adding to their play lists and playing on shuffle. They rarely delete a song from the list so people some of those people playing her songs are doing so not out of "fandom" but simple inertia and laziness :-)

    3. Geoff Campbell

      Re: Lay off Janet

      <peers over glasses>

      So we can't criticise the music of anyone who is black? Isn't that rather counter-productive?

      GJC

      1. John 73

        Re: Lay off Janet

        Who's "we" in that question?

        And there's criticism and then there's casual denigration of a hugely successful musician who's suffered huge prejudice in her career, for a cheap gag.

        1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

          Re: Lay off Janet

          Causually denigrating a musician isn't attacking all black musicians. Janet Jackson is objectively crap: there, I've said it. It's only overly sensitive troublemakers who see a race problem in everything. There are a lot of white musicians about whom many people would say 'nobody listens to them any more'.

          Nobody listens to Scott Joplin much any more, relatively. He's certainly not crap.

          And Michael Jackson, good riddance.

          1. swm Silver badge

            Re: Lay off Janet

            "Nobody listens to Scott Joplin much any more, relatively. He's certainly not crap."

            I love playing Scot Joplin on the piano. Great stuff.

        2. Geoff Campbell

          Re: Lay off Janet

          OK. I have to say I have absolutely no idea where you're coming from on this one, so I shall not pursue it further.

          If you want to make out that this is because I am somehow unconsciously racist, misogynistic, or in any other way down on some subsection of my fellow humans, I'm afraid I shall have to laugh at you, loudly.

          GJC

        3. jake Silver badge

          Re: Lay off Janet

          "Who's "we" in that question?"

          Anybody who isn't you, Kemosabe. Apparently.

          TINW

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Lay off Janet

            Careful with that "kemosabe" word Jake. People might get the wrong idea :-)

        4. iron Silver badge

          Re: Lay off Janet

          The Jackson Five were good in their day.

          Janet was mass produced, plastic shit. In his later years her brother Michael was also shit and not someone you leave alone with your kids.

        5. Anonymous Coward
    4. Postscript
      Stop

      Re: Lay off Janet

      I, too, was surprised by all the dunking on Janet Jackson. She's an icon and has taken plenty of abuse already in her career. Even if it's not meant in a racist & sexist way, the end result is indistinguishable so maybe give it a rest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lay off Janet

        There's nothing racist or sexist about calling her awful music awful.

        I mean, I don't know her, she might be an absolutely lovely person. But the music is truly bad. There's nothing racist about that, virtually all pop music throughout history has been truly awful.

        If it makes you feel any better, her music has nothing on her dead pedo brother's horrific aural assaults.

        1. Donny_U

          Re: Lay off Janet

          Based on who's analysis? Yours? Both Michael and Janet are *objectively* two of the most beloved artists in mainstream pop, in both critical reception and long-lasting cultural influence. Stop talking outta your ass and leave it at "not my cup o' tea" because you clearly know nothing about music but your little dusty corner.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lay off Janet

            Blimey, the fanbois in this articles comment section are worse than the linux ones on el'reg!

    5. S4qFBxkFFg
      Trollface

      Re: Lay off Janet

      Oh, well cast sir! That's a lot of bites.

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Lay off Janet

      Would you be ranting for the defence of Tom Jones if it was a song by an old white man that was alleged to have caused the issue? Skin colour has NOTHING to do with it. It's one song, by one person.

    7. Donny_U

      Re: Lay off Janet

      Agreed these dweebs getting outta pocket.

    8. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Lay off Janet

      > She's as talented as anyone else in that family, has been making music successfully for decades, and has suffered a *lot* of nasty attacks because of her race and gender.

      That's odd, because I love Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin,

    9. Sam Therapy
      Mushroom

      Re: Lay off Janet

      Oh, do give over. I believe I have a dog in this fight, having some African ancestry. I don't see slagging off JJ as being in any way racist. The song is tripe, as is, IMO, most of her output. At best, I'd describe her stuff as throwaway pop fluff, at worst, something I'd go a long way to avoid.

    10. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      Re: Lay off Janet

      Sorry but her music is commercial "gruel" churned out by corporate song writers who's main job is to produce music that fits the current popular radio sound! As far as talent, her vocals are always a mix of over-layed voices of which hers is just a small part!

      As far as abuse, she and her siblings got far more abuse from their father than they did from anyone in the public. The man was an abusive A-hole!

      Black culture (in the US) from when they were kids was a vibrant and positive thing. Black culture from the 80's to the present is hopelessly broken! Until blacks in America realize that the people they've entrusted their lives to are the ones screwing them over this won't change!

  11. TheProf
    Joke

    Vibrations

    "the song isn't actually that bad."

    Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My wife has a Shakira CD with some kind of DRM. It is printed on the case "will not play on a PC or Mac".

    It says nothing about not playing on a Sun Sparc server. So I put in to see what would happen. Instant kernel panic and dropped to the OK prompt. Yikes!

    It only took a few seconds for the support phone to start ringing...

    "Don't worry, I'm working on the problem already and should have it back up in a few minutes"

    1. hgfdhgddghgfh

      I had a CD with the same warning on it, it refused to play in the car. However it did work just fine on the PC and the copy I subsequently made played fine in the car.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Let's go back to those days of DRM...

      That stuff failed to stop the content being format-shifted. Even in Windows I seem to recall EAC would rip them, allegedly.

    3. Kaki
      Angel

      I had a cd with drm too, didn't say anythimg about others OSes, so i ripped it in the old xbox, and all was normal once the files were transfered to the pc.

    4. Jay 2

      Many years ago I had a Discman which would also play MP3s (as in the files on a filesystem) burned onto a CD. Great as you could get a lot of music into ~650MB back then. The slight down side is that it would refuse to play any CDs that had some of the DRM stuff on it. Any such CD was sent back for a refund.

  13. PhilipN Silver badge

    "Few modern machines.."

    Define "modern".

    Come to think of it, define "machine". SSD ain't.

  14. Ball boy

    Some mileage in this...

    C'mon folks, some tracks are known issues:

    Led Zeppelin Communication Breakdown: Causes immediate NIC failure

    Prodigy Firestarter: PSU magic smoke

    Proclaimers 500 miles: DAT cartridge spooling fault

    Oh - and if you play Pink Floyd's Learning To Fly near BOFF central you can expect an accountancy head crash.

    I'm sure there are more.....

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Some mileage in this...

      Everything ever churned out by the awful ABBA machine gives me a migraine.

      (I suppose that makes me misogynistic, a misandrist, and hate white people.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Some mileage in this...

        A Scandinavian hater at least!

    2. F. Frederick Skitty

      Re: Some mileage in this...

      Don't forget Killing Joke's "I Am The Virus".

    3. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C
      Boffin

      Re: Some mileage in this...

      White Town had the decency to warn us with "Abort, Retry, Fail?"

    4. Korev Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Some mileage in this...

      Feeder Crash

    5. ariels-again

      Re: Some mileage in this...

      Abba can cause some problems with lockfree algorithms. See e.g. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABA_problem for a brief survey.

    6. Uncle Slacky
      Thumb Up

      Re: Some mileage in this...

      Not forgetting "Virus Alert" by Weird Al Yankovic:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvfD5rnkTws

  15. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Malfunction?

    Janet Jackson is not stranger to things malfunctioning...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5OWlw8pwG0

    Best not play Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake back to back

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Malfunction?

      That was no malfunction. Nor was it "art". Nor music.

      What it was was cold, calculated marketing. A commercial.

      1. Donny_U

        Re: Malfunction?

        That wasn't a comment. Nor was it thought. Nor intelligence.

        It was hot, blustering air, devoid of insight and smelling of bullshit.

  16. steviebuk Silver badge

    What?

    "Few modern machines have hard disk drives,"

    My PC is still full of them. Cheaper than SSD and well, just cheaper.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: What?

      They also last a lot longer if not abused.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What?

      I fret about the hard disk in my laptop - as it has a built-in SD cache to supposedly speed up access time.

  17. Notas Badoff

    If you refuse me I will be blue(screened)

    I'm amazed no one has mentioned "Indian Love Call". It figured rather prominently in a movie about failing heads...

  18. vincent himpe

    So it is ...

    a brown note. the harddisk craps itself.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "But it does feel safe to remind readers of the weirdest bug The Register has previously encountered"

    Nothing strange about cosmic rays causing crashes. It is a phenomenon known about for over 40 years - IIRC affecting particularly DRAM. Hence the FITS*** measurement for such devices. The denser the number of memory cells - the more likely that a bit change could be effected by altering the charge.

    It was interesting that using higher spec ceramic rather than plastic chip encapsulations made the problem worse. Ceramics are a natural source of localised cosmic rays IIRC subatomic particles due to radioactive decay.

    A customer wanted to keep their large number of new banking terminals (no RAM parity or ECC) running without reloading daily over the network. We asked our environmental specialist for his opinion on the FITS risk. He calculated an undetected error somewhere in their branches once every two weeks. What the error would corrupt might be code or data - or unused memory space. The customer decided a daily reload would be advisable.

    ***Failures in Ten to the Nine

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Story of holes

    The fact that Raymond Chen and others find this story of holes believable is the most disturbing part. A colleague told me... instant hearsay established. Major laptop manufacturer and hard drive brand unnamed. No problem. The fix = "adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback". So the laptop manufacturer try to fix a resonance problem with somebody's else's hard drive, by adding an audio filter to their own laptop. And that make sense why? Raymond Chen admits the CVE part is somebody playing a joke, but you know... still trusts his colleague is not pranking the hell out of him. Too late.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Perfect August story

      It is the summer silly season when actual news is thin on the ground. August is the perfect time of tales that seem too good to be true.

      On a more serious note, it is just reporting what Chen said, and that a CVE was assigned, which is funny. No one's confirmed the actual issue.

      Our readers are smart enough to know how much weight to put on these sorts of yarns.

      C.

      1. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Perfect August story

        Perhaps Bootnotes instead of Security for this kind of thing?

        It's all good. I seriously doubt you'll lose any readership over it, regardless.[0]

        It's Friday, this round's on me :-)

        [0] Except perhaps the odd teen-angst account, created especially to bitch about it ...

  21. Glen Turner 666

    Chain printers too

    People used to do this with chain printers.

    Those printers rotate a chain containing characters at high speed past 132 hammers. As the character to be printed passes the hammer, the hammer strikes the chain, the chain then punches onto the paper via the inked ribbon. With each hammer strike the paper advances one line. This gives about the quality of text you'd expect. But they were fast, since they printed an entire line very quickly.

    With rotating chains, hammering and paper being pulled through at a high speed, these printers were open to all sorts of physical nastiness by people carefully choosing text to print. Beginners would fire all hammers at once, experts would fire them all, wait, and fire them all again, and maybe throw in a page feed, to initiate a harmonic rocking of the printer. The godlike could time hammer strikes to make the chain temporarily halt, leading to a sideways rocking of the printer.

  22. sipke

    Brown note

    It's basically the Brown Note for old hard drives. Imagine a music video that contains both the Human Brown Note and the 5400 Hard Drive Brown Note. Talk about a sudden, unexpected mess.

  23. Richard Pennington 1
    Devil

    Not the first exploit from commercially distributed media

    Hands up who remembers the Sony Rootkit from 2005?

  24. Trevor Gale
    Coat

    Resonant frequencies? Music? I wonder how many line printers suffered back in the day when certain prints were sent to the queue for loud musical entertainment in the computer room? After, of course, the necessary copies of 'Eskimo Nell' were printed following the nsfw 'acsii-art' printouts of other lovely ladies were queued for pinning up in the operators' cabin! ;-)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I proudly present the Floptrotron

    This has been around for quite some time, at least since 2011 and is now v3.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCCXRerqaJI

  26. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Does it need a color?

    There is the myth of the "brown" note. Would this be the "Blue" (screen of death) note?

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