Microsoft Developer Reveals How Janet Jackson's Song “Killed” Laptops in the 2000s

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Andrei Pronin

Lifehacker Author

Microsoft developer reveals how Janet Jackson's song

Microsoft developer Raymond Chen wrote on the company blog about very strange cases during the Windows XP era, when some laptops crashed after playing Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation clip.

One of the major laptop manufacturers encountered this, which during Searching for the cause found out that the problem also affects devices from other manufacturers. Moreover, it turned out that not only the computers on which the track is played are out of order, but also the PCs nearby.

It turned out that the cause of all the breakdowns one, Janet Jackson's song contained one of the resonant frequencies of laptop hard drives running at 5400 rpm. Simply put, the track resonated with the hard drive and disabled it.

The manufacturer solved the problem by adding a special filter to the audio pipeline that detected and removed unwanted frequencies during sound playback.

Raymond Chen notes that this incident is reminiscent of the story of the Tacoma Bridge. In the 1940s, it was the third longest suspension bridge in the world (1.65 km). It was called one of the strongest and most flexible, but a few months after the opening, it collapsed from a strong wind. Subsequent tests showed that the powerful structure was very vulnerable to simple vibrations created by certain gusts of wind. These lessons were taken into account in the construction of all subsequent bridges.

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