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This Janet Jackson Song May Crash Some Computers, Here’s What We Know – Edition du soir Ouest-France

Laptops will be at risk of failure because of the piece Rhythm Nation by American singer Janet Jackson. It is a manager of the American computer giant Microsoft who confirms this, in an article published on Tuesday 16 August 2022 on his blog. But how is it possible?

Some songs have the power to make you smile, others stick in your head as surely as the Band-Aid stuck to Captain Haddock’s finger, and still others can… crash computers. This is the surprising conclusion of an article published by developer Raymond Chen, a manager of the American computer giant Microsoft, on his blog, Tuesday, August 16, 2022. The piece in question? Rhythm Nationby American singer Janet Jackson, released in 1989.

“Something extremely strange”

In his article, noticed by the specialized media The Edge Raymond Chen explains that he likes the story of one of his “colleagues” which worked on supporting the Windows XP operating system, which was introduced in 2001. The engineer describes the facts quite succinctly, without giving too many details.

Initially, a “major computer manufacturer” reportedly discovered that playing the music video for Janet Jackson’s song, launched on some laptops, caused the devices to crash. The phenomenon would also have occurred on other models sold by competitors.

Another element: the specialists who looked at the problem “discovered something extremely bizarre”, he adds. “Playing the track of the song on a computer crashed another laptop placed next to it” and who have not read the piece in question.

What makes and models of computers are affected? When was the phenomenon discovered? And under what circumstances? Raymond Chen does not say so. However, what we can conclude is that the story probably belongs to the past: Microsoft abandoned Windows XP in 2014.

A question of frequency

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Boxes of CDs for installing Windows XP, in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo: Ahmad Yusni / AFP)

Raymond Chen also explains the phenomenon: the song would contain one of the “natural resonant frequencies” hard drives with which the relevant models were equipped. Gold, “every object tends to vibrate at a specific frequency called the natural frequency of vibration”, explains the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety. And that’s what would have happened to the hard drives of the computers in question, causing the devices to crash, points out The Edge.

The engineer also explains that at the time the problem was identified, the computer manufacturer in question had implemented measures to make it possible to play the song on potentially affected devices.

The British media The Register also noticed that this Janet Jackson song is now on a database that lists computer security vulnerabilities. According to this document, malicious people can use Rhythm Nation to voluntarily stop certain devices from working! Also specify that the hard drives in question were fitted to laptops … around the year 2005.

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