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Janet Jackson’s 1989 mega-hit ‘Rhythm Nation’ sonically smashes old hard drives

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Janet Jackson’s 1989 mega-hit ‘Rhythm Nation’ sonically smashes old hard drives

The “brown noise” is a legendary tone purportedly capable of causing people to lose control of their bowels when subjected to its gut-punching harmonic resonance. South Park did a whole thing on it. Turns out that the 5,400 RPM hard drives from a number of old Windows-era laptops possess a brown note of their own: Janet Jackson’s 1989 mega-hit “Rhythm Nation.”

According to Microsoft Software Engineer, Raymond Chen, who recounted the tale in a Microsoft Developers Blog post earlier this week, “a major computer manufacturer discovered” that playing the music video (above) would not only crash the hard drive of the laptop it was running on, but also any other similar model within earshot.

The Mitre Corporation was not amused by this newfound vulnerability, issuing it an entry in the CVE database. After a thorough investigation, the device manufacturer confirmed that the song contained one of the natural resonant frequencies of the hard drives playing the song essentially rattled the devices apart. Rather than recall untold numbers of decades-old drives, the manufacturer instead opted to develop a workaround by “adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback,” according to Chen. 

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USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign

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USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign

, Senior Editor

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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Cheaper OLED monitors might be coming soon

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Cheaper OLED monitors might be coming soon

, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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NASA Says Hurricane Didn’t Hurt Artemis I Hardware, Sets New Launch Window

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NASA Says Hurricane Didn’t Hurt Artemis I Hardware, Sets New Launch Window

NASA’s Artemis I moon mission launch, stalled by Hurricane Ian, has a new target for takeoff. The launch window for step one of NASA’s bold plan to return humans to the lunar surface now opens Nov. 12 and closes Nov. 27, the space agency said Friday. 

The news comes after the pending storm caused NASA to scrub the latest Artemis I Iaunch, which had been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2. As Hurricane Ian threatened to travel north across Cuba and into Florida, bringing rain and extreme winds to the launch pad’s vicinity, NASA on Monday rolled its monster Space Launch System rocket, and the Orion spacecraft it’ll propel, back indoors to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. 

The hurricane made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, bringing with it a catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding that left dozens of people dead, caused widespread power outages and ripped buildings from their foundations. Hurricane Ian is “likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history,” US President Joe Biden said on Friday, adding that it will take “months, years, to rebuild.”

Initial inspections Friday to assess potential impacts of the devastating storm to Artemis I flight hardware showed no damage, NASA said. “Facilities are in good shape with only minor water intrusion identified in a few locations,” the agency said in a statement. 

Next up, teams will complete post-storm recovery operations, which will include further inspections and retests of the flight termination system before a more specific launch date can be set. The new November launch window, NASA said, will also give Kennedy employees time to address what their families and homes need post-storm. 

Artemis I is set to send instruments to lunar orbit to gather vital information for Artemis II, a crewed mission targeted for 2024 that will carry astronauts around the moon and hopefully pave the way for Artemis III in 2025. Astronauts on that high-stakes mission will, if all goes according to plan, put boots on the lunar ground, collect samples and study the water ice that’s been confirmed at the moon’s South Pole. 

The hurricane-related Artemis I rollback follows two other launch delays, the first due to an engine problem and the second because of a hydrogen leak.

Hurricane Ian has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone but is still bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to the Mid-Atlantic region and the New England coast.

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