• NULLPTR (unregistered)

    throw new InvalidHardwareException();

  • King (unregistered)

    The horror! The horror!

  • (nodebb)

    Techno-virus eh? Sounds like the work of the Dark Mechanicus. DEATH TO THE FALSE EMPEROR!

  • (nodebb)

    My dad once told me the tale of a technician (er, not my dad, duh) who was tasked with using these four disk drives (CDC Storage Module Devices or similar) to format these twenty disk packs. Not really a hard concept(1), but...

    Early in the process, one of the drives had a head crash, which kinda wrecks the drive(2), and definitively wrecks the pack (tears up the disk surface(s)) that's in the drive at that moment. Our unhero realised that something had gone wrong, and put the wrecked pack in one of the good drives.

    Well, you can see where this is going. In the end, the dude managed to wreck all the drives and all the packs.

    (1) There's a chunk of slightly physical labour, since each pack contains a spindle and 5-14 (depending on capacity) 14-inch diameter platters made of 3mm aluminium, so they weigh rather more than a couple of grams. But it's intellectually simple work.(3)

    (2) The heads need replacing and the compartment where the pack goes needs to be carefully cleaned to remove all the tiny fragments.

    (3) Unless the electromagnetic brake on the drive's spindle fails "off", in which case the pack will take weeks to spin down and you have to find a way of stopping it sooner without filling the compartment with fluff or similar.(4)

    (4) I've seen this happen. My dad changed the brake assembly once we had stopped and removed the pack and let me keep the busted one.

  • Dave (unregistered)

    If the hardware virus actually existed as described, it really didn't need the bad horror pastiche tacked on.

  • William F (unregistered) in reply to Dave

    Didn't it though? Isn't half the fun of reading TDWTF the schlock factor? And then you get to make snarky comments like that one and this one.

  • Andrew (unregistered)

    TRWTF is DVI ports on laptops.

  • Crazychile (unregistered)

    Stanley needs to back off from the coffee, and up his meds.

  • Church (unregistered) in reply to Andrew

    Next you'll tell me that SCSI on my old laptop was also a WTF. Laptop hardware has some very dark spots in its history, I tell you.

  • Legacy Warrior (unregistered)

    That reminds me of the "Click of Death" issue some people saw with Zip Drives where certain corrupt data on a Zip Disk could cause it to physically damage itself and the drive it was inserted into. New (undamaged) disks would be damaged in a similar manner and could propagate that damage to new devices.

  • Just for Laughes (unregistered)

    I'm beginning to suspect Jimmy Fallon is really a woman.

  • doubting_poster (unregistered)

    I had to double check this wasn't a classic WTF... haven't we seen this one before?

  • (nodebb)

    This "virus" is easy to fix. If you wrap the laptop and the cable in tin foil then nothing bad can happen.

  • Milkshake (unregistered) in reply to Dave

    Oh, it exists.

    "Virus" maybe isn't the right word, but a plug that's been bent the right amount will mangle everything it touches. Happened at my workplace with a VGA cable that someone managed to make fit upside down.

  • Mithras (unregistered)

    I think what’s described is basically a hardware prion – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prion

  • EddieTheJedi (unregistered) in reply to Milkshake

    "Virus" seems like the right word for a deformed plug that damages every port it touches, in such a way as to deform every plug that subsequently touches that port in the same way.

  • Angela Anuszewski (google) in reply to doubting_poster

    I'm guessing this is the origin story. https://rachelbythebay.com/w/2012/09/24/dvi/

  • Anon E Mouse (unregistered) in reply to Steve_The_Cynic

    Saw the same thing @ Uni in the early 80s.

    IBM 3330s had a head crash during backups - in those days it was pack-to-pack, with the backup destination pack being placed on a spare drive. So we have one drive and one pack down.

    Instead of calling service, the operator mounted a new pack on the spare drive - killed it - second pack dead. Mounted the failed pack on another drive - killed it - second drive dead.

    Thankfully the senior operator stopped him then, before we went 3 for 3 - we only had 7 drives + system at the time...

  • (nodebb)

    Really more of a prion than a virus.

  • anonymous (unregistered)

    I thought this was going to be like the "you can't plug your laptop into our projector in case your laptop has a virus, rather plug your USB stick into our laptop" story from a while ago but I was glad to see that for once the guy who was seemingly getting in the protagonist's way was actually justified in his actions. I can imagine the frustration of trying to track down the cause of such an issue and then trying to eradicate it even with potentially-damaged cables potentially hidden in every cupboard in the building.

  • Brian (unregistered)


  • Kanitatlan (unregistered)

    We once had an engineer come to fix a disc drive who decided to use an EXAMINE ROUT TRACE command (yes, of course you don't recognise the command) as test. This simply scans through the entire directory and reports on it. Obviously quite safe given the fault was a write error and this obviously only reads stuff ... Except, oh dear, it updates the last accessed stamp on every directory. It turned out to be a highly effective scheme for destroying the entire directory structure on the drive without damaging any files. We had enormous fun recovering it using the directories of a back up whilst retaining the files.

  • DCL (unregistered) in reply to Anon E Mouse

    Heard of the same but with 2314 disks. The hapless operator killed all 9 drives in the unit (8 drives + 1 spare).

  • Cargo Cult (unregistered)

    Not a hardware virus - a hardware prion, surely?

    (Even more terrifying - a mis-folding provoking more mis-folding. I suggest taking off and nuking the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.)

  • (nodebb) in reply to Milkshake

    Not so much a virus, just a couple of dropped letters: it was a bent prion.

  • (nodebb)

    The problem with the zip disks wasn't corrupt data, it was physical damage to the disk. A damaged disk would damage the head, a damaged head would damage the disk.

  • Brian (unregistered)

    It is really more prion disease than virus (sorry, bionerds gotta bionerd), but either way, an enlightening and entertaining story.

  • TheNewCoke (unregistered) in reply to Legacy Warrior

    That was the case with the HDD-like Sparq disks and their drives. A bad Sparq disk corrupted the drive and caused it to corrupt any other disk it wrote to.

  • Paul M (unregistered)

    We had a bad Dell dock once.. It would kill any laptop that was used with it after an hour or so. It took two laptop motherboards to the grave before we realised it was the common factor in their early deaths. Had the office been fully set up for hot desking, the death toll would certainly have been higher.

  • Bobcat (unregistered) in reply to Milkshake

    Some jackass where I work stole my charging cable (one of the nice, good quality ones), and then returned it the next day in a mangled state. Given the damage, it seems they'd tried to make a USB-C plug fit into a micro-USB port, and wouldn't take no for an answer.

    I tried to track down the culprit by seeing who got a new phone, but to no avail.

  • Daiedalous (unregistered) in reply to Milkshake

    VGA... Upside-down?

    Mary mother of God...

  • Mr. Smartypants (unregistered)

    Hey, since no one else has mentioned it yet, I think this "virus" sounds more like a prion.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Bobcat

    Some jackass where I work stole my charging cable (one of the nice, good quality ones), and then returned it the next day in a mangled state.

    If it's your personal property, then I'd say that it's time for an email to [email protected] asking that the person who maliciously and deliberately destroyed your cable to own up and to pay for a replacement.

  • ARTHUR (unregistered) in reply to NULLPTR

    Techno fiction at its worst !!!!!!!!

  • Aaron (unregistered) in reply to doubting_poster

    Yes, you've seen this before. It's an uncredited lift from this original: https://rachelbythebay.com/w/2012/09/24/dvi/

  • Stranger Things (unregistered)

    For the youngin' reading this:

    Back in the days of the drives mentioned in this story -- the 1980s or earlier -- the innards of a hard disk drive were exposed - the heads and disks platters were open to the air and accessible. A hard drive crash meant the heads hit the platter and threw debris in all directions. Once described as a 747 flying 3 feet off the ground. The hard drive was a unit the size and shape of a top loading washing machine. For scale, the capacity of the drive packs were maybe 5MB to up to 300MB. Of course hard drives today are completely sealed, but if its still iron heads and not SSD, a crash can still happen.

  • NXTangl (unregistered) in reply to EddieTheJedi

    I'd probably call it a "computer prion" myself.

  • markm (unregistered)

    I never saw the Zip "click of death" drive/disk failure, but I recall a class-action lawsuit over it. And I learned to be very cynical about class-action lawsuits from this...

    For the younger readers, the Iomega Zip disks were a sort of high performance floppy disk in the mid-1990's, with a flexible disk about the same size as a regular 3.5" diskette, but with a greatly beefed up housing (at least 3 times as thick, and enough larger across that it wouldn't fit in the existing boxes for diskettes. The disk spun much faster than diskettes, and the disk was drawn towards the head by the Bernoulli effect - this is an aerodynamic effect that reduces the air pressure when air flow (or surface movement in this case) is constricted; thus the head spacing was close but well controlled so the head could not hit the disk, and the disk moved back from the head when the spin slowed.

    There were internally-mounted Zip drives, and there were portable drives with a parallel printer port interface cable. (USB wasn't out yet.) The disks cost about $10 each and the drives were initially about $200, with the price dropping rapidly. Each disk had a capacity of 100 MB (later 250 MB, and finally 750 MB), which wasn't much smaller than many desktop hard drives, and the data rate seemed to be a good match to a parallel printer port used as a two-way data link - much, much faster than diskettes, but much slower than hard drives.

    For several years, I was carrying around a 100MB Zip drive with a parallel-port cable (USB didn't exist yet), to distribute software to and backup from about 30 non-networked (and mostly obsolete) PC's spread around a factory floor, as tester and machine controllers. Another drive stayed in the office, plugged into the engineering server.


  • markm (unregistered)

    By 1998 when I heard about the Click-of-Death, I was already considering replacing the Zip drives with a write-once CD drive; the price for a portable writeable CD drive with a parallel port cable was getting near $200, the same as the original price of the Zip drives, and the disks cost only about $1 and held five times as much data. They weren't re-usable, but we almost never erased and re-used a backup disk anyway. The backups could be read by the CD drive in any new-ish computer. The possibility of a Click-of-Death episode just gave me one more argument to get the PO signed.

    Some lawyers filed a class-action suit against Iomega for the hardware and data losses from the Click-of-Death, and eventually Iomega settled. It wasn't clear if never having experienced this problem disqualified us from the settlement. BUT then I learned the details of the settlement: The lawyers got millions in cash. Users of Zip drives got coupons that gave you 10% off of the LIST PRICE of more Zip drives, but I could not see how anyone would want those coupons.

    1. With the coupon, a new Zip drive was likely to cost more than the discount prices already available.

    2. If you'd actually been burned by the Click-of-Death, why would you want to buy more of these drives?

    3. IMO, Zip drives were already obsolete because writeable CD's did the same job better for about the same cost.

  • eric bloedow (unregistered)

    one of the comments reminded me of a story: old hard drives required users to specify where the data was on the disk.so a youngster wondered, "what would happen if i told it to read track 99?"...SNAP! broke the drive heard right off!

  • (nodebb) in reply to Mr. Smartypants

    Well, I don't know about the others, but when I posted my comment to that effect all the earlier ones that did so were still held for moderation.

    Addendum 2019-07-19 20:34: Yes (gasp!) I checked!

  • The Chuckster (unregistered)

    the Woman had a microUSB cable i told her was bad and to toss it......one $700 cell (hers) phone and $300 worth of my favorite no longer available bluetooth hands free cell phone devices later (they would blink lights and go dead never to function again after this cable was plugged into them..the phone just went completely crazy and evetuallly refused to charge) i cut the ends off that cable....no idea what was wrong with it but it wiped everything it was used with....

  • Adrian (unregistered)

    Yeah this exists alright. Seen it happen when I worked in IT support at a major worldwide bank. Those stupid dvi connectors used on older professional ati / amd graphics cards that had about 30 pins. Always getting broken and destroying expensive graphics cards in the process.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Stranger Things

    Back in the days of the drives mentioned in this story -- the 1980s or earlier -- the innards of a hard disk drive were exposed - the heads and disks platters were open to the air and accessible.

    They weren't exposed once the pack was loaded, of course. There was a top-mounted flap that had to be latched closed before the drive would spin up.

    The hard drive was a unit the size and shape of a top loading washing machine.

    Depends on the top-loader you have, and the drive. The SMDs that my dad's company had when I worked there one summer were significantly longer front-to-back than any washing machine I ever saw(1). And of course I have a top-loader washing machine in my appartement, and it's actually smaller than a normal European front-loader. How does that work?

    Well, the drum rotates on a horizontal axis (oriented left-right rather than the more normal front-back for European front-loaders), and you load it through a flap on the side of the drum. Fused my brain when I first opened the machine to load it.

    (1) It was long like that because it had a voice-coil linear head actuator that had to have room to retract when you wanted to remove the pack, rather than the more common "Winchester" style swinging-arm head actuators we have today.

  • GoatRider (unregistered)

    The Amiga disk OS had a bug for awhile that I called "disk date disease". It would scan any disk inserted for the latest date, and set the system date to that if it was greater than the current one. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, because some programs were written with the assumption that dates always increased. However, it used an unsigned int comparison. Somehow a disk got created with negative date, and if you look at it unsigned that's greater than any current date, so that would set your date to that. And then if you wrote a file on a different disk, that disk would get corrupted. And that's how the disk date disease spread.

  • Klint-psk (unregistered) in reply to Milkshake

    It also happened to me. In my case it was a PS/2 keyboard. The keys "n", "m" and "," stopped working, and any other keyboard that tried to use the PS/2 port would be helplessly broken, too. I didn't check if it was virulent enough to infect other PS/2 ports, though. Then I discovered the joy of USB keyboards.

  • The Graduate (unregistered)

    Hard drive didn't work. Common problem: the controller cables worked loose. Remove and reset cable. Still doesn't work. Retry. Call technician. He retries. Take hardware offsite for repair or replacement....

    The first time the cable was lifted, it took the orientation key with it. When the cable was reset, it placed the key at the wrong end. Now there was only one way the cable would fit: the wrong way.

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