The loud HDD



  • This one happened some years ago and the details are a bit fuzzy by now, but it went a little like so...

    I had a 1.4AMD back when it was cutting age and I had just got a brand new 80GB HDD to go with it. The first thing I noticed was how loud the drive was. It was making a screeching sound which I assumed was normal for a huge (at the time) 80GB. This wasn't much of a problem at first. When you're storming Omaha beach in Medal of Honor you can't really hear your HDD. Still after a while it got old so I investigated and was surprised to find that it was actually the motherboard speaker (the little one on the PCB) that was making the noise. This was really weird and I hadn't the faintest idea why the hell a motherboard woud be screeching when the PC read from the hard drive. So I did the only thing I could think of. I stuck some blu-tack in the speaker. That'll show it.

    This did cut down the noise some, but the problem was still there. Still, time passed and with my next upgrade the PC was stuck in a closet and forgotten. Eventually the age of DSL dawned in this country and I decided to ressurect the old PC as a download station. I spent some money to make it as quiet as possible because it'd be running 24/7 next to my bed and it was then that it became obvious how much noise the speaker was making. This wouldn't do. By this time I had some experience with hardware and went over it with a fine-toothed comb until I finally figured it out.

    Turns out that the gimp of a technician that had assembled the PC when I first bought it was too 133t to actually check the motherboard manual. And he had inevitably connected the case cables and specifically the HDD LED cable to the motherboard the wrong way. It was placed so that one pin of the cable was connected to one pin of the HDD LED pins and the other was placed on one of the pins of the speaker. When the system read from the HDD, electricity would pass through the cable lighting the LED as it should and then go out again through the speaker.

    Some head-banging later I finally had a quiet PC. 



  • Clbuttic

    It would never have happened if your download station was a xbox running linux.



  •  What about the other way round?

    HDD Speakers :D 



  • TRWTF is not immediately disconnecting the speaker wire as soon as you determined that it was the speaker making all the noise.



  • A bit off-topic :

    i wrote a couple of console applications that produce a lot of output and each time they do i hear something from the computer (i believe it is the pc speaker) ...

    its very quiet, but it is there ...

    its most noticable when a lot of lines are printed and the console scrolls 

    has anyone had that ? 



  • Not on the PC speaker. I actually never had it on any PC I have owned, probably because they all where made out of reasonable quality hardware.

    However, I have seen this behaviour with some cheap Opti soundcards, where you can hear the HDD activity on the speakers. This is due to the fact that the sound card has very bad input voltage filters (in other words, the manufacturer was to cheap to put an extra capacitor on the thing). This unfiltered input voltage gets amplified by the amplifier, and this is what you hear on the speakers.



    I imagine this behaviour would be possible on a PC speaker if the motherboard has some bad power regulators and/or your powersuply is a (very) cheap model.



    Or, it could be something entirely else. It might be an interrupt conflict. If the PC speaker hardware shares an interrupt with some other piece of hardware in your PC, the PC speaker might 'pop' every time the other hardware uses the interrupt.

    And lastly, the sound might NOT be coming from your PC speaker at all. Some CPU power regulators tend to make a high pitched noise, especially when the CPU is under load. You might be hearing that.



  • @Nelle said:

    has anyone had that ?

    Not that, but I often get a US radio station late in the evening, especially if it's raining, over the main speakers. Somewhat irritatingly, some of the music played is rather good (when the crazy preacher guy stops talking), but it always fades out before I find out what the tune or station is called.

    It's very disconcerting when I'm trying to sleep. It actually gets quite loud sometimes.



  • @Nelle said:

    A bit off-topic :

    i wrote a couple of console applications that produce a lot of output and each time they do i hear something from the computer (i believe it is the pc speaker) ...

    its very quiet, but it is there ...

    its most noticable when a lot of lines are printed and the console scrolls 

    has anyone had that ? 

     It could just be the graphics card/chip. I have a laptop (ThinkPad T30) that makes a quiet whining whenever something is using 3D acceleration. If you are using Vista, OS X or Linux with special effects then even 2D drawing is using 3D hardware.



  •  @Nelle said:

    ...each time they do i hear something from the computer (i believe it is the pc speaker) ...

    ...has anyone had that ? 

     

    On my old work PC, a Dell GX270, I would get little whining noises when I did things like minimized/maximized windows, scrolled, and whatnot. I probably wouldn't have noticed it if I weren't wearing headphones. I have a newer PC now, and the noises are gone.



  •  @El_Heffe said:

    TRWTF is not immediately disconnecting the speaker wire as soon as you determined that it was the speaker making all the noise.
    Speaker wire? There's no speaker wire. We don't need no stinkin... no, wait, I digress. This was one of those tiny speakers welded to the motherboard. Only way to disconnect it would be to rip it off the motherboard with a pair of pliers.



  • @Arenzael said:

    On my old work PC, a Dell GX270, I would get little whining noises when I did things like minimized/maximized windows, scrolled, and whatnot. I probably wouldn't have noticed it if I weren't wearing headphones. I have a newer PC now, and the noises are gone.

    I had that on both my old laptops; haven't noticed it on my current one yet.



  •  There was a news story ~5 years ago claiming that the blinking lights on a router/modem/hub would allow someone to "see" the 1's and 0's that you were downloading.  Applying the same logic someone can haX0rr you with a tape recorder--or you could make backups with an old walkman!



  • @Yoooder said:

     There was a news story ~5 years ago claiming that the blinking lights on a router/modem/hub would allow someone to "see" the 1's and 0's that you were downloading.  Applying the same logic someone can haX0rr you with a tape recorder--or you could make backups with an old walkman!

     

    I'm dubious it was ever reported by a reputable news source, and certainly not in the past five years, but hollywood has certainly tried to convince us of this ... 



  • @Nelle said:

    has anyone had that ? 

    when you print to the console, [unicode 7] or '\u0007' is the system beep.

    Maybe somehow you are doing some String jujitsu and getting output you arent expecting...



  • @ChZEROHag said:

    Not that, but I often get a US radio station
    late in the evening, especially if it's raining, over the main
    speakers

    I've had similar behaviour before, though not remotely loud. Still annoying though. It seemed to be the speakers' power cable that was picking it up.

    Getting a metal toroid (doughnut-shape) and wrapping the wire around it a few times should help - though you might need to unwire the plug to do so.



  • @medialint said:

    I'm dubious it was ever reported by a reputable news source, and certainly not in the past five years,
     

    I can't find the link, unfortunately, but I do remember seeing it via Bruce Schneier's blog. Of course, the research was crap. Watching blinky lights on a 75 baud modem might get you the raw bits, but you can't blink a regular LED fast enough, especially on standard commercial gear, to leak any actual data from even a 100mbit ethernet link. At best you could monitor traffic levels and figure out when things are busy/quiet.



  • @Yoooder said:

     There was a news story ~5 years ago claiming that the blinking lights on a router/modem/hub would allow someone to "see" the 1's and 0's that you were downloading.  Applying the same logic someone can haX0rr you with a tape recorder--or you could make backups with an old walkman!

     

    Yeah, I can do that. But I don't even see it as blinking lights anymore. To me it's just blonde, redhead...

     



  • @MarcB said:

    I can't find the link
     

    Go figure, here's the link (just my luck that it showed up on page 5 in google):

    Wired article about the paper

    PDF of research paper

    Basically they boiled it down to 3 classes of vulnerability. class 3 being worst, data. The only devices they could do this on were old/slow modems (14.4, 9600, etc..) and oddly enough, two cisco routers. Everything else was class 2 (activity level) or class 1 (general status).



  • Speaking of speakers, here's something we used to do during classes in the labs at college for fun.

    while(true)
    {
    printf("\a");
    }

    I'd wait till someone sitting close to me would get out of the class to go to the bathroom, then I'd open Dev-C++, write a console app with that & build it, then I'd schedule for Windows to run it in, say, 5 minutes.



  • @MarcB said:

    @MarcB said:

    I can't find the link
     

    Go figure, here's the link (just my luck that it showed up on page 5 in google):

    Wired article about the paper

    PDF of research paper

    Basically they boiled it down to 3 classes of vulnerability. class 3 being worst, data. The only devices they could do this on were old/slow modems (14.4, 9600, etc..) and oddly enough, two cisco routers. Everything else was class 2 (activity level) or class 1 (general status).

    Oo noes, the Russians might be able to see I have an active internet connection.



  • [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]Speaking of speakers, here's something we used to do during classes in the labs at college for fun.

    while(true)
    {
    printf("\a");
    }

    I'd wait till someone sitting close to me would get out of the class to go to the bathroom, then I'd open Dev-C++, write a console app with that & build it, then I'd schedule for Windows to run it in, say, 5 minutes.[/quote] 

    And in all that time it never occurred to just keep a copy of the executable with you? It was really easier to write and compile a program on their computer than to just stick a copy of it on there?



  • [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]Speaking of speakers, here's something we used to do during classes in the labs at college for fun.

    while(true)
    {
    printf("\a");
    }

    I'd wait till someone sitting close to me would get out of the class to go to the bathroom, then I'd open Dev-C++, write a console app with that & build it, then I'd schedule for Windows to run it in, say, 5 minutes.[/quote]

    In what era did you attend school? Did your security policy allow that? And why didn't you just compile it beforehand at put it on an usb-stick (or a floppy if they weren't available yet)



  • It was a couple of years ago, and I yeah I could have it in a usb device but I was never that much sophisticated in my pranks.

     I did have the BSoD screen saver in my usb drive, though. That was much more fun than printf("\a") in a loop.



  • [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]

    It was a couple of years ago, and I yeah I could have it in a usb device but I was never that much sophisticated in my pranks.

     I did have the BSoD screen saver in my usb drive, though. That was much more fun than printf("\a") in a loop.

    [/quote]

    Oh noes, the school computer crashed. Ah, I'll just take another one to play flash games on. Unless ofcourse there was a big assignment tommorow and there were working like crazy. Then its just cruel to make them push the reset button because they think the've lost their work and want to reboot.



  • it gets better. I was once visiting another college and I found out that all students used the same login in their network. I found a lab with all computers on and logged and nobody else to see what I was doing, and then I placed the BSoD screen saver in each and every computer. Then I placed a shortcut for it in Start -> Programs -> Startup. >:D



  • [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]

    it gets better. I was once visiting another college and I found out that all students used the same login in their network. I found a lab with all computers on and logged and nobody else to see what I was doing, and then I placed the BSoD screen saver in each and every computer. Then I placed a shortcut for it in Start -> Programs -> Startup. >:D

    [/quote] 

    OMGz! No WAI! 1337 H4xx0r!



  • @m0ffx said:

    I've had similar behaviour before, though not remotely loud. Still annoying though. It seemed to be the speakers' power cable that was picking it up.
    We had that on the school's speaker system - every day around 12, we could listen to the news in some classrooms. Turning the speaker off did not help.[quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]Speaking of speakers, here's something we used to do during classes in the labs at college for fun.

    while(true)
    {
    printf("\a");
    }[/quote]printf("foo\t\b\b\b") might have been more evil - it caused Windows to reboot after a few seconds (worked on NT4-XP, though it's been fixed in XP for a while now).



  • [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]

    it gets better. I was once visiting another college and I found out that all students used the same login in their network. I found a lab with all computers on and logged and nobody else to see what I was doing, and then I placed the BSoD screen saver in each and every computer. Then I placed a shortcut for it in Start -> Programs -> Startup. >:D

    [/quote] 

    I can top that, although I didn't do it.

    There's an Open Source Internet library for Delphi called the Indy Project. At a Borland conference a few years back, the guys that head up the Indy team decided to install a BSoD application on all the machines in the computer lab (where all the conference attendees were checking email, browsing the web, banking, etc.). The apps ran as services, and listened for a UDP packet; when they received the packet, they all simultaneously "fake" BSoD'd. It was pretty funny, although the Borland people and people who got scared about their banking info didn't appreciate it. <g>

    IIRC, the code is still available on the Indy website.



  •  @KenW said:

    [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]it gets better. I was once visiting another college and I found out that all students used the same login in their network. I found a lab with all computers on and logged and nobody else to see what I was doing, and then I placed the BSoD screen saver in each and every computer. Then I placed a shortcut for it in Start -> Programs -> Startup. >:D
    I can top that, although I didn't do it.There's an Open Source Internet library for Delphi called the Indy Project. At a Borland conference a few years back, the guys that head up the Indy team decided to install a BSoD application on all the machines in the computer lab (where all the conference attendees were checking email, browsing the web, banking, etc.). The apps ran as services, and listened for a UDP packet; when they received the packet, they all simultaneously "fake" BSoD'd. It was pretty funny, although the Borland people and people who got scared about their banking info didn't appreciate it. <g>[/quote] I can top that. Just the other day I was in a lab with some C4 and my remote detonator...



  • @DOA said:

    I can top that. Just the other day I was in a lab with some C4 and my remote detonator...
    N00b. Real men use nitroglycerin and a shaky hand.


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