Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Memory Scam

Are you being scammed every time you buy an electronic device, by how much memory they say they have?  According to the definition of storage since it was invented, here's how it plays out:

  • A bit is short for "binary digit", or basically a 1 or 0.  This represents a transistor state of on or off.
  • 8 bits together form a byte.  This is the smallest unit used to represent a character on the keyboard, on the screen, etc.  Multi-byte groupings represent other more complex languages and greater data constructs, but they boil down in the end to groups of bytes.  2^8 is 256, so there are 256 values in an 8-bit grouping.
  • One K is short for one Kilobytes (or KB).  Roughly 1000 bytes, it is precisely 1024 bytes (because it is a power of 2, the base unit of computation).  It is NOT 1000, it IS 1024.  Since Google knows all, and is always correct, you can see in my screen shot this is true.
  • One Megabyte (or MB) is defined, by definition, as the next power of 2, as 1024 K.  So, it is actually 1,048,576 bytes.  NOT 1,000,000 bytes.
  • One Gigabyte (GB) is defined, again, as 1024 MB, or 1,073,741,824 bytes, NOT 1 billion bytes.
  • One Terabyte (TB) again 1024 GB.
  • One Petabyte, 1024 TB.
First, why 1024 instead of 1,000?  It's a technical (mathematical) reason, because of powers of 2.  2^10 power (remember bytes?) is 1024.  The previous one, 2^9, is 512, so that's the closest to 1,000 you can get in Base 2.

Second, how are you getting scammed?  There are devices today, that tell you that their storage is so many gigabytes.  For example, if it says it has 16 GB, but defines it as 1 GB = 1 billion bytes, then you actually have 14.9 GB.  You have been gypped out of 1.1 GB, that is more than 1 whole Gigabyte!

If you look at any operating system in the world on any device, and look at total and free storage, it computes that storage according to the rules defined in Computer Science, as I laid them out above.  It does NOT compute them according to the legal disclaimer in the packaging that came with the hard drive, phone, memory card, etc. that you bought.

I strongly urge you, if you have bought such a device, to call and complain as much and as often as you can to the manufacturer of this device.  Write letters.  In fact, perhaps we should write a letter to your federal representatives that they need to protect the consumer with legislation!  (Yes, this is so heinous we may have to resort to that.)

If you know of any companies, or specific devices, that violate this sacred law, post them here in the blog comments so we can compile a list.

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