Monday, October 17, 2005

The Computer Mega-Scam

I don’t know if you’ve realized it or not, but internet service providers are trying to pull one over on you.

I think everyone knows what a megabyte is—a unit for measuring a quantity of data. Your computer shows you file sizes in megabytes (or kilobytes for files smaller than 1MB), and when you download, it shows you how many megabytes you have left to go. Unless you have a gigabyte or more, the amount of memory your machine has is reported in megabytes.

If you listen carefully, though, you’ll find that all ISP’s today are advertising their speed in Megabits. So what, you may ask, is that?

Here’s what they think you don’t know. Bytes (and therefore megabytes) are made up of bits, which are much smaller units—eight bits make up a byte. A megabit, therefore, is 1/8 the size of a megabyte. When ISP’s advertise their connection/data transfer speed in megabits, it inflates the number by a factor of eight. They’re hoping casual listener, used to hearing data measured in megabytes, will not realize the subtlety involved.

It’s just another example of how Corporate America tries to cheat and mislead us into buying their products. God bless capitalism.


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