The inspirational value of the space program is probably of far greater importance to education than any input of dollars... A whole generation is growing up which has been attracted to the hard disciplines of science and engineering by the romance of space.
-- Arthur C. Clarke
Feeling slightly sheepish
Every now and then I go to the local electronics shop and just ... well, wander around for a little bit and see if there is anything that I'd like to buy. Anything that I do buy is of course completely unnecessary and I really shouldn't. This time around I had the feeble excuse that I needed a rather long TP cable. 30 minutes later I came out with the TP cable... and a 750 GB(bogus gb) harddrive. They had a sale and the price of $110 was kind of nice so I bought one.
Coming home I hooked it up to an empty slot and started to format it. The windows dialog is prompting me for the maximum size of the partition (I'm going to go with just one here). The max size I could choose was 698.63 GB.... hey, but wait a minute! What happened?
Turns out that windows is stealing some space... a whopping 0.03GB ... But where did all the rest go? Oh, yeah. Then I remembered that in the hard drive industry they have put into practice to simply lie to you. Or as they say, redefine what a giga byte is. Recall that while dealing with computers, the SI prefixes are not really multiple of 1000, instead they're multiples of 1024. The binary nature of computers make this slightly easier to deal with. You will see that when in computer land, a GB is equal to 1024*1024*1024 bytes (which happens to be 1073741824 bytes). That is, except when you deal with harddrives. Whenever a harddrive vendor says so and so many gigabytes of disk space, what they will tell you only in the fine print is that they've redefined what a giga byte is 109 bytes (they use the more common SI convention where the giga prefix means 109).
So if we do the calculations with the harddrive vendor's definition, how big is the drive actually? Turns out that ... 698.49GB is what they call 750GB. ... that's 51+GB that just disappeared with some magic definition word games.
I just wished that I didn't feel slightly bamboozled, with 50GB that just vanished into thin air... The box I got sported a tag saying 750GB and 16MB cache. I'm pretty darn sure that they designed the cache to be actually 16 MB (16777216 bytes) in size and not 16000000 bytes in size...
I've kind of known of the different definitions of the GB over the years, but in the beginning when harddrives were measured in megabytes it didn't matter that much. I haven't bothered to make the calculation until today on modern hard drive sizes... it doesn't seem to be a tiny matter anymore.
It also seems that there was a lawsuit ... although they settled it seems and the harddrive vendors are just laughing and continuing to spread false advertisement. So did anything really change through the lawsuit? Other than the lawyers getting fat paychecks I don't think so. Since I can still come home with a way to small harddrive...