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Down the Road

What the heck's a GB?
By Milt Gross
Aug 5, 2012 - 12:17:30 AM

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Oh, a gega byte.

What the heck's a gega byte?

Apparently it means a big number. From the computer dictionary, in part: "an instrument or device for measuring the magnitude, amount, or contents of something, typically with a visual display of such information.

a tool for checking whether something conforms to a desired dimension.

a means of estimating something; a criterion or test: emigration is perhaps the best gauge of public unease.

2 the thickness, size, or capacity of something, esp. as a standard measure, in particular:

the diameter of a string, fiber, tube, etc.: [ as modifier ] : a fine 0.018-inch gauge wire.

[ in combination ] a measure of the diameter of a gun barrel, or of its ammunition, expressed as the number of spherical pieces of shot of the same diameter as the barrel that can be made from 1 pound (454 g) of lead: [ as modifier ] : a 12-gauge shotgun.

[ in combination ] the thickness of sheet metal or plastic: [ as modifier ] : 500-gauge polyethylene.

the distance between the rails of a line of railroad track: the line was laid to a gauge of 2 ft. 9 in.

3 (usu. the gage) Nautical, historical the position of a sailing vessel to windward (weather gage) or leeward (lee gage) of another."

So, what the heck's a gega byte? Does it measure the number of bytes?

What the heck's a byte?

Is it something like a mosquito does to my skin? No, that produces a small lump. No lumps on my computer that I can see. And a byte doesn't make me itch.

Is a byte a small bit of something? If so, why not just call it a "bit?" I can spell "bit." Ah, that must the reason. Too easy to understand.

A former manager at our bus agency asked me one day if I knew what twittering was? I didn't think she meant like the noise a bird makes. Buses don't make that noise. They may squeal, clank, clunk. moan, beep, rattle, and create other noises. But I don't think they twitter.

"Yes," I replied,"it's that thing I have no idea of what it means, and I have no plans for finding out."

She smiled and informed me that our agency had joined other transportation agencies to form a twitter site.

Good, what's a twitter?

My daughter gave me her Facebook address and even sent a couple of Facebook messages to our iMac. I could read them. Kind of brief. I started to start a Facebook account -- but stopped. Too nosy. Wanted too much information. None of their business.

Dolores and I saw the movie about the Facebook founder and learned he makes more money in a minute than a well-heeled salesman we know, who tells us how much he made "back in the day." He's now retired, but I'll bet Facebook brings in more in that same minute than he made by selling during his entire career.

Of course, I'm not sure what a Facebook is.

Now our food supplements also use the mystery -- to me -- abbreviations. About four months ago, I suffered -- didn't actually suffer, but it's a nice word -- a blood clot in a leg. Thankfully, it wasn't in the heart or brain or somewhere. So for several months, I'm not supposed to take anything with Vitamin K included, because that vitamin is what your body uses to make sure that if you scratch yourself or your cat does that for you, you won't bleed to death. It keeps your blood at a certain thickness. I'm supposed to limit those green vegetables my mother said were so good for me. I guess Mom didn't know as much as she thought she did, but vitamin K is normally good for you. My mom never actually mentioned that vitamin.

A multivitamin I ordered contained 100 mcg of vitamin K. Okay, seems like a small enough amount.

But what the heck's a mcg. To find out, I opened my Apple dictionary, which told me that a mcg is a microgram -- and a noun -- which represents a millionth of a gram.

I took those food supplements for a week until a different kind arrived, and while I was taking them the stick-it-to-my-finger nurse found my blood had thickened too much. Wow! All that thickening from a millionth of a gram.

I'm afraid to look up "gram."

I did look up mg, because most food supplement nutrients are listed in mgs.

An mg is a milligram, which is a thousandth (hard to type or say that).

I always thought an mg was a sports car I didn't want. So, I need some stuff that comes in mgs, but I don't want a sports car known by those initials.

Oh, this is so exciting.

While I'm mystified at some of these units of measurements, one of which also meant a tiny British sports car I never wanted, I think technology is a wonderful thing.

Our new iMac, which is connected online via high-speed which I cannot comprehend, is much faster than our old-fashioned dialup we gave up for the high-speed. When we searched a website with our good-old-days (interesting what eventually becomes good-old-days stuff), we waited and gazed out the window at the weeds taking over the garden while waiting for the image of whatever we were looking for gradually to appear on the screen. Now, with high-speed, we don't get a chance to gaze out the window to see how fast the weeds are growing.

The image bumps us in the face, and in a short time we can be face bumped by a bunch of images. Sometimes we purchase online one of those face bumps, and generally it has arrived before we can shut down the iMac and walk out to watch those weeds grow.

A supermarket in a nearby town, which I won't name because I very occasionally still enter that store to use the rest room, routinely declined our debit card. Guys from all over the country accepted it in just a few taps of our fingers. So guess from whom we purchase. While still using the rest room that is not online.

But the other day, I tried to use a customer-service information site connected with our Apple account. I had had to spend a long time typing information because the account is so security-minded -- with which I don't argue. I typed all that info into our old computer, which sits on a table next to Mr. iMac's and which is no longer online, so I could copy all that security stuff when I needed to answer an online question.

The question: sometimes I accidentally hit something that greatly enlarges the image on Safari. The actual question: how can I make that image smaller again?

The customer-service account asked, then demanded, my user name.

I didn't know I had one. I remember my name and my e-mail address and what kind of eggs I enjoy making for our Sunday breakfasts.

But no user name. None faced me on the screen of the old computer.

So, sometimes technology fails me -- or I fail it.

Meanwhile, if you know my user name, would you please e-mail it to me.

I'd sure like to make that Safari image smaller.

And maybe you can tell me exactly what a gega is.

Unless it was that strange bird that just flew past the window, the bird brought to us by our not-always-friendly Global warming.

Another gift, at least in part, of our modern technology.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012

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