Friday, June 27, 2008

A loaf of bread, a gig of ram, and thou...

I don’t mean to go all nerdy on you, but I added a gig of ram this week. Not in the way this post’s title implies, that it is the main dish at some ongoing feast, but RAM, Random Access Memory. In my computer. A “gig” of it. Let me explain for the non-techie crowd, the uniniated, those of you who are still sane.

The computer basically has two states: off or on, no or yes, or as the mathematicians put it, zero or one. This is called binary arithmetic because it is based on only two possibilities, as opposed to decimal, which is based on ten, from our fingers. Each little bit of storage space that can contain a 0 or a 1 in a computer is called a “bit” (clever, huh?), which is short for “binary digit.” People figured out very quickly that this could soon become very unwieldy, so someone came up with a shorthand concept (a “bigger bucket,” if you will) called the byte, which consists of eight bits. (Years ago a byte contained only six bits, but never mind.) A thousand bytes is called a “K” and a million bytes is called a “Meg.” Well, not really. Actually, a K, or kilobyte, is 2 to the 10th power, or 1024 bytes, and a Meg, or megabyte, is 1024 times 1024 bytes, because everything in the computer is a power of 2, remember? The abbreviations “K” to mean a thousand and “M” to mean a million are just approximations for the general public (and have something to do with the ancient Greeks). With me so far? I will assume that glassy-eyed look is a yes.

Okay, class, so if K stands for a thousand bytes, more or less (that is, a kilobyte), and M stands for a million bytes, more or less, (that is, a megabyte), then what do you think a gigabyte might be? You there, in the back, did I see your hand raised?

That’s right, a gigabyte is a billion bytes (more or less), 1024 times 1 Meg, or 1 G, not to be confused with the gravitational pull astronauts experience when blasting into space from Cape Canaveral.

The main difference in my computer’s having 256 Meg of RAM, which it used to have, and having a Gig of RAM added this week (it now has 1.25 Gig of RAM--more or less) is speed. It used to take at least four minutes to boot up my computer and now it takes only a minute and twenty seconds. Everything, all day long, is significantly faster.

Ah, speed in the computer wilderness were paradise enow!

Next time, if there is a next time, we will discuss hexadecimal notation.


  1. Mercy! I hee-hawed big time at your post title. Entirely too clever!
    It's just wonderful what a speedier computer will do for one's outlook on Internet life. I recently replaced the relic of a computer I was using (a 25-minute re-boot, if you can believe it, but it had more serious problems than RAM)and am greatly enjoying my new one. I spent all of my Economic Stimulus check (plus a little) on it, so it was not *my* economy that was stimulated, but that of the computer shop where I had this one custom made.

    Glad to see you back and up to speed(ier), as it were, on your posts. Hope you had a great time with the grandchildren.

    I invite you to check out my most recent Sky Watch post on The Big Dam Bridge (no, I'm not using a misspelled expletive.) It's not clever, but it's factual.

  2. Yes, speed is everything in computer land. I'm glad you upgraded. (I bet it must have be h-e-double-toothpicks to upload blogs with lots of photos before you added the RAM.)

  3. So...I have taken your lead and created my own blog...mainly for my upcoming class and their parents...check it out at and tell me what you think. Nothing special so far, other than the fact that I actually did something tech-no-logical...

  4. Hey, Pat! Thanks for stopping by. You had a crowd at your blog today; I was the 71st commenter on your Big Dam Bridge post.

    On the road to the dam at Lake Lanier here in north Georgia, there's a little store at the bend in the road just before you start to go across that says "Dam Good Food." If you need some "Dam Gas" you can buy it there too!

  5. Ruth, hello again! I didn't really notice the slowness at the time because I thought it was normal, but now that I'm up to speed, what an improvement!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your last three posts on your blog (Shocking News About Obama, American Pegasus, and Dog Parables V). Maybe the two of us should form a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Bloggers Who Keep Changing The Subject!

    For people who don't make it over to Ruth's blog, the shocking news is that Obama is a White Sox fan.

  6. Angela, congratulations on your new blog! We are so proud of you! Another techie in the family! Who woulda thunk! Bill Gates and Steve Jobs better watch out.

    (Angela, a third-grade teacher, is our daughter)