Ubuntu Desktop Unit Consistency (LP: #369525)

Andrew Sayers andrew-ubuntu-devel at pileofstuff.org
Tue Jun 2 11:19:12 UTC 2009

Scott James Remnant wrote:
> What would you use for the "thousand million bytes" case? :)
> HINT: the meaning of "billion" differs between "thousand million" and
> "million million" depending on your location.
> Most people in the metric-speaking world know what Kilo means, and have
> proved themselves able to learn Mega, Giga, etc.

"Billion" increasingly means 10^9 - Wikipedia claims[1] that the long 
scale is mostly used in non-English-speaking regions, so it's safe to 
use "billion" unless the localisation in use says otherwise (at which 
point, locale-specific words are needed anyway).

I agree that people can learn what mega and giga mean, so long as you 
give them the opportunity to learn.  Using "million bytes" 
interchangeably with "MB" gives significantly more people that opportunity.

"Mega" is also a problem because accessibility isn't just about the 
ability to understand something, it's about the amount of mental effort 
required.  Grab a non-technical friend or family member and ask them how 
many million in a billion, then how many kilobytes in a megabyte. 
You'll find they have to think longer and harder to answer the second 
question, if they can do it at all.  I'm not clear what extra value 
"mega" provides that's worth so many wasted cycles.

	- Andrew

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_and_short_scales

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list