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Seagate Offers Refunds on 6.2 Million Hard Drives

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the making-things-right dept.

Data Storage 780

An anonymous reader writes "Seagate has agreed to settle a lawsuit that alleges that the company mislead customers by selling them hard disk drives with less capacity than the company advertised. The suit states that Seagate's use of the decimal definition of the storage capacity term "gigabyte" was misleading and inaccurate: whereby 1GB = 1 billion bytes. In actuality, 1GB = 1,073,741,824 bytes — a difference of approximately 7% from Seagate's figures. Seagate is saying it will offer a cash refund or free backup and recovery software."

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wow (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21207565)

free backup and recovery software... yea, that'll help alot.

Re:wow (1)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207621)

I'd gladly take that, but this is only for US purchases. I really don't care that much about a rebate though. I like their stuff cause it works. I switched to Seagate about 4 years ago when Maxtor went really bad, really fast. Actually still using the first 80 gig Seagate I bought.

Re:wow.... are you clueless! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21207771)

seagate owns maxtor!

seagate is the REASON maxtor drives are now crap.

Re:wow.... are you clueless! (1, Informative)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207853)

Can't read can you asshole. I said I stopped buying Maxtor over 4 years ago.. that would be 2003. If you read this: http://www.seagate.com/ww/v/index.jsp?locale=en-US&name=Seagate_Technology_To__Acquire_Maxtor_Corporation&vgnextoid=1e8a814fef83e010VgnVCM100000dd04090aRCRD [seagate.com] Segate bought Maxtor 2 years after that.

Think this will set precedent? (4, Insightful)

Adradis (1160201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207569)

Wow, I'm surprised that actually went through, if only because the court systems seem so broken. Hopefully, other manufacturers will get the hint and start changing their plans. I could just see this going after other manufacturers too, who insist on using smaller sizes for their measurements to seem bigger.

Re:Think this will set precedent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21207639)

insist on using smaller sizes for their measurements to seem bigger

and this is new how?

Re:Think this will set precedent? (2, Insightful)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207657)

Wow, I'm surprised that actually went through, if only because the court systems seem so broken. Hopefully, other manufacturers will get the hint and start changing their plans. I could just see this going after other manufacturers too, who insist on using smaller sizes for their measurements to seem bigger.
I bloody well hope so.

Re:Think this will set precedent? (1, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208069)

I bloody well hope so.
Why? What they advertised was correct, the hard disks do have the number of gigabytes that they claim to, 8,000,000,000 bits, or 1,000,000,000 bytes. The fact that the OS uses base 2 as the numbering system doesn't negate the fact that there are 8,000,000,000 bits on the hard disk per gigabyte. It isn't the responsibility of the manufacturer to know in all cases how much of that is going to be usable or how it is going to be notated.

It is just a nominal difference, anybody ignorant enough not to understand that, shouldn't be purchasing hard disks separately from a computer. Better yet, keep them from having a computer, I get enough spam and virus exposure as it is.

It doesn't really matter what the units are called, as long as they are standard amongst the industry. In this case, they have been standard since before I began using computers 20 years ago.

RTFM (3, Informative)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207667)

Do your research - your point is pretty much ass-backwards. The manufacturers are quoting their sizes in gigabytes, which are SI units defined as 10^9 bytes. A gibibyte is the familiar 2^30, 1024MB unit that we all associate as being a gigabyte.

Re:RTFM (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21207879)

Not in computers. There is no bullshit gibbibyte in computers. Thats some stupid sounding name. Byte is a computer term not found in other technical areas, and its a word of binary bits (and the word size is 8 bits, because we use 8 bit ascii to store our data. Note that this has nothing to do with bus width, or CPU instruction size which may be (now commonly) 32 or 64 bits. Data (the letters you type, and the pictures you drool over late at night) are in 8 bit ascii. Computers are base 2 beasts. They just are, so suck it up. A gigameter has a different base than a gigabyte. SI is base 10. Computers are base 2. Because you used a computer suffix, its base 2 (and all your ranting isn't going to change that). Gigabytes in computers are 1024 * 1024 * 1024 bytes. They just are. Deal with it. There is no discussion. You can take your stupid made up gibbibyte trash and shove it up your bit bucket.

Re:RTFM (1)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207971)

Made up? If you think it's trash, take it up with ISO. Your quarrel is with SI, not me. Go read a Wikipedia article on SI and gigabytes and maybe you'll get some sense knocked into you, Coward.

Re:RTFM (2, Informative)

Ledsock (926049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207987)

Do your research - your point is pretty much ass-backwards. The manufacturers are quoting their sizes in gigabytes, which are SI units defined as 10^9 bytes. A gibibyte is the familiar 2^30, 1024MB unit that we all associate as being a gigabyte.
Actually, 1 GiB=1024 MiB. That's the whole issue of this case. MB!=MiB, as with kB and KiB, and GB and GiB. The difference between a GB and a GiB is roughly 6.87%, yet when you hit the TB/TiB level, the difference is roughly 9.05%. The greater the prefix, the more the inconsistency between the two units of measurement. I view this case as preventative action for the soon coming terabyte and tebibyte hard drives. As sizes grow, so do our losses (although, technically, they are advertising correctly, and the OS makers are using improper notation).

Re:Think this will set precedent? (5, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207685)

There is a precedent of sorts...back in the 80's at Kaypro, we had a customer threaten to sue us because some fool in marketing said that we had 65K of memory, and there was only 64K, of course. Management told him to take a hike. And that was the last we heard of him.

Re:Think this will set precedent? (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207887)

gee thanks for setting the purely crappiest standard in customer service.

"or?" (1)

scottrocket (1065416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207577)

What is this "or"? Give both.

Direct Link to claims (5, Informative)

micksam7 (1026240) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207581)

File online [harddrive-settlement.com] [no cash, just software]

Mail-in [harddrive-settlement.com] [cash or software, cash claim only if bought before 2006 & you have proof-of-purchase. 5% of what you paid]

Re:Direct Link to claims (5, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207775)

cash or software, cash claim only if bought before 2006 & you have proof-of-purchase. 5% of what you paid

The mail in form also allows you to use your drive serial number as proof if you do not have proper documentation.

SI units (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21207619)

1 GB (gigabyte) = 10^9 B
1 GiB (gibibyte) = 2^30 B

Re:SI units (3, Insightful)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207673)

Exactly. The information technology sector is and has always been wrong to suggest that k is 2^10. It is not, and it will never be. k=10^3, M=10^6, G=10^9, etc.

Re:SI units (5, Insightful)

DRobson (835318) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207723)

Regardless of whether the IT sector is _technically_ in the wrong it's commonly accepted that in this area we work with powers of two. The fact that people have to explicitly explain this fact shows that everyone expects it to be that way. The HDD manufacturers damn well know this and fairly blantantly use measurements which would commonly be interpreted more favourably.

Re:SI units (5, Insightful)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207833)

Regardless of whether the IT sector is _technically_ in the wrong it's commonly accepted that in this area we work with powers of two. The fact that people have to explicitly explain this fact shows that everyone expects it to be that way. The HDD manufacturers damn well know this and fairly blantantly use measurements which would commonly be interpreted more favourably.
Exactly.

This says it perfectly.

RAM manufacturers do it correctly, and Application Vendors and Operating System Vendors have been doing it this way for DECADES. SI units be damned, this is the way it has always been and there is no reason for it to be changed.

Re:SI units (1)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207967)

I'm sure you're smart enough to think of examples of things people have done for decades that are or were wrong and should be or were changed, so I won't bother, just to point it out.

People are being confused by two incompatible definitions. Is that not a reason to change?

Inconsistency of IT be damned, SI units were defined and consistent long before IT usurped and mangled its prefixes.

Re:SI units (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208133)

The problem is that a 2^k organization of bytes is fundamental to the way computers operate. It can't be changed to a power-of-ten unit just because it is "more convenient to work with" as the SI folks want. You can't realistically design a RAM chip with 1000 bytes of memory. You could do it, but you'd end up building one with 1024 bytes of memory and just burning out the last 24 cells. Ditto for all other forms of electronic storage, including the caches on hard drives. Only magnetic and optical storage have the luxury of defining units in non-power-of-2 ways, and yet they generally do not, choosing to standardize on 512-byte blocks primarily because if they didn't, the VM system's paging path would be heinously inefficient.

So we have a choice: we can either standardize on one unit---the base-2 definition of a gigabyte---or we can standardize on two units---one for RAM and one for hard drives---or we can foolishly standardize on the base-10 definition and have RAM chips described as 1.074 GB. I, for one, can't imagine that last choice being too popular, and the second choice (the status quo) is sufficiently confusing to an average layman that it really doesn't work, either. Thus, the only -reasonable- choice is to standardize on base-2 definitions of these units. There's a reason the standards were bent a bit fifty years ago. The SI units just don't work. They can't work. They will never work. And the sooner we stop trying to force a base-10 unit of measurement into a base-2 world---the sooner we can dispose of this fundamentally flawed view that everything must be in base 10---the sooner we can resume actually getting things done instead of quibbling over crap like this that was set in stone before most folks on Slashdot were even born.

Put another way, it's 9 years later, and the term kibibyte is still almost universally guaranteed to get you modded "troll" in any computing forum. Maybe it's type for the SI folks to realize that perhaps the reason their standard has been near-universally rejected in computing circles for almost a decayear is that it is fundamentally brain damaged from a practical use perspective.... It makes about as much sense if the SI had standardized base-10 units of time other than the second. Kiloweeks, anyone? Decidays? The SI folks wisely realized that moving time to a base 10 unit was not practical because the natural division of days into years could never be forced into base-10 units comfortably. Instead, they acknowledge the usefulness of these non-SI units as acceptable for use in spite of their non-base-10 nature. The same is true for computing, and they would be wise to acknowledge that the same fundamental problems hold true in this area.

Re:SI units (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208147)

P.S. The term "byte" predates the SI units by four years. The term Megabyte was only coined a single digit number of years after the SI units (circa 1970). Therefore, by interpolation, we can assume that kilobyte was coined at about the same time as the SI units. The SI units most certainly were NOT "defined and consistent long before IT usurped and mangled its prefixes" as you claim.

Re:SI units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21207997)

I've been saying that a spider is an insect for DECADES. Taxonomy be damned, this is the way it has always been and there is no reason for it to be changed.

Re:SI units (1)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207931)

Regardless of whether the IT sector is _technically_ in the wrong it's commonly accepted that in this area we work with powers of two.
...Just so long as we're talking about filesize, or RAM capacity. HD capacity and bandwidth are commonly accepted to be powers of ten. Consistency, anyone?

The fact that people have to explicitly explain this fact shows that everyone expects it to be that way.
What? Please read what you just wrote, because it sure doesn't make any sense to me.

Re:SI units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21207961)

Well butt-head, the transistors in my computer go on and off. There are no 10 states for them to go, only 2. You can't apply SI to computers. They don't count to 10. They count to 2. To a computer, 10 means 2 (in your base 10 SI world). Computers can't be made to be SI compliant. They are base 2 beasts. Its always (for 50+ years) to use these prefixes as 2^10(x). Computers are not SI. They aren't. SI is base 10. Computers are base 2. Its quite bizarre that a country that so dearly holds onto the imperial system of measurement, gets to wired up about metric SI prefixes when it comes to a system that cannot be made SI. The way it is, is the way it will remain, and that is, a gigabyte (as spelled) is 2^30 bytes. Its different than a gigameter which is 10^9 meters. The hint for you is the suffix. Meters are SI units with SI definitions. Bytes are use in computers. Computers are not (and cannot be made to work internally) base 10.

Re:SI units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21208143)

He didn't say you shouldn't measure in powers of two, but that you should use other names for those. The mega/mebi notation allows the two systems to co-exist. For example I have two feet so I think a kilometer --when I walk it-- should be 1024 meters. With kibi I can start measuring in kibimeters without introducing ambiguity, but people like you ruin it for me.

Re:SI units (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208149)

Computers can be (and historically have been) designed to work in base 10. It's just inefficient. It makes far more sense to construct them to function in base 2. Also, I'd say that the number's just a base. you're arguing about the base-representation of the same number...you say drive sizes "can't" be represented in base 10. They most certainly can, and it's clear from the prefix that they actually are. The only question is, is it too confusing for the average consumer? That's the only reason to switch to the base 2 system (with the appropriate changes in prefix, of course).

Re:SI units (5, Insightful)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208087)

While I can see the technical merit in using the Ki/Mi/Gi prefix instead of K/M/G, I object to it for the simple reason that kibibyte, mibibyte and gibibyte are stupid sounding words and I refuse to use them for that reason alone.

It might be, for a newcomer, initially confusing that a kilobyte is 1024 bytes instead of 1000 bytes, but the original scheme is a consistent exception. The powers of 2 apply to bytes and only bytes, nothing else. 1Km = 1000 meters. 1KW = 1000 Watts. 1KB = 1024 bytes. 1 KN = 1000 Newtons. Not completely uniform, but there is no ambiguity.

On the other hand, if someone came up with a set of power of 2 prefixes that didn't suck, I'd happily switch.

Seems Silly to me (4, Insightful)

IcarusMoth (631872) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207623)

Seriously, the blame could just as easily be laid at the feet of the OS developers. There is a long standing history of disk manufacturers using base 10 counting numbers. It would not be so horribly difficult for the OS developers to conform to the base 10 measurement. I mean what next are the consumers going to sue because the formatting and allocation tables take up room? or perhaps because it hides space for virtual memory? seriously. come on people.

Re:Seems Silly to me (1)

xiang shui (762964) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207633)

No shit. I wish I had mod points.

Re:Seems Silly to me (2, Insightful)

gadzook33 (740455) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207649)

Yeah, other than the fact that computers suck at base-10 counting and are really really good at base-2 counting, you're absolutely right.

Re:Seems Silly to me (5, Insightful)

hakr89 (719001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207663)

You are buying the drive to store base 2 numbers, so why shouldn't the value be rated in terms of base 2?

Re:Seems Silly to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21207717)

Just because bits have two values doesn't mean you have to count them in base 2.

Are you going to use base 3 to count triangles?

Re:Seems Silly to me (1)

gadzook33 (740455) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207753)

Yeah, that was my point

Re:Seems Silly to me (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207803)

Indeed. Wait till they go after Gigabit Ethernet... uh, oh, it's only 1000000000 bits, not 2^30 bits!

Re:Seems Silly to me (4, Insightful)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207805)

Seriously, the blame could just as easily be laid at the feet of the OS developers. There is a long standing history of disk manufacturers using base 10 counting numbers. It would not be so horribly difficult for the OS developers to conform to the base 10 measurement. I mean what next are the consumers going to sue because the formatting and allocation tables take up room? or perhaps because it hides space for virtual memory? seriously. come on people.
You're moronic.

Every operating system, whether it be Windows NT, XP, or Vista, Linux, FreeBSD, or Solaris, states that 1Kb = 1024bytes, 1Mb = 1024Kb, and so on.

Every application, does too.

Why rewrite all software, and god forbid, patch all old software going back however many DECADES into the past to implement this change, when harddrive manufacturers could simply start labelling their drives correctly?

Besides, when you buy a gigabyte of ram, are you really getting 1 billion bytes? or 1073741824 bytes? You tell me :)

Last I checked, bios reported 1024Mb was a 1gb, and 4096mb was 4gb's of ram :)

I don't see why hdd manufactureres are the ONE single exception to this long standing rule, and SI units be damned.

Re:Seems Silly to me (1)

IcarusMoth (631872) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207927)

I understand where you are coming from, but I think that a decision like this caters to the stupids among us. not to mention the fact that it is only through human interaction with computers that this "problem" was even discovered, but also consider that the average human brain, knows base-10. Not to mention the fact that the Kilo-byte itself is an approximation. (an approximation of 1000). I'm simply stating that, on the usability end, it would be minimal to do a simple conversion when the user asks to see "space remaining on disk" because that is how this gets started; user buys a 200 GB drive, it only shows 185Gb or so, user thinks "Oh my gosh, they stole my bits!" If the OS simply converted the value, for usability, this problem would have been avoided. I would agree with you if the HDD manufacturers had only recently started using base-10 to inflate their numbers after decades of using base-2, but that is not the case. HDD manufacturers have "Always" used base-10, it's nothing new, it's only recently that the capacities have gotten large enough for it to be noticeable. As for the Ram thing, you are comparing apples and oranges, which is a lot like comparing GB's with Gb's.

Re:Seems Silly to me (1)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208011)

The OS wouldn't even have to do the conversion. (As a bare minimum) All that needs to be done is a little "i" inserted between the "G" and the "B".

Re:Seems Silly to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21208063)

Yes, they always have used that measurement, and I have always been offended that they did so.

Their behavior was NEVER correct.

Re:Seems Silly to me (5, Interesting)

5pp000 (873881) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208091)

I don't see why hdd manufactureres are the ONE single exception to this long standing rule, and SI units be damned.

Ever hear of a "1.44MB" floppy? How many bytes do you suppose it holds? That's right... it's a double-sided version of a "720kB" floppy, so it really holds 1440KiB... which, perhaps inevitably, people started calling "1.44MB", even though that "MB" is the bastard child of the decimal and binary kilobytes, 1024000 bytes.

Once that monstrosity caught on, I'm afraid we were doomed.

Look again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21208137)

'k' mean 1000, by definition and it did so for a long, long time. Reusing the term for something different is the first stupidity, claiming it is right is the second. Now, if you want to say 1024 bytes, there is a different term for that: 1kiB. Similarly, ISO-normed terms like MiB or GiB exist and are more and more accepted in the educated computer scene.

Now, don't get me started on the meaning of a byte, which isn't 8 bits either....

It's not a longstanding history (5, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207949)

Seriously, the blame could just as easily be laid at the feet of the OS developers. There is a long standing history of disk manufacturers using base 10 counting numbers.
It's not a longstanding history. It started in mid-1990s. In the early 1990s, if you bought a 300 MB drive, you got 300*1024^2 = 314,572,800 bytes.

In the mid-1990s, one marketing dweeb at a low-end hard drive manufacturer (I want to say Maxtor but don't recall for sure) convinced his company to start defining 1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes. It let them sell a smaller (and thus cheaper to manufacture) drive while labeling it as the same capacity as everyone else's drives. The others resisted for about a year, then gave in and started mis-labeling their drives. IBM was the last holdout, I think they went for 3 years selling bigger drives than everyone else labeled with the same capacity. Eventually they gave in too, shortly before selling their hard drive division to Hitachi.

Around 1998, the international standards bodies mandated that MB = 1,000,000 and GB = 1,000,000,000, while MiB = 1,048,576 and GiB = 1,073,741,824. But like metric in the U.S., these units have never really caught on in the computer industry. Personally I can see the standards bodies' point, but they're going to have to collaborate with OS, memory, hard drive, and other computer hardware manufacturers to get the change implemented. They can't just stand on a pedestal mandating that this change be made, and expect it to happen.

The whole fiasco is an example of a class of situations I haven't found a name for but which is similar to the Tragedy of the Commons [wikipedia.org] . In these situations, one member of the group does something which gives him an advantage of the others. The others then follow suit to remain competitive, and in doing so eliminate the advantage. The end result is that the situation is now identical to what it was before the change (everyone's 500 GB drives are the same size), but now everybody is worse off because of the change (1 GB on a drive does not equal 1 GB in memory). Other situations within this class include campaign spending in politics (everyone has to spend more on advertising each year just to stay even with everyone else), and net neutrality (if everyone pays the Telecos more money for priority, they have gained nothing because the total bandwidth hasn't increased, and are now losers because they're paying more for the same bandwidth).

Re:It's not a longstanding history (2, Informative)

Anti_Climax (447121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208157)

Your description seems to be a hybrid of the tragedy of the commons and the Red Queen [wikipedia.org]

I say we call this hybrid theory the Tragedy of the Queen.

Re:It's not a longstanding history (1)

Zapek (871929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208175)

It already started with floppy disks.

1.44MB where in fact it was 1440KB.

Re:Seems Silly to me (4, Interesting)

otomo_1001 (22925) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207953)

Lay the blame at os developers? How about you propose changing how computers fundamentally work then?

Oh wait, that is exactly what you are proposing. Do you know why a byte is 8 bits long? Yes it is arbitrary, but we are sort of stuck with the nomenclature now. Either memory (RAM) manufacturers are labeling their stuff right or wrong, or hard drive manufacturers are labeling their stuff right or wrong.

Most people seem to agree with the memory manufacturers however. Sure we could have all the os tools divide by 1000 for displays of size, but that only masks the issue. And as we get to larger storage will probably cause problems. Just think of when we have exabytes of storage and are approaching some limit we currently think is insanely high. This "little" difference becomes rather substantial. And with the future of storage leaning towards flash, which follows the powers of 2 a byte scheme, hard drives become even more the bastard child of computing.

Either hard drive manufacturers step into line with the rest of the computing world, or they learn their little trick isn't appreciated anymore. As silly as it seems it may be the only way to get this little annoyance of computing to go away.

PS: I do think people have sued about the formatting of a drive bit. Time for filesystems like zfs methinks.

Yet Again, the Courts Drop the Ball (1)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207627)

Anyone with a few functioning brain cells would look at Wikipedia to see what, exactly, a gigabyte is! A gigabyte is a SI unit- literally, 1,000,000,000 bytes. What the layman thinks is a gigabyte (1024MB) is a gibibyte, a giga-binary-byte.

Seagate was being completely honest in their branding of the package. It's the operating system, still referring to a gibibyte as a gigabyte, that is "defrauding" users of that non-existent 7% that they seem to want so badly. Hell, the IEC even recommended about 8 years ago that everybody make that distinction between gibibytes and gigabytes, and refer to them properly to avoid the exact same confusion that brought this lawsuit about.

Re:Yet Again, the Courts Drop the Ball (2, Funny)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207737)

The problem is that you can't say "gibibyte" without sounding like a fucking tool. :)

Re:Yet Again, the Courts Drop the Ball (1)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207763)

Would pronouncing it 'give-a-byte' help?

Re:Yet Again, the Courts Drop the Ball (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207861)

Probably not. Sounds too much like a plastic tray you'd see next to the cash register at Fry's - "give a byte, take a byte"...

Re:Yet Again, the Courts Drop the Ball (5, Insightful)

SaidinUnleashed (797936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207815)

Yes, but no one uses the *bi- prefixes, because they sound stupid, and make one sound stupid for trying to use them. The word "gigabyte" has meant 1,073,741,824 bytes in common usage for over thirty years. So, to steal an apparantly legitimate proof of factuality, the consensus among IT professionals is that a gigabyte is 1,073,741,824 bytes. If consensus among professionals in a field can make something a fact in any one field, it can make it a fact in every field.

Mark the return of 2^x sized drives? (1)

hakr89 (719001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207629)

Does this settlement mean that Seagate might actually start sizing their drives correctly?

Cash or Backup? (0, Flamebait)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207631)

Cash. You can buy backup software and a smaller HDD with it. If you are too dumb to use the OS's built-in backup feature.

Re:Cash or Backup? (5, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207683)

Yes, cash seems like a good option, but the problem is that Seagate defines the dollar as having 93 cents.

Re:Cash or Backup? (1)

cicatrix1 (123440) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207729)

Uh no. Seagate's branding is spot on. You're the one with the mis-conception. You must value the dollar at $1.07.

Re:Cash or Backup? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21208135)

So does Canada (BA-DUM-TISH).

Re:Cash or Backup? (1)

Satertek (708058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207691)

It's only 5% though. Even if I didn't disagree with the ruling, I'd only get around $7 for the drive for which I paid $140.

This isn't gonna make a dent in Seagate, fortunately. You have to mail in your claim to get cash, and giving away the recovery software costs them essentially nothing.

WTF?? (1)

Techogeek (1148745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207647)

Hard drive manufacturers have always used the ISO specification for defining the capacity of hard drives. This is nothing new.

Re:WTF?? (1)

Lally Singh (3427) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207687)

Seriously. The Wikipedia definition:

A gigabyte or Gbyte (derived from the SI prefix giga-) is a unit of information or computer storage meaning either 1000 bytes or 1024 bytes (1000 = one billion). The usage of the word "gigabyte" is ambiguous, depending on the context. When referring to RAM sizes and file sizes, it traditionally has a binary definition, of 1024 bytes. For every other use, it means exactly 1000 bytes. In order to address this confusion, currently all relevant standards bodies promote the use of the term "gibibyte" for the binary definition.
While I can see how consumers would be pissed, it's the fact that the software misreports the capacity as 2^30, instead of 10^9. As someone who wants to work in this industry, this sends me some chills — It's not about being right, it's about being right to a bunch of lawyers who don't apparently recognize standards organizations like ISO.

Re:WTF?? (1)

npistentis (694431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207757)

I got an email from Seagate last week informing me that I was eligible to receive the refund, and happily went in and checked the "Decline Claim" box. I've explained the discrepancy to 100 different users over the years ("I ordered an 80GB drive and my computer says I only have xx GB of available space?!"), so it would've been hypocritical for me to accept money from a company that I like, offered because a few lawyers saw an opportunity to gouge the company over a technicality.

Re:WTF?? (1)

Techogeek (1148745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207823)

Binary vs Metric .. USA vs THE WORLD!! MUAHAHAHAHAA

Re:WTF?? (4, Insightful)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207939)

" When referring to RAM sizes and file sizes, it traditionally has a binary definition, of 1024 bytes. For every other use, it means exactly 1000 bytes. In order to address this confusion, currently all relevant standards bodies promote the use of the term "gibibyte" for the binary definition."

Seems to me that since hard drives' primary function is storing files, that hard drive capacity should use the same unit of measurment that file size does, no? Doesn't that make simple sense? So if file sizes use 1024 rather than 1000, then hard drive capacity should as well.

Re:WTF?? (1)

Choad Namath (907723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207963)

Something should have been done at the beginning, but I would hardly blame software developers for the discrepancy. Logically, it makes sense to define capacity using binary numbers. I don't know the history of when the split took place between the different conventions, but it seems pretty convenient for hard drive manufacturers to be able to make their product seem bigger and cite ISO standards as the reason for doing so. It wasn't a bad decision to define files in terms of base two, it was a bad decision to use the standard prefixes kilo-, mega-, and giga- to refer to them.

Re:WTF?? (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207989)

Hard drive manufacturers have always used the ISO specification for defining the capacity of hard drives.

Oh, really? Care to point me to the ISO specification that clarifies that there are 8 bits in a byte?

Much like a RAM settlement offer in the mail (3, Insightful)

phantomlord (38815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207679)

I recently got a class action settlement in the mail offering money for memory that I overpaid for back in the early 2000s. The catch is, to receive anything, I need to provide detailed information about how much memory I bought from what merchant, the brand and how much I paid. To receive the hard drive settlement, they want the same info (serial number, proof of purchase, name of retailer, price paid, etc).

I have those receipts... somewhere. Who really keeps receipts for computer parts going back a couple generations though? As an individual, I doubt the money I would receive is worth the hassle of digging up the receipts. Sure, MegaCorp may have purchased 1,000 units and have the receipt of that order and will get a hefty sum at 7% for their trouble, but most people are just going to get a couple dollars.

I'm not sure why they don't offer a token minimum amount for those who can't provide receipts (I don't see all 300 million people in the US clamoring to get a $10 check). Of course, like most class action suits, this was probably just a way for a law firm to cash in on a settlement (they get a cool $1.8 million while you get some free backup software or a couple dollars).

Re:Much like a RAM settlement offer in the mail (2, Informative)

Hunter-Killer (144296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208121)

The catch for one of the most recent DRAM settlements (pricefixing; Rust Consulting) was that you had to purchase memory directly from the manufacturer. If you were a consumer, this was unlikely unless you bought directly from Micron/Crucial. I put in a CS ticket with Crucial, and received a copy of my invoices for the desired time period (about $400 worth). The settlement terms was compensation on a pro-rata basis; given the amount of memory sold during that time period vs the settlement sum, I believe it worked out to about 10% for Crucial. Still waiting on my check, so I can't confirm.

Misleading by being correct? (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207703)

Giga-anything is one billion exactly of that thing.

Wikipedia notes its techie-colloquial usage, and states that it is incorrect according to the SI/metric standard.

"The prefixes k and greater are common in computing, where they are applied to information and storage units like the bit and the byte. Since 2^10 = 1024, and 10^3 = 1000, this led to the SI prefix letters being used to denote "binary" powers. Although these are incorrect usages according to the SI standards it seems common to apply base 10 prefixes, when relating to computers, as follows..."

Strange "victory". [wikipedia.org]

Re:Misleading by being correct? (5, Funny)

fredklein (532096) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207779)

Wikipedia notes its techie-colloquial usage, and states that it is incorrect according to the SI/metric standard.


Too bad we're "techies" and not scientists. Also too bad we don't use the metric system in the USA. As a matter of fact, we wouldn't touch it with a 3.04800 meter pole.

Re:Misleading by being correct? (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207871)

Not sure who "we're" refers to there, but I did enough 6502 Assembly code in the 80's to have the first 16 powers-of-two burned into my brain to this day... and still I wouldn't try to claim my binary predilictions should hold sway over the international standard in court. ;)

Re:Misleading by being correct? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21208065)

Also too bad we don't use the metric system in the USA

So you measure electrical potential in foot-pounds per ampere-second, rather than in volts?

This lawsuit wouldn't have stood a chance at trial. Fortunately for the plaintiff, you don't need to be able to win; you just need to be able to make defending the case more expensive than paying the "protection".

Re:Misleading by being correct? (0, Flamebait)

hitchhacker (122525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208099)

Indeed. the summary is incorrect. 1GB == 10^9 bytes vs. 1GiB == 2^9 bytes. This isn't new people.

-metric

correction (0)

hitchhacker (122525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208113)

woops. 1GiB [wikipedia.org] == 2^30 bytes, not 2^9.

-metric

Should not have settled. (1)

Xfacter (1075973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207707)

SI Units [wikipedia.org] vs IEEE Standard Units [wikipedia.org]

If these people wanted to sue someone, they should have sued for the countless other pieces of software which use SI prefixes incorrectly.

Re:Should not have settled. (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207821)

For the record, the IEEE proposed this in 2005, and the case goes back to 2001. While this was a known issue, it was till misleading. They may have had to spend a lot to win this. And they may have lost...

Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21207739)

The metric prefixes were always used for the powers of ten, not powers of two. This was made *abundantly* clear when IEC approved different names for the power of two 'equivalents' in 1998.

See http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/binary.html [nist.gov]

Definitions (3, Informative)

mduke (633755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207749)

IANAL, but I think the reason they lost is not based on whether 1GB is decimal or binary but because they did not specify the system they used to count it. If they said it was 1GB in decimal so 1GB = 1000MB and made that clear, then they probably would have been ok. But since they did not, 1GB = 1024MB was easier to demonstrate as a better, more common, and more readily accepted definition due to the way it was shown in the OS, and there was nothing on the packaging to negate this. So make sure if you use numbers, you say exactly what they are supposed to be.

Re:Definitions (1)

fossilstar (716525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208151)

"Those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither"

"Those who trade liberty for security are traitors, not traders."

Ahh, another valueless settlement. (5, Insightful)

Harik (4023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207765)

yeah pretty worthless, I've bought $1000 worth of drive from them, but that's after jan 1 2006. Even if if it was before that, I would have to file 10 seperate claims for ~$5 each. Meanwhile the cocksucking trial lawyers get a cool 1.8mn in cash.

Seriously - class action lawsuits are utterly worthless. "Whoops we ripped you off by conspiring to raise memory prices tenfold. Here's a 2 dollar coupon that expires the day we get around to mailing it out and is only good at a single retailer in northern alaska. "

Seriously - How many people here paid nearly a grand for 32 meg SIMMS? Remember the "welp we had a glue factory fire so prices skyrocketed!" bullshit? Special glue just for memory ICs - and that scaled exactly with capacity? Yeah, that "glue factory fire."

"Oh yeah our batteries in our ipods are horribly defective here everyone who spent $300 on this shitty self-destructing rev of hardware and can cough up documentation gets 2 free songs on our own music store."

I'd really prefer the courts just fine the fuck out of the companies and it goes to something worthwhile - letting them use legal judgements as cheap advertising is just bullshit.

Re:Ahh, another valueless settlement. (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207883)

It's not just a valueless settlement. It was a fucking retarded case to begin with. Wait, did I say fucking retarded? Just in case...fucking retarded. It's bad enough when law firms get windfalls from class actions suits with actual merit behind them. This? This is because Americans can't understand THE FUCKING METRIC SYSTEM. Or read the side of the FSMdamned box. Or, you know, take responsibility for not reading the side of the FSMdamned box.

Re:Ahh, another valueless settlement. (1)

Nuitari The Wiz (1123889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207913)

And from what I understand the drives have also had to been bought as a standalone product. Does that mean that OEM drives are out of the settlement?

Re:Ahh, another valueless settlement. (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207969)

I known people that mailed in rebates for $0.50; having to pay $0.32 postage didn't matter either! For a company, those class-action lawsuits could still be pretty pricey due to all the penny-pinchers claming their dimes.

Re:Ahh, another valueless settlement. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208017)

Meanwhile the cocksucking trial lawyers get a cool 1.8mn in cash.

Right, so everybody who feels this way needs to opt out of the settlement. There's a form letter [bfccomputing.com] on my blog you can copy and paste if you'd like.

The real meat of the blog post is bitching about how much it'll cost the class to opt out vs. what it costs the lawyers to create the class. This is an asymmetrical attack against society. It makes it really easy for the lawyers, but hard for everybody else. I wonder who wrote those laws!

Re:Ahh, another valueless settlement. (3, Informative)

NF6X (725054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208053)

Remember the "welp we had a glue factory fire so prices skyrocketed!" bullshit? Special glue just for memory ICs - and that scaled exactly with capacity? Yeah, that "glue factory fire."

That was a fire at a factory which made the epoxy resin used to encapsulate ICs. This wasn't "special glue just for memory ICs"; it was the black plastic stuff molded around each IC on the SIMM (or any other kinds of ICs with plastic packages, for that matter). Without that plastic overmold to protect the bond wires and support the leadframe, the ICs can't be handled, shipped, soldered down, etc. That fire messed up the whole electronics industry for a while. I'm not saying that the memory suppliers didn't gouge anybody (I have no information either way), but the resin factory fire really was a big deal. It caused problems at my company at the time, which made ICs used in hard disk drives.

Either way.. we will pay (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207789)

and some lawyer is going to be flushing the money on hot cars and girls or boys.

Here is your $5.99.

By the way.. did we mention our $5.99 price increase on our drives?

Yeah.. (5, Interesting)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207807)

I must be eligible for at least $100 over all the Seagate gear I bought in that period, but it'll be a cold day on the sun before I demand money from any corporation for the ignorance of other people.

Seagate has produced great drives for a long time, and they've never strayed from industry standard definitions to advertise the storage capacity. Anyone taking advantage of this settlement is either morally dishonest or technologically incompetent.

Re:Yeah.. (1)

reikoshea (1160155) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207881)

This is the comment I've been waiting for. I've been a Seagate proponent for a long time, and I could not imagine taking their money. I would hope to God no self respecting geek could either.

If only.... (5, Funny)

MrKevvy (85565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207867)

"In its out-of-court settlement, Seagate proposed to pay $1000000 in damages. When the plaintiffs signed off on the agreement, Seagate lawyers indicated that this was a binary figure, paid the plaintiffs sixty-four dollars in cash and departed, apparently in some haste."

Another enhancement for Newegg! (4, Funny)

frankmu (68782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207889)

i think Newegg can add a "class-action lawsuit" button next to the rebate button, so they can help their customers use their money responsibly. it's the only place i buy my stuff from, and they would have proof of purchase information on file. heck, they can be like Steve Jobs, and just credit me for more purchases from their store!

Next stupid lawsuit... (3, Interesting)

Forbman (794277) | more than 6 years ago | (#21207905)

Well, now someone needs to go after OS makers for "lying" because of all the wasted space depending on data block size. Sure, you can have a 1-byte file, but it'll use up 512 bytes or more space on the HD... So, which is it? Is it a 1-byte file, or really a 512-byte (or 1024 or 2048 or 4096 or...) file?

I have a 1TB HD, and, well, I want to be able to actually use every byte of it!!!

A gigabyte here, a gigabyte there, pretty soon we're going to be talking about some actual wasted disk space...

Pointless (4, Insightful)

ewhac (5844) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208013)

Hard drive makers have, for some considerable time, have meant 10**9 (1,000,000,000) when referring to a gigabyte. They always so declare in their literature. I have some old IBM Deskstar drives with exactly this clarification.

However, the various SI prefixes -- kilo, mega, giga, exa, and others -- were overloaded by the computer industry to refer to powers of two ("kilo" = 2**10, "mega" = 2**20, "giga" = 2**30) which were "pretty close" to their SI counterparts.

This has actually caused some confusion as computer people speaking of "kilo" this and "mega" that have worked with scientists who have always used the traditional SI meanings. These differences in interpretation can mean your chemical process doesn't work, the patient dies, you miss Jupiter, etc.

To help redress this problem, a new set of prefixes [nist.gov] have been coined to refer to powers of two. These new prefixes have seen uneven but increasing adoption in the industry (if you have a recent Ubuntu/Debian release, run the command ifconfig -- the byte counts have the new prefixes).

So, the hard drive makers have been using the SI meanings for "giga" and, in case there was any confusion, explicitly printed in their literature, "One gigabyte is equal to 1000000000 bytes."

So, at first reaction, I think Seagate got screwed here. This makes me wonder if there aren't other layers of nuance that came out in court, but are lost in these stories.

Schwab

What a crock (5, Insightful)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208033)

What a crock. Anyone that knows enough about computers to know that GB, MB, and KB are usually base-2 should also know enough to check whether the HDD measurement is in base-2 or base-10. Non-computer people would probably assume that they are base-10... or, more likely, merely that the bigger the number, the better. In my experience non-computer people have difficulty distinguishing between hard-drive space and RAM. Saying that they are somehow miraculously able to distinguish between base-2 and base-10 measurements is ridiculous.

The Kilo-, Mega- and Giga- prefixes are always base-10 in SI. The IT industry should come up with different terms. Misusing them was a mistake in the '60s and it is a mistake now.

how bout a refund for my macbook HD? (1)

kabrakan (13409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208055)

How about seagate gives me a refund for me and the many other [apple.com] people whose hard drive has crashed as a result of crappy hardware?

Re:how bout a refund for my macbook HD? (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208165)

How about seagate gives me a refund for me and the many other [apple.com] people whose hard drive has crashed as a result of crappy hardware?
I believe you'll find that your dead hard drive is a Fujitsu. I just replaced the Fujitsu drive in my iBook with a Seagate. The Fry's salesguy seemed surprised at my refusal to buy Fujitsu, after the problems I've had with the last two (the original, and the one Apple replaced under warranty).

Are you kidding me? (2, Insightful)

joe_n_bloe (244407) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208083)

I understand that a "gigabyte" of RAM is 2^30 bytes, but that's just because memory addresses come in powers of two. I don't expect bytes on a hard disk to be counted in powers of two, because there is no need for them to be counted that way. But apparently there are some bargain-hunters and their lawyers who have a more self-serving style of counting.

Oh well.

Re:Are you kidding me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21208123)

Why would you expect them to have a different base unit for memory and disk drives? That would be stupid. The real problem here is that they just put the fine print on the side of the box and the general public doesn't see it. If they clearly labeled the exact size in both base 10 and base 2 it would be much easier. All it would take is a line of text on the side with the specs saying (Usable disk space: 54.5GB) on a 60GB drive box.

..this same issue (1)

thebigbadme (194140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208115)

frustrated me to no end when I went purchased a DVD±R ... and blank discs.

I could not seem to fit exact files onto a blank disc when I had done intensive organizing to back up my entire recording database (I fix sounds to medium... sometimes this means I make music)...

I called up the company that made the discs... which seemed like the faster route between that and getting out a magnifying glass to read some fine print that I hadn't known to look for in the first place. A half-hour later I was told they count how they do, and there was nothing I could do about it.

DAMN THEM!

So I sucked it up and did what Renton in Trainspotting does with the suppository....
so to speak that is.

Anyways, glad to see someone had some sense

(rubbing hands together) (1)

nedder (690308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21208155)

So I have 6 Seagate drives, paid about $120 each = $720

I get a 5% refund, or about $36 (assuming I can find 6 receipts).

BFD.
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