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Extravoice
2005-Nov-22, 02:15 AM
The other evening I saw an AOL commercial on TV where they were espousing the wonders of their spyware blocker.

We should all be concerned, as they claimed that spyware could slow your computer by up to 500%.

500% slower...that's sort of like going backward really fast, right?

01101001
2005-Nov-22, 02:29 AM
It would be bad math were it not for idiomatic English, where a word such as times can (un-literally) mean:

[Merriam Webster Online: Times (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/times)]


equal fractional parts of which an indicated number equal a comparatively greater quantity <seven times smaller> <three times closer>

Thus 500% slower is understood to mean: one-fifth as fast.

Extravoice
2005-Nov-22, 04:41 AM
Your point is well taken, and I assumed they meant that spyware could slow your computer to 1/5th its normal speed.

But I still contend that it is bad math. 500% slower can't be better than 100% slower, which would mean your computer has come to a complete halt.

1/5th speed would be 80% slower. It just doesn't sound as scary.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-22, 04:49 AM
Mathematically, yes. Grammatically, no. Bloody language.

montebianco
2005-Nov-22, 04:50 AM
Your point is well taken, and I assumed they meant that spyware could slow your computer to 1/5th its normal speed.

By this reckoning, if it slowed your computer to 1/1th its normal speed, would that not be 100% slower?

01101001
2005-Nov-22, 05:03 AM
But I still contend that it is bad math. 500% slower can't be better than 100% slower, which would mean your computer has come to a complete halt.

Don't dig in your heels. Put yourself in my shoes.

I still contend it is good English meaning exactly what AOL wishes to convey. An idiom is an expression that has a meaning that is not the sum of the meanings of its parts. You use idioms all the time and understand them -- unless you actually think I care about what your feet are doing and what they are wearing.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-22, 05:04 AM
There's a commercial for some satellite dish company or another with a "doctor"--never specified of what, as I recall--talking about cable vs. dish. On the board behind him, "suck" is defined, and it's listed as an adjective.

Well, I wrote in--you knew I would. Told them that while the commercials were inane and tiresome, what really annoys me is that "suck" is a verb. As in, "to suck," "it sucks," etc. They wrote me back apologizing for offending me. You just can't educate some people, can you?

montebianco
2005-Nov-22, 06:11 AM
Don't dig in your heels. Put yourself in my shoes.

I still contend it is good English meaning exactly what AOL wishes to convey. An idiom is an expression that has a meaning that is not the sum of the meanings of its parts. You use idioms all the time and understand them -- unless you actually think I care about what your feet are doing and what they are wearing.

It doesn't seem AOL was very specific about the particular quantity that has been changed by 500%. If we measure the amount of work done in one unit of time, then it is not possible to slow down more than 100%, as suggested in earlier posts. But, if we measure the amount of time needed to do one unit of work, that could certainly increase by 500%. But then the relation between these two notions of "slowness" is such that 500% corresponds to 83.33%, not 80%.

Joff
2005-Nov-22, 06:50 AM
I tend to agree with monte - using 500% slower loosely to denote the extra time taken for tasks would mean that your computer was running at one-sixth of its original speed.

I disagree with the defence of the phrase as being reasonable use of English language. This is marketing, playing fast-and-loose with numbers and attempting to appear scientific. It is entirely reasonable to take a Gillianite* line with such abhorrent behaviour.

* Your very own adjective, Gillianren

Gillianren
2005-Nov-22, 09:28 PM
* Your very own adjective, Gillianren

Hooray! Maybe if we all wrote in and complained, they'd take that stupid dish commercial off the air! And, in return, I would graciously consent to write in and complain about the "slowing up to 500%" thing.