02 May 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project


This is a Test

Put the following terms in order, lowest frequency to highest frequency:

___Extra High Frequency

___Ultra High Frequency

___Very High Frequency

___Super High Frequency

Pencils down.  Are you SURE you have them in the right order*?  Unless you looked it up, or work with microwaves daily, all you think you can be sure of is that "VHF" is the lowest, and maybe "UHF" is next, since you've heard of both.  But shouldn't Ultra be the highest?  And which is higher, Extra or Super?  Fact is, calling frequencies by names makes almost no sense.  Each stands for a range of of numbers, and keeping them in order when you know what the numbers are is a lot easier.  But these things get started benignly, i.e., with "VHF," and suddenly we're trapped when we need to go further than expected. 

What got me started on this rant against the silliness of naming frequency ranges?  It was the incomprehensible scheme of abbreviations for computer monitor resolutions.  The resolution of a computer monitor is a pair of numbers which tell how many "pixels" it will display.  For example, the standard 15 inch LCD monitor has 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.  It's resolution, therefore, is denoted as 1024 by 768.  Its area is determined by multiplying the horizontal and vertical pixel count.  And this number is tells you how much information the monitor will display.  If you consider 1024 by 768 as your reference, then a 1280 by 1024 monitor will display about 1.7 times as much data.  This is really simple math.  Even CNN employees can probably look at monitor resolution and determine how much data it will display compared to a monitor with different specifications.

At least they could if the monitor's resolution was stated as a pair of numbers.  But guess what!  Instead of this pellucid scheme, we are treated by the computer industry to the following:

Thanks to WIKIPEDIA you can look them all up.  As an example, HXGA an acronym for Hex[adecatuple] Extended Graphics Array.  Or, I suppose, you could say "4096 by 3072."  But why would you, when you could obscure the information by this idiotic miasma of alphabetical obfuscation?

One minor computer extravagance of mine is the desire for a monitor with lots of room to display data.  In fact, I typically put two monitors on a computer, and might even use more if the process weren't so confusing.  I'm always perusing monitor ads looking for high resolution at a good price.  And whenever I find an ad that makes the resolution impossible to determine without research, I ignore it.  Take that, Mr. Advertiser (not to mention names, CompUSA).

I would end this screed here, but I mentioned the theme of today's blog to my friend Terry, who came up with such a marvelous example of graduational obscuritanism that I feel compelled to offer it here.   Ready?

Descriptive Name


Super Mamouth


Super Colossal



Extra Jumbo


Extra Large



Presumably "Mamouth" is actually "Mammoth," but who knows?  Certainly not I, because I don't purchase olives, whose sizes are incomprehensibly listed above!  Is Starbucks a piker or what?

*Find the correct order at this electromagnetic spectrum summary.

Richard Factor