Mr. Modem: Memory vs Space: It’s soooo confusing! - East Valley Tribune: Business

Mr. Modem: Memory vs Space: It’s soooo confusing!

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Posted: Friday, June 20, 2008 9:52 am | Updated: 9:40 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q . How can I check the amount of memory I have in my computer? I used to have a pink and blue pie chart of the space used and how much was free, but I can’t seem to remember how to get to that.

A. Hard drive space and memory (RAM, which is short for Random Access Memory) are two different items, though they are frequently confused. Think of your hard drive as long-term storage and memory (RAM) as short-term. Your hard drive is where all your data files and software programs reside. It doesn’t matter if your computer is on or off, that data remains on your hard drive.

When you’re using a program, it emerges from its long-term storage on the hard drive and moves into short-term memory (RAM) for ease of use and speed of access. When your PC is shut off, nothing in memory is retained. That’s why it’s a good idea, even if you leave your computer on all the time, to periodically purge your system’s memory by restarting your system.

To check your hard drive space, open My Computer, right-click your C: drive, and select Properties. On the pie chart that represents your hard drive, you’ll see free space in pink and used space in blue.

To check how much memory is installed in your system, go to your Control Panel and double-click the System icon. RAM appears in the Computer Section of the System Properties screen.

Q. What's the story behind all the weird words that appear in the text of spam? I got one today that read: "His acquirements entitled him to the honour. The Admiral's kind urgency turned him on shore.” What does that jibberish accomplish?

A. Those types of nonsensical messages are an attempt by spammers to circumvent content filters used by spam blockers. Spam filters, which are based on Bayesian algorithms, attempt to determine the context of words that are possible spam triggers. (As an aside, if you’ve never had a Bayesian algorithm, try it lightly breaded with a lemon-butter sauce. It’s to die for.)

For example, if an email contains the words "Order Viagra!!!” it’s easy for a content blocker to evaluate those words and delete the message as spam. But if those same words are buried in an avalanche of meaningless text, the job of determining whether or not a message is legitimate becomes more difficult. So spammers send out millions of nonsense messages to attempt to bewitch, bother, and bewilder content filters. They then quantify the number of undeliverable messages that bounce back, which lets them know how many were successfully delivered. Spammers then adjust their diabolical techniques accordingly, paving the way for even more spam. Lucky us.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:

Burma Shave

In the early days of cross-country travel, roads were dotted with clusters of sequential signs, placed approximately 100 feet apart, that displayed wise and witty sayings, always ending with a pitch for Burma Shave. If you’re old enough to remember them, enjoy this scroll down memory lane; if you’re too young to have shared the experience, here’s an example of what you might find along America’s highways and byways:

She kissed the hairbrush

By mistake

She thought it was

Her husband Jake

Use Burma Shave

As the Internet continues to evolve, so does its native language. This site translates Internet acronyms and other terms commonly used in email, chat rooms, and text messaging, into readable text. This service is especially useful for parents whose children are now talking in virtual tongues. For example, the Slang Translator can take an incomprehensible sentence, such as "lol. i'm afk, bbiab d00d," and translate it into an easier to understand, but equally unintelligent, “Laughing out loud, I'm away from keyboard, be back in a bit, Dude. (This is the end of civilization, I’m just sure of it.)

For plain-English answers to your questions by email, plus useful PC tips, subscribe to Mr. Modem’s Weekly Newsletter. For information, visit

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