Why do some people find SI prefixes so hard to understand? I mean, it's not as if they're difficult to look up online.

Yet not one but twice today have I seen them abused. The first was in a well-known weekly computer newspaper, which eagerly informed its readers that they can now get broadband circuits as fast as 20 millibits per second. Wow, only a few days to send the average email - pretty soon it'll be faster than a postage stamp.

And then in comes a press release, breathlessly telling me that "the UK's most-established provider of Next-Generation Ethernet connectivity announced that it has extended its radically-priced 100mbps Internet service to the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh".

Yes, 100 millibits per second - that's a bit every 10 seconds. Ain't technology marvellous?