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Last post Author Topic: Back up files with a printer and scanner  (Read 17664 times)

Cpilot

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Back up files with a printer and scanner
« on: October 01, 2007, 06:28:43 PM »
Backing up Data with your printer
Quote
PaperBack is a free application that allows you to back up your precious files on the ordinary paper in the form of the oversized bitmaps.


images added:
Screenshot - 10_2_2007 , 10_50_24 AM_thumb.png
options.gif
« Last Edit: October 02, 2007, 10:54:09 AM by mouser »

[deXter]

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2007, 12:29:04 AM »
This is cool, I guess, but you can only store 500kB per page. Didn't someone invent a technique to store gigabytes of data on paper, using colored circles and triangles?

http://www.theregist...06/11/23/rvd_system/
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In the Land of The Net where the Hackers lie.

Cpilot

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2007, 12:33:34 PM »
This is cool, I guess, but you can only store 500kB per page. Didn't someone invent a technique to store gigabytes of data on paper, using colored circles and triangles?

http://www.theregist...06/11/23/rvd_system/
Not sure, I just ran across this and thought others might be interested.
It's pretty rare to actually find anything truly new under the sun.

mwb1100

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2007, 02:17:32 PM »
This reminds me of a system that came out in the 80's that let you print high density barcodes that could be read by a special scanner.  For a short period, Dr. Dobb's Journal printed these high density barcodes in their magazine so people with the scanner could get the code listing on their computer without having to order a floppy disc or download from the BBS.  If I remember correctly, the system was also sold as a way to archive data more safely than on floppy discs.

I'm surprised that I can't find any mention of this scheme on the Internet (maybe my Googling skillz just aren't up to snuff).

In any case, I think the idea is very interesting, even if it might not be 100% practical.  And if there's anybody who still has a bunch of floppies lying around archiving data just waiting for the magnetic signal to fade, archiving that data to paper might just end up being more permanent.

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2007, 02:22:56 PM »
All I keep thinking: Blank DVDs are cheap.  Printer supplies are expensive.

Although, it *would* be cool to use this technology to have software tatooed on my butt.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2007, 06:33:04 PM »
All I keep thinking: Blank DVDs are cheap.  Printer supplies are expensive.

That's what I was thinking too - I reckon that a single sheet (500Kb) would cost more than a blank CD which holds more than 1000 pages or even a blank DVD+R which would hold nearly 9000 pages (and a hell of a lot quicker).

If you have a Lexmark printer you could probably run to a dual layer disc for the same price!

Quick calculation - I think that if I backed up all my data this way it would cost more than my computer system - and take about 3 metres of shelf space!
« Last Edit: October 03, 2007, 06:35:45 PM by Carol Haynes »

mwb1100

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2007, 07:15:02 PM »
But what if you want to ensure that you can reconstitute the data 50 - or 500 - years from now?

Digital media is great for storing a ton of data cheaply, but it's not so great for getting the data back years from now - which is something paper's not too bad at.  The author of PaperBack isn't seriously intending that his program be used except for curiosity or experimentation (at least that's my read of his webpage), and I'm certainly not suggesting that it be used for your normal backup (or even your abnormal backup).  However there are some interesting problems with long-term data archival - will the media retain it's data for a long period of time?  I don't know what the lifetime will be of CD-R's will be, but I'd bet it's less than my lifetime, and there are issues beyond the durability of the media.  For example, the PaperBack author mentions that he still has some 8 inch floppies lying around.  I imagine it wouldn't be particularly easy to find working hardware today that'll read those.  In 20 years will there be anything that'll read my old DAT backups, and if there is will the tapes still actually be readable?  For certain things, these issues may well be important, and they should be thought about.

You'll always be able to get an image of something on paper. And if that paper is stored with a printout of the program that can decode the image (a Rosetta Stone if you will), you'll have a shot at getting your data back.

Then you'll have to deal with the problem of deciphering the data into something useful (tip - store those long-term archives in something simple like ASCII, if that'll do the trick).

It is 2045, he suggests, and his grandchildren are exploring the attic of his old house when they come across a CD-ROM and a letter, which explains that the disk contains a document that provides directions to obtaining the family fortune. The children are excited. "But they've never seen a CD before - except in old movies - and, even if they found a suitable disk drive, how will they run the software necessary to interpret the information on the disk? How can they read my obsolete digital document?"

his advice is simple: keep a hard copy. Or, assuming it's not already too late, make one.

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2007, 10:13:53 PM »
If you think decoding a CD or DVD in 50 years will stump our grandchildren, what will they make of 2D barcodes?

In any case, it's a moot point: paper degrades.  Acid-free paper stored in a nitrogen environment lasts longer but still degrades, and is hardly cheap.  I also doubt paper bonded with inkjet ink or toner holds up as long as "regular" print, so assuming the document can actually be read in 50 years is questionable.  And not just readable -- but perfect enough to scan correctly.  Hope your document contains some redundancy and/or solid CRC's.

FWIW archival quality CD and DVD media exists, and is actually reasonable cost-wise.  Archival discs are rated at 100+ years retention, without any warranty that our alien overlords or radioactive mutant descendants will be able to comprehend the data formats.

In this particular case, the old ways are best.  You want your data to last more than a few centuries?  Carve it in granite, preferably in close proximity to a Rosetta stone.  Anything else means you're lazy.

mouser

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2007, 10:46:28 PM »
Quote
In this particular case, the old ways are best.  You want your data to last more than a few centuries?  Carve it in granite, preferably in close proximity to a Rosetta stone.  Anything else means you're lazy.


Carol Haynes

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2007, 03:49:51 AM »
LOL

But seriously - inkjet (or even laser) printout will be usable in 500 years time? Inkjet photos don't last 5-10 years without degradation, and that is with the best ink technology available. And who is to say there will be scanners in 500 years time?

People used to worry that film and TV archives (such as the BBC) would not stand the test of time because of the unstable media and the march of technology - and it is true that many programmes have been lost by neglect, accidentally or deliberately. But there are still some brilliant examples of programming surviving a hundred years later where the original technology is not in use. Granted it depends on a dedicated bunch of people meticulously maintaining, rebuilding or building new alternatives to the old technology but it happens.

I bet you in 100 years time there will be companies specialising in retrieving data from redundant technologies that we use today - which will be practically all of them (including paper).

f0dder

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2007, 04:17:19 AM »
It's a cute thing, although the only real use for it I can think of would have been back in the days of crypto export restrictions - all the PGP code was printed, mailed to norway (I think?) where it was re-scanned and OCR'ed. Why? Because the export restrictions apparently didn't cover prints.

I wish Olly would have spent more time working on OllyDbg 2.0 instead :)
- carpe noctem

mwb1100

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2007, 10:35:51 AM »
Well, like I said, PaperBack is really just for curiosity sake or experimentation - not a real backup solution.  I don't really think that ink-jet printers with office grade paper is a good backup solution.  However, I still believe that the considerations for long-term data archiving present an interesting, non-trivial problem.

But, if anyone's interested, I'll lay down $100 that my inkjet printout of whatever text document will still be usable in 50 years while your copy of that same document on a CD will be a useless hunk of plastic.  Unfortunately, that $100 will only be good for a soda pop.  Oh, and I'll likely be a useless pile of ashes, so maybe we should just hang on to our $100.

« Last Edit: October 04, 2007, 10:37:38 AM by mwb1100 »

Mark0

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2007, 12:29:27 PM »
Probably not very practical, but it's surely cool, IMHO.
I had thinked about something similar much time ago, so it's very nice to see it implemented and working.
Thanks Cpilot!

[deXter]

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2007, 01:17:29 PM »
Why not just store the data online? Assuming you've put your files on a reliable host that's likely to function for many years, it's no longer your headache to make sure that the data doesn't deteriorate.
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In the Land of The Net where the Hackers lie.

Lashiec

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2007, 01:40:07 PM »
Storing data online? OH NOES! There are quite some caveats with that solution. Ars Technica made a review not long ago of backup hosts, and the big picture was not exactly comfortable. Besides, how can you assure the reliability of your host? Unless we talk of a BIG company, there's no guarantee they'll keep your data safe (and even in the case of the big company...).

Besides, really, who is going to keep data backups for 20 years (in the same medium I say)?. Now people comes out of every corner to prove me wrong ;D

A question that is bugging me. How can you restore data with the PaperBack alternative? :P
« Last Edit: October 04, 2007, 02:24:39 PM by Lashiec »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2007, 01:52:46 PM »
LOL - I had a whole collection of photos stored on Microsoft Servers (they don't get much bigger than that) - when they were all wiped (because of a 'server issue') all I got was a "Sorry we haven't any backups and cannot restore your data".

Online storage - yeah right.

[deXter]

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2007, 02:40:28 PM »
Well, I made a personal website on a free host back in 1998 and it was still around till last year, untill I closed my account.

The photos I uploaded to PhotoBucket when the site first started (2003?) are still around.

I would bet my data more on online storage than on paper or disc. Sure, one server may get wiped, two servers even. But what about three? Just don't store all your eggs in one basket.

One Script to rule them all, One Script to find them, One Script to bring them all and in the web bind them
In the Land of The Net where the Hackers lie.

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2007, 03:07:39 PM »
How to restore a backup with PaperBack:

1. In the year 2107, search eBay for an ancient USB scanner just like the one you used to have as a child, to plug into your carefully restored 100-year-old Windows workstation.  You find a scanner, and luckily it only costs $65,000 North American Dollars!

2. Using your Frigidaire Matter Compiler[tm], you fabricate a USB cable from specs downloaded from the Internet after providing Homeland Security with eCredentials that you do not plan to interface any WMDs with the cable.

3. You hire a consultant to design and hand-assemble a solar converter to replace the scanner's brick power supply (using 110v main power for recreational purposes during daylight hours is a felony).

4. You plug everything together and it works!  Sort of... Windows has just popped up its "Found New Hardware" dialog and is patiently awaiting the driver disc.  Frak!  Frak!  Frak!

5. You remember that the drivers you need are encoded onto the piece of yellowed paper you're trying to scan...

katykaty

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2007, 05:44:35 PM »
Surely the point about digital media is that it gives you complete control over the extent to which you want to future proof your information?

If you want to be sure that your data will be readable in 500 years time, all you need to do is make enough copies to be statistically confident they'll last x years, and set up a trust fund with instructions that the money be used to make enough new copies on new media every x years to be sure at least 1 copy will last the next x years.

If you just want to have an off chance that you'll be able to watch Shrek 2 in 50 years time, tape it off the TV and stick it in the back of a cupboard somewhere, and hope you'll be able to pick up a working VCR from an antique shop in half a century.

- legal under UK copyright law, by the way   ;)

Darwin

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2007, 06:11:29 PM »
Gluteus, er, Ralf Maximus, this:

Quote
Although, it *would* be cool to use this technology to have software tatooed on my butt.

Makes for quite a mental picture!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Carol Haynes

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2007, 06:16:59 PM »
Quote
If you just want to have an off chance that you'll be able to watch Shrek 2 in 50 years time, tape it off the TV and stick it in the back of a cupboard somewhere, and hope you'll be able to pick up a working VCR from an antique shop in half a century.

- legal under UK copyright law, by the way   Wink

Actually technically not. It is legal to video stuff from TV to watch it at a time other than its broadcast time. Strictly it isn't legal to keep that copy in perpetuity to watch whenever you want or to archive it. That is what purchased VHS and DVD is currently for. Not that any one in the UK takes any notice of such regulations.

Darwin

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2007, 07:33:54 PM »
I should have read the entire thread before making my first post here - Ralf's points about (in this post) are both spot on (in my opinion) and very funny  ;D
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Cpilot

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2007, 09:30:48 PM »
Wow  :huh:
You know I just thought it was cool somebody thought of it and took the time to code it.
Must of been quite the learning experience.

I like the idea that someone did it just because he could.

Darwin

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2007, 10:16:17 PM »
cpilot  - It's not obvious from my posts above, but I agree with you completely. Future-proof (or cost effective) or not, this IS cool  :Thmbsup:
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Mark0

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Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner
« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2007, 03:19:43 AM »
Maybe it can also be used to make quite an original b-side of a business card, with some zipped files in: company logo, a VCARD with alla the contacts data, something like that...