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July 8, 2013 AT 12:01 am

PaperBack: The Paper Data Storage Option

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An interesting alternative to magnetic storage: Paperback:

Paper the way we typically use it is criminally inefficient. It has a ton of wasted data storage space. That’s where programs like PaperBack come in:

PaperBack is a free application that allows you to back up your precious files on ordinary paper in the form of oversized bitmaps. If you have a good laser printer with the 600 dpi resolution, you can save up to 500,000 bytes of uncompressed data on a single sheet.

You may ask – why? Why, for heaven’s sake, do I need to make paper backups, if there are so many alternative possibilities like CD-R’s, DVD±R’s, memory sticks, flash cards, hard disks, streaming tapes, ZIP drives, network storage, magneto-optical cartridges, and even 8-inch double-sided floppy disks formatted for DEC PDP-11? The answer is simple: you don’t. However, by looking on CD or magnetic tape, you are not able to tell whether your data is readable or not. You must insert your medium into the drive, if you even have one, and try to read it.

Paper is different. Do you remember punched cards? For years, cards were the main storage medium for the source code. I agree that 100K+ programs were… inconvenient, but hey, only real programmers dared to write applications that large. And used cards were good as notepads, too. Punched tapes were also common. And even the most weird encodings, like CDC or EBCDIC, were readable by humans (I mean, by real programmers).

Of course, bitmaps produced by PaperBack are also human-readable (with the small help of any decent microscope). I’m joking. What you need is a scanner attached to your PC.

Read more and try it out for yourself here!

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