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#1
Old 08-23-2002, 02:29 AM
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Microprinting - can you do it yourself?

Well maybe not microprinting, but really really small font sizes - how small can someone print a character on a 600dpi laser printer? The point here is to get a large database on a few sheets of paper as a backup in case all hell broke loose - you could only see the characters with a magnifying glass - but you could get a lot of pages of material on a single sheet of paper.

Is there a plug-in for office for this?

My searches on the web and on this board turned up nothing.
#2
Old 08-23-2002, 03:14 AM
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One solution depends on your printer capabilities: in the Epson bubble jets, for example, you go to the printer properties/advanced/printer/defaults menu, there is a nice feature that allows you the capability of printing 2 or more pages per sheet of paper of any document or web page.

I remember HPs (both laser and bubble jet printers) can do it too, check the manual or printer properties.

I have found that four pages per sheet is still readable, my printer has the capability of printing 16 Pages per sheet! So YMMV. You should print and experiment until you find how many pages you can have per sheet and still be able to read it under a magnifying glass.
#3
Old 08-23-2002, 04:24 AM
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'Small Fonts' is readable at 6 pixels high. At 600 dpi, that's 1/100 inch per character, so with no margins and no spacing between lines, you could theoretically fit 1100 lines of text on a page. But you'd definitely need a magnifying glass to read it, or perhaps a microscope.
#4
Old 08-23-2002, 06:20 AM
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If you wanted to do this seriously, you might look into some of Canon's microfiche printer/readers. Of course, they'll run about $2000. Maybe you can find a library that's going out of business.

I'd recommend just burning a few CD-R disks, myself. The burner will run $120 or so, the disks in bulk are less than a dollar each. If you store the disks off-site and suffer a major disaster, you can be up and running in as little time as it takes for you to get a new computer and install your database software (copies of which should also be stored off-site).

The added bonus is that you can encrypt your files before you burn them, so even if your backup disks are stolen, no-one can read the files without the necessary passwords and such.
#5
Old 08-23-2002, 07:05 AM
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I can't see any point to this. Paper is probably one of the worst supports, much more vulnerable to water and fire than most other computer supports. On top of that you would have to key in all the information again and having to read it with a magnifier would make it not worth while. On top of that you could only save text and numbers so any other files would have to be encoded to use strictly those characters. I cannot think of a worse choice. CD ROM, tape, floppies, anything, seems like a better way.

Anecdote: In Celestial Navigation there are some hard core traditionalists who want to convince others that you *absolutely* need astronav, at least as a backup because "GPS's fail, calculators' batteries die, etc while a sextant will always work and your tables need no batteries". Never mind that for the price of one sextant you can buy six GPS receivers.

At any rate, some years ago I was in a car with a small group and we were driving to a boat we were going to sail. We were having the usual discussion about whether astronav is necessary or reliable and I was the one saying it may be a beautiful thing but it belongs in the past. When we got to the boat (which was not mine, it was the first time I was on it) the HO229 sight reduction tables (big tomes) were thoroughly soaked and completely unusable. Not to mention that for the price of the set of tables you can get a GPS.

Paper is *not* a good medium for safe storage of information.
#6
Old 08-23-2002, 07:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by sailor
Paper is *not* a good medium for safe storage of information.
Yes and no... It depends on your time-frame.

If you print something on (archive-type) paper with (appropriate longevity) ink, it will still be readable in quite a long time.

A CD-ROM with the same document on it, however, will surely not be readable (using commonly available hardware) in 50 years. Maybe not even in 10.
Just imagine what you would do if you got a stack of punch cards in the mail!

Read Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Information(PDF) for a very well-researched foray into the subject of keeping data available.
He gives a very interresting account for how some of the data from the US 1960 census was almost lost, until a copy was found on microfiche.

But of course, if you're only interested in making sure that your database would survive a fire, by all means burn it out to a CD (and make sure you can read it back, and store it in a safe place).
#7
Old 08-23-2002, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Popup
A CD-ROM with the same document on it, however, will surely not be readable (using commonly available hardware) in 50 years. Maybe not even in 10.
Just imagine what you would do if you got a stack of punch cards in the mail!
Ah, but here's the critical difference. When CD-ROMs get replaced by something new (call it FutureDrive), people won't automatically trash their old CD-ROM drives. There will be a period when computers will be equipped with CD-ROMs and FutureDrives, and copying your data from one medium to another will be a snap.

Making a paper copy is fine if you want to look up things quickly without having to boot up a computer, but the OP is contemplating a major crash. At that point, how do you get you paper-printed microtext back into the computer? You could retype it, a slow error-prone process, or you could try to OCR scan it, which will be extremely difficult with tiny text, even if you assume FutureScanners will be much better than current models.

A compact disk costs very little, weighs practically nothing, and takes up miniscule space in an off-site fireproof safe. Getting your business up and running after a major system crash is a cinch, and so what if FutureDrives come along? It's not like they'll be accompanied by FutureCops waving FutureGuns and ordering you to trash all your CD technology because it represents imperialist bourgeoius counter-revolutionary thinking.

Now, if you were dumb enough to trash your CD-ROM drives before copying over all your CD-stored records, then yer just shit outta luck. You should hang onto technology as long as it is useful, and only commit yourself to a changeover when you can do it completely in one don't-look-back-or-you'll-turn-into-a-pillar-of-salt swoop.

That said, I can understand making a micro-printed hard copy of a database if you were going on a business trip and wanted a quick'n'easy way to look up things, but as a backup method, it blows.
#8
Old 08-23-2002, 11:24 AM
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I wonder how accurately a 600 dpi printer can place those dots. A little jitter in pixels might not matter if you're printing a picture or printing characters that are 100 pixels tall, but it might make 6 pixel tall characters unreadable. It'd probably be OK if the characters were, say, 12 pixels high.

The microfiche reader sounds like a good bet, but if you don't want to spend $2000 you could try something similar with a 35mm camera. Print your pages as small as your printer allows, tape the sheets to the wall and take a picture. You could probably read the negatives directly with a microscope.

You'd have to experiment to determine how many pages you could shoot on each frame. Might not be more than four. I'd try it with indirect light, low speed film (for better resolution) and a tripod.
#9
Old 08-23-2002, 12:43 PM
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Two random thoughts that sort of relate to this thread:

1. When the NY Times decided to create their Millennium Time Capsule -- to be opened something like 5000 years from now -- they researched all the options for looooooongterm information storage. They concluded that physical storage (microengraving on an inert metal substrate, in their case) far outweighed any digital/electronic option. I believe that a microscope was included in the capsule too, for the hell of it.

2. I forget the whole backstory, but a few years ago there was the tale of some guy who was caught spying, selling secrets or extorting money from some high-security firm. (Like I said, I forget the backstory.)

Anyway, he was able to steal the entire database (or whatever) of the target entity. He successfully sidestepped all the ultrasophisticated anti-copying protections built into the computers at the "secure" facility where he worked; furthermore, he left no suspicious "trail" behind him after using those computers. How did he do it?

He merely videotaped the computer monitor as he scrolled from page to page and took the tape home in his briefcase.
#10
Old 08-23-2002, 01:12 PM
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Well you didn't say whether the database needed to be very secure. The great thing about microprinting would be you could run off about a hundred copy and give them to a hundred different people. What are the chances that everyone of those hundred people were going to lose their copy ? It would be relatively cheap as well so if the database was just a collection of data that had no real value to anyone besides the company (nobody wants to steal it) why not just run off some hardcopy and give a copy to each employee for safekeeping.
#11
Old 08-23-2002, 03:14 PM
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One point that has been missed here is that I want a hard copy of the database - this is basically my entire career at stake, so I will make a daily backup, but in case all computers die, I want to have a tangible thing (in a fireproof box) that, if I needed to, I could rely on. I don't need to be able to store it for 500 years - every day it will be updated!
#12
Old 08-23-2002, 03:20 PM
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>> The great thing about microprinting would be you could run off about a hundred copy and give them to a hundred different people. What are the chances that everyone of those hundred people were going to lose their copy ?

Rather, what are the chances of your finding people willing to securely store your shit?

>> It would be relatively cheap as well

I don't think so. Printing is probably the most expensive way of saving information. For 30 cents you can print three pages or you can save 250,000 pages on a CD-ROM so the cost ratio is about 80,000. Now multiply that by the number of paper copies and the ratio is way over a million.

>> so if the database was just a collection of data that had no real value to anyone besides the company (nobody wants to steal it) why not just run off some hardcopy and give a copy to each employee for safekeeping.

Oh yeah, your employees will love you if you give them company documents for safekeeping at home. Great way to run a company too.
#13
Old 08-23-2002, 03:28 PM
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>> so I will make a daily backup, but in case all computers die, I want to have a tangible thing (in a fireproof box) that, if I needed to, I could rely on.

You mean all the computers in the world would die? In that case you are screwed no matter what and your paper copies are useless.

Daily backup on paper? In case you urgently need the information and all the computers in your area die? Dunno, but it sounds like someone asking what's a good dinghy to have in your apartment in case the sink overflows. It makes no sense to me. If you are paranoid about having access to your information there are many ways of going about it but printing on paper doesn't make any sense. American Express had most of their information in the WTC when it was hit and they were able to recover pretty quick. I can assure you they were not keeping the information on paper.

You can back up to another computer on another site, you can backup to CDs etc. but paper does not make any sense from any point of view.
#14
Old 08-23-2002, 04:05 PM
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Get a website and store your information there? You can upload to your site daily, the site's server is elsewhere (usually several elsewheres), you can use appropriate security features to protect your information, and it's fairly cheap.
#15
Old 08-23-2002, 11:55 PM
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With a standard 600 DPI HP laser I can easily print 3-4 point fonts in a line and spacing compressed format and still have the text be perfectly legible (with magnification). 6 points is about as small as I can comfortably read. Letter image sharpness and clarity starts to break down around 2 points or so, not because the laser engine can't image letters that small, but due more to the physical limits of how effectively the toner can be fused to fiberous paper surface.

Re practical limits it's pretty unlikely that transactional business information will retain current or practical importance beyond the estimated 50-100+ year lifetime of a burnable CDR or DVD. Unless these are legal documents or something that really needs to be preserved for the ages a CDR or DVD is more than sufficient and can easily be transferred to the latest and greatest format as newer and even more secure digital formats come along in the future. If paper is the choice because its relatively low tech retrievial nature will survive the social, economic and technological collapse of civilzation, I'd say there will more pressing issues at hand at that point than the security of your 2002 tax returns and accounts receivable info.
#16
Old 08-24-2002, 12:38 AM
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I managed to get my 600 DPI Laserjet to print lower than 6 points, as I recall only by creating the characters in Photoshop. They were legible with a magnifying glass, but not very readable.

I believe Laserjets can print *exactly* the same dots every time, to answer an earlier question. I was trying to fix a problem with a graphic, and was distressed to find that the same artifact appeared at the dot level even when I monkeyed around with several parameters.

An advantage of paper is that it can be signed, notarized, etc. I have not heard of that happening to a CD.

To get maximum "bang for the buck" there are printing techniques that print digital coding on paper. The amount of storage was quite staggering, something like 50 pages of regular text on one page. (Sorry, I couldn't find a cite.)

For storage safety, paper is superior against fire. Safes that are rated to store paper safely for an hour in a typical house fire will not store magnetic media, CDs, or photographs. That takes a considerably more expensive safe.
#17
Old 08-24-2002, 04:22 AM
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>> An advantage of paper is that it can be signed, notarized, etc. I have not heard of that happening to a CD.

You have to be kidding. You have seriously never heard of digital signatures?

>> To get maximum "bang for the buck" there are printing techniques that print digital coding on paper. The amount of storage was quite staggering, something like 50 pages of regular text on one page.

Which is still thousands of times more expensive than computer media and much more unreliable and onerous to recover the info.

>> Safes that are rated to store paper safely for an hour in a typical house fire will not store magnetic media, CDs, or photographs. That takes a considerably more expensive safe.

You would need over a million sheets of paper to store the information you can put on ten CDroms. I would bet I can find a cheaper safe to keep 10 CD roms than you can find to keep a million sheets of paper.

chique, I backup all my stuff to CDROM periodically but I have half a dozen files which I consider essential and those I encrypt and upload to a Net server periodically so that even if my computer and backups all were destroyed I'd still have access to the info. But there's no limit to how paranoid you can get. What if My computer was destroyed, the backup CDROMS I have at home were destroyed, the Backups I have in my other place were destroyed and the Yahoo server where I keep my backups were also destroyed? At that point it would seem we are in the midst of WWIII and this would be the least of my worries but I still think having backup on paper is not an efficient way of doing it.

Suppose your entire building collapses in a tornado and everything is soaked in torrential rain. Or suppose the building is destroyed in a flood. What are the chances of recovering the information stored on millions of sheets of paper? And yet you can put ten CDroms in a small steel box and your chances of recovering the information are immensely better.
#18
Old 08-24-2002, 06:52 PM
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sailor, last time I checked there are all kinds of photographic and digital media that are not accepted in a court of law. Or only permited in limited conditions. A business wants to be able to defend itself in a lawsuit.

As I said, I haven't heard of a CD being notarized.

A *100,000* sheets on one 650 MB CD? Ahem. I have documents in PageMaker that take up 40MB for 100 pages. So we're talking about a couple thousand pages of that type. Then, if one throws in documents that include gif illustrations and the like, well, I have a novel which takes up most of a CD. It's quite practical to store a paper copy. I wouldn't be without it. I want both.
#19
Old 08-24-2002, 07:31 PM
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partly_warmer, this is getting to be silly, Yes, I guess you *could* contrive a situation where having backups on paper would be useful but not in practical situations.

>> A business wants to be able to defend itself in a lawsuit.

Note that the OP talks about making a backup of computer data on paper. If the data is in computer media to begin with, putting it on paper does not make it any more acceptable to anyone. So don't change the OP which is about backing up computer data to paper.

Backing up computer data on paper makes no sense no matter which way you look at it and I challenge you to find anyone who does it. Find me one single company who backs up their data to paper.

>> As I said, I haven't heard of a CD being notarized

Which just shows you don't know what's going on in the real world because digital signatures, including digital signatures by notaries are legally accepted in most of the developed world, including the US. If you did a Net search you would find lots of information but you prefer to let *me* do it:
http://ss.ca.gov/digsig/regulations.htm
http://europa.eu.int/ISPO/ecommerce/legal/digital.html
http://info.gov.hk/digital21/eng...e/pki/pki.html
http://surety.com/ = digital notary service
Search for digital signatures and you'll find plenty. And you can be sure that your purchases online are valid contracts.

But let's get back to the OP which is about making backups of computer data on paper. It is not practical no matter how you look at it. You are just contriving scenarios which could, conceivably, make it practical. No one does it and there's a good reason.
#20
Old 08-24-2002, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by partly_warmer
sailor, last time I checked there are all kinds of photographic and digital media that are not accepted in a court of law. Or only permited in limited conditions. A business wants to be able to defend itself in a lawsuit.

As I said, I haven't heard of a CD being notarized.

A *100,000* sheets on one 650 MB CD? Ahem. I have documents in PageMaker that take up 40MB for 100 pages. So we're talking about a couple thousand pages of that type. Then, if one throws in documents that include gif illustrations and the like, well, I have a novel which takes up most of a CD. It's quite practical to store a paper copy. I wouldn't be without it. I want both.
Using Pagemaker formatted docs as a reference for how efficiently a typical page of text and numbers can be saved in a digital file format as a standard compressed backup file is not really a very useful metric if were talking text based business docs. Standard text is very compressible.

As a rough example a 1112 page (in word) 12 point font, single spaced etext copy of Clavell's "Shogun" compresses to 927K with standard zip compression from an original file size of 2438K as a standard ascii text document.


A standard 700 meg CDR can store approx 757 copies of this or
84,784 pages. It's not quite 100,000 pages, and it doesn't take pics into account, but as a rough real world estimate it's a lot closer than your Pagemaker example for storing standard text and numbers business info.
#21
Old 08-24-2002, 08:43 PM
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Most of what the OP needed has been answered, and I'm certainly not trying to say that paper is "better", or can replace digital information. I disagree (and so do conservation professionals) that paper has no place.

There are some situations where a CD would make it through a disaster, and some where paper would. Break a CD in half, and kiss that data goodbye. It's best to have both.

astro, I wasn't saying PageMaker files were typical, but pointing out that in practice -- in a real world situation -- I've got dozens of CDs, dozens of floppies for backups. And three cardboards box of paper that duplicate them. Ok, so the paper takes up 40 times the space. I wasn't trying to save space.

sailor Your first cite includes this:

"A signature digest produced by Signature Dynamics technology may be considered unique to the person using it, if:
the signature digest records the handwriting measurements of the person signing the document using signature dynamics technology, and the signature digest is cryptographically bound to the handwriting measurements, and after the signature digest has been bound to the handwriting measurements, it is computationally infeasible to separate the handwriting measurements and bind them to a different signature digest."

Very interesting, but this is a technique that a typical user or business is supposed to understand?

If I get a piece of paper from a lawyer, and it's properly signed and dated, I know it's legal. If it's transfered to digital format, I haven't got a clue, and I *surely* would not want to become involved in a semantic argument in court over the niceities of whether my "signature digest" was of the proper format. IMAGINE trying to explain that to a jury.

To quote a report by The Commission on Preservation and Access, which is given as one of the links of the Library of Congress's "Achival Preservation Menu", "Rapid changes in the means of recording information, and in the formats for storage and in the technologies for use threaten to render the life of information in the digital age, to borrow a phrase from Hobbes, "nasty, brutish, and short." rlg.org/ArchTF/

I.e., there's still a place for paper. Ok?
#22
Old 08-25-2002, 03:14 AM
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>> If I get a piece of paper from a lawyer, and it's properly signed and dated, I know it's legal.
>> .e., there's still a place for paper. Ok?

I said that was a straw man and I'll say it again. The OP asked about backing up computer data on paper and your examples do not fit that scenario at all. It is straw man ok? You are talking about a document which is on paper to begin with. Yes paper has its place (a roll, just by the toilet) but *not as a backup medium for computer data*!
#23
Old 08-25-2002, 05:18 AM
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-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

To expand on my previous post: There are no circumstances under which
backing up computer data to paper makes any sense whatsoever. Just
entering all the data again would be a nightmare. It makes zero sense
and *nobody* does it. You will not find a single company which prints
out their computer data as a way of assuring they will not lose it.

Documents which are originally on paper are *not* backups of computer
data so that is a straw man if ever there was one. Paper still has
its place. A note on the door of the store saying "out to lunch, back
at 1:30" is on paper but it is not a backup of computer data. The car
rental contract I signed this morning on paper is *not* a backup of
computer data.

partly_warmer, it helps if you know what you are talking about.
Obviously you do not have a clue about how digital signatures work
but you could at least make an effort to learn a bit before you try to
argue against them.

Let's start with this: millions of contracts are made daily over the
Internet with no signature on paper required and they are just as
valid. They are never printed on paper and they do not need to be
printed on paper to be valid. Just go to Amazon or ebay or paypal.
There are contracts made with no paper support. Now tell me amazon or
ebay make backups on paper. I just transferred money over the
internet with no paper support. A couple weeks ago I bought airline
tickets over the internet. I do not think anyone is not aware of all
the e-commerce going on.

Further, large companies have been using electronic purchase orders
for some time now (I first saw them about 12-14 years ago). These
have more stringent requirements than small online purchases as far as
verification and signing. A digitally signed document (this does not
mean what you think it means so please learn a bit more about this) is
just as valid legally as a paper document. The signer cannot deny the
signature. Millions of these orders, acknowledgements and other
documents are exchanged and they never see paper form. The fact that
you are ignorant of this does not mean it is not happening.

Have you not seen when you download a program the digital signatures
and certificates? Have you never heard of Verisign? What world do
you live in?

Just a few days ago I went to Western Union web site to send some
money and the digital signature did not match. I do not know the
cause but just in case I had been redirected to some bogus site I
decided to not continue. I still have the captured screen: "This
certificate has failed to verify for all its intended purposes. Issued
to wumt.westernunion.com. Issued by Verisign. Valid from 3/15/02 to
3/16/03. . . etc" Do you want to proceed? - - No thanks.

The fact that you are ignorant about digital signatures does not mean
it is something obscure and out of reach. Millions of people use
digital signatures daily and you can just do a Net search to learn
about them. They have been discussed on this board and many people
here know how they work and use them. many more use them in their
computer without even knowing the technical aspect.

For computer data, which is what we are talking about, backing up on
paper substrate is just a ridiculous idea. You are just trying to
contrive a situation where it might make sense. The fact that you
consider it a good idea does not mean it *is* a good idea. Rather it
means your knowledge about computers is seriously lacking. Show me
any professional who actually does it or who even thinks it is a good
idea.

And just to show you how a digital signature works, I am signing this
text with my PGP digital signature. There is no way anyone else can
forge this signature so there is no way I can deny having written this
because there is no way you can alter a single character of the text
and have the signature still verify. I cannot say I did not make a
tyypo which shows up and it must have been added by a glitch on the
way or by the evil hamster. If a single bit changes then the
signature will not verify.
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: PGPfreeware 5.5.3i for non-commercial use <http://pgpi.com>

iQA/AwUBPWiRo8XdkMtoOh9OEQLnsgCeJTr0URlDILrc1zMlsJdzA5/Up+IAoIKp
f1pBggVgE25Dx3NHhzVUBXER
=hkqy
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
#24
Old 08-25-2002, 05:32 AM
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Even though the text is correct the above signature does *not* verify. I guess the server introduced some change in the End Of Line characters or other formatting. In email or as attached files I use digital signatures all the time without problems but I guess you cannot digitally sign a hamster.

You can find a digitally signed message by Phil Zimmerman, the developer of PGP, at http://kb2nsx.org/przadk.html That one *does* verify.
#25
Old 08-25-2002, 05:49 AM
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Aha! it was the bold tags that changed (of course!) so the text did not verify. You can find the original text and signature which *does* verify here.
#26
Old 08-25-2002, 05:51 AM
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So sailor, I guess you've never heard of anyone using outlook (or a pda) that keeps a rolodex backup...what world are you living in?
#27
Old 08-25-2002, 07:25 AM
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Yes, I confess I keep my girlfriend's phone number on a yellow post-it note on my monitor but I do not consider it as a backup. Normally I dial the number using the PC but very ocassionally I would have to turn the PC on just to dial so I wrote it on a post-it note and now I can dial by hand. It is not a backup as much as a more convenient way of accessing the information.

When you print a document using Word or Excel or your PDA you are *not* backing up the file, rather you are getting the resulting document of the work you did just like when you print a picture or graphic you are not backing up the original file. Some of the information is in there and a lot is not. Reconstructing an Excel worksheet, formatting and all, from the printed result would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. When you print a photo you are *not* backing up the original photo file which you cannot recover just by scanning the printed photo. And good luck backing up a music file to paper.

The spreadsheet where I keep my financial information is now 625KB. To have a backup on paper I would have to encode it with UUEncode or similar and that would add about 37% so my paper backup of just this one file would be 856KB of text like this:
Code:
/9j/4AAQSkZJRgABAQAAAQABAAD/2wBDABALDA4MChAODQ4SERATGCgaGBYWGDEjJR0oOjM9PDkz
ODdASFxOQERXRTc4UG1RV19iZ2hnPk1xeXBkeFxlZ2P/2wBDARESEhgVGC8aGi9jQjhCY2NjY2Nj
Y2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2P/wAARCACyAN8DASIA
AhEBAxEB/8QAHwAAAQUBAQEBAQEAAAAAAAAAAAECAwQFBgcICQoL/8QAtRAAAgEDAwIEAwUFBAQA
AAF9AQIDAAQRBRIhMUEGE1FhByJxFDKBkaEII0KxwRVS0fAkM2JyggkKFhcYGRolJicoKSo0NTY3
ODk6Q0RFRkdISUpTVFVWV1hZWmNkZWZnaGlqc3R1dnd4eXqDhIWGh4iJipKTlJWWl5iZmqKjpKWm
At 75 chrs/line that would be 11,400 lines of text or about 50 pages. If I back up every day the cost of printing would be about $5/day or $1500/year. If I back up weekly it would be $200/year. For one freaking file! If I wanted to back up my entire hard disk like that it would be totally impossible. And yet I can back up my entire hard disk to a few CD-Rs very easily.

Now suppose I need to restore from my paper backup. How much would someone charge to key in 850 KB of data? (Good luck using a scanner on that type of data.) The recovery cost would be astronomical. If you think all this makes better sense than backing up to CDroms and to other servers, then ok, fine. If you interview for a job in a computer department, in the interview don't forget to tell them about this neat idea of yours of paper backups. See what chances you have of getting the job. Be sure to tell them how you saved untold megabytes of MP3s to paper. They'll appreciate how resourceful you are. Why bother with CD-R or network servers when you can have so much fun with paper?

Yes, some people may actually save "backups" of large files on printed paper but that does not prove it makes sense. It probably shows how ignorant they are of how to effectively use a computer. Just last week I came across someone who did not know to use ctrl-C and ctrl-V to copy and paste and he just typed in everything. I found out because he forwarded an email to me and introduced an error. The fact that some people do this does not mean it makes any sense to do it. The fact that some people do not know what is the most efficient way to back up data does not mean their way makes any sense.

Perforated paper tape or cards would make *much* more sense than printed paper and yet, when was the last time these were used? I remember about 1980 using a highly sophisticated reader for TTY type tape. It was already outdated then. Anyone who is seriously saying printed paper is a good way to back up any significant amount of computer data is either very ignorant or very stupid and possibly both.
#28
Old 08-25-2002, 07:40 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Arty Tech Barn
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sailor, what I originally said was that I did not know of a CD being notarized. Not the contents. The plastic disc itself. I cannot get my notary to put his seal on a plastic disk, proving that it was written by a certain date. The OP is a businessman, he's not trying to be a digital security guru.

The OP was asking, in effect, what a prudent business plan was, and he clearly was thinking about paper. The fact that you disagree with the Library of Congress and other conservationists' concerns that digital information needs paper backup suggests you aren't receptive to practice. Popup was on the mark with some concerns. I have little or no ability to read digital data on formats from 20 years ago. I had to throw the reel-to-reel tapes out. I've several floppies from 10 years ago that are unreadable. Work I did just 2 years ago is no longer available to me, because the software to read it is prohibitively expensive. (Database software might be such an example, I worked with a system that became "unusable" because it wouldn't work without a $12,000 database upgrade.) Contrarily, I have documents written on cheap paper from 180 years ago that show no sign of deteriorating.

There are credit card purchases, contracts sent by wire, but it's still the fact that when important legal documents like patents, wills, trusts and the like are drawn up, they're often on paper (and digital). Sent by certified mail. Signed with a pen and returned. You'll have to trust me on this, I'm not publishing my legal documents.

I've been in the computer field for 20 years, filed patents, worked on high NASA security risk projects, done computer backups galore, collaborated with someone who as it happens also wrote a recent book on Internet security, I've written documents for public disclosure about security implementations, etc. You may know more about digital security than I, but then again....
#29
Old 08-26-2002, 03:31 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Anchorage
Posts: 606
Back to the OP:

Quote:
The point here is to get a large database on a few sheets of paper (snip)... you could only see the characters with a magnifying glass - but you could get a lot of pages of material on a single sheet of paper.

Is there a plug-in for office for this?
It's not even a plug-in, but an already built-in. Assuming you have MS Word, of course.

I use MS Word 2000. Do FILE | Print..., and the Print dialogue window comes up. In the lower right corner is the Zoom function which will allow you to print up to 16 thumbnail pages on a single sheet. On a LaserJet, 8 pages per sheet is still easily readable, and 16 takes some effort. With magnification, reading it wouldn't be a problem at all.

And that's just using ordinary 10 or 12 point font size.
#30
Old 08-26-2002, 04:29 AM
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Location: Washington dc
Posts: 16,441
>> what I originally said was that I did not know of a CD being notarized. Not the contents. The plastic disc itself. I cannot get my notary to put his seal on a plastic disk, proving that it was written by a certain date.

Why on Earth would anyone want to do that? It is the information that you would want to verify and time-stamp and you *can* do that. In any case, this is a straw man, totally unrelated to the OP, which is asking about backing up computer data to paper by printing it. He does not intend to notarise anything and it would make no sense to do it anyway. What would he notarise? That those printed pages were a backup of his data on the disk? It makes no sense and it is entirely irrelevant. A big straw man. Please drop it. The OP is asking about backing up computer data to paper. Please address the OP and quit building irrelevant arguments.

>> The OP is a businessman, he's not trying to be a digital security guru. The OP was asking, in effect, what a prudent business plan was, and he clearly was thinking about paper.

Totally irrelevant to whether the idea of backing data on paper is good or not, practical or not. Not an argument in support of the idea.

>> The fact that you disagree with the Library of Congress and other conservationists' concerns that digital information needs paper backup suggests you aren't receptive to practice.

The LoC does *not* backup their computer data on paper so please quit making up arguments. The OP clearly says it is for day to day backups in case he should be without a computer. The LoC most assuredly does not back up its computer data to paper and, even if it did, the OP is not the LoC nor anything resembling the LoC. The OP is about something very different: backing up computer data for the short term. If he is thinking of posterity he needs to think of special paper, special ink etc and that is clearly and expressly *not* what he is thinking as you know very well. The OP states a very clear scenario and all your solutions are for totally different needs and situations. First the guy is not a security guru and now his needs are that of the LoC. Gimme a break. You know very well it makes no sense.

>>Work I did just 2 years ago is no longer available to me, because the software to read it is prohibitively expensive.

You say that in support of your credentials in this topic? Well, ok then. You clearly demonstrate you are not good at looking ahead and making sure the data *will* be available. OTOH, I have all my data from the very beginning of the DOS age and even earlier. Some of it has migrated trough several programs and formats other I just dumped into plain text files (which is all you can preserve on paper). They are all with me and I have so many backups on different media that they are much safer than if they were on paper. Text files from 20 years ago are readable today and they will be readable in 20 years' time. Just keep transferring them from one computer to the next.

>> There are credit card purchases, contracts sent by wire, but it's still the fact that when important legal documents like patents, wills, trusts and the like are drawn up, they're often on paper (and digital). Sent by certified mail. Signed with a pen and returned. You'll have to trust me on this, I'm not publishing my legal documents.

Gawd, I do not know how to say it again. This is totally and absolutely irrelevant to the OP. A contract on paper is *not* a backup of computer data and so this is totally freaking irrelevant to the OP.

Sheesh, I tell you what, I give up. We are clearly wasting time here and just repeating ourselves. The readers of the thread can decide for themselves. I trust they can tell the difference between an original document and backing up computer data. You obviously have difficulty with this.
#31
Old 08-26-2002, 11:25 AM
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Location: Montreal, QC
Posts: 55,937
Well, if you need a timed and dated copy of your data, I'd just burn a compact disk, write up a signed and dated letter describing the disk's contents, then plunk them both in an envelope and mail them to myself. If some legal challenge ever arises, you can open the sealed (and postmarked) envelope in the presence of an attorney or arbitrator. The disk costs you 50 cents, the letter and envelope are negligible and the postage less than a buck. This is the cheapest simplest way I know of to time-stamp material in a way a court will recognize.

The ability of people to make things more complicated and expensive than necessary is astounding.
#32
Old 08-26-2002, 12:55 PM
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Location: Washington dc
Posts: 16,441
This thread has raised an interesting topic but let's not get sidetracked or confused. Document authentication has nothing to do with the OP which is about backing up computer data. Having said that, I will address the issue of time stamping and authenticating digital data because it *is* an interesting topic but please keep it separate from the OP matter.

Bryan, your solution would work but I can think of several others which are even easier. It all depends on the importance of the data and the level of credibility you need.

You can have a file digitally timestamped and signed by a comercial entity like Verisign or by an attorney or notary public. That can be done from your computer and the signatures are legal. For anything of any importance this would be the way to go but if the matter is not worth spending *any* money on, you can have other people digitally timestamp and sign your file. Note the file can be encrypted so they do not even need to know what the document contains. You can send me an encrypted document and I can add the time and my digital signature. My weight in court may not be the same as that of a notary but I am an independent witness. You can have your boss or your pastor digitally sign it.

Suppose I have no money and no friends. Look at my digitally signed post above. I can post just the digital signature of any document and that would be sufficient proof that the document existed when the post was made without need to post the entire document. (Unless you can prove I have access to the servers or I bribed the mods and they modified the post for me.)

Still another free option: Suppose I want to have proof that I wrote a certain document by today. I digitally sign it and I append the digital signature only (no need for the entire document) to an email I send to any entity that will serve as proof. I can email the White House, or Microsoft, or my ISP and add that signature at the end. When they respond, most times automatically, they append the original text at the end and the email will be timestamped and there will be a record of it at the other end which will serve as proof.

I can also upload to servers which timestamp the uploads. I have backup files stored in Yahoo and they are all time stamped with the upload date. I have no way to change that timestamp unless I am a Yahoo employee.

Finally, contrary to what has been said in this thread, you *can* take a CD-R and have a notary public notarise it's existance. I do not know if all CDR are so but all the ones I have here have a different serial number which can be recorded and you can write on them. I can't see why a notary public would not sign a CDR and affidavit its existance.

Digital signatures are as legal as signatures on paper. They are not more widely used because most people like to stick with what they already know. You can get around life refusing to use answering machines and faxes and digital signatures and many people do, but your employment prospects are much better the more things you can handle. A few years ago I still came across people who would say proudly "Oh, I know nothing about computers!". Those people are more and more rare. Digital signatures will gain more and more ground as people learn to use them and realise they can sign a document over the Internet instantly rather than heve it sent back and forth by courier. People are using the technology even if they don't know it. Every time you connect to a secure web site your browser is using public key encryption. Every time you download signed software your computer is verifying the digital signature.
#33
Old 08-26-2002, 02:39 PM
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sailor's lively banter with partly_warmer has brought up some interesting points. I mostly agree with sailor on a personal level but let me give you an example where your arguments fail.

I work for a Indian-owned casino whose operation is heavily regulated by the state. The agreement with the state is that we will keep 5 years of reports (computer generated or not) on paper. My department (Information Technology) has argued futilely with the State Gaming Commission that there are cheaper and easier methods to store the computer generated reports (mostly AS/400 mainframe and Excel), namely on magnetic or optical media. No dice. Apparently my state has not fully embraced the digital age yet. As a result our finance department has a huge warehouse overflowing with boxes of paper and we're still running out of room. We haven't even been open for 5 years yet!

If the OP's business is in any way regulated by the government it would be in his/her best interest to check with them first to see what sort of media is acceptable to them. It's no fun to be audited and find out that your "backups" are not acceptable.
#34
Old 08-26-2002, 03:41 PM
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Location: Washington dc
Posts: 16,441
Horseflesh, obviously if you have a legal requirement to keep some paper records then, well, you are *required*. You have to comply. That just means you comply with a requirement. Those papers are not kept as backup of computer data, they are kept to comply with a requirement.

The fact that the US embassy in Nairoby requires you to make all payments to their account in Bank X in the form of a certified check does not mean that is the best way to do it when they do not require it. Would you tell your customers to pay you with a certified check in Nairobi because that's how the US guvment does it and it must be good?

I *know* paper. I have worked in the aerospace sector and there was a lot of documentation we *had* to keep on paper for traceability. We were buried in paper. This does not mean paper is a good form of backing up computer data, it means paper serves a different purpose. Those records on paper are *not* backups of computer data in any way. They are records in their own right.
#35
Old 08-26-2002, 03:54 PM
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Location: Washington dc
Posts: 16,441
>> an example where your arguments fail.

No, my argument does not fail, your example is totally different. It is *not* about backing up computer data. The OP is very clear that he is not about complying with any legal requirement. (Although it would be fun to tell the government guy "here's a microscope, see if you can read this")

Before I had a laptop I very often printed loads of data in tiny print when I travelled on business because I hate lugging paper around. So there are circumstances when printing in small print makes sense. It does not make sense if your purpose is strictly data backup.

Yes paper has its place and its uses but if we are talking strictly about backing up digital data you cannot say "well you can wipe your ass with paper, now try wiping your ass with a CDROM".
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