back to article Paper computers: Not mere pulp fiction

I love it when I read or hear the phrase “Print is dead”. Idiocy is so enthralling. I am fascinated by people who can shamelessly proclaim their own ignorance in public with such determination. Tomorrows World Elliot light pen 1967 Future tech: Elliot light pen shown on Tomorrow's World in 1967 How many trees could you grow in …

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Jad
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Article title Win!

see title

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Stop

Well argued, but..

Golf isn't really a sport, is it?

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Re: Well argued, but..

Meanings of words do change, AFAIK it used to be that "sport" only referred to the aristocratic activities like hunting: lords made sport, villeins played games.

The golf thing might come from people saying "golf is a game that wants to be a sport", meaning it aspires to be something upper class, like hunting or shooting but is really still in the same category as all the other ball-on-grass activities.

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Re: Well argued, but..

It's what would have been called in the old days "a diversion".

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Happy

Re: Well argued, but..

disclaimer: I don't really golf.

However, they do have walking as a sport (look at the regulations for walking the mile v. running the mile), and golf certainly has a lot of walking involved - unless you decide to use one of those new-fangled things called a "golf cart" to ride in.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Well argued, but..

Yeah, it's more of a hobby really.....

Paris, because I've heard tell that she is a bit of a sport.

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Happy

Re: Paris, because I've heard tell that she is a bit of a sport.

Like a pink giraffe or an eight legged cat?

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Anonymous Coward

The paperless office.....

About as useful as the paperless loo.

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Re: The paperless office.....

You mean that you don't know how to use the three seashells....?

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Anonymous Coward

Didn't the Japanese solve that? That jet system also helps flossing when you have to throw up..

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Re: The paperless office.....

Goodbye paperless, hello clueless! (Dilbert)

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Re: The paperless office.....

I thought that too, until I discovered that the wall to wall, ceiling to floor ring binders that filled two different clients offices weren't filled with reference material as id imagined, but in fact were mostly hard copies of every email they've ever sent or received for the last ten years.

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Joke

Re: The paperless office.....

In the 70's, the Wang corporation predicted the paperless office. Today, we have the Wangless office.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The paperless office.....

"About as useful as the paperless loo."

Are you saying that the paperless office is also a culturally biased concept? If so, good point.

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Paris Hilton

Wang

Huhhhuhhuhuhhhuhuhhhuhhuh. He said "wang".

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Re: The paperless office.....

It was actually all going in the paperless direction anyway -- until they invented the laser printer. Previous technologies for generating scrap paper had invariably been noisy with ugly results (dot matrix), noisy and excruciatingly slow but with pretty results (daisy wheel) or whisper-quiet but temperamental and expensive to run (early ink jet -- come to think of it, modern ink jet, too). Then along came a brand new device for generating good-looking scrap paper quickly, almost silently and inexpensively .....

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A paper-based computer could work

You draw a 1 on one side of a sheet and a 0 on the other. Might take up a wee bit of room though and every time there's a gust of wind the system crashes.

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Re: A paper-based computer could work

..or the LIBOR rate changes!

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Boffin

Paper wins

I have roughly half a metric tonne of books. Not one has ever failed (apart from one I was reading in the bath and fell asleep). Not one has had a flat battery. Not one has had a blue screen of death. I've never dropped one and thought "shit, I've just lost my entire book collection" as it splintered across the floor. The publisher and retailer don't know when I read their books.

Long live dead trees.

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"shit, I've just lost my entire book collection"

Alternatively, long live backups.

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Paper loses

I have roughly half an Imperial ton's worth of books in electronic form. Not one has ever failed (apart from a few I had to convert to an open format). Not one has had a flat battery, so long as I remember to plug in one if my devices every other day or so, which I'd have to do in any case as I don't use a dedicated reader. Not one has ever had a blue screen of death. (What kind of book could crash the OS you read it on? No kind I've ever owned, seen, or heard of.) I've never dropped one, because one can only drop a physical object; when I've dropped any of the devices on which I do my reading, they've survived perfectly well, and even if they didn't, I would lose no data because, like any IT professional worth not running out of town on a rail, I keep good backups, reducing the problem to a matter of paying replacement cost for the phone or tablet I was careless enough to wreck. The publisher and retailer don't know when I read their books.

Oh, and my books are not susceptible to fire damage, mildew, or bookworm; they take up an amount of space most easily expressible in square nanometers, rather than an entire room, and add nothing at all to the expenses involved in moving house; the entirety of my library fits quite handily in my pocket, a real boon when it comes time to decide what I want to read next; current display technology has everything I read looking quite handsome -- comic books especially -- and future developments will only make everything I read look still better; and electronic editions of most of the books I've bought are actually cheaper than it would've been to get the same data printed on a flammable, fragile substrate which can't be easily searched or shared, and which doesn't interoperate with anything.

To hell with dead trees. Long live ebooks!

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Happy

Re: Paper wins

You say that. I say scissors win!

Although Roger Daltrey says Rock wins...

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Coat

Re: Paper wins

Spock wins, unless you have a lizard...

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Unhappy

Re: Paper wins

@Mahatma Coat

"...Not one has ever failed..."

As I discovered to my cost (when I catalogued my book collection), those priceless Lionel Fanthorpe-penned novels published in the '50s were NOT printed on acid-free paper...

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Coat

Re: Paper wins

Paper disproves Spock.

Dead trees win!

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On the other hand

If I could turn all my ebooks into paper books, then I would need two additional London sized flats¹ to keep them in. Keeping all my data in one device, plus backups, is a hell of a lot easier to maintain than a giant library.

When we dealt with my grandfather's library after he died, no-one had room to keep it all, so a lot of it went into storage. Poorly thought out storage. The rats ate a good chunk, the mould got another chunk, and some of the pages just went completely black.

¹ That's 'a typically sized flat in London', not 'a flat the size of the greater metropolitan area of London'.

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Re: Paper wins

Seconded: http://baldric.net/2011/08/14/in-praise-of-dead-trees/

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Re: Paper wins

i have a similar amount of dead tree books. unfortunatly this cheap crappy place i am in at the moment eats them after 6 months (yellowed pages, wrinkled pages) meanwhile kindle soldiers on (3 years and one battery later).

You can't really compare the two so why not have both. i often by dirt cheap paperbacks (used ones on amazon from 1p) and weighty technical tomes ( Goodman & Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics could be used to knock a horse unconcious) but when you travel your limited to 1 or 2 books with kindle/fondleslab you can have the whole half tonne on you.

Won't paper circut boards be a major fire risk next to hot electrical componants?

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Devil

Re: On the other hand

Two additional London sized flats?

So that's two £1000/month shoeboxes, then?

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Rock, paper, scissors.

Which one is it? It's your decision

And no matter what you chose

You gonna live it

I've a few kilos of dead tree which I have read, and also a new collection of a few hundred MB. I love real books butt, like a lot of people, I cannot afford the huge storage space. Also when travelling it is much easier to carry one thing, or even log into one account, than try to move a lot of dead paper.

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Re: Paper wins

weighty technical tomes ( Goodman & Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics could be used to knock a horse unconcious)

Saves on ketamine and diazepam I suppose!

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Granddad's library

If granddad's library had been his Kindle Library, nobody would have had the password and you'd all have nothing!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Lost book collection"

You demonstrate that you know very little about ebooks.

This situation would not occur.

You are spreading unnecessary FUD. Please go back to your cave.

If you accidentally leave your paper book at home, can you log in from any web browser in the world and continue reading from the exact place you left off?

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Stop

Re: Paper loses

That's alot of "if"s. I've never seen a bookworm, but I have seen plenty of dead machines, defunct service providers and corrupt backups. Also, my books can sustain damage and still be readable; yours do not degrade so gracefully.

Discrete unpowered storage media readable by eye still has alot going for it, even though the storage density sucks, and it doesn't have backlit displays, automatic bookmarks, search or internet connectivity.

I may move to e-books at some point, but not yet.

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Re: Paper loses

What kind of book could crash the OS you read it on? No kind I've ever owned, seen, or heard of.

Just the other day, Pratchett's Soul Music locked up my Kindle - it became completely unresponsive. Took a cold boot to fix it.

Good book, but execrable transfer to ebook, at least for the Mobi/PRC edition. And yes, this was the official one, purchased through Amazon. (I have it in print too, somewhere, if someone hasn't permanently borrowed it.)

So it does happen.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with paper or electronic formats. My paper books are indeed, for the most part, aesthetically appealing, pleasant to hold and read, and reliable. My electronic books are convenient. All of my purchased Kindle books are, of course, backed up by Amazon; my free ones (eg from Project Gutenberg) are available from the original source and are also on one of my laptops. I can read my ebooks on the Kindle, on my phone, on any of my laptops. There are a lot of free and very cheap ebooks; there are also a lot of very cheap paper books at my local used book store, the library's rummage sale, etc.

Paper books are better for illustrations and offer a much wider range of form factors, and consequently of layouts. Old paper books generally smell better than old ebooks (which smell like nothing at all, of course). Many paper books are too large to fit in a coat pocket.

Next week's shocking revelation: bicycles and airplanes both have their advantages and disadvantages, too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Paper loses

Terry Pratchett's Soul Music ought to lock up a Kindle, given his views on personal Dis-organisers.

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Anonymous Coward

The main disadvantage of paper electronics..

.. is that it inherently has the holy grail of built-in obsolescence, and I tend to hold kit at least twice longer than manufacturers want me to.

Otherwise, intriguing idea.

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Fire hazard?

Just a thought.

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Flame

Re: Fire hazard?

Oddly, electronics PCBs used to be made from paper- bonded with resin- rather than fibreglass, in the good old days when valves were hot, and didn't catch fire as much as you might imagine.

They did catch fire, but mainly because they were hot, and if TVs, had doileys on top.

<== fire

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Flame

Re: Fire hazard?

Is it kippers for tea?

oops, no... the PCB's on fire!

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Paper and Future-proof

It's nice to see someone who is as sceptical about ebooks (books "printed" on electronic media) being more "environmentally friendly" than pbooks (books printed on paper) as I :)

I have pbooks that were given to me "as new" that are over 40 years old - and I have bought a few pbooks that are over 100 years old... I do NOT need any form of electrical power to read them and, when the time comes, I can hand them down to a future generation for their enjoyment.

This is not so with ebooks... If I have a pbook it will not vanish from my possession unless someone physically removes it from where it is stored in my house. If I have an ebook it can vanish in the blink of an eye if the e-publisher decides to do so (Amazon, 1984 ... as noted here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/18/amazon_removes_1984_from_kindle/ )

But what about 40 years from now - or even 100 years from now... those pbooks will still be readable (and still without the need for any form of electrical power) - those ebooks will (most likely) be lost in the dust of history...

The ebook file may still be in existence on some Hard Drive (or future equivalent) but it is EXTREMELY unlikely that the software for reading it and the DRM licence keys for decoding it will still be available - the information said ebook contains will be irrecoverably lost...

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Stop

Re: Paper and Future-proof

If long term storage is so important to you then you should be buying your books carved in stone or on clay tablets. I can just see people coming up with the same arguments when paper came allong (paper? Terribly flimsy stuff, I wouldn't be caught dead using it).

The remainder of your argument assumes that all ebooks are DRM'd (they aren't) and that it is impossible to remove (its pretty easy in fact).

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Re: Paper and Future-proof

It's the inability to share digital-only media conveniently and without restriction that I find frustrating.

For example, my kids often pick books from my bookshelves as they grow older and develop new interests. Same too for the stacks of CDs: this is how my son discovered Led Zeppelin as a toddler.

My most recent book and music purchases, however, are downloads to my computer or sitting in my cloud. My family will never discover them because they don't even know they are there, nor do they have the necessary devices to make any sense of them. And I'm not going to sit around burning CD-Rs and working out how to temporarily 'share' a e-book with someone who doesn't have an e-reader and has no desire to read books on a computer while sitting at a desk.

I want the best of both worlds: buy a book or an album, and you get sent

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Holmes

Re: Paper and Future-proof

And you can hand your real paper books on to your next of kin..........try that with an electronic version

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Paper and Future-proof

Yawn give it a rest why don't you. I own several hundred dead tree books.via the internet I can access several tens of thousands more books for nothing using nothing more than a pc (to download) and my veteran handspring (to read). Stop with the fucking kindle versus paperback argument , it is so old. Books and ebooks complement each other. The mechanism for delivery is NOT IMPORTANT. The. Words. Are.

I thought this was an IT website but they let Ned Ludd in!

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Re: Paper and Future-proof

Your arguments are more applicable against the Amazon model than ebooks generally: When you buy an ebook from Amazon you don't own it. What you have is a license to use it for a while. Per their conditions of use Amazon reserves the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion. And, as you say, they are encrypted. Can you imagine if every physical book you owned had its own different lock and key, like church bibles in the days before the printing press? How long before you lost some of the keys, or forgot which belonged to which?

Still, physical books are subject to loss by fire, earthquake, flood, tornado, theft, silverfish, pulp degrading, etc. Insurance might replace your books after a disaster, but they won't be the same editions, and some may not be available at all, even after a long hunt through the online & physical second hand stores. How many copies from a print run of, say, 50,000 are left after 40 or 100 years? It isn't quite in the "yesterday's news, tomorrow's chip paper" category, but not a great percentage.

With other publishers and retailers (e.g. Baen Books and the recently departed Fictionwise.com) you get the book in a choice of formats and *no* DRM. Epub is an open format - basically an xml file in a zip wrapper. A backup of your ebooks can be kept in many locations - on your home PC, on a usb stick at your office, on some cloud service, whatever you want.

Being dropped in a hot bath won't necessarily destroy a book, but it won't do it much good and will show permanent damage even after drying. I have found that a ziplock bag solves the ereader-in-bath problem.

I like my tablet, and keep many books and magazines on it, with the selection changing every few months as the mood takes me. I also still spend far too much money on physical books, both new and second hand. Both have their place.

And as for the paperless office? I've been hearing businesses talk about it for the past 25 years and am still waiting. At least most books published and paper made in Europe, North America and Australasia comes from renewable resources - forest plantations rather than old growth forest.

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Anonymous Coward

Whinging

There is so much whinging in general in these forums it astounds me.

These people are supposed to be passably intelligent..

If we spent as much time actually applying brain rather than whining we'd be able to come up with some pretty good solutions to these trivial issues.

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Re: Paper and Future-proof

I want the best of both worlds: buy a book or an album, and you get sent

... the electronic version, you were going to say, perhaps?

Some publishers are moving in this direction. The last couple of times I bought a music CD from Amazon (which would be the total number of times I did so in 2012), the tracks from the CD were also added to my "Amazon cloud player" library. I don't know that I've ever actually used Amazon cloud player, and streaming online music is obviously not the same as having the MP3's in hand, but I do have both physical media and an online copy that I can play from pretty much any computer with Internet access and a decent browser. So it's a step forward.

It's the inability to share digital-only media conveniently and without restriction that I find frustrating.

As approximately a zillion commentators have already noted, there are plenty of free, non-DRM-encumbered ebooks. Perhaps they're not the books you want (or want to share), but that's a different argument. A great deal of "digital-only media" can be shared "conveniently and without restriction".

The real problem with this (interminable and tedious) argument is the false dichotomy between print and electronic editions. There's no need to "move" to ebooks. The vast majority of the books I own are print, and I continue to buy print books, and borrow and loan them. That doesn't stop me from purchasing and enjoying the occasional ebook, and the Kindle is damned handy for Project Gutenberg and the Baen Free Library and the like.

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Anonymous Coward

" increasing dependency upon short-life electronics "

I'm not. You may be. I assume that you are the type of idiot the advertisers (and Apple) love. If you can't live without changing your tech every "9 months", your parents didn't do a very good job at "raising" you.

Surely using paper would encourage this antisocial behaviour?

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