Monthly Archives: October 2010

Putting the “Office” into the Paperless Office

If we want to bring the paperless office to a new height and bring the paperless system to an office, do you think that the office as we all known and understand will have to change?

Has the office stopped the potential growth of the paperless system, what would we class as a office in real terms has the office ever changed, you would be right to say once or twice, we started with the traditional layout, a picture looking like George Orwell’s Film 1984, not in the sense of big brother but in the sense of totalitarian presence with a straight line of desks, all in a dark grey and black colours and a strict sense of uniformed procedures with no curves for flexibility.

Times changed and we started to understand that the work force should have a more relaxed atmosphere, not so straight and down the line, but a space between the desk and yourself and a so called workable free area.

This workable free area became more common and we started to look at the work space and not a desk, individual offices became obsolete and an open space had no barriers between the workers and the managers, we slowly developed into the open plan office and this really provided a greater open space were we could glide around and have this free feeling to encourage better working conditions.

Up to a point these have been the main areas, give or take a few untraditional methods, I write this simply because if we want the paperless office to develop we must consider all the connecting and surrounding aspects, put it another way, if you were buying a sport car you would expect it to have a powerful engine to class it as a sports car not a middle of the road family car engine, is this slowly happing to the paperless system  

If we want a paperless office should we look at the office in the Paperless office in a different way?

I did write a few other posts regarding this area called Attitude and a way of thinking which really does some this areas up.

Will we have to change our thinking and adapt the office to a paperless system or shall we adapt the hardware and the software to a accommodated the concept of the paperless office.

I think we should look at both areas and hopefully meet them in the middle;

I will write in the future how to change an office to accommodate a paperless system not stating which products are available but a comprehensive look at a potential design view to a medium size company.

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E Paper Vs the Computer

Frage eines Standbesuchers "Läuft Wikiped...

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There has been one thing that I have wondered about, when looking at the development of E Paper , will it replace the computer, does it want to replace the computer and will it be allowed to replace the computer.

 Looking at the development of E Paper one would assume that in the beginning this was to assist the resolution and readability of the computer screen back in the 1970s.

If we view the facts so far with regards to the development,  E Paper has been developed  as a viewing and reading tablet and a device that you can down load or transfer reading material , in general terms thats it.

In non technical terms E paper could be a tablet that has selected software parameters and is designed with a flexible material to give the feeling that it has paper properties.

 So with these observations will the E Paper be a competitor to the PC!!

I generally don’t think so, but with my next breath I hope they do not over engineer this fantastic opportunity, coming from an engineering back ground we try to make things simple and easy to design, it should be said that I hope it finds it place within this technological media and also the work place.

In my other posts I have blown caution to the wind and stated that this may have already happened, let’s keep it simple, design it for its purpose.

Would we be right to assume that the computer and E Paper will both have a rightful place weather it’s for social media or within the work place hopefully both will be able to work along side each other.


E Paper: Develop and Adapt

Just recently I have been spending a bit of time looking at the new areas of E paper, why because it will certainly play a part in the concept of the paperless office and also I have a general interest in new technology.

In some of my past posts I have indicated that E paper should take a closer look at its self and decide into which direct it should be travelling and also a small undertone that E paper could be a Roll Royce of paper and not E paper for the masses, a product that could change how we work and behave in a normal working office.

Should E paper look for a new direction, could it survive if a very simple product was designed and developed not just for social pleasure but a true working product that can be used in the work place which could be a replacement for paper.

Personally I do not think that E Paper should replace paper, when I say replace paper, I don’t think it has to replace paper in the sense of sheet paper.

Last year I carried out a survey with Bradford University, this mainly looked at SPA, Secondary Paper Activities within a work place, the general findings were that 63% of Paper Activities were computer based and the remaining paper activities were classed as small notary actions and came under the section of SPA.

What does this tell us, it tells us that 63% of activities within the work place is already performed using a standard PC so what we can use E paper for.

I think we have to forget the direct replacement for paper, writing on E Paper, is not in the forefront of our minds, and has not been development yet. I generally believe that E Paper will have to be categorised to the storage, viewing and display area if we are going to try to bring this into the work place.

I don’t think that this is a bad think, if you look at this and look at the whole picture, could we remove the paper file and lever arch files that are situated in all our offices.

One would assume that one of the reasons why we are developing E paper is to remove paper as we know it, in its traditional sense or is it to develop the computer device, we started with the computer and then the tablet and I pad, and now the E paper, could we view the E Paper as an extension development of the tablet and I pad.

 I personally hope not, I think that E paper will survive but only if we segment the product into a workable and practical solution that is cheaper and more user friendly that we have been used to within the work place.


E Paper and a “Pretentious Stigma”

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If you have been following any of my posts you will have noticed that I encourage technological advances but for a realistic and practical approach which can assist paperless systems and the concept of the paperless office.

I do believe that there is still an aristocratic or a pretentious stigma surrounding certain technological products around at the moment, this mainly been the development of E paper, not only E Paper but also technological developments to help us to combat the development of any paperless product.

We all understand that the progressive growth of the paperless office started very simply when software programmes were available for your PC, This over the years has encouraged people to start to use the standard computers to assist the development of the paperless office.

We all know now that E paper is the next big thing to tackle the development of a paperless society or a substitute or even a replacement for paper. Well that’s what I think! In the terms of what was produced on traditional paper is now been replaced by e paper or a product device that wants to replace paper.

I have often wondered if we have really thought or considered that we used paper for, I don’t mean in the ever day items like toilet paper or wrapping up your fish and chips (English way of eating) but paper that is used as a communication tool.

Communicating in the areas of the work environment and also social activities, I say social activities, but what did we use paper for as a social activity, reading books, magazines and Newspapers. I think there are the many areas which will come to everyone’s mind and I am sure that there will be a few other areas that you will think of in time.

One of my points is that why are the developers solely marketing the social side of these products, the skiff reader was designed for newspapers and magazines, most of the tables that are on the market have a underlining approach to social activities.

I honesty believe that we are scared to say that if we design an e paper product like the skiff reader, Sony e paper etc, that actually replaces paper, will the user turn around and state “is that all it does” !!!!, But really that’s all we want it to do, replace the paper that we use as a communication tool.

 The next big question is that can e paper work along side the computer!


The basic legalities of scanned documents

Does a scanned document stand up in court?

In comparison to paper documents, the issues for electronic documents actually seem to rest on how much integrity they have in terms of ‘pedigree’ and authenticity rather than their admissibility. Courts and governing bodies now accept that electronic filing is normal procedure for many companies, and they fully accept electronic documents as evidence or supporting material so long as companies can prove that they’ve taken the appropriate measures to ensure their integrity.

The Basis in Law

The Civil Evidence Act 1995 is perhaps the most relevant point of law to address in relation to electronic documents. Its legacy is to take the onus off the question of physical admissibility, instead examining the actual weight carried by the electronic evidence submitted. The evidential value is then determined by the procedures followed by the company presenting the documents. To put is simply, if a company submits a document that has clearly been unaltered since its creation or which brings with it a clear audit trail that categorises any changes made to it along the way, then that holds for more evidential value than a document that could possibly have been amended in the interim. Simple procedures ensure document integrity for a company looking to move towards an electronic filing system.

Sections 8 and 9 of the Civil Evidence Act 1995 illustrate the legal guidelines for electronic documents as evidence:

8 (1) Where a statement contained in a document is admissible as evidence in civil proceedings, it may be proved;

(a) by the production of that document, or

(b) whether or not that document is still in existence, by the production of a copy of that document or of the material part of it, authenticated is such a manner as the court may approve.

(2) It is immaterial for this purpose how many removes there are between a copy and an original.

9 (1) A document that is shown to form a part of the records of a business or a public authority may be received in evidence in civil proceedings without an further proof

(2) A document should be taken to form part of the records of a business or public authority if there is produced to a court a certificate to that effect signed either by an officer of the business or authority to which the records belong.

Essentially, this law may be interpreted to show that an original document is not the only admissible evidence in civil courts. Electronic copies of documents are acceptable so long as their integrity can be proved. Criminal courts involve a more complex set of guidelines, and business with concerns about compliance in this area should check with a specialist lawyer.

Scanned documents and HM Customs & Excise

 What about the VAT

At present, the law makes no distinction between electronic or paper records. As a result, Customs & Excise simply refer to ‘records’ in their guidelines – whether a business keeps their records on paper or electronically makes little difference.

They do, however, insist that you inform them of the format you use for your records.

Section 5.4 of VAT Notice 700/21 reads as follows:

If you keep all or part of your records and accounts on a computer, you must make sure that you can meet your legal obligations to:

  • Account for VAT properly
  • Provide information to us whenever we visit you; and
  • Keep records in the required detail for the required length of time

In practical terms, a business should therefore advise their local VAT office that they wish to store scanned documents copies of all their records in ‘format X’ (either TIF or PDF format), and that those records will be held within ‘document management system

Customs & Excise do not recommend any particular software packages of file formats and at present an acceptable standard has not been precisely defined, but ‘may be taken to mean that all details on the reproduced documents are clear and legible’, which enables fairly broad interpretation.

By also following the Code of the British Standard BSI DISC PD0008 in addition to the requirements of Customs & Excise, a company can take the best precautions available to ensure that their records are acceptable for a VAT inspection.

Timescales for Record Keeping

The general requirement for record keeping is a period dating back at least 6 years. For many companies, keeping paper records for so long is fraught with difficulties. By agreement with the Commissioners, this time limit requirement may have a degree of flexibility. It could be noted, though, that if a company uses electronic filing, then the 6 year timescale is of little consequence.

One important consideration for Customs & Excise is their requirement that any original paper invoices must be retained for a period of no less than one VAT period. This would ensure that the current VAT return can be verified using original documentation. Depending on the nature of the company’s accounting pattern, this period is either 1 month, 3 months or 1 year in length.

After this time and submission of the return in question, the company can then consign those accounting records to electronic filing in confidence.

Scanned documents and the Inland Revenue

Not a world away from the requirements of Customs and Excise, the Inland Revenue has adopted a fairly flexible view of records stored electronically, based on the same grounds that the law does not at present differentiate between paper and electronic documents.

Set out in Tax Bulletin 37, the Revenue provides the following guidelines:

Records may be preserved on optical imaging systems, and the originals discarded, provided that what is retained in digital form represents a complete and unaltered image of the underlying paper document. We are now able to go further: Both in the case of companies and unincorporated businesses we can accept other methods which preserve the information in the record in a different form. This is so long as those methods capture all the information needed to demonstrate that a complete and correct tax return has been made and are capable of yielding up that information in a legible form.

They go on to confirm that some material, such as a company’s standard terms and conditions of sale, is not required to be retained for tax purposes. However, exactly what material should be retained and what can be discarded should be checked thoroughly with a tax adviser as regulations differ across industries.

In this Tax Bulletin, the Inland Revenue also makes the important acknowledgement that companies complying with the British Standard BSI DISC PD0008 will automatically satisfy the tax requirements for keeping electronic records.

At present, under the terms of the Companies Act, for most companies the timescales that the Revenue requires material to be retained is set at 6 years from the end of an accounting period. In cases of investigation or late return submission, then this period will extend accordingly. Once again, electronic records management is by for the easiest method of storage for convenience and space-saving benefits.


E Paper : Should we stop ?

Why do we have to be careful, if we look at the steady progressive growth of the development of e paper form the computer screen technology to the present flexible readable sheets and wonder what this application can also be developed for?

A lot of articles and reports are indicating that it will assist the development of reading to the areas of down loading educational reports, manuals and scripts etc, this can only be a good thing or is it.

I say that not wanting to stop this technology advances but also have some concerns of how this has grown or developed and what will it develop into.

I have repeated this sentence in so many of my posts and I will repeat it again on how the customer perceives the product and not what the product has been perceived into.

If we have an imaginary world and e paper has been developed and all things are great, what is the next step ?

How can the e paper be manufactured at a cheap price and in the real world what will it compete with Paper products, books and printing in general etc?

The concept of the paperless office had the same problem and is only starting to be accepted as a real product will the e paper have the same problem!

I do believe that the e paper must stop, stop in the sense that technology must stop making in to a product that is not usable to the every day person.

What has happened is that as technology has grown from one product and transferred part of that technology into another product.

If we look at the e paper, it started from the computer screen and then went into mobiles phones and eventually turned into flexible sheets .

What will happen is that if the latest e paper or flexible sheet is not transferred into a commercial product that every person can use then we will throw more technology at it ,nobody will be able to use it because of what I have mentioned above and it will repeat it’s self and an other product will benchmark the latest version of the technology of the e paper.

They will place it into the computer device and the e paper will not be E paper, it will be an latest computer tablet that will allows you to read at a better resolution and quality.

The rolling technology situation will start all over again and this will keep repeating to the level that we will be reading articles that are stating that the e paper is pipe dream and will never happen in our life time.  

This may be a different view but if you look at this closely you can see this happening already, the e paper is starting to become recognised but we have not targeted a commercial market yet. I hope this does not happen and we stop and take a closer look and a person or an organisation takes this to the next step.

Before it’s to late !!!!!!


E Paper (Technical basics)

Electronic paper (Side view of Electrophoretic...

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Electronic paper was first developed in the 1970s by Nick Sheridon at Xerox‘s Palo Alto Research Center. The first electronic paper, called Gyricon, consisted of polyethylene spheres between 75 and 106 micrometres across.

Each sphere is a janus particle composed of negatively charged black plastic on one side and positively charged white plastic on the other (each bead is thus a dipole. The spheres are embedded in a transparent silicone sheet, with each sphere suspended in a bubble of oil so that they can rotate freely.

The polarity of the voltage applied to each pair of electrodes then determines whether the white or black side is face-up, thus giving the pixel a white or black appearance. At the FPD 2008 exhibition, Japanese company Soken has demonstrated a wall with electronic wall-paper using this technology.

In the simplest implementation of an electrophoretic display, titanium dioxide particles approximately one micrometer in diameter are dispersed in a hydrocarbon oil. A dark-colored dye is also added to the oil, along with surfactants and charging agents that cause the particles to take on an electric charge. This mixture is placed between two parallel, conductive plates separated by a gap of 10 to 100 micrometres.

When a voltage is applied across the two plates, the particles will migrate electrophoretically to the plate bearing the opposite charge from that on the particles. When the particles are located at the front (viewing) side of the display, it appears white, because light is scattered back to the viewer by the high-index titania particles.

When the particles are located at the rear side of the display, it appears dark, because the incident light is absorbed by the colored dye. If the rear electrode is divided into a number of small picture elements (pixels), then an image can be formed by applying the appropriate voltage to each region of the display to create a pattern of reflecting and absorbing regions.

Electrophoretic displays are considered prime examples of the electronic paper category, because of their paper-like appearance and low power consumption.

Examples of commercial electrophoretic displays include the high-resolution active matrix displays used in the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Librie, Sony Reader, and iRex iLiad e-readers.

 These displays are constructed from an electrophoretic imaging film manufactured by E Ink Corporation. Also the technology has been developed by Sipix Microcup[9] and Bridgestone Quick Response Liquid Powder Display (QR-LPD). The Motorola MOTOFONE F3 was the first mobile phone to use the technology, in an effort to help eliminate glare from direct sunlight during outdoor use.

Electrophoretic displays can be manufactured using the Electronics on Plastic by Laser Release (EPLaR) process developed by Philips Research to enable existing AM-LCD manufacturing plants to create flexible plastic displays.