Category Archives: Usability

The Last Post

Well I will say that this is the last post for the site SPA Paperless Office Project the reason why is that times have changed the site will have a new name and a new look complete with a totally new area to the paperless office, it will still have the roots of the S.P.A Foundation and still built around what I believe is still one of the fundamentals of achieving a paperless environment.

What will the new site have, a purpose built Management Efficacy SPA Template Tool and an Efficacy SPA Paperless Template Tool plus a few others.

How will the site be designed, it will have a new looking reader friendly screen a new external link friendly system plus the all the usual posts that are connected to the paperless environment for the person who wants to understand and read thought and interesting posts that are connected to this subject.

The site design will constantly be updated to improve the reader’s experience.

What will be the site called? To keep in line with the original thoughts of the first web site the name Paperless Endeavour will hope to keep the ever lasting and changing environment that to a certain degree will always try to keep up with the Technologies advances and break thoughts that are always trying to improve the world we live in weather it’s in the office or associated Technologies.

The new site will be launched in January next year, so I hope to see you then, other wise have a wonderful Christmas Holiday and a Happy New Year.

Martin Smith

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Office Pc and the Paperless Interface

I have often wondered how the paperless system will become a more common factor and more usable within the work place. I have mention a few times now that it’s not a question in just designing a better software installation and simply down loading that onto your PC.

I do believe that the progression of the paperless system has passed that stage were we would just design a better software programme, that might have been the answer a few years ago but there is nothing wrong with trying to achieve a better software which will help and increase all areas concerned.

What you could say is that has the paperless system reached to a saturation point as a product or a service, I suppose that this would be a question that we could disagree with and I am sure that  some of you could have a serious discussion about.

I personally don’t think that we should stop the software development and realistically the software development that you transfer to a disk and you down load to your PC .

This will always be in the mind of developers not mentioning all the other factors which are connected to this subject.

But if we have reached a so called milestone to the development of paperless system should we be looking towards a different direction but not forgetting about what we have mentioned above. Could one of the areas that we need to be looking at and start to question that of the interface with the computer.

This is not a new subject we have been trying to master this area for some time now and there are plenty of experts about this subject.

It’s not a question of trying to re invent the wheel but just a case of looking at things a bit differently, we have all seen the explosion of computer aided devices for a more social media, but have we seen an explosion for the traditional office PC.

I think we all could agree that we have not notice any major developments to a degree that might change the way we use the office PC, but if we look at the advances towards the office PC , then there have been far and few between, could this be a stumbling block in the future development of the paperless system.

I will put my neck out on this one and state that I do believe that the future of the office PC will be a tablet and touch panel devices complete with a traditional keyboard and I will also state that these will have to be priced to beat the second hand traditional PC that we see in computer shops who buy and sell these items in bulk, I am not talking about the few we notice on E bay, but the serious dealers who make a living form this professional trade.

I mentioned in some of my past posts that we should be viewing and looking at the computer in a different way, we should segment and separate social media computers to the traditional office computers.

You may ask yourself what this has got to do with the paperless office and paperless systems well I personally think that it has a lot to do with how the paperless system will have to be developed in the future.


Paperless and the Mobile

Just recently I have spent some time reading various articles and comments stating that the mobile phone can assist and is also used as a paperless office.

I must admit this statement makes me “shudder with horror”

I know you might say that the development of the mobile phone has helped with the general progression of the paperless system and you would be correct to state this, but in the next sentence the mobile phone has assisted the development of all most general gadgetry products that we used on a day to day basis.

If we are stating that the mobile phone is been used as a paperless office in what contents do we mean, looking and reading the articles it’s seems to be in the areas of convenience with regards to booking tickets and also paying bills through paperless transactions, this I would agree, but this is nothing new and we have been using this technology for some time now.

So what else could we be using this for with regards to the paperless office we must remember these are stating that your mobile can be your office.

We have things like apps for scanning so your mobile can scan any documentation , we all so have apps which are claiming to be paperless management documentation systems that you can down load into your mobile, we also have scribed I paper, which lets you down load individual documents into your phone and stores them into a file we also have programmes like OCR  (Optical Character Recognition) or Read Iris Pro which you can down load into your mobile read and view documents as and when required.

I suppose all these things are heading into the right direction and are assisting the development of the paperless system, I just have concerns that the general public believe that you could run your office from your mobile phone.

If you had to put your hand on your hart, could you realistically say that this is possible and is a realistic solution to a paperless office.

What I do like about the mobile industry is that it has been a great benchmarking product for the future of the paperless system, and we have to be gratefully that the general public are so fickle that they must have the latest and fastest technology that paves the way for development and progressive solutions that can be adapted to adjoining technologies within the paperless system.

 I could state that the advertising study that I carried out some time ago with Bradford University was correct, in that the terminology of the wording “Paperless Office” should be used with caution.

My personal belief this that this does not help the progressive development of the paperless office, it may assist the progressive development of paperless solutions which can help us in general termsc and that is a good thing to have as I have so many times stated that we must perceive the customer users perception  and not the technologies perception.


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.


eReaders software,files and formats

I have often wondered why it can be so confusing to read a book through an e reader or any other reading format. All we want to do is read a book, magazines and soon newspapers so why is it so confusing with regards to which format and file type to use.

Below are the bare basic that you should understand before you purchase an eReader and also we must try to remember that just because you are reading form a screen it does not mean that you are eReading.

To understand this subject it should be broken down in two area software and hardware (hardware will be posted soon)

So let take a look at the software first.

Which software?

That depends on the format, or file type, in which the e-book is presented. So in that sense the choice may be fixed, but you may also have additional software options available to enhance your reading experience.

A limitation with e-books at present is that in many cases the reader – either human or electronic – cannot simply convert file formats to other file formats. Therefore if an e-book is not offered in a format type that you have e-reader software already installed for, you may not be able to read it at all. Or you may need to obtain extra software first. Most e-reader software is available free however, and even the kinds you have to buy are usually not expensive.

It is important, though, that you be well aware of software issues before you purchase any e-books, or even try to read free ones. The information below will help you understand these issues. In addition, links are provided so you can obtain a variety of (mostly free) e-reader software.

Format Issues?         
The existence of different file formats has both good and bad features. Examples of the good are that particular formats may have various advantages suitable to particular types or styles of books (e.g. novels, textbooks or illustrated children’s books). As well, their rivalry stimulates the development of better software overall.

However, as frequently happens with new technology, the issue has also become a problem, as a result of intense competing commercial pressures. The biggest difficulty is caused by the failure of the players in the field to agree on common underlying standards, or to arrange for the inter-convertibility of formats for books that are commercially available (in so far as this could be possible).

There are several scenarios that might eventually resolve these difficulties. For example all or most e-books could be offered in multiple formats (many e-booksellers offer at least two or three at present). Alternatively, everyone could agree to use one particular format (the emergence of the ePub format may be a step in this direction). Or again, just one format – or a very few formats – could emerge as dominant in the marketplace. Or lastly, a technical & commercial mechanism could be established to facilitate the easy inter-convertibility of various formats through a trusted intermediary. The new Epub format mentioned above offers a potential platform for such a mechanism.

While some major corporations are still hoping that that their own product will win out over all others, there are also at present trends in e-publishing towards the first and fourth solutions. Viewed historically, e-books are still in their infancy, so it is too early to predict with any confidence what the final outcome will be.

HTML or plain text

If an e-book is offered in HTML, or plain text, you will be able to read it immediately with your web browser on your personal desktop or laptop computer. There is also extra software available to read it outside your browser (but still on your computer) in a more book-like experience, with additional features that a printed book can never offer. Examples are the ability to change the font size or style, or even the background texture, hyperlinks in the text (so you can jump straight to selected locations in the text or even on the Web), the ability to search the text in various ways, and an inbuilt dictionary.

You can also read HTML book files on various handheld devices that are equipped with modified web browsers, or various other e-reader software. Or you may be able to add such software to them. Check the information that comes with your device.

Adobe PDF, Microsoft Reader or eReader (Palm) formats

If an e-book is offered in a format other than HTML or plain text , such as Adobe PDF, Microsoft Reader or eReader (Palm) formats, you must first download & install particular (free) software on your computer or handheld device in order to read the book.

In some cases, computer users will already have at least one of these installed on their PC. Most commonly this will be some version of the Adobe Reader for .pdf files. Meanwhile, many handheld devices do come with some variety of e-reader software pre-installed, or supplied available for installation.

Just because you have a particular operating system on your device, this does not mean that all e-books that seem to come from an “opposing” system cannot be read. For example you can read eReader (Palm) format e-books on a Windows or Mac PC, or on a (Windows) Pocket PC. Similarly you can read PDF format e-books on a Palm, PocketPC or Symbian OS device. However, in such cases you must first install the appropriate e-reader software to make this possible.

What if there is e-reader software already installed on my device?

Some devices have proprietary e-reader software already installed, or reserved to the buyer for individual installation. You need to know the implications of this, as explained below:

 a) Where the software is the only one the device will allow – for example with the Kindle devices – the only books you will be able to read on the device are those that are offered in that format. So there you need to be careful, as if the books you want aren’t offered, or the companies that support the e-reader stops offering books in that format, the device may not be of so much use to you.

b) Sometimes a device may have its own proprietary format reader installed, but also allow you to install another type of e-reader software. For example the Franklin eBookman has its own Franklin Reader with a limited variety of books available, but you can also install Mobipocket Reader on it, which allows you to read a much larger variety of books.

c) Some handhelds may not come with any particular e-reader software, but may allow you to install one (or more) of your own choice. Or they may include one of the more popular ones, but allow you to uninstall it and add another instead.

As you can see from above it can get a bit confusing with regards to all the different types of files and formats, but help it on its way as mentioned in the above section with the introduction of Epub it’s got to be the way forward to help this area with regards to a regulation reading platform.

My last comment is very a simple one I wish that they could just leave the software designers to design the software applications but also leave the designers to design the hardware i.e. what we physically hold in our hands to read the item. Because at times it seems that they want to re design the whole wheel and not just an eReader.


eReaders (the bigger picture)

With 2010 looking to be great year for the eReader I thought I would have a look at the some of the lets say “one that have not been released yet and the ones that are a bit different” to the standard eReaders that are on the market.

And also an underlining point is that apart from seeing which new technology is breaking through there is a serious note that is connected to the paperless office and the paperless system.

You will notice that the newer designs are at last (up to point) starting to design the product with the users perception in mind to how the user will perceive the usability of the product.

I have been trying to get this point over for some time know, (if you get a minute have a look at the social and cultural section of my blog)

Plastic Logic Que 

 

Developed by scientists at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory, Plastic Logic uses flexible plastic technology that has been in development for 10 years now. The company plans to introduce two different models of the Plastic Logic Que E-Reader: one with a price tag of $649 and featuring Bluetooth, Wi-Fi capability and 4 GB memory and another priced at $799 having Wi-Fi, 3G wireless and 8GB memory. Both models don’t have memory card slots. QUE is slated to be sold through Barnes and Noble’s retail stores.

Positioned as a paperless briefcase, Que is one of the largest e-readers in the market. Less than 1/3″ thick, Que has a width of 8.5″ and a length of 11″ with a weight of 17.2 ounces. Screen measures 10.7″ diagonally, with a display resolution of 960 x 1280 at 150 ppi. Strangely, it supports only 8 levels of greyscale in comparison to many of the newer e-book readers that support 16.

Apart from Plastic Logic affirming that the screen is shatterproof, a gesture-based captive touch screen is used for navigation with a virtual keyboard for taking notes. Plastic Logic has positioned the product for business professionals due to large screen and its support for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and PDF functions.

It is quite similar to Kindle DX in that it allows you to read newspapers, periodicals, business documents, textbooks, and PDF files along with e-books and text files as well. AT&T will provide both 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities depending on the model you choose. And since AT&T also has a presence in other countries, there sure exists an opportunity for expansion, though for now, the device is going to be limited to within US shores only.

Many big Magazines and Retailers have signed partnership agreements with the Que such as USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times, the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, the Oakland Tribune, the Huffington Post, The Sporting News Today, along with magazines from Barron’s, Fast Company, Forbes, MIT’s Technology Review, Popular Science, and IDG publication titles, including Macworld, PC World, CIO, Network World, and Computerworld.

The Que also reads a versatile amount of formats such as EPUB, PDF, HTML, Visio, RTF, DOC, DOCX, TXT, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX.

This probably is the most expensive of the new generation of e-readers coming out. But it remains at the top of the heap next to the Skiff as two of the most innovative and versatile electronic readers to debut this years. If you have a large pocket book, the Skiff may be the right choice for you.

Skiff eReader

The Skiff E-Reader has a very generous display area, which stands at 11.5 inches with a resolution of 1200 x 1600 pixels. A stainless steel foil forms the base of the Skiff e-reader, which imparts a shatter-proof, crack-proof and a flexible characteristic to the device. Designed by LG Display, it incorporates touch screen features that can accept both finger and stylus input. The e-reader measure 9 inches x 11 inches and its thickness is just a shade over 1/4 inch. And at just over 17 1/2 ounces, the Skiff e-reader is lighter than the Kindle DX, which tips the scale at 18.9 ounces.

The Skiff will feature both Wi-Fi connectivity as well as 3G via Sprint. It is equipped with an internal memory that has a capacity of 4GB while the SD-card slot means, there is room for still more.

About its main source of content, what we know right now is that it is going to be the Skiff Store, which will look after the entire spectrum of selling and distributing newspapers, magazines, books, blogs and other content from multiple publishers across a range of devices. It is also likely that the newspapers and periodicals that is to be distributed by Skiff will also feature advertising, something that is lacking in Amazon’s Kindle versions and which the publishers will surely like to have included. Kindle newspapers also miss out on most of the photos, graphs, and so on. Skiff e-reader scores in this area also as their versions will have most of the graphics of the actual paper editions.

The Skiff as a unique design, it looks like to be the top of the class in far of a huge screen with tremendous resolution. We also like the fact the entire screen is touch screen, which means unlike the Kindle and other E-Readers it does not have a ton of buttons. Skiff has formed a relationship with Sprint and Samsung which means most Sprint stores will have this in stock, making purchase and discounts on the unit with a long term 3G package may lower the price drastically for citizens of the USA. The Price and release date have not been disclosed but rumours abound of a July Release date with a price tag of around $500.00

Hanlin V9 eReader

Compared to the Sony PRS-505, it’s definitely bigger. The V9 also adds new functions such as WiFi, CDMA/EVDO and handwriting that can help accessing e-books, newspapers, RSS and blogs through the Internet.

Supported file formats are the same as for the V3, including various open formats such as Epub and PPT. And language support covers almost every corner of the world.

The most intriguing thing is the effect of the A4 screen, allowing without zooming to display A4-sized PDF file almost as clear as on paper; only the font size may look a little small. With zoom-in (half page will be displayed on one screen), the font in turn is bigger than the original font of the paper.

The V9 also has a stylus; it realizes the click function, and allows making notes while reading. Otherwise, the software and hardware are about the same as for the V3.

According to Jinke, PVI can not yet mass-produce 9.7-inch displays. The MP is delayed until at least June; also the controller designed by E Ink still has a bug. Epson is busy with designing a new controller; the ASIC can be available in next month. The price is not set yet, probably somewhere between $599 and $699.

Entourage Edge

 

We are still trying to make our minds up on this one , is it a e reader or is it a note pad …..you decide !!!!!

 It does have two full screens on which actual work can be done

Can run Android applications and be used to browse the web

Wi-Fi built-in, so you’re not stuck relying on 3G

Two built-in microphones for noise-cancelation, but unfortunately no synchronization with notes

Note taking can be done using a stylus

Switching between the screens allows for websites to be loaded on one screen and “pushed” to the other

Just as with most other readers, you can highlight, annotate, and bookmark

It’s three whole pounds and ridiculously bulky

$500 price tag.

The Edge shows us what happens when you try to make a reader into what it’s not—a pseudo netbook or tablet

Final Thoughts

If these are the pointers to the future of the eReaders and we take a closer look at the skiff, and the overall concept with regards to the basic design, this has to be the one to watch, apart from totally new technology the overall reader frame work within it’s design parameters are far reaching than the other eReaders available on the market.

The reason why I say this is that it has been designed preciously for what the user has perceived it to do, no large back boards to the edge, no fancy button control on the bottom of the frame, it’s all touch technology and all you do is flick through each page of what you are reading, it not perfect in my view but it’s a step in the right direction. I still do not understand why designers over design new technology these days.

The days will come when after a hard days work or while you are at work and you want to read the daily paper situated in your region or even a national magazine all you do is subscribe to that publication and up it pops into your skiff or plastic logic Que and you read it, no fancy networking, no fancy gadgets, no nonsense frame work just clear and easy to read print that every one will want to read.  

One final reminder, if you want an e-reader that will allow you to read the books not only on the device you has now, but on any future devices you get. That is why it is important to buy an e-reader that uses the open source ePub format. Most of the top 5 eagerly anticipated E-Readers all read the ePub format.

If i said that these are a flop and will not hit our shops etc, well you will be right to say that, but flop or not i do think the skiff and also the Que will change the way we read well into the future. 

” backed by Hearst and Sprint it was a project doomed to failure, designed more as a proof-of-concept than an actual project ”

“Publishers need to think in terms of a podcast store for magazines instead of Hulu for magazines. You pay $15 and get a subscription. You get a memo when a new issues appears. You read it. You get on with your life. Anything else is far too much for a vast majority of us”

TechCruch

Could that be the Bigger Picture !!!!

 

 

 

 


Attitude and Way of thinking

There is an area that is of the most important and it would not matter if you had all the latest products and installed a new system this is the area of attitude and controlling the environment to achieve and accept a paperless office concept and system.

Looking back at what could be descried as a new way of achieving this attitude would be in the 1980’s when office layout became open plan. This changed the general attitude of the standard working office.

It’s this kind of thinking and attitude that will help the paperless office become a reality and a possible future way of thinking to make the paperless office a concept that will be acceptable

In the book (Harper and Sellen,2002);Myths of Paperless Office” a case study was observed and followed to the degree that a company changed all its office procedures and worked around the new installation of Paperless Office.

This action may seem to be rather extreme but in the real world could this be the way to handle and implement a Paperless Office System.

Not just taking the software packages or any new products and tell the staff how to use these tools but to encapsulate the whole experience and encourage this concept to all the aspects of the office environment.

One of the ideas that came out if this case study was the office implemented a total commitment to the concept and also to the green environmental issues.

It wanted to change there office procedure but felt that just saving spare or scrap paper was not enough so they introduced a new business plan that required a radical change and a new way thin thinking

The company’s decision was to change to a new way of thinking to a new level not just the standard savings which most companies have done with trying to be green with implementing small changes which could be introduced to any office or company.

The companies decision was totally there own and not all companies would have changed this radically obviously not all companies would have the ability to change the whole company and change the companies paperless office policies so each installation has to be viewed on there own merit.

The main items that have been established from this section are that of not all companies are at the same level or at the same point with there business plan to implement this change.

The decision has to be right for the company and every angle and possibility has to be taken into account when deciding to implement a Paperless Office System.