Tag Archives: Social and Usability

Is SPA Just note taking?

I have written this post for various reasons. I have spent the past two years studying an area of what I think is connected to an important area of the paperless office not only to the office environment but to the paperless environment.

I still think that this subject is very important not because I have provided calculations that it exists and tried to bring it to the attention of anybody who is connected to the paperless environment but as a building block to try to understand how an interaction of written communication which is not directly connected to your computer main frame or connected to the office PC can be classed as a paperless system.

And to this day you can not state that you are running a true paperless system if you still perform SPA’s within your work office or environment.

Could you state that SPA’s are just a form of note taking ! to a certain degree this could be true but there is an underlining point to make that if these items are still performed within the office and people are still using paper to perform these actions, why have we not found an answer to the problem ? 

Most of the people who will read this post will probably say that there is not a problem with this area and if you look at it on the surface then you will be right but if you look at the whole of the area within this field you just might open a door to find the answer with regards to a bigger picture.

Could this be the interaction between people in the office which are still using written communication between colleagues and not having the software or hardware that is commercially acceptable and commonly used within the office.

Then it might just make you think about what a paperless office or paperless system is or what it should represent.

I think what we all agree that SPA’s or software programmes by themselves are not just the answer for a better paperless system it can cover all areas from management and attitude and a way of thinking to really bring the message home that the paperless system could and will benefit companies from saving money, ROI, work flow efficiency, better working conditions and also a greener environment and all these things are connected to a paperless system.

I write this post because it’s time to move to the next satge SPA’s will still play a big part of the site and certainly will still be used as the foundations of what I have mentioned above.

If you still believe that SPA’s are still just a form of notes then you will be pleased to know that I have enclosed some links to say exactly that.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/note-taker-hd/id366572045?mt=8

The above links are apps that you can buy for your I pad and they represent exactly that, software that has been designed to take notes and small messages which you can use with your I pad.

Have a look at the links and see what you think ?

My background to the paperless system is that of an academic back ground and with attending university next year will continue for another couple of years yet with hoping to look at the paperless system once again in a different view.


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 History

1974-gyricon-material

There have been various reports about the history of E paper that it was developed in the late 60s and early 70s by Xerox PARC, who were developing and attempting to get Xerox management to appreciate the Alto personal computer; they never did.

It was the world’s first office and word-processing computer, but this remarkable machine had one serious drawback: the cathode ray tube display it used was not the best; the problem was that the contrast was not bright enough, and the contrast was not great.    

A major improvement to assist this problem was the introduction of Gyricon; this was used with a rotating-ball and was based on a physical phenomenon called “electro capillarity.” The electro capillarity display worked by moving colored liquids against a white background as you can appreciate that this was back in the 70 and 60 and it was really a very basic spin of to what we seen on the screen today.

As time pasted the concept of E Paper slowly declined and the birth of the computer was born, and that area is history, it’s not really since the birth of the e reader that we see the development of E paper in its present form to which we own this to the potential growth of the electronic reader.

Since this time there was always the back ground research and development of e paper form all the usual companies, the various report where been published indicating that this development  was and still is a thing of the future.

Two articles were published, “E Is for E-Paper: An Electronic Paper Primer for the Graphic Communications Industry” and “E-Paper Technologies and Opportunities in Publishing, Communications and the Graphic Arts”  this examined the two major products releases by (the iRex iLiad and the Sony Reader) it also looked at the other potential devices waiting in the wings.

In 2006/2007 Sony started to develop a so called Sony Style e-store to where the e reader could down load various books to read etc. We have to be very carful here for most of the reports and articles are stating that the e books have elect iconic paper , could that be an misleading phrase, the device that they were reading form was to replace books ,it was common sense to think that the e books have e paper, the question of what you would class as e paper really has to spring to mind, we have seen this development before to the concept of the  paperless office, were terminology has been placed in to a section and in time the design process has lost it’s true meaning.

If we look at the years of 2008 to present and break it down to its Utilization then Electronic paper is the way out for people who read a lot off their screen. But there are also big expectations on the field of replacing printed newspaper, school books and manuals.

Advantages of the eBooks reader are, besides a handy, light size, the largestorage capacity and the fast and easy adaptation of the content. Additional advantage is that some models have the option to make notes that can be transformed into printed text.

A promising development of electronic paper is the flexible e-paper. Philips spin-off Polymer Vision presented in 2007 a first commercial utilization of flexible electronic paper in the form of the Readius, a smartphone with foldable screen. This makes it possible to equip a small device with a relatively large screen.

This has mostly been carried forward and developed commercial with the introduction of the skiff, which is a flexible sheet that can be used to read newspapers and more sheet design in reading , rather than the a traditional book design.

Although the skiff was never a commercial success, this was not to the problem of the material design of the product but a more commercial failure in how to market the product as a multi functional reading tool and acquiring the appropriate networking solutions to capture a new type of reader, some of the reports state that it was ahead of its time, I must disagree with this, it is only a question of time when a design concept will look and feel and the same size of a piece of paper, to what we are all used to and not a small computer device replacing the book.

Vizplex is another development with regards to eInk displays which are equipped with this technology and have a greater contrast and the pages can be switched faster. Vizplex is also more suitable for larger screens and therefore more suitable for a A4 size piece of paper.

One of the problems trying to trace back this history is that the E paper really has come from how this product has developed within the existing technology, it’s hard to state that the e paper was developed in the 60s and 70s, where it was the development of the computer screen that started it, can you class the e paper as a computer screen and once again the major leaps and bounds of this products has come from the mobile phone industry with a foldable screen.

 I think that in the early days it should have been called an e display( which it was) which has changed and developed into a piece of e paper.

So to try to track down a precise date has become difficult and I think its still an area to say that this is an ongoing development so has the e display finally turned into a piece of paper, I do believe that it will, but it will certainly taken more time and alot more research before we can clearly and confidently state this.

sony electronic paper

 


Paperless and the Civil Evidence Act 1995

We all can agree that the concept of the paperless office is becoming a reality as more systems and programs are been designed but do we have to consider the legal and compliance requirements when thinking about preparing for a paperless system.

The answer is yes we do, but unfortunately there is not a yes and no situation in how you design this, as you can appreciate companies and organizations will have different system and processes .The self employed person with a small company will not have to worry about this area, the main area is the items that we would recommend not to copy or transfer into a electronic document.

If we look at the Civil Evidence Act 1995, you could be right in assuming that this is really for the laws, courts and soliciting professions and in most cases this will be the case.

How can this Act assist the paperless system, the main area is that if you want to introduce a paperless system, transferring paper into a electronic document may have to follow certain guidelines. The problem with this is not that you can not copy paper documents in to electronic documents but it’s the area of integrity and authenticity, i.e. proof that it has not been tampered with and that it still retains its integrity as an original record.

We must also remember that at this point that they are so many ISO and BSI rules and guidelines that certain areas will cross over into each sections so therefore compliance can be covered from one guide line to another.

Most of the information will tell you that the guidelines are set out in BSI DISC PD0008, the British Standard (see older post) which relates to the Legal Admissibility of Evidential Information Stored Electronically. It provides a framework and guidelines that identify key areas of good practice

So in real terms what are the guide lines, Audit data requirements, Access control considerations, Interface requirements and backup obligations?

In very English terms it’s the Big Brother of the office, all documents are traced and tracked so if any printing, scanning and copying happens to a document it can be traceable and auditable.

So how is this connected to the paperless system and how does it assist this concept the main question you have to answer is? What is the original documents in the first place, is it an electronic transaction or a paper document that will have to be scanned.

To place this act in any category with the paperless system there are many areas to take into account and Audit trails are one of them. So if one of the answer is that the original document is presented in an electronic form then this has crossed over, to what you could say is a start of the paperless system to what degree do you conduct this audit system, This is really dependant to the type of business you control.

I do believe that every small business should have a basic audit program, we are not talking about the expensive and complicated bespoke systems, but to have a simple system within your structure is a good house keeping practice.

I have placed a few links, showing the basic systems which are designed for the smaller organization and Equitrac is probably a system that is used for the bigger and more professional organizations.

http://www.q-pulse.com/audit-management-system.asp?gclid=COXJ0YmEsKQCFYn-2AodEDtQzw

http://www.bitrixsoft.com/products/intranet/features/files.php?r1=enadwords&r2=doc&gclid=CKrLub6EsKQCFZL92AodAmdczw

http://www.eqmltd.co.uk/dolphin_software.htm

http://www.equitrac.com

We still must remember that the audit trail is only a small part of the act and all other sections must be taken into account.

The other areas will be posted later in the same category.


ISO 27002

ISO 27002 Codes of Practice 

Like governance, information security is a broad topic with ramifications in all parts of the modern organization.  Information security, and hence ISO/IEC 27002, is relevant to all types of organization including commercial enterprises of all sizes (from one-man-bands up to multinational giants), not-for-profits, charities, government departments and quasi-autonomous bodies – in fact any organization that handles and depends on information. The specific information security requirements may be different in each case but the whole point of ISO27k is that there is a lot of common ground.

The standard is explicitly concerned with information security, meaning the security of information assets, and not just IT/systems security per se.  The IT Department is merely the custodian of a good proportion of the organization’s information assets and is commonly charged with securing them by the information asset owners – the business managers who are accountable for the assets.  However a large proportion of written and intangible information (e.g. the knowledge and experience of non-IT workers) is nothing to do with IT.

Relationship to ISO/IEC 27001

ISO/IEC 27001 formally defines the mandatory requirements for an Information Security Management System (ISMS).  It uses ISO/IEC 27002 to indicate suitable information security controls within the ISMS, but since ISO/IEC 27002 is merely a code of practice/guideline rather than a certification standard, organizations are free to select and implement other controls, or indeed adopt alternative complete suites of information security controls) as they see fit.  ISO/IEC 27001 incorporates a summary (little more that than the section titles in fact) of controls from ISO/IEC 27002 under its Annex A.  In practice, organizations that adopt ISO/IEC 27001 also substantially adopt ISO/IEC 27002.

Structure and format of ISO/IEC 27002

ISO/IEC 27002 is a code of practice – a generic, advisory document, not truly a standard or formal specification such as ISO/IEC 27001. It lays out a reasonably well structured set of suggested controls to address information security risks, covering confidentiality, integrity and availability aspects. Organizations that adopt ISO/IEC 27002 must assess their own information security risks and apply suitable controls, using the standard for guidance. Strictly speaking, none of the controls are mandatory but if an organization chooses not to adopt something as common as, say, antivirus controls, they should certainly be prepared to demonstrate that this decision was reached through a rational risk management decision process, not just an oversight, if they anticipate being certified compliant to ISO/IEC 27001.

After the introduction, scope, terminology and structure sections, the remainder of ISO/IEC 27002 specifies some 39 control objectives to protect information assets against threats to their confidentiality, integrity and availability.  These control objectives in effect comprise a generic functional requirements specification for an organization’s information security management controls architecture.

There is one control objective for each second level heading in sections 6 through 15 of the standard (e.g. 8.2), or for the first level headings in the main sections with no second levels(i.e. sections 5 and 14).

Few people would quarrel with most of the control objectives, or, to put that an other way, it would be difficult to argue that the organization should not conform with the stated objectives in general.  However, some are not applicable in every case and the generic wording of the standard is unlikely to reflect each organization’s precise requirements. 

In our experience, the control objectives make an excellent starting point to define a comprehensive set of “axioms” or high level principles for information security policies with only slight re-wording.

Not mandating specific controls is a master stroke that makes the standard broadly applicable even as the technology and security risks change, and gives users tremendous flexibility in the implementation.  Unfortunately, it also makes it difficult for the certification bodies to assess whether an organization is fully compliant with the standard, hence there are no formal compliance certificates against ISO/IEC 27002 itself.  Organizations may instead get their information security governance/management processes, meaning the Information Security Management System as a whole, certified against ISO/IEC 27001 which describes the process for assessing risks and selecting, implementing and managing specific security controls from ISO/IEC 27002 or indeed other sources.

Section 0

Introduction

Starting from ‘What is information security?, the introduction explains how to make use of the standard.

Section 1

Scope

The standard gives information security management recommendations for those who are responsible for initiating, implementing or maintaining security.

Section 2

Terms and definitions

“Information security” is explicitly defined as the “preservation of confidentiality, integrity and availability of information”.  These and other related terms are further defined.  [In due course when ISO/IEC 27002 is revised, this section will presumably reference definitions in ISO/IEC 27000.]

Section 3

Structure of this standard

This page simply explains that the guts of the standard contain control objectives, suggested controls and implementation guidance.

Section 4

Risk assessment and treatment

ISO/IEC 27002 covers the topic of risk management in just a page and a half, woefully inadequate coverage for such a complex and central element of information security.  [When ISO/IEC 27002 is revised, it will probably reference ISO/IEC 27005 here although it has been suggested that the risk management section might be dropped entirely from ’27002 and moved to ’27001.  In keeping with the style of ’27002, ’27005 gives general guidance on selecting and using appropriate methods to analyze information security risk – it does not mandate a specific method since ‘appropriate’ depends on context.]

Section 5

Security policy

Management should define a policy to clarify their direction of, and support for, information security, meaning a short, high-level information security policy statement laying down the key information security directives and mandates for the entire organization.  This is normally supported by a comprehensive suite of more detailed corporate information security policies, typically in the form of an information security policy manual.  The policy manual in turn is supported by a set of information security standards, procedures and guidelines.

Although the standards are somewhat ambiguous on this point, the information security policy noted in ISO/IEC 27002 is generally understood to be separate and different from the ISMS policy required by ISO/IEC 27001.  The ISMS policy is seen by some as a strategy or governance paper laying out management’s support for the ISMS as a whole – in fact it may be as short at a statement by the CEO.

Section 6

Organization of information security

A suitable information security governance structure should be designed and implemented.

6.1 

Internal organization

The organization should have a management framework for information security. Senior management should provide direction and commit their support, for example by approving information security policies. Roles and responsibilities should be defined for the information security function. Other relevant functions should cooperate and coordinate their activities.  IT facilities should be authorized.  Confidentiality agreements should reflect the organization’s needs.  Contacts should be established with relevant authorities (e.g. law enforcement) and special interest groups.  Information security should be independently reviewed.

6.2 

External parties

Information security should not be compromised by the introduction of third party products or services.  Risks should be assessed and mitigated. when dealing with customers and in third party agreements.

 Section 7

 Asset management

The organization should be in a position to understand what information assets it holds, and to manage their security appropriately.

 7.1 

Responsibility for assets

All [information] assets should be accounted for and have a nominated owner.  An inventory of information assets (IT hardware, software, data, system documentation, storage media, supporting assets such as computer room air conditioners and UPSs, and ICT services) should be maintained. The inventory should record ownership and location of the assets, and owners should identify acceptable uses.

7.2 

Information classification

Information should be classified according to its need for security protection and labeled accordingly.  [While this is clearly most relevant to military and government organizations handling ‘protectively marked information’ (Top Secret etc.), the concept of identifying important assets, classifying/grouping them, and applying controls that are judged suitable for assets of that nature, is broadly applicable.]

Section 8:

Human resources security

The organization should manage system access rights etc. for ‘joiners, movers and leavers’, and should undertake suitable security awareness, training and educational activities.

8.1 

Prior to employment

Security responsibilities should be taken into account when recruiting permanent employees, contractors and temporary staff (e.g. through adequate job descriptions, pre-employment screening) and included in contracts (e.g. terms and conditions of employment and other signed agreements on security roles and responsibilities).

8.2

During employment

Management responsibilities regarding information security should be defined.  Employees and (if relevant) third party IT users should be made aware, educated and trained in security procedures.  A formal disciplinary process is necessary to handle security breaches.

8.3 

Termination or change of employment

Security aspects of a person’s exit from the organization (e.g. the return of corporate assets and removal of access rights) or change of responsibilities should be managed.

Section 9

Physical and environmental security

Valuable IT equipment should be physically protected against malicious or accidental damage or loss, overheating, loss of mains power etc.

9.1 

Secure areas

This section describes the need for concentric layers of physical controls to protect sensitive IT facilities from unauthorized access.

9.2 

Equipment security

Critical IT equipment, cabling and so on should be protected against physical damage, fire, flood, theft etc., both on- and off-site. Power supplies and cabling should be secured. IT equipment should be maintained properly and disposed of securely.

Section 10 

Communications and operations management

This lengthy, detailed section of the standard describes security controls for systems and network management.

10.1 

Operational procedures and responsibilities

IT operating responsibilities and procedures should be documented. Changes to IT facilities and systems should be controlled. Duties should be segregated between different people where relevant (e.g. access to development and operational systems should be segregated).

10.2 

Third party service delivery management

Security requirements should be taken into account in third party service delivery (e.g. IT facilities management or outsourcing), from contractual terms to ongoing monitoring and change management.  Do you have suitable security clauses in the contract with your ISP?

10.3 

System planning and acceptance

Covers IT capacity planning and production acceptance processes.

10.4 

Protection against malicious and mobile code

Describes the need for anti-malware controls, including user awareness.  Security controls for mobile code ‘associated with a number of middleware services’ are also outlined.

10.5 

Back-up

Covers routine data backups and rehearsed restoration.

10.6 

Network security management

Outlines secure network management, network security monitoring and other controls.  Also covers security of commercial network services such as private networks and managed firewalls etc.

10.7 

Media handling

Operating procedures should be defined to protect documents and computer media containing data, system information etc. Disposal of backup media, documents, voice and other recordings, test data etc. should be logged and controlled. Procedures should be defined for securely handling, transporting and storing backup media and system documentation.

10.8 

Exchange of information

Information exchanges between organizations should be controlled, for example though policies and procedures, and legal agreements. Information exchanges should also comply with applicable legislation. Security procedures and standards should be in place to protect information and physical media in transit, including electronic messaging (email, EDI and IM) and business information systems.

10.9

Electronic commerce services

The security implications of eCommerce (online transaction systems) should be evaluated and suitable controls implemented.  The integrity and availability of information published online (e.g. on websites) should also be protected.

10.10

Monitoring

Covers security event/audit/fault logging and system alarm/alert monitoring to detect unauthorized use.  Also covers the need to secure logs and synchronize system clocks.

Section 11

Access control

Logical access to IT systems, networks and data must be suitably controlled to prevent unauthorized use.  This is another lengthy and detailed section.

11.1 

Business requirement for access control

The organization’s requirements to control access to information assets should be clearly documented in an access control policy, including for example job-related access profiles (role based access control).  [This is an important obligation for information asset owners.]

11.2 

User access management

The allocation of access rights to users should be formally controlled through user registration and administration procedures (from initial user registration through to removal of access rights when no longer required), including special restrictions over the allocation of privileges and management of passwords, and regular access rights reviews.

11.3 

User responsibilities

Users should be made aware of their responsibilities towards maintaining effective access controls e.g. choosing strong passwords and keeping them confidential. Systems and information should be secured when left unattended (e.g. clear desk and clear screen policies).

11.4 

Network access control

Access to network services should be controlled, both within the organization and between organizations. Policy should be defined and remote users (and possibly equipment) should be suitably authenticated.  Remote diagnostic ports should be securely controlled. Information services, users and systems should be segregated into separate logical network domains.  Network connections and routine should be controlled where necessary. 

11.5 

Operating system access control

Operating system access control facilities and utilities (such as user authentication with unique user IDs and managed passwords, recording use of privileges and system security alarms) should be used. Access to powerful system utilities should be controlled and inactivity timeouts should be applied.

11.6 Application and information access control

Access to and within application systems should be controlled in accordance with a defined access control policy. Particularly sensitive applications may require dedicated (isolated) platforms, and/or additional controls if run on shared platforms.

11.7 

Mobile computing and teleworking

There should be formal policies covering the secure use of portable PCs, PDAs, cellphones etc., and secure teleworking (“working from home”, “road warriors” and other forms of mobile or remote working).

Section 12

Information systems acquisition, development and maintenance

Information security must be taken into account in the Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC) processes for specifying, building/acquiring, testing, implementing and maintaining IT systems.

12.1 

Security requirements of information systems

Automated and manual security control requirements should be analyzed and fully identified during the requirements stage of the systems development or acquisition process, and incorporated into business cases.  Purchased software should be formally tested for security, and any issues risk-assessed.

12.2 

Correct processing in application systems

Data entry, processing and output validation controls and message authentication should be provided to mitigate the associated integrity risks.

12.3 

Cryptographic controls

A cryptography policy should be defined, covering roles and responsibilities, digital signatures, non-repudiation, management of keys and digital certificates etc.

12.4 

Security of system files

Access to system files (both executable programs and source code) and test data should be controlled.

12.5 

Security in development and support processes

Application system managers should be responsible for controlling access to [development] project and support environments.  Formal change control processes should be applied, including technical reviews.  Packaged applications should ideally not be modified. Checks should be made for information leakage for example via covert channels and Trojans if these are a concern. A number of supervisory and monitoring controls are outlined for outsourced development.

12.6

Technical vulnerability management

Technical vulnerabilities in systems and applications should be controlled by monitoring for the announcement of relevant security vulnerabilities, and risk-assessing and applying relevant security patches promptly.

Section 13

Information security incident management

Information security events, incidents and weaknesses (including near-misses) should be promptly reported and properly managed.

13.1

Reporting in information security events and weaknesses

An incident reporting/alarm procedure is required, plus the associated response and escalation procedures.  There should be a central point of contact, and all employees, contractors etc. should be informed of their incident reporting responsibilities.

13.2

Management of information security incidents and improvements

Responsibilities and procedures are required to manage incidents consistently and effectively, to implement continuous improvement (learning the lessons), and to collect forensic evidence.

Section 14: 

Business continuity management

This section describes the relationship between IT disaster recovery planning, business continuity management and contingency planning, ranging from analysis and documentation through to regular exercising/testing of the plans.  These controls are designed to minimize the impact of security incidents that happen despite the preventive controls noted elsewhere in the standard.

Section 15:  Compliance

15.1 

Compliance with legal requirements

The organization must comply with applicable legislation such as copyright, data protection,protection of financial data and other vital records, cryptography restrictions, rules of evidence etc.

15.2 

Compliance with security policies and standards, and technical compliance

Managers and system owners must ensure compliance with security policies and standards, for example through regular platform security reviews, penetration tests etc. undertaken by competent testers.

15.3 

Information systems audit considerations

Audits should be carefully planned to minimize disruption to operational systems. Powerful audit tools/facilities must also be protected against unauthorized use.

 

 

 


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.


ESR 2000 Data Protection

Data Protection

5.—(1) A certification-service-provider who issues a certificate to the public and to whom this paragraph applies in accordance with paragraph (6) below—

(a)shall not obtain personal data for the purpose of issuing or maintaining that certificate otherwise than directly from the data subject or after the explicit consent of the data subject, and

(b)shall not process the personal data referred to in sub-paragraph (a) above—

(i)to a greater extent than is necessary for the purpose of issuing or maintaining that certificate, or

(ii)to a greater extent than is necessary for any other purpose to which the data subject has explicitly consented,

unless the processing is necessary for compliance with any legal obligation, to which the certification-service-provider is subject, other than an obligation imposed by contract.

(2) The obligation to comply with paragraph (1) above shall be a duty owed to any data subject who may be affected by a contravention of paragraph (1).

(3) Where a duty is owed by virtue of paragraph (2) above to any data subject, any breach of that duty which causes that data subject to sustain loss or damage shall be actionable by him.

(4) Compliance with paragraph (1) above shall also be enforceable by civil proceedings brought by the Crown for an injunction or for an interdict or for any other appropriate relief or remedy.

 (5) Paragraph (4) above shall not prejudice any right that a data subject may have by virtue of paragraph (3) above to bring civil proceedings for the contravention or apprehended contravention of paragraph (1) above.

(6) Paragraph (1) above applies to a certification-service-provider in respect of personal data only if the certification-service-provider is established in the United Kingdom and the personal data are processed in the context of that establishment.

(7) For the purposes of paragraph (6) above, each of the following is to be treated as established in the United Kingdom—

(a)an individual who is ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom,

(b)a body incorporated under the law of, or in any part of, the United Kingdom,

(c)a partnership or other unincorporated association formed under the law of any part of the United Kingdom, and

(d)any person who does not fall within sub-paragraph (a), (b) or (c) above but maintains in the United Kingdom—

(i)an office, branch or agency through which he carries on any activity, or

(ii)a regular practice.

(8) In this regulation—

“data subject” and “personal data” and “processing” shall have the same meanings as in section 1(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998(1), and

“obtain” shall bear the same interpretation as “obtaining” in section 1(2) of the Data Protection Act 1998.