ByeSO

Posted on April 20, 2015. Filed under: business, forensic, iso | Tags: , , , |

Last week I had to step down from my role as the UK’s Principal Expert on Digital Evidence to ISO/IEC JTC1 SC27 WG4 (to give it the full title – with incorrect punctuation before any reminds me).

It wasn’t something I particularly wanted to withdraw from, but the economics of it just didn’t make sense any more.

Since 2011 I’ve been attending editorial meetings, in various cities around the world, twice a year and also attended numerous meetings of BSI committees in London. The cost of doing this has come out of my business, with occasional (infrequent) small contributions from government agencies.

I’ve had to allocate at least 2 months a year to this, and it’s cost something in the region of £5k to £10k each year to support it.

It was a worthwhile activity. I’ve met and worked with some great people to develop some really useful standards, and I’ll miss them and that whole process – but the lack of support from the UK has just become unsustainable.

Unlike many of the participants, I’m from a micro-business. If I’m not doing or bringing in the work, the cash isn’t coming in either. So, I’ve had to take my accountant’s advice and stop donating to commercial bodies (the publishers and assessors make profits from the resulting standards) for standards development.

It’s a shame. Standards are genuinely useful things, especially for small businesses as they let us show that we are, at least, equivalent to the big boys. If only we could find a way to fund small businesses’ participation in standards development, instead of relying on the big multi-nationals to do it all for us.

Meanwhile, if you want to know the true intent behind ISO/IEC 27041 and 27042, please do get in touch – I was editor for them during most of the development time and I know what the words really mean (ISO English, as I may have mentioned before, is not what you think it is.)

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Journeys

Posted on August 12, 2013. Filed under: life, motoring | Tags: , , , , , , |

I spent a lot of time on the road last week, probably more than was good for me, but it led to a small moment of clarity.

On Friday, I was trying to get home from Brighton. That involved, notionally, driving around the M25 and then up the M1 to the north-east of England. There are other routes, but when you’ve committed to meeting someone part-way up the M1, it pretty much locks you into that. (And yes, I know that trying to drive away from London on a Friday is always a bad idea because all those who work there do exactly the same).

As expected, within a few minutes of joining the M25, it was gridlocked. Average speed was about 5 mph, it seemed. I couldn’t do anything except sit in the jam, edging forward little by little, watching my ETA increase until, eventually, after an hour-long delay, the jam magically cleared in front of me and allowed me to get off the M25 onto the M1 and to my meeting.

After the meeting, I rejoined the M1 – to see another jam. Now, I had a choice – I could sit in the jam and hope it cleared, I could get out the maps and plan another route, or I could drive in vaguely the right direction to find another good road north and hope that the SatNav would work out what I was up to.

I chose the third option. I had no need to stick to a planned route any more. I just wanted to get on the move and feel like I was making progress towards my destination.

The revelation – a lot of the time, this is how I run my business. I don’t like to have plans that are too well-formed. I need to keep some flexibility because things change, usually unexpectedly and in interesting ways.

I like to feel like I’m making progress, even if it’s not in the way I had planned. I do start with an outline plan, and I always know what my goals are, but exactly how I achieve them is quite loosely defined. It works for me, but it causes problems too.

Right now, I’m stuck on a couple of projects because I made two mistakes. Firstly, I decided to use a large organisation as a sub-contractor and secondly, I trusted them to deliver their contracts on time.

The organisation is so large, and so beset with a mindset that tells it that all risks can be managed, that it’s got stuck in drawing up the contracts. It simply can’t cope with a situation which is flexible and which requires elements of doubt and uncertainty to be accepted.

Unfortunately for that organisation, I’m preparing to take a different route – I can see a promising little side-road up ahead and it looks interesting.

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Finishing that journey means that you have to keep moving, no matter what obstacles get in your way.

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    About

    This is the weblog of Angus M. Marshall, forensic scientist, author of Digital Forensics : digital evidence in criminal investigations and MD at n-gate ltd.

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