Unfit for command?

I’ve just been reading a commercial briefing note – mainly because I’m paid to do that sort of thing. Anyway, the exciting news is that corporate giants Walmart and Google plan to join forces to break into the voice-shopping market. I know, I could hardly contain myself. So-called ‘virtual retailing’ - or shopping by voice command - is quite a big thing in the States. The genre is currently dominated by Amazon who are pushing the concept over here. I guess that its all part of an inevitable consumer convenience trend, but i have to say it’s one that I’m not particularly inclined to join. That primarily due to my poor experience to date of talking with appliances. I switched off the ‘Siri’ vo

Why heritage isn’t what it used to be

A distinction I once read about the difference between ‘conservation’ and ‘preservation’ is that the first safeguards the future, while the second involves putting dead things in jars. It's a glib definition, I grant you, but you get the idea. I’m not sure I entirely sign up to the philosophy though. There are many live things worth preserving. I get quite agitated for example when I see a tree felled for no good reason. I’m less precious about buildings however. Yes, there are some iconic structures that I’d prefer to see untouched but it makes no sense for so many others to have protected status. There are over 560 listed buildings in Swansea alone. A good number are churches, chapels

Playing the exchange game

I think we’ve established since this column started that my grasp of economics is what you might call basic. Even so, I think I can recognise a trend when I see it. Take currency exchange rates for example. They’re supposed to reflect the underlying strength of the economy, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. Apparently, it depends on whether you want a thriving economy or a healthy one. A thriving economy is one where buoyant consumer spending lifts manufacturing activity and prices look after themselves. A healthy economy on the other hand is when interest rates are higher, returns on investment grow and borrowing - especially government borrowing - is "under control". These aren't my slanted d

Watch your language

A while back, I was offered the opportunity for an “on-line heuristic experience”. It’s not nearly as painful as it sounds; it just means ‘self-learning’ but what’s a sales pitch these days without a bit of jargon? The one I like is when marketing people throw around terms like “organic” and “generic” and you can tell they clearly don’t know the difference. I hear the word “binary” used lately too, particularly by politicians. This is usually when describing a situation which could result in two opposing outcomes. The nerd in me however points out that a binary system uses logical sequential 0 and 1 combinations to program a viable action; an outcome very seldom associated with most politici

There’s nothing magical about majorities

No apologies from me for returning to the subject of Brexit - or commenting on the shambolic situation that currently prevails. The only good thing to be said about cabinet wrangling over strategy is that it at least reflects the level of disagreement among the rest of us. That seems to be lost on the “We won, you lost, move on” brigade, some of whom have taken exception to my views. Clearly they don’t grasp the nature of politics which is that the losing side in any election starts working to reverse things within moments of the result being called. And while we’re on the subject, there’s nothing sacred about a mathematical majority either. A majority once thought the sun revolved around a

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