Life and Style

It probably contravenes some unwritten rule to begin a light-hearted examination of the week in technology with a reference to Jimmy Savile, but a few days ago I remembered an episode of Jim'll Fix It in the 1980s where some lucky youngster had his room kitted out with all the latest gadgets from the Ideal Home Show, including some automated curtains. These curtains elicited gasps of wonder from my teenage self as I entertained the notion that, in the future, we'd be relieved of the endless, life-sapping drudgery of having to drag light pieces of material along a rail, sometimes as frequently as twice a day.

Crew of crash jet 'were confused'

HONOLULU (AP) - Moments before a Korean Air jet crashed into a hillside in Guam, the crew expressed confusion about whether the airport's automated landing system was working, according to a transcript of the cockpit conversation released last night.

ICL confirms float as doubts grow over PFI contract

ICL, the computer services company owned by Fujitsu of Japan, yesterday said it was pressing ahead with a stock market flotation despite indications its pounds 1bn contract to automate the benefit payments system is on the brink of collapse.

Personal finance: Add some PEPs to future plans

Internet Investor

Property: Remote control? No problem

It is pretty neat at any age to be able to operate the television, video security system, lighting and curtains all from one monitor. But for anyone getting on in age it could be a godsend.

Politics: Treasury highlights `e-day' cash crisis

THE WITHDRAWAL of pounds 25bn in notes and 100,000 tonnes of sterling coins currently in circulation would be required if Britain joined the European single currency, MPs were told yesterday.

Fast Track: The great Gatsi's new recruit

Now you can ring in the changes with a paperless job application, says Michael Greenwood

How thousands are allowed to vote under false names

Battered wives, prison warders and police officers are being allowed to vote under assumed names in breach of election rules. Electoral officials revealed to our reporter that the anomaly was one of many in a system which was due for radical overhaul.

Network: Improving your image has never been easier

Image editing is no longer restricted to professionals, thanks to easy-to-use software programmes. PC Magazine put six packages to the test.

Technofile: Object Lesson - Rexel Staple Wizard

Great technology doesn't have to change the world. If it makes a task significantly easier, then it shouldn't be ignored.

The lights go out on the loneliest profession

A handful of men have spent their final Christmas guarding the beacons that guide seafarers through Britain's turbulent waters. In the New Year, the few lighthouses that remain manned will be automated. Kathy Marks reports on the end of a centuries-old tradition.

Benefit payment system delayed by two years

One of the biggest projects ever awarded under the Government's Private Finance Initiative - a pounds 1.5bn contract awarded to ICL in 1986 to computerise benefit payments at post offices - is running two years behind schedule.

Children: Nick Park p-p-p-picks up a penguin

It's a rum kind of first-night stunt that keeps the audience locked out on the pavement. But from the amiable scrum that developed outside the London premiere of A Grand Night Out on Tuesday, some of us managed a restricted view through the glass of one very small penguin being presented to Oscar-winning animator Nick Park and the Deputy Lord Mayor of London. There was not an awful lot to see, actually. It flip-flopped about the foyer carpet for a bit, posed for the posse of flashlights, was scooped up into a small box (can a baby penguin look relieved?) and finally whisked off in a taxi. This curious ceremony over, we ticket-holders surged in, only to be confronted by a pen of large, fat sheep, peeing with malevolent force onto a small square of turf.

Technology: Time ticks by for millennium bug tsar

One man, one day a week: is Don Cruickshank serious about getting British business to take action against the `Millennium Bug' that will affect computers after December 31 1999? Charles Arthur, Science Editor, discovered that he is - and that he expects things to get worse before they get better.

Stock Exchange stamps on 'snake in the grass' traders

The Stock Exchange made final adjustments to its order-driven share trading system yesterday in preparation for Monday's launch. Tom Stevenson, financial editor, assesses the changes introduced after the mixed success of the system's dress rehearsals.

Industry must pay for 2000 timebomb

The Government insisted yesterday that it is taking the "Millennium Bomb" - which could paralyse computers after December 31 1999 - seriously. But Barbara Roche, the minister in charge, also emphasised that industry, not government, must pay. Yet the CBI seems to be playing the issue quietly too, reports Charles Arthur, Science Editor.
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