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.

Rainbow View quells betting flap

Gosden-trained filly in fine form despite strange drift on online exchange

Album: Graham Lindsey, We Are All Alone in This Together, (Spacebar)

Graham Lindsey? Not, as it turns out, an accountant from Luton but a woolly and possibly wild songwriter from Montana.

Album: The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love (Capitol)

Sometimes, a good idea isn't quite enough. Always a fan of 1960s British folk-rock and prog, Decemberists songwriter Colin Meloy was inspired to create this concept album by hearing Anne Briggs's rare 1966 EP The Hazards Of Love.

Album: Micachu and the Shapes, Jewellery (Rough Trade)

Mica Levi, a 21-year-old from Surrey whose versatility is hinted at by the fact that she has both composed for the Philharmonic and released a grime mixtape, is breaking her shackles wide open.

Album: Debussy/Matthews, Préludes/Jeux – Hallé Orchestra/Elder (Hallé)

Colin Matthews's vivid orchestration of Debussy's Préludes reverses the technique used in Stephen McNeff's chamber orchestration of 'Pelléas et Mélisande'.

Album: Nyman, Eight Lust Songs – Marie Angel et al, (MNR)

It's not often that you see a parental advisory sticker on a classical CD, but unless your children are fluent in Renaissance Italian, Michael Nyman's 2007 settings of Pietro Aretino's sonnets are unlikely to corrupt.

IVF technique 'doubles chance of having a baby'

Ability to detect egg abnormalities will reduce risk of miscarriage, say scientists

Gadget of the week - trueCall, £99.99

Who'd have a landline? Thanks to cunning new call-centre tactics, millions of us have to put up with automated messages, silent calls or someone trying to sell us a new gas supply. But you can avoid this irritating phone-spam with a device called the trueCall. Simply plug your phone into this little gizmo and you can create a friends and family user list of callers. The idea is, if a random number appears, the trueCall intercepts it, and lets you know who is calling without putting them through. www.truecall.co.uk ; 0800 0336 339

Lib Dems' knuckles are rapped over Clegg's 250,000 cold calls

Nick Clegg's 250,000 automatic "cold calls" to voters after his party conference speech broke privacy laws, the information commissioner has ruled.

Lib Dems ordered to stop automated phone calls

The Liberal Democrats have been ordered to stop making unsolicited automated calls to voters or face prosecution after being found to have breached privacy rules.

Watchdog warns over Lib Dems' phone poll plan

Nick Clegg was today facing embarrassment after the Information Commissioner expressed "concern" over plans to bombard 250,000 voters with automated phone calls featuring a recording of the Liberal Democrat leader.

Water charges must reflect higher costs, United Utilities tells Ofwat

United Utilities is calling on the water regulator to let prices rise to reflect both higher energy costs and the effects of the credit squeeze.

Days turn to hours: Marion King - the leader of the money revolution

Simon Evans talks to Marion King, the woman who hopes the curse of protracted payment transfers will be lifted this week

Switched to another phone firm – and you had no idea

It can happen to any of us and the regulator receives 600 complaints a month. Sue Hayward sees how to avoid falling foul of the 'slammers'

Amazing Lego inventions

YouTube is awash with lovingly crafted Lego stop-motion recreations of pop-cultural staples like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Thriller video. But some bright young things out there choose to spend their lego time on less derivative projects. The weird and wonderful gadgets below were all built from the iconic four-by-two bricks which debuted in 1950s Denmark, with the help of the Mindstorms robotic invention system originally released in 1990.

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
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Is it always right to try to prolong life?

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Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

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Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

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French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

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Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

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Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

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Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
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Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

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Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

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