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.

Album: 17 Hippies - Heimlich (Hipster)

Neither strictly hippies nor 17 in number, Berlin's 17 Hippies have for 12 years been a mainstay of Germany's world-music scene, wowing audiences across Europe, and as far afield as Russia and Japan, with their energetic pan-ethnic performances. Currently numbering around a dozen players, their diverse backgrounds afford a truly international blend of influences, with lyrics delivered in German, French or English, and all manner of cultural hybrids occurring in the music.

Starbucks wakes up and smells the coffee

After 15 years of dizzying expansion, the coffee giant founded by Howard Schultz finally appears to have run out of froth. Andrew Gumbel reports from Los Angeles

BT seeking to ease burden of £80m-a-year public service remit

Ben Verwaayen, the chief executive of BT, has called for a review of the universal service obligation that legally binds the company to provide basic telecoms services to British homes.

Sharp hails versatile Elford

Huddersfield have signed a second member of last year's Australian Premiership winners for next season. Shane Elford will join his Wests Tigers team-mate, John Skandalis, at the Giants on a three-year deal.

News: Families spared as Revenue calls off tax clawback

U-turn in credit overpayment row; casual workers losing out; Truro is No 1 property hotspot; garages slated for poor service

Healing behind closed doors

Biomedical scientist David Ricketts tells Virginia Matthews why his job is so rewarding

Charles Arthur On Technology

A spammer in the works

Hopes fade for Invensys earnings recovery

Analysts declared yesterday that shares in Invensys, the automation and controls group, could be worth nothing as expectations of an earnings recovery at the troubled electronic equipment manufacturer receded.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before