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.

Fast Forward: Snappy Christmas

Whether you're looking for a disposable snapper or a top-of-the- range camera, check out our round-up before you buy

Invensys' aerospace arm sold for pounds 109m

INVENSYS, THE automation and controls group, yesterday passed the half way point in its pounds 1.8bn disposal programme after announcing the sale of its aerospace division to Smiths Industries.

EXIT POLL: Is Falstaff on form at the new ROH?

DUSHA BATESON

PO posts pounds 386m loss over computer fiasco

THE POST Office yesterday reported a pounds 386m loss for the half- year after taking a huge exceptional charge linked to the collapse of a project to computerise benefit payments.

Leading Article: The greedy banks must not exclude the poor

BARCLAYS BANK would like to charge a pounds 1 fee to customers of other banks who use Barclays' automated teller machines to take cash out of their accounts. There is a Yiddish word for this sort of effrontery: chutzpah. First the banks take our money to swell their ability to make loans, then they charge us for access to it.

IMS Group may float football website

IMS GROUP, the Leeds-based telecoms and new media services company, is considering a separate flotation of its popular football news Internet site Teamtalk.com, the chief executive, Bill Wilson, said last night.

Letter: Less time off, please

Sir: Michael Hager ("Let's have an eight-day week", 21 July) is about 50 years too late when he calls for more leisure time.

You've got the brains, but have you got the touch?

Forget IQ - your boss in the Zeros will be after your EQ (that's emotional quotient, dummy). Give yourself a hug and prepare for the new millennium, says MEG CARTER

Letter: `Laws' of science

Sir: David Packham speaks true. As one FRS recently told me: "I have long taken the view that all our theories, including new ones, are wrong; it is merely that we do not yet know how or by how much."

BTR Siebe appoints pounds 2bn sale advisers

BTR SIEBE, the merged automation and controls group, yesterday confirmed it had appointed investment bankers to review its portfolio of 500 businesses, setting the scene for the disposal of up to pounds 2bn of assets, writes Michael Harrison.

BTR and Siebe pay pounds 500,000 to become Invensys

BTR SIEBE, the merged automation and controls group, yesterday joined the growing band of companies which are adopting meaningless new names by announcing that it is henceforth to be known as Invensys.

Volex shuts plant

VOLEX, the electrical equipment group, yesterday said it would close its South Wales factory and streamline operations at its main Manchester plant, with the loss of 185 jobs.

Network: Welcome to the money-go-round

My Technology: Merlyn Lowther, Chief Cashier of the Bank of England, on how cutting-edge technology keeps cash in our pockets
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?