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.

`I'm Mavis, how can I help you?'

FOR THOSE telephone callers irritated to distraction by computerised switchboards, their worst nightmare is coming. And her name is Mavis.

Science: The truth About... Gravitational Microlensing

THE DISCOVERY of a planet orbiting a distant star does not, these days, arouse much comment. The first was identified in 1995, but there are now 17 listed; and so the addition of another, announced by a team from Japan and New Zealand at the weekend, might not seem unusual. But what was interesting was the method they used to detect it - and what it implies about our future ability to detect Earth-sized planets that could harbour life.

Racal wins pounds 8.5m train contract

A UNIT of Racal Electronics has won a 12-year contract worth pounds 8.5m to provide a fully automated customer information system (CIS) and train management system. Racal Telecom will build electronic noticeboards for 81 stations on the Connex SouthEastern network in southern England, owned by the Connex Rail subsidiary of Generale des Eaux of France.

Siebe and BTR unveil plans for pounds 9.4bn merger

Merger Monday: Shares surge in Europe and US on wave of takeovers

Business Travel: Stay in London's old centre

DOWNTURN OR no, London's hoteliers are enjoying happy times. Occupancy figures, and hence room rates, in the capital are firm. More than one analyst regards the city's bed stock to be around 10,000 fewer than ideal. Accordingly, even those hotels that boast neither desirable location nor decent service are able to command rates of pounds 100 or more.

Architecture: ... but still a little rough around the edges

Backstage, technical problems slow things down.

Light goes out on maritime history

NINETY-FIVE steps spiral to the top of the lighthouse at North Foreland, but at 54, Dermot Cronin bounds up and down with the energy of a man half his age.

Faster payments

Faster payments

Science: 1998: A real space odyssey

As it turns 40, Nasa is shedding its bureaucratic image and heading for the stars under a brave navigator.

Cost of London share trading falls

THE COST of trading shares in London has fallen sharply since the introduction a year ago of the London Stock Exchange's much criticised automated share trading system SETS, according to research published today.

Queen caught in Malaysia chaos

Kuala Lumpur crisis: Royal visit is overshadowed by rioting in capital after detention of Mahathir's former deputy

TECHNOFILE: IT COULD BE LOVE AT FIRST BYTE

Before the election, New Labour was all for throwing computers at our children, but how many PCs do you see in nurseries or playgroups? How are tomorrow's school students going to cope with the global world of the next millennium if they are starting big school unable to pull down a menu? We are in danger of raising a lost generation.

War over the photocopier

A DISPUTE over leased photocopiers between Canon, the Japanese giant with UK sales of pounds 500m a year, and Addenbrooke's, the Cambridge- based hospital trust, is under review by the Department of Trade, the Office of Fair Trading, and the Department of Health.

And darkly flows the Don

Theatre: DON JUAN SPECTRUM CENTRE INVERNESS

SW Water to invest in change of name

SOUTH WEST Water, which gained notoriety for having the highest water charges in the country, plans to change its name to the Pennon Group.
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
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The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
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Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
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Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
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Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
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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
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn