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.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee