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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.
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The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
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