Life and Style

Slovakian designer Martin Vargic has mapped out the major sites of the web - click the image above or the gallery below for more detail

Simon Darwen and Laura Elphinstone in Virgin

Theatre review: Virgin, Watford Palace Theatre

Fittingly for a play which is in part about the difficulties of saying what you think, Virgin is a little unclear as to what it thinks it is saying. EV Crowe’s play aims to explore how far our online lives mirror our offline ones, but the internet felt strangely incidental to her story. It could just as easily have been a marketing project for better roads, or a new hospital, and not a scheme to roll out broadband to rural communities, that the play’s central character, Emily (Laura Elphinstone), is trying to convince her male employers to let her lead. In fact, the play is often at its best when it deals straightforwardly with gender politics in the workplace and when the internet is left, so to speak, unconnected. 

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has appealed to the UK's IT experts to sign up to the Joint Cyber Reserve Unit when recruitment opens in October

UK to spend big in drive to create cyber defence force

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond appeals to the UK's IT experts to sign up to the Joint Cyber Reserve Unit when it launches next month

Album review: Agnes Obel, Aventine (Play It Again Sam)

Agnes Obel's 2010 debut Philharmonics grabbed attention through its understatement, eventually achieving quintuple-platinum status in her native Denmark. Aventine follows in like vein: the hushed preciosity of her murmur recalls the similarly understated Ane Brun, while her piano settings are strongly redolent of Erik Satie, especially the opening instrumental "Chord Left", melodically reminiscent of one of the Gnossiennes. Obel's piano and cello arrangements are worked out with Einaudi-esque care and logicality. It's all neatly-dressed, buttoned-down and restrained but sometimes suffocatingly introspective, with lyrics mining a private image bank; even so, some moments cut to the emotional quick.

Album review: Haim, Days Are Gone (Polydor)

Given their status as BBC Sound Of 2013 poll-winners, it's hard not to feel somewhat underwhelmed by Haim's debut album. The LA girl group are pleasant enough - though early descriptions of them as a folk/R&B crossover are absurdly wide of the mark - but there's an insubstantiality at their core. They plug unashamedly into their West Coast heritage: sleek with a veneer of mystique, "Falling" could be a Fleetwood Mac outtake, but the pop-rock of "Forever" and "The Wire" brings to mind the likes of The Bangles and The Go Gos. Even when they attempt something a bit more outré, like the contrast of lumbering drums with sleek harmonies in "My Song 5", it sounds like something off Tusk. Okay, but not much more.

Album review: Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience 2 Of 2 (RCA)

Comprising as it does outtakes from the sessions for The 20/20 Experience, it's hardly surprising there should be a drop-off in quality for this follow-up; but it's a pretty steep fall. With four tracks dragged out beyond seven minutes apiece, longueurs are a serious problem, particularly on "TKO" - Timbaland's irritatingly itchy percussive backdrop sounds like a machine afflicted with fleas. And adding a rotten dub-reggae coda to the already overlong "Only When I Walk Away" simply adds insult to infamy. Elsewhere, the album is awash in vapid bubblebath-soul bleating and feeble falsetto on tracks like the '80s R&B-styled "Take Back The Night", which exposes Justin Timberlake's Michael Jackson fixation as empty imitation.

Album review: Anna Netrebko, Verdi (Deutsche Grammophon)

Anna Netrebko's contribution to the ongoing Verdi bicentennial celebrations opens in startling fashion with a suite of five arias from Macbeth which will surely divide opinion. Personally, I find her delivery here too shrill and imposing. The two songs from Giovanna d'Arco are more evenly modulated, especially the penumbral "O Fatidica Foresta", while the emotional topography of "Mercé, Dilette Amiche" from I Vespri Siciliani is negotiated with compelling subtlety. The most technically testing piece here, the lengthy "Tu Che le Vanità" from Don Carlo, is dispatched with confidence, while her interpretation of the lighter "D'amor Sull'ali Rosee" from Il Trovatore is perfect, its coloratura elements handled with an airily engaging touch.

Fifa 14 vs PES 14: which is the better game?

The twin titans of football gaming duke it out for another year, but which offers the best experience?

Former Pc Gareth Gricks found dead on day he faced child sex charges

A former police officer has been found dead on the day he was due to be charged with a series of serious sexual offences.

Landmark moment for media industry as Lloyd’s List goes digital-only

Daily newspaper has been providing shipping news for marine and insurance industries since 1734

GTA 5: Online - will microtransactions power Rockstar's multiplayer game world?

Discovery of "cash cards" in GTA .xml files suggests that online gamers will be able to use real cash to solve in-game money problems

Haynes confident print manuals will survive

The publishing group behind the ubiquitous Haynes car manual has given a confident forecast about the print market even as revenues fall and fast-growing digital fails to offset that decline.

Saudi women activists have called for a new day of defiance next month of the longstanding ban on women driving.

Saudi women to get behind the wheel on October 26 to defy driving ban

Activists have launched another campaign against the ban on women driving. Their website is urging women to get behind the wheel on 26 October in defiance.

Business week in review

In profit...

Tom Hodgkinson: Bore them round the campfire? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves

As a hack myself, I ought not to be surprised if I myself become the victim of hackery. But last week I was royally stitched-up and for a moment, I confess, I had a sense of humour failure.

GCSEs and A-levels 'will be taken online within 10 years'

All public examinations - including GCSEs and A-levels - will be taken online within the next decade, an independent education chief is forecasting.

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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
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links