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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Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
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Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
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Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
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Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

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Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

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The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
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Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

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Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

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Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

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Homeless Veterans campaign

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