- Far Cry 3 on the XBox. Haven't done a lot of gaming in the last year - far too many other things get in the way, generally. By contrast, I have done a lot of gaming this January, on account of Alison kindly gifting me FC3 at Christmas. The first game I've played for yonks that has that 'Gosh, is it really 3.30am already?' quality. Beautiful to look at, a vaguely plausible story line, great characterisation and really engaging to play. Too much swearing and disembowelling of wild-animals (self-defence!), so I have to play with the sound right down. Pah!
- Google Hangouts. Multiparty video-conferencing done right. For free. The best reason to stop playing around in the perennially irritating security colander that is Facebook and join the treacle-like trickle toward Google+. A technical masterpiece - you can even make your own little snippets of live-broadcast egotism and have them appear on YouTube and G+ automatically using Hangouts on Air. An attention-seekers wet dream. I gave the latter a bit of a tryout a few weeks ago - and the really interesting thing is that, if you have multiple devices with cameras, you can participate in the same Hangout multiple times. Do it yourself CCTV becomes a reality - as do self-hosted cookery broadcasts, of which more than a few have sprung into life...
- Windows 8. Microsoft's last-ditch attempt at grabbing the public's attention in the face of an Android onslaught and iOS dominance. In the full-fat version, a really interesting combination of a full Windows OS and a tablet interface, take your pick as to which you choose to live in. The tablet version has little relevance on a desktop/laptop machine, the reverse situation probably rather less clear cut on a tablet. Can't wait to get my hands on a Surface device running the full OS: It's deeply unfashionable to get excited about it, but I think it just might be the compellingly cross-competent device that I've always wanted. Oh... and Windows 8 is really quick, feels really solid. Which is why I ended up putting it on all the machines in the house, whilst it was still cheap. Which it no longer is. Sorry.
- Greensmoke eCigarettes. The only reason I've managed to stay away from tobacco for the last three weeks. eCigarettes are going to get very controversial, very soon I suspect - but I don't care, as long as some idiot politician doesn't propose something really stupid. They make you look a bit of a dick... but not as much of a dick as someone spending £10 a day to ensure themselves an early demise. For the uninitiated: eCigarettes burn nothing, emit water vapour, are odourless and contain nothing but nicotine. Nicotine is NOT carcinogenic and, as a mild stimulant, is about as harmful as caffeine. The Guardian had rather a good article about them a couple of weeks ago.