ZDNet's guide to beating New Year tech torpor

January. Not so much a month as 31 days of post-party comedown, where every pleasure is circumscribed by resolution and, let's be frank, those long, empty, fiscally-fraught acres of calendar between now and payday.

January. Not so much a month as 31 days of post-party comedown, where every pleasure is circumscribed by resolution and, let's be frank, those long, empty, fiscally-fraught acres of calendar between now and payday.

There is one self-indulgence that is neither immoral, illegal or fattening: reading. So here are three excellent ways to economically entertain and inform yourself, taking you away from these leaden winter skies to worlds of shiny, exciting technology and the promise of a better, more sparkly tomorrow.

For starters, download our new and entirely free guide to some of the key ideas worth keeping an eye on this year — the stories we think will develop most excitingly over the next twelve months. Tech Breakthroughs To Watch In 2012 is a quick canter around some areas that prove this business isn't just about tablets and cloud services, but has potential for fundamental innovation.

Then, our Tech Family Tree on the history of smartphones remains one of the finest ways to cover a wall with colourful, quirky, encylopedic information about the hundred years of human invention which led to your pocket being so well informed. Free PDF, remarkably reasonable A1 poster.

From the Abacus to the iPhone: the 50 breakthroughs that sparked the digital revolution

Now you're in the groove, we recommend rounding things off with "From the Abacus to the iPhone: the 50 breakthroughs that sparked the digital revolution", a full-on ebook by fellow journalists Nick Heath and Jo Best. The story it tells starts back in 150BC, and continues – via the electric telegraph and the mighty Colossus computer - right through to the 21st century's very latest gadgets.

As well as making you unbeatable in pub quizzes with a 'history of technology' round — you don't want to bother with other, inferior quizzes — it'll turn those back-to-work commutes into an academy of enthrallment. (And check out the 'also bought' recommendations.)

More info-fun to come later this year — so don't fall behind. Download and devour.

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