Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shiny happy people are just better for you

People who spend time with happy people are more likely to become happy themselves. That’s according to a July 2010 study that examined how emotions spread contagiously.

David Rand: The more friends you have that are content with their lives, the more likely you are to become content. And the more friends you have that are discontent, the more likely you are to become discontent.

David Rand of Harvard is one of the study’s authors. He said this study was designed to understand how changes in long-term emotional states – meaning, whether you consider yourself a happy or sad person overall – are affected by the people you know.

We found that sadness is twice as infectious as happiness.

Rand and his co-authors compared emotional states of groups of friends, families, and coworkers to models of how infectious diseases – like the flu – spread. Then they looked at the probability that a person would become happy or become sad, based on the number of happy or sad people around them.

One aspect that’s new is that we showed in a formal sense that these long-term emotional states really are contagious. Which is interesting, and it’s important for trying to understand why people feel the way they do about their lives. Rand said that understanding the “contagious” aspect of emotions was key to the study.

A contagious process is something where your probability of contracting it--if it’s a disease--depends on whether your friends are sick. If you think about your probability of catching the flu, the more sick friends you have the more likely you are to get the flu. That makes it contagious. So we find that same thing with happiness or sadness.

Rand and his co-authors used data from the Framingham Health Study, which has been collecting health and social information from the community of Framingham, Massachusetts, for the past 40 years. They deduced the real-life social networks of the town based on information the study participants filled out about their family, work, and contacts. The information about emotions came from a standard 20-question psychology survey that categorizes people as happy, sad, or neutral.

In order to ask whether the process is infectious or not, you want to know, if you are in a “neutral” state, is there a probability of switching from neutral to happy increasing in your number of happy friends? So we took all the people who were neutral, in the first measurement wave, and we asked how many of them had zero happy friends. We looked at all the people who had no happy friends, and asked how many of them switched from neutral to happy. Okay, what about all the people had one happy friend, two happy friends, and so on.

They found that, like the flu, the more friends a person had who were happy, the more likely the person was to become happy themselves. Additionally, they found that sadness was more transmissive than happiness – meaning, it takes fewer sad friends to make you become sad. But Rand added that people recover from sadness more quickly than they recover – or change states – from being happy.

So dump all those sad sacks, and get on the Happy Train, folks! Happy Holidays...later Scrooge!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Law and CLE

I am in the middle of listening to some incredibly boring talk about how lawyers can use social media. Why do lawyers have to be so boring when they are talking about technology? Do they hear that no one is listening? And, yes, I'm a lawyer...barred in New York and Virginia. I know, kind a similar shock to folks that I am also a high school seminarian. More on that later. --John Anderson

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 Day of Service with Denis Leary and The Farm

Nine years today, 9/11 still feels like yesterday. Here's something our director, John Anderson, shot with Denis Leary of F/X's "Rescue Me" TV series to hopefully turn a very big negative into positive change. Please sign up for your good deed to make 9/11 a Day of Service. And let's remember all the 2819 people who died today. 911 Day of Service

Monday, July 26, 2010

Our beloved Kurt Braunohler

We are so fortunate to have had such talented creative folks work for us over the years at The Farm. Here's one of them - Kurt Braunohler- who came to us first as an office manager, and who is now one of the funniest folks in show business. Right now he's doing awesome work with Kristen Schaal who've you've either seen ("Dinner with Schmucks") or heard ("Toy Story 3") everywhere.

Here's a bit from their critically-acclaimed BBC show "Penelope Princess of Pets."


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We are living in exponential times

Most of you have probably already seen this video, but somehow it still makes my brain hurt...in a good, thinking kinda way.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The little fat man with the pug nose face

David Bowie doing comedy...so f-in funny. With Ricky Gervais at the receiving end.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Soul of the Saints

Those who really dig a great ol’ fashion sports columnist love the writings of sportswriter Wright Thompson. He was originally a writer for the N'awlins paper, the Times-Picayune.

The upcoming Super Bowl isn't just any old Super Bowl. It's got soul, SO much soul, 'cause it's the soul of New Orleans we're talking about here. It's all about overcoming Katrina, and rebuilding. So when Thompson narrates a video chronicling the Big Easy’s resurgence and how the Super Bowl-bound Saints played a huge part in that comeback, you know this is special. This has to be an all-time great YouTube video. If it doesn't bring tears to your eyes, something is wrong with you, serious. This jazzy redemption tale leaves you no choice but to root for the Saints. So here you go - "The Soul of New Orleans."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The report on Apple's iPad just in from infosyncworld, which we've spelled out below. But first, get all the Apple juice from the Apple Farmer himself, Sir Steve himself in the video above.

The Apple iPad release date is set to April 2010 and will sport Apple's new ARM-based processor with integrated GPU.

The name of the new tablet was revealed only a few days ago, and aims to separate itself from tablet computers such as Microsoft's new Slate PC category. Leaks have prepared us all for an "iPhone on steroids" and we recently estimated the release date to be April 2010. The "iPhone on steroids" has turned out to be a good description of the new Apple iPad, and the release date will indeed be April 2010.

According to Steve Jobs, the reason for its existence is to beat both smartphones and laptops when it comes to the categories in bold throughout this story. Of course, with such a mission the Apple iPad will likely walk down the same road as the iPhone: Either you'll grow to love the Apple iPad, or you'll return it and hope that the netbook category will soon be offering optimized software and services too.

So, we all know what a netbook can and can't do for the time being, and now the time has finally come to figure out what the Apple iPad can and can't do:


The Safari browser on the Apple iPad is just as capable as the iPhone browser. Steve Jobs pitches it as a way to see the full page you're surfing on without zooming in and out, something you can obviously not do on the iPhone. There's of course also landscape and portrait mode support, and the built-in accelerometer will take care of the switching for you. That being said, Apple is known to be a strong supporter of HTML5, and there's no doubt that the Apple iPad is part of the company's effort to get Web developers moving in the right direction in that regard. There's no Flash or Silverlight support at the time of writing here.


The Apple iPad offers a very nice presentation layout, and a large on-board QWERTY keyboard will appear when you need to enter text. Will the iPad beat a laptop keyboard? The iPad Keyboard Dock will be available as an accessory, offering a full-size traditional keyboard for those who need that.


Apple's way of presenting photos is already highly acclaimed. Especially taking flick scrolling to this new level where it can be combined with a larger screen real estate, should really give you the feeling of an "iPhone on steroids". We're sure it's going to be a whole lot easier to bring out old memories when friends comes to visit after the Apple iPad hits store shelves than before. Showing photos on a laptop is fine, but the Apple iPad will basically act like an advanced photo frame in that regard. There's likely no smartphone or laptop that'll be able to beat that experience.

Video & Music

Videos on the Apple iPad will obviously be a challenge when it comes to power. With built-in access to the iTunes store, as well as YouTube and YouTube HD streaming being available, it'll be easy to throw your smartphone or laptop away in favor of the Apple iPad. You can play movies, TV shows and music videos. When it comes to music playback, we guess playing those music videos will be the most alluring part here, as the iPad would obviously not beat the iPhone when it comes to portability and battery life.


A large part of the iPhone apps out there are games and the Apple iPad will run any iPhone app out-of-box without modifications. To take advantage of the iPad's large screen, one can also double the pixels on-the-fly and run apps in full screen mode. Popular iPhone developers will offer optimized iPad apps pretty quickly to take full advantage of the larger screen though, and an Apple iPad Developer SDK was released today to ensure that every developer out there can offer optimized iPad apps. The app store will be an integral part of the iPad.

Some high-def games will be available from companies such as Electronics Arts from day one. EA's Need for Speed Shift will for instance offer a range of new touch controls besides taking advantage of the obvious graphics power and display technology hidden in the Apple iPad.

eBooks & Newspapers

Of course, eReaders will never look the same after you've seen what type of content the Apple iPad can offer. New York Times have created a showcase of its newspaper, which will for sure become a popular service on the iPad. In stead of holding a static newspaper in front of you, you can simply load up New York Times on the iPad, boasting multimedia such as in-line video streaming. Yes, you read that right. It's that simple to reinvigorate newspapers, as long as you have the world's largest gadget maker enabling it, of course. If you're an independent sketch artist, Apple will of course also provide you with an application called Brushes. We guess its potential is self-explanatory.

There's also a new iBook Store, which will basically compete directly with certain other eBook stores out there. Apple has partnered up with Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group, and eBooks will be available in the ePub format.

Productivity & Scheduling

Steve Jobs have pushed his army to create iWorks for Apple iPad, and will sell it for $10 each (Pages, Numbers and Keynote). A calendar for scheduling is also available out-of-box, of course. It's an interesting move Apple has made here though, no doubt about that.

Apple iPad Specifications

The Apple iPad is 0.5 inches thick (just as slim as the iPhone) and weighs in at 1.5 pounds. It sports a 9.7-inch IPS display and offers "full capacitive multi-touch". Compared to TFT displays, IPS displays require a brighter backlight, subsequently drawing more power. In return, Apple iPad users will get a wider viewing angle (178 degrees to be exact) and accurate color reproduction. The Apple iPad is the first consumer device to take advantage of an IPS display (LG.Philips is likely the brain behind this screen).

The Apple iPad will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions. It also boasts 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR connectivity, speaker, microphone and an Apple 30-pin port. Apple promises a battery life of up to 10 hours and over a month of standby time.

The bomb shell as far as specifications is concerned: The 1GHz Apple A4 chip. It's an ARM SoC with an integrated graphics processing unit (GPU) manufactured by P.A. Semi. Apple acquired P.A. Semi back in April 2008, and this is the first Apple chip to appear. We guess it's just a matter of time before Apple's iPhone will be powered by an Apple chip as well. In other words, companies like Qualcomm and Intel doesn't seem to get much fun out of Apple's new mobile adventure in the future.

Price and availability

The Apple iPad Wi-Fi models will start shipping worldwide in late March 2010 ($500 for 16GB version, $600 for 32GB, and $700 for 64GB).

The Apple iPad 3G models will start shipping in the U.S. and selected countries in April 2010 ($630 for 16GB version, $730 for 32GB, and $830 for 64GB). International pricing and worldwide availability will be announced at a later date. Apple expects to have international carrier deals ready by June 2010.

The Apple iPad 3G models (7.2Mbps HSDPA) will be sold with an unlocked micro SIM card, but Apple has a new prepaid data plan deal with AT&T Wireless: $30 per month for unlimited data or $15 per month for up to 250MB. AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots will be free to use when signing up for a data plan with AT&T. There's no contract and you can cancel it at anytime. The AT&T plans can also be activated on the Apple iPad.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Avatar puts people into depression

We just saw this piece on CNN about how folks are getting depressed, and even having suicidal thoughts, after they see "Avatar" and reenter the real world. It is, as one of 'em put it, as if the world is now all gray. We say...get a life!!! Second Life is now 3D.

Here's the link http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Movies/01/11/avatar.movie.blues/index.html