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Facebook Friend Count Linked to Brain Density [STUDY]

 

All those hours you spend on Facebook may be adding grey matter, signifying greater density, to the part of your brain linked to social skills. Or, perhaps, people with larger areas of the brain for social skills may just have higher than average Facebook friend counts.

That’s the chicken-and-egg problem researchers at University College London are grappling with after finding a connection between brain structure and Facebook activity. The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was based on MRIs of a group of 165 adults who were asked to report the number of Facebook friends they have. (The study doesn’t delineate what is considered “high,” though it refers to Dunbar’s Number, which postulates 150 friends is the limit of the average person’s social circle.)

The research discovered that those with higher Facebook friend counts had more grey matter density in the amygdala, an area the study says was already known to be linked to real world social network size, as well as in other regions including the right entorhinal cortex, which is associated with memory.

“Taken together, our findings show that the number of social contacts declared publicly on a major web-based social networking site was strongly associated with the structure of focal regions of the human brain,” the researchers conclude.

Professor Geraint Rees, director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, told The Guardian it’s too early to tell how the structure of the brain and online social networking activity are connected. “What we’re attempting to do is get an empirical handle using the types of data we can generate to try and start that process rolling.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Patrick Denker

 

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Why Personalised Wine Labels are a Great Idea for Businesses

Businesses need to be inventive, original and creative when it comes to promoting themselves. In today’s highly competitive international marketplace, this is the only way to ensure your company makes an impression on a potential client and encourages them to visit your company website or consider your services for future projects. Increasingly companies are personalising the gifts they give and see personalised wine labels as an effective way to make an impact, catch attention and remain in your client’s mind.

Given that wine has such a broad appeal, the opportunities for taking advantage of this new trend are numerous. Here are a few suggestions:

Personalise the wine labels for a function you are hosting.

Serving your guests with wine from personalised labels indicates an impressive attention to detail and a willingness to go that extra bit further. This will leave your guests feeling that you have made a special effort and put thought into making them feel welcome and entertained.

Personalise wine bottles that you intend to give as presents.

When businesses feel they have especially loyal customers, they often like to show their appreciation through a gift, particularly at Christmas time. By presenting a client with a bottle of wine that has a personalised label, your company’s gift will make a greater impact and your customer will be reminded of your thoughtful treatment of them as they enjoy the wine, even if it is months later.

Personalise the wine labels at a corporate-sponsored event.

Your company has found a cause or event it would like to sponsor and has invested money in it to help promote the business. How can you make sure your logo and name stand out among other sponsors? By providing the wine with labels that have been personalised with your company logo, your business will have a more effective impact on attendees than if you are simply listed on flyers or banners that line the entrance.

Gifts that are personalised for employees who are retiring.

Personalised wine bottles can also be one-off presents. Choosing a special wine and designing a label that includes the names of closest colleagues can be a thoughtful retirement present that will mean much more than more traditional impersonal gifts. It provides a stylish and elegant way to combine the signatures of a greeting card with the present itself and can be chosen according to the particular tastes of the retiring employee.

Visit SpottySpoon.com and create your own personalised wine label for weddings, corporate gifts and every other occasion.

 

Top Tips for a Great Team Building Away Day

Team building is a useful way for businesses to get their employees together and achieve a number of business goals, as well as having a bit of fun at the same time. There are numerous ways in which team building can work, from a simple brainstorming session in the pub to a full on day out in professionally run venue, this type of activity can be very beneficial for both morale and the business in general. In this article we outline some top tips that can make these days run as smoothly as possible.

Find the right venue

For some purposes a car park might suffice, however many of the most effective team building days happen when the right venue is chosen. To make it an “away day” feel like just that, it’s a good idea to pick a venue that is out of the office but not so far that attendees will feel like they’re going to spend all day travelling.  The best venues will have a reception area where bags can be left and people can relax in comfort, flexible meeting rooms, and other outdoor spaces for some of the more fun or abstract team building activities, as well as free flowing refreshments on offer throughout the venue. Very often venues with all the top notch facilities will be on the outskirts of big cities or housed in some of the most attractive buildings in the country – this means they really offer an ideal location for productive team building.

Get the right balance of activities

Team building days should be fun but they are also useful if a business is hoping to get a message across or after lots of new staff members have joined in order that everyone can get to know everyone else. Therefore it is important to get a good mix of activities for the away day. These can range from the gently competitive such as a school-style sports day or go-karting to more collaborative activities such as assembling a huge art installation that highlights your company‘s corporate values. Other worthwhile activities include simple ice breaking games for those who may take a little while to get into it and even days where it appears there’s very little to do with work but collaboration is very important such as cookery workshops.

Supercharge your brand

Several conference venues have in recent years taken the innovative step of creating branded space for a business that is using its facilities. This can be a real benefit for a team away day because it really gives the event a professional air and can make attendees feel like they are part of something significant. The best conference providers will be able to customise the required space with everything from brand logos adorning the walls to whether solid oak floors or carpets are required in the business “hub”. Many businesses have found that creating this type of bespoke space is ideal for embellishing an atmosphere of quality – especially in regards to training and team building as it shows employees that their workplace is prepared to go that extra yard.

Obviously there several other ways in which team building activities can be done, however it is certainly an aspect of business that should not be avoided – in the very least it can be a fun day out for everyone.

Jonathan has been away on many training days and in many meeting rooms with a variety of companies. He has found training away days very useful and a good morale booster.

 

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We Are So Spoiled It Makes Me Ill. Hooyah! Let us Give These Brave People a Moment of Consideration and Thanks.

While the newsreels play out a perfect scenario of success, we sit back on our couches and pat each other on the backs for what “we” just did in Pakistan.  We all have the images in our heads (myself included) that Navy SEALs are invincible; highly trained and disciplined young men and women that somehow through deification become invincible the second they pass BUD/S INDOC.  Not to mention things like that if you fail the OC (obstacle course) twice you are out.  Contrary to the “GI Jane” opinion, you don’t necessarily have to ring “the bell” yourself.
In truth it takes a SEAL 30 months of training before they are ready for deployment.  The SEALs that emerge are ready to handle pretty much any task called on including diving, combat swimming, navigation, demolitions, weapons, and parachuting. The training pushes them to the limit both mentally and physically but that doesn’t make them invincible.
These young warriors aren’t anything like our wonderful Hollywood caricatures.  A model SEAL is 5’10” and 175 pounds, about the only similarity to the Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, and Keifer Southerland avatars we watch boldly walking down mud streets or wading in rice patties, guns blazing, as the venerable enemy drops silently in droves at either side.  Obviously these made up lipstick wearing Adonis’s wouldn’t last 5 seconds in an actual fire-fight, but that’s not the point.
As we sip our white wine with our fat asses on that couch, congratulating ourselves for a job well done (and for those of you who have been and done, this obviously does not apply to you) let us take pause to reflect upon just how “easy” it was to kill bin Laden.  We get a picture of the Spec-Ops guys gearing up for the pre-op briefing, huddled around Dennis Haysbert and the rest of The Unit, casually leaving their all very attractive wives for another mysterious little “outing.”  Every now and then one of them might be injured, but there is very seldom any wholesale gore, and it is very easy for them to “leave no man behind.”  We also have a tendency to look at the statistics of that particular (bin Laden) mission and have it validate our Jack Bauer image of what Spec-Ops duty is like:  build a practice scenario, shoot at some dummies, get briefed, get on a plane, get on a Blackhawk, insertion, recon, flash-bang, fire a few quick shots, egress, extraction, and appearance with the President.
http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/05/06/bin.laden.obama/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn
I t would be fine if life were so simple.
We can all mouth the words “war is hell.”  Very few of us can appreciate how true that is.  Sure we’ve all seen Ben Hur , Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan but the familiarity of the stars, the surreal nature of the sets and the dislocation of the context makes it beyond our sensibilities to comprehend or relate to.  It becomes as abstract as a computer game where the figures just disappear when you kill them or the car always returns to the track no matter how many times you crash.  A more true representation of “war” can be found in BBC History of World War II if you have the time, and the stomach to sit through it.  It would change your life.*
We have so much to be thankful for, and so much to regret.  Joseph Schumpeter (economist)  was correct in his publication of 1942 (Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy) in asserting that the success of capitalism will lead to a form of corporatism and a fostering of values hostile to capitalism, especially among intellectuals. The intellectual and social climate needed to allow entrepreneurship to thrive will not exist in advanced capitalism; it will be replaced by socialism in some form.   (Does this sound like anything we have been hearing lately in political debate?)
The end result of this is that we Americans have spent beyond our means, that stockholder equity has dictated that we ship our jobs offshore, that our past industrial success has left us with an abnormal dependency on foreign oil, and that the greed, arrogance and ignorance of our people has left our country gasping and vulnerable.  Can we get it back? Hell yes, but not without hard work and sacrifice.  Corporate bail-outs and pork-barrel legislation should be punishable by death.
So we got ourselves in a bit of a jam.  There are people out there that hate us:  Shiites, Sunnis, Cripps, Bloods, you name it.  In some part we have to be aware of the disparity that our opulence has caused, and the result of our largely Christian Evangelistic society and the push-back it can instigate.  We have been fortunate and not always particularly diplomatic about it.  We have all experienced the “Ugly American” at some point in our foreign travels, and I have had the good fortune to be able to travel extensively and hear what some extremely intelligent people actually think about us and our politics.  Since that experience it has been a comfort to watch BBC News more often than FOX, if you know what I mean.
The “war” on terrorism didn’t start on September 11, 2001.  It did not end on May 2, 2011.  How ironic it would have been if they could have negotiated the operation one day earlier.  “Bin Laden comes to infamy on 9/11 and is executed on May Day,”
* If you want just one example of what kind of hell a SEAL operation can actually endure I encourage you to read the story at the following link.  It is not my liberty or bandwidth to articulate how many stories there are like this, or how many young heroes have given their lives in the service of their country, and the pursuit of this threat.  Suffice it to say that the administrations statement of “no casualties” on this operation makes me sick.  This was part of a huge global operation that eventually culminated in a victory.  No victory for American service men and women comes cheap, nor should their sacrifices be overlooked.  Hooyah!
Please note that they had it right, even then. This Op was in Asadabad, where we finally caught him. They opened the door.  They did NOT die in vain.
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=37856
This Op stared out with a crew of 4 SEALs.  Take a look at how “Jack Bauer” this turned out:
11 Navy SEALs and 8 Army Task Force 160 aircrew died in the battle.
 Marcus Luttrell, Matt Axelson, and Danny Dietz each received the Navy Cross, the second-highest decoration for valor in the military.
For his actions, Michael Murphy received the Medal of Honor on October 22, 2007.
The men who gave their lives on the helicopter are:
Staff Sgt. Shamus Goare, 29, Danville, Ohio.
Chief Warrant Officer Corey Goodnature, 35, Clarks Grove, Minn.
Sgt. Kip Jacoby, 21, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Muralles, 33, Shelbyville, Ind.
Major Stephen Reich, 34, Washington Depot, Conn.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Russell, 31, Stafford, Va.
Chief Warrant Officer Chris Scherkenbach, 40, Jacksonville, Fla..
Master Sgt, James Ponder III, 36, Franklin, Tenn.
Chief Petty Officer Jacques Fontan, 36, New Orleans, La.
Lt. Cmdr. Erik Ristensen, 33, San Diego, Calif.
Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Lucas, 33, Corbett, Ore.
Lt. Michael McGreevy, Jr., 30, Portville, N.Y..
Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery Taylor, 30, Midway, W. Va.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Healy, 36, Exeter, N.H.
Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Patton, 22, Boulder City, Nev.

 

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Learning from Others: Finding Influential People When You Are On Your Own

My early years were blessed with always having owned a boat.  These were the frolicking years just after grad school with all the single folks jamming a deserted beach on a far away lake.  Naked waterskiing on a full moonlit night, was followed by running out of gas in the middle of the lake and paddling to shore with a water ski.   Ah, youth.

As the years passed, and children grew the excitement of the boat began to give way to other family responsibilities, and differed maintenance began to accrue.  Time was spent loading the thing with groceries and camping supplies for two weeks in the mountains, feeding 12 kids and 8 adults.  The yearly “tune-up” was accomplished, but little things piled up.  After about 15 years of this, it had come to a point of catharsis.  I was no longer motivated to keep the boat up, the kids were gone, and it seemed to be reasonable to give the thing up and move on.

This is where the power of the pen turned my life around.  In blogging about marketing, it seems to serve well to include a personal story and this was such a time.  Publishing the lament felt as a result of this dilemma yielded an unexpected, but welcomed response.  A good friend read the post and responded with a question as to my willingness to take a partner.

The attraction was immediate, and for a different reason than was later revealed.  It was attractive to have someone else to share the work load, to share in the cost, and to provide some renewed energy towards the project.   What was not yet apparent to me was that this person was my perfect complement.  He has an attention to detail that I don’t exercise.  If asked the proper way to accomplish something it is usually quite simple for me to utter a detailed step-by-step procedure of the correct sequence of activities.  Does this mean that this is the way I would ever proceed?  Hell no!

A good example is the boat trailer.  It has been rusted from salt water, the lights were almost all out, and the surge breaks hadn’t worked in years.  My new partner Scott looked at it and made some comments regarding an obvious course of action.  The wheels needed to be taken off and greased, the wiring repaired, the boat taken off, and the trailer ground, sanded, and sandblasted down to bare metal before priming and re-panting.

Well duh.  I knew that!  Why then was my first conclusion that the most logical course of action was to either buy a new trailer or just scrap the thing?  The most amazing thing happened when we dug into the work.  At first Scott did everything.  Finally the shame was too great and I picked up the wire cutters and pitched in.  Within a couple of hours we were working along side-by-side like the pit crew at an Indy race.  Wheels were coming off, bolts greased, tires changed, new lights installed, road test successful;  all things that I knew how to do, but would never have taken the time to do by myself.

That boat is like a business.  All it took was a fresh perspective to make it feel new again.  If circumstances are such that a “partner” is not the solution, there are alternatives.  I belong to several “success” groups and “Meet-up’s” where we get together with other professionals and share perspectives.  Many ides and disciplines come from these meetings, and they help me not only to see things differently, but to focus on the actions that are agreeably correct, but might not have been my intuitive course of action.  Webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos are also great sources of educational and inspirational material. I try to schedule at least 2 hours a week in these activities, and then make sure that I document what they taught.

There are several ways to take advantage of the knowledge and inspiration of others.  We don’t have to do this all alone!

 

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If You Have Had Trouble Accessing a WordPress Blog…

Alexia Tsotsis Mar 3, 2011

You have no idea how hard it was to get this post up, as WordPress.com, our blog host, is currently under a denial of service attack. It’s been almost impossible to access the TechCrunch backend for the past 10 minutes (everything seems to be stable now) and users have been receiving a “Writes to the service have been disabled, we will be bringing everything back online ASAP” error message.

From the VIP blog post:

WordPress.com is currently being targeted by a extremely large Distributed Denial of Service attack which is affecting connectivity in some cases. The size of the attack is multiple Gigabits per second and tens of millions of packets per second.

We are working to mitigate the attack, but because of the extreme size, it is proving rather difficult. At this time, everything should be back to normal as the attack has subsided, but we are actively working with our upstream providers on measures to prevent such attacks from affecting connectivity going forward.

We will be making our VIP sites a priority in this endeavor, and as always, you can contact us via xxxxx@wordpress.com for the latest update. We will also update this post with more information as it becomes available

WordPress did not mention the origin of the attack (DDoS =! Anonymous) and I have contacted founder Matt Mullenweg for more information. WordPress.com currently serves 30 million publishers, including VIPs TED, CBS and TechCrunch, and is responsible for 10% of all websites in the world. WordPress.com itself sees about 300 million unique visits monthly.

Update: Automattic and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg tells us that this is the largest attack WordPress.com has ever seen, and is likely to be politically motivated:

“There’s an ongoing DDoS attack that was large enough to impact all three of our datacenters in Chicago, San Antonio, and Dallas — it’s currently been neutralized but it’s possible it could flare up again later, which we’re taking proactive steps to implement.

This is the largest and most sustained attack we’ve seen in our 6 year history. We suspect it may have been politically motivated against one of our non-English blogs but we’re still investigating and have no definitive evidence yet.”

You can check here for the latest status updates.

Image via: blogohblog

Update 2: Looks like everything’s back to normal.

 

Monday morning wisdom

An old man once said …There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living!!! Thanks Doug for this!

 

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