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Buying experiences, not possessions, leads to greater happiness

Can money make us happy if we spend it on the right purchases? A new psychology study suggests that buying life experiences rather than material possessions leads to greater happiness for both the consumer and those around them. The findings will be presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting on Feb. 7.

The study demonstrates that experiential purchases, such as a meal out or theater tickets, result in increased well-being because they satisfy higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality — a feeling of being alive.

“These findings support an extension of basic need theory, where purchases that increase psychological need satisfaction will produce the greatest well-being,” said Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.

Participants in the study were asked to write reflections and answer questions about their recent purchases. Participants indicated that experiential purchases represented money better spent and greater happiness for both themselves and others. The results also indicate that experiences produce more happiness regardless of the amount spent or the income of the consumer.

Experiences also lead to longer-term satisfaction. “Purchased experiences provide memory capital,” Howell said. “We don’t tend to get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object.

“People still believe that more money will make them happy, even though 35 years of research has suggested the opposite,” Howell said. “Maybe this belief has held because money is making some people happy some of the time, at least when they spend it on life experiences.”

“The mediators of experiential purchases: Determining the impact of psychological need satisfaction” was conducted by Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and SF State graduate Graham Hill.

microsoft joke

If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG.

Bill Gates

GM response.

If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash……..Twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation” warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off.


Yasser Seirawan Joins NetGames

Yasser Seirawan, Highest Ranked US Chess GrandMaster, Joins NetGames as President of Chess Division

Hull, Massachusetts. NetGames, announced that Yasser Seirawan has joined the company as President of their Chess Division and of their site. Mr. Seirawan is the highest ranked American chess grandmaster both nationally and internationally and has been President of International Chess Enterprises for the past 10 years. Mr. Seirawan has authored numerous books and articles on the history, strategy and tactics of chess. He has recently competed in international tournaments in Bali, Bermuda and the Netherlands.

“Yasser comes to us with strong business skills, great ambassador credentials, and an intimate knowledge of the chess world,” stated John Moore, CEO of NetGames. “We believe for our entire lineup of classical games he will be influential, but his impact on our successful chess site and business is unquestioned. He has been selling chess products for over a decade, authored the award winning Play Winning Chess series published by Microsoft Press and has been an international competitor of merit for a lengthy time. He brings authenticity and credibility to our site. We look for him to jump start our scholastic leagues, our instructional efforts and our event broadcasts.”

John Fanning, the founder of NetGames and other successful internet companies such as and added, “I am a chess enthusiast. Having someone with Yasser’s stature join us is certainly a positive. He joins former world champion Anatole Karpov and famed chess trainer Roman Dzindzichashvili and our other grandmasters to give us a most prestigious on line presence and wealth of knowledgeable content possibilities. Plus his business experience in this field gives us strong leadership in our most mature gaming area and the one with considerable international growth prospects.”

“The internet is a wonderful medium for the world’s chess players,” stated Mr.Seirawan. “I myself have played friends from around the globe from my home in an evening in matches that used to take weeks by fax. NetGames and Chess,net are in the forefront of this electronic revolution. They have great technology and a dynamic focus. I hope I am able to add to it and lead the Chess division to a preeminent position in the near future. It is very exciting.”

NetGames Inc is a Delaware corporation and maintains the site on the internet. It offers a vast array of classical, interactive, action and puzzle games to its users. Its trademark games include,, among others. It was founded in January, 2000 and has grown already to over 300,000 regular, registered users with an average 45 minute stay on the site. NetGames has recently added a plethora of solitaire and puzzle games to their lineup.

letter to Mr Branson

Dear Mr Branson

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.

Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at the hands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it: [see image 1, above].

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?

You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in: [see image 2, above].

I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn’t custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.

Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.

I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.

Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this: [see image 3, above].

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.

Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.

By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation: [see image 4, above].

It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.

I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.

Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on: [see image 5, above].

I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel: [see image 6, above].

Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.

My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations: [see image 7, above].

Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.

Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baoji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your Baoji-mustard.

So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.

As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to its knees and begging for sustenance.

Yours Sincerely


The day the music died.

Steve Jobs is right: music should be free. All sound recordings should be free. When the greatest American heroes, the first Americans, gave up their homes and their lives to make our world a better place, they left behind a powerful and more complete message than the one recently voiced by Mr. Jobs: Speech should be free.

In the complex reality of today’s media, that message has been lost. Can my words, for instance, be printed in The New York Times? Sadly, no—I can’t economically justify the cost of a full-page ad. I know that I can publish on the Internet and hope.

My name on the Internet is Fanning. I am I was the Founding Chairman and CEO of Napster. I started the company in 1999 with my nephew, Shawn, who quickly became the public face of Napster. Shawn is both one of the smartest and nicest people I know. Unfortunately, our company was killed just two years into its existence by a Federal Court judge, with no subsequent reprieve from the Supreme Court. Our message at trial, and at work, was that that Internet has the power to set music free—not just free in the economic sense (as the cost of distribution is virtually eliminated), but more importantly, free in the sense of freely available.

I recall the day, in 1999, when my son, John, returned from school with a project due on Dr. Martin Luther King. Though just in middle school, he was to give a prepared presentation on Dr. King in front of the entire school on the following day. He was well-read and well-prepared. I asked him if he had ever actually heard Dr. King give his speech. He said, “No, how could I possibly do that?” He had of course read a transcription instead. I immediately downloaded Dr. King’s speech from Napster. We sat and listened together. I was proud to have been a part of making that possible.

While true that I was never interested in helping Metallica to make their message more readily available to our youth, it is also true that many great Americans have chosen to deliver their messages in the powerful form of powerful music. And it was undoubtedly our aim to set their messages free in the form of Mp3.

“What they don’t understand, or they can’t control, humans will kill.”— Fanning

That simple truth, one demonstrated by the death of Napster, seems wired into our DNA. I doubt a simple letter can change that. What can change that, or help establish a collective understanding, is the free flow of ideas. Until it does, it is control that is required to save the lives of the world’s most important messages. The music companies require control over the economics of those messages. Digital rights management software (DRM) presently gives them control over both the economics and the flow. You can ask them to voluntarily give that up—quite frankly, they never will. Good luck trying.

The structure of American Government, however, another gift from our Founding Fathers, can be the solution to establishing free flow within an economic framework that satisfies content owners. Through our representative democracy, a collective understanding, debated and established amongst some of the most profound and best educated-thinkers our country has raised, can shape the controls under which the rest of us live.

My first exposure to Senator Orin Hatch came while watching the Senate Judiciary argue the merits of impeaching President Bill Clinton. It seemed to me that the great institution of the American Presidency was being decimated by those who felt the moral integrity of the President did not meet the high standards required to hold that office. That idea was one I didn’t completely understand. When Hatch explained, however, that he was a writer, producer, and performer of Christian music, and that the messages of his music could not be published under a system that favors the messages of bands with less wholesome, if more popular, messages, I did understand. Over 95% of the music and sound recordings available on Napster on a per-title basis were not copyrighted by the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Senator Hatch, and 95% of the art and ideas made available on the net, needed Napster to set their messages free.

Collectively, Americans understand the power of what we have all invented. Individually, copyright-holders are still struggling. It is collectively, then, that America’s lawmakers can institute a relevant statutory license for music, and set those messages free. A statutory license would insure that artists would be entitled to compensation for every MP3 file transferred without the need to negotiate licenses. Music would be free (as in freely available) and every artist no matter how small would be compensated for their work. That statutory license might be the last hope for an industry that will otherwise quickly disappear. Ironically, they will fight it to the death.
Another great institution, American movies, faces the same challenge. Sadly, they are doing no better. I have personally tried hard to license the messages of John Stewart from the Daily Show, Star Wars by George Lucas, and most of the other formal studio content—all with little luck. If you’re interested in true irony, try licensing Steve Jobs’s content from Disney. Let’s just say it was much easier for the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series. The task of licensing content in America today is insurmountable, and requiring it will kill the very industries demanding it.

While Google makes John Stewart’s messages available, Senator Diane Feinstein of California calls for a revocation of consumers’ rights to time-shift. Are the 100s of millions of Americans using Google and the Internet still criminals, Senator? I think not. Our great industries—music, movies, technology—are depending on you to understand and evolve. It would seem that our Founding Fathers understood that well ahead of their time. The time for statutory licensing is here, and the message is clear. I only hope that one voice lost on the Internet can be heard again.