An afternoon at Donington

My latest exploits sent me to Donington Park for an afternoon of Formula E testing. Blog readers may remember that I went to Silverstone last year to watch the opening round of the World Endurance Championship. I may not have watched any actual racing on Monday, but the day was still enjoyable, albeit for different reasons compared to Silverstone. Monday marked day three of six of the Formula E testing season, and with free entry, it was a fairly easy decision to head up to Donington (and to use a day of annual leave, he says). In the days before the test, I did ask a few non motor sport fans what they thought of Formula E, given that they knew that I liked it and was going to the test. One pointed out that Formula E isn’t Formula E “without the EJ”, a reference to Formula E’s music. Another, who watched the London ePrix on TV, liked the use of the battery graphics and how it played into the strategy of the race, a point I made during the lunch break to Formula E commentator Jack Nicholls (more on that later).

On arrival, I didn’t anticipate the size of the queue considering it was testing. I did use the moment to get a look at the demographic that had turned out. Walking around it was quite clear that there was a real mix of people, from kids experiencing their first sight of motor sport to those who had been to the circuit year in, year out. It was great to see families in their droves there, especially during the pit walk. I’d estimate around 2,000 people were there on Monday, not that the number really matters, the main thing is that Formula E successfully engaged with the fans that did attend, which they did. Whilst the gap between testing and race one is long, you can see the benefits of holding the tests during the school holidays in order to get a broader demographic attending. I didn’t speak to fans as I walked around the circuit, but you got the feeling that for some of them, even older people, it was their first time here.

Sam Bird in the Virgin tackles the chicane on day three of Formula E testing at Donington Park.
Sam Bird in the Virgin tackles the chicane on day three of Formula E testing at Donington Park.

The only place I could start was by heading up towards the Melbourne Loop. Comparing Formula E with different forms of motor sport is difficult. You walk into most motor sport events, and you know the sound will blow you away, as the 6 Hours of Silverstone did last year. Formula E gives you a different sensation. Whilst the sound of the cars did not make the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, it did bring a different element to proceedings. Readers who have watched Formula E on television will notice how you can hear every squeal, and a multitude of different sounds as the drivers tackle the machinery. The same is true here. The rumble across the kerbs on the exit of Melbourne Loop was one example, or the locking of the brakes into the hairpin, as many drivers experienced on Monday afternoon.

As I did at Silverstone, you can not go to a motor sport event or test day without taking a stroll down pit lane. I was surprised, again, at the size of the queue given that it was £5 to get in, but it was fantastic to see the interest that people had. Being alone did give me the freedom to stroll down the pit lane, which may have been a slight mistake, because what followed in the half hour was a series of ‘selfies’ with multiple drivers: Bruno Senna, Nick Heidfeld and Nelson Piquet, Jr to name a few. Don’t worry, I won’t republish the selfies here! Alongside the selfies, I did chat to Formula E commentator Jack Nicholls (thankfully we made contact earlier in the day, so it was not an awkward introduction!). Nicholls was great on the circuit commentary throughout the day… I should probably plug the Donington museum at this point, but I’ll resist. Seriously, it was great to chat to Nicholls, to walk down pit lane and to have a moment with the stars. If anything, it served as a reminder of the fan-friendly nature that Formula E brings, that you can easily get to interact with those in the spotlight. I can’t recommend it enough.

The Mahindra mechanics at work during day three of Formula E testing.
The Mahindra mechanics at work during day three of Formula E testing.

After the lunch break, I briefly went towards the infield section near the Craner Curves. The first thing that stands out is the sheer elevation. The elevation does come across on TV, but that whole sequence looks much more impressive in real life. The only problem is that the Formula E cars probably look the least impressive going through here due to the lack of speed. Which wasn’t surprising at all, but it did mean that I went back towards the Melbourne Loop and The Esses quicker than I expected. The moment of the afternoon running that I witnessed came from Jacques Villeneuve locking up, and avoiding the Esses chicane altogether, heading towards the gravel trap.

I made the point to Nicholls during the lunch break that Villeneuve could well bring new fans towards Formula E because of his F1 World Champion status, but we shall see whether that really happens or not. I do hope that Formula E grows in stature for season two, but I’m writing this and we still have no news about whether ITV have a contract in place for the forthcoming season, which is concerning. The chicane did draw a crowd into the afternoon, as it is probably the best place to get a good shot, and see Formula E cars at a decent pace. Again, I make the point that you’re unlikely to be blown away from the speed, however the cars in the flesh look like beasts, and something that motor racing cars should look like.

A bit like my day at Silverstone, the sun was rarely spotted, although it did make an appearance before the running began whilst I was queueing up. I’ll avoid making a direct comparison between my day at Silverstone last year and Donington this past Monday, because they’re two completely different kettles of fish – last year was witnessing my first motor race; Donington was Formula E testing. Overall though, Monday was an enjoyable day. I’m glad I decided to go to one of the test days! There are still two more days of testing left, so if you’re free next week I’d strongly recommend heading up to Donington. It is not often you can get hours of enjoyment, for very little cost, and it is an easy way to spend a family day out and entertain the kids.

Scheduling: The 2015 Belgian Grand Prix

Formula 1 is back…. again! It feels like a very long time since we had regular Formula 1 action, but the Belgian Grand Prix kick-starts a fifteen week period in which we will see nine races. The races really do come fast from now until the end of November, with two double headers coming up. Belgium is the last of three races on the bounce that the BBC will be showing live, as a result of the German Grand Prix absence.

There’s a few schedule changes over on the BBC this weekend. The World Athletics Championship from Beijing means that qualifying will be broadcast on BBC Two. At first, I did find the move surprising, considering you’d expect F1 qualifying to perform better than the athletics, but it is the opening day of the athletics, so you can see why BBC would be keen to put the opening day on BBC One. Alongside the athletics, the final Ashes test means that neither practice or qualifying will be broadcast on BBC Radio, not that it matters too much with it being a BBC TV live weekend.

The major change over on Sky is that all of the session repeats will be chopped down, removing any pre and post session build-up. For example, the live qualifying broadcast is 155 minutes, whereas the replay later on Saturday is 70 minutes, featuring only the World Feed content and Sky’s content in between the three sessions. It’s a big diversion from the previous three years on the channel. It may make things easier for those wanting to watch only the session, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the channel, only increase the amount of repeats. Another point worth mentioning is that the simulcasts on Sky Sports 1 have ended, for the moment.

As always, the full schedule is below…

BBC F1
BBC TV – Sessions
21/08 – 08:45 to 10:40 – Practice 1 (BBC Two)
21/08 – 12:45 to 14:45 – Practice 2 (BBC Two)
22/08 – 09:55 to 11:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Two)
22/08 – 12:10 to 14:30 – Qualifying (BBC Two)
23/08 – 12:10 to 15:30 – Race (BBC One)
23/08 – 15:30 to 16:30 – Forum (BBC website and connected TV)

BBC Radio – Sessions
23/08 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Supplementary Programming
20/08 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
21/08 – 14:45 to 15:45 – F1 Rewind: Schumacher (BBC Two)
21/08 – 18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)
22/08 – 19:45 to 20:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
21/08 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1
21/08 – 12:45 to 15:00 – Practice 2
22/08 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
22/08 – 12:00 to 14:35 – Qualifying
23/08 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
20/08 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
20/08 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut: Belgium
21/08 – 16:00 to 16:45 – Team Press Conference
21/08 – 17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show
26/08 – 20:30 to 21:00 – Midweek Report

GP2 Series – Belgium (Sky Sports F1)
21/08 – 11:00 to 11:50 – Practice
21/08 – 14:50 to 15:30 – Qualifying
22/08 – 14:35 to 16:05 – Race 1
23/08 – 09:30 to 10:45 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Belgium (Sky Sports F1)
22/08 – 08:45 to 09:20 – Qualifying
22/08 – 16:10 to 17:10 – Race 1
23/08 – 08:20 to 09:20 – Race 2

If anything changes, I will update the schedule above.

UK F1 TV viewing figures rise, but Sky hit the skids

It has been a promising start to the 2015 Formula One season in the UK, with TV viewing figures recording an increase of eight percent compared with the first half of 2014, unofficial overnight viewing figures show. The figures have been boosted by better scheduling decisions, along with closer racing heading into the Summer break.

> BBC viewing figures increase 12 percent
> Sky slides to record low
> Combined numbers up on 2012 and 2014, but down on 2013

For newer readers to the blog, it is worth mentioning what the figures cover. All the figures in this post are BARB overnight viewing figures. BBC’s viewing figures are for their entire programme, irrespective of whether it ran 160 minutes or 190 minutes. Sky’s viewing figures are for the three and a half hour slot from 12:00 to 15:30, or equivalent. The pay-TV broadcaster opted to split their race day programming into four blocks, the numbers for Sky Sports that I report on this site covers the Pit Lane Live and Race Show segments and are all weighted averages. Sky’s figures also include any simulcasts that have occurred. For the avoidance of doubt, the last four races have been simulcast on Sky Sports 1: Canada, Austria, Britain and Hungary.

To the contrary, online viewing is not included. Only Sky will know how many people are watching Formula 1 via Sky Go, similarly the same can be said for BBC iPlayer, although some figures are released into the public domain for the latter, which I’ve summarised below. All comparisons are for the first half of each season. 2015’s half way figure includes Hungary, as it was round 10 of 19. 2014’s half way analysis did not include Hungary, as it was round 11 of 19.

The 2015 story
Beginning with Sky Sports F1, their race day programming from 12:00 to 15:30 has averaged 657k. As mentioned, that number includes Sky Sports 1 simulcasts. It is the lowest number since the channel has launched. The previous lowest was for the first half of the 2013 season, which averaged 724k. The 2015 number is down 15.3 percent on the first half of 2012, down 9.3 percent on 2013, and down 11.9 percent on 2014. You don’t need to know a lot about viewing figures to realise that the numbers are grim for Sky. Only three races have increased year-on-year for the broadcaster – Spain (up 5.0 percent due to exclusivity), Austria (up 4.3 percent) and Britain (up 27.0 percent due to no Wimbledon clash). All the other races have dropped, in some cases by fairly sizeable proportions.

The substantial drop for Sky is surprising given that at the end of 2014, I was reporting the highest figures since channel launch for the broadcaster. Quoting from that post, I said: “It will be intriguing to see if Sky can continue the upwards swing heading into 2015, or whether BBC can claw back a few viewers off Sky that they have lost during 2014.” It is difficult to say exactly why the audiences have dropped, although I think the negative publicity that Formula 1 faced at the beginning of 2015 could be attributed to it. Sky’s numbers are also affected by the earlier start times for Australia, Malaysia and China, all three of which dropped year-on-year, although you would expect same day timeshift to make up the drop in figures.

Where Sky have dropped, BBC have gained. Their average audience has increased by 12 percent, up from 3.12m to 3.51m. 2015’s number is down though on 2013’s first half average number of 3.81m, which was influenced by the “multi 21” controversy, alongside the German Grand Prix highlights show directly following the final of Wimbledon. BBC’s figures so far this season are good. Luck has come their way compared with previous years: the removal of the German Grand Prix meant that BBC have three live races in a row, whilst the crew have also covered both of the surprise Ferrari victories live this season.

Only one race has recorded a lower audience on the BBC compared with last year, that being the Spanish Grand Prix which the broadcaster screened as a highlights programme versus live in 2014. Every other race has increased, which shows that, even in Sky’s fourth season, free-to-air is still king. Sky should be attempting to make in-roads into BBC’s audiences, but that is not happening, meaning that they are in turn failing to entice new people on-board.

Online and other viewing
As I have said before, tracking online viewing is incredibly difficult due to the nature of the beast. However, that is set to change soon. It was announced by BARB last month that they would be releasing the TV Player Report from September in beta. The report will provide “official figures on the level of viewing to on-demand and live-streamed content through online TV Player apps.” The report should give us a better indication of the broader picture regarding online viewing. I would expect some mentions of sporting events, depending on the size and shape of the weekly reports.

In terms of Sky Go, Sky say that it is now available in six million households.As I alluded to earlier, that figure means nothing without further detail. Just because it is available in six million households, it doesn’t mean that those six million households are using it regularly, let alone watching sports content. Over on the BBC TV, the Malaysian Grand Prix attracted 553k requests, Bahrain had 466k requests. As the BBC files show, the numbers include those that watched the live streams as well as On Demand afterwards. The highest number of requests that an F1 show has ever received on BBC iPlayer is 662k for the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix (although that is down to the circumstances involved). Aside from that, F1 has settled into the half a million requests region for iPlayer requests. If F1 is getting around that number on iPlayer, it is fair to assume that Sky Go’s numbers for Formula 1 struggle to hit 100k.

Combined audience and final thoughts
The combined TV average at the halfway stage of 2015 is 4.16m, an increase of 12 percent on 2014’s halfway figure of 3.87m. The viewing figures so far for 2015 are also up on 2012, but are down on 2013’s halfway average audience of 4.53m. Overall, the viewing figures so far have been really good, although admittedly as I have mentioned above, the BBC gets the majority of the credit for the increase. The TV viewing figures will be slightly below those recorded from between 2009 and 2011 when BBC covered the coverage exclusively, but when you include the online audience on BBC iPlayer, 2015 will not be that far behind 2011’s numbers. Working out the exact amount is impossible for a variety of reasons, but F1 2015 stands up well in comparison.

It is a very significant turnaround compared to this time last year, when I was reporting the lowest viewing figures for TV since 2008. The climb can be attributed to better scheduling, a lack of opposition this Summer, as well as a British driver being on top. However, the figures may be a surprise considering all but the last two races before the Summer break were mediocre in nature. Either way, anyone hoping that Formula 1’s viewing figures were going to drop will probably be left disappointed by the latest set of numbers. The only viewing figures that are dropping are Sky’s, a fact that they will be looking to turn around significantly in the latter half of 2015.

With reference to the 15 minute reach figures, a BBC spokesperson said “We’re delighted that our Formula 1 TV coverage continues to go from strength to strength with 1m more people watching our coverage compared to at this stage in 2014. It’s been a fantastic season so far and we look forward to bringing audiences the thrilling action of F1 for the remainder of 2015.” Sky did not respond within the timeframe to a request for comment concerning the viewing figures. If Sky do comment on the figures in the forthcoming days, I will amend this article.

overnights.tv-bannersF1

F1 moves along on new media, but more work is needed

Five months ago, Formula One Management (FOM) launched official F1 accounts on both YouTube and Instagram. It was a long time in the making, and both were much needed in order to drive younger fans towards the sport, letting them engage with the content produced. How successful has it been so far?

Whilst Formula 1 has a lot of problems on and off the circuit at the moment, social media is one area where the team are starting to get things right. Their Instagram feed launched on March 14th and has since amassed 254,000 followers, which is very impressive in the time period. The majority of Formula 1’s images on Instagram get in the region of 14,000 likes, which helps boost their profile further on the image sharing website. Instagram is owned by Facebook, so some of the traffic could be coming from there. However, Formula 1 does not have an official profile on Facebook, meaning that they are missing out on a whole new audience potentially. For example, MotoGP has 752,000 subscribers on YouTube, but 8.9 million likes on Facebook. When analysing Formula 1 teams and drivers, Facebook has a bigger reach than Twitter and Instagram thanks to Facebook’s significantly bigger user base. The good news for FOM is that their own social media numbers should increase exponentially through the year as more people become aware of the content.

The thing that does surprise me is the lack of integration on the official F1 website with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. A typical article does not have options to share the content on social media websites. Compare that to the Sky Sports or BBC websites where there are various ways to share the content. If anything, FOM should be proactive towards social media services, and treat it as two-way traffic. A user posts a link to Facebook which can then drive other users towards the website, at the moment, FOM are missing out on that aspect.

In comparison to the above numbers, Formula 1’s YouTube channel has 67,000 subscribers. It is significantly lower than Instagram. I attribute that to the instant aspect of Instagram versus YouTube. With Instagram, liking pictures is instant, you are unlikely to ‘like’ a picture that is six months old. But on YouTube, you are just as likely to watch a video that was posted six months ago compared to one that was posted yesterday. Examining what videos are popular on Formula 1’s channel makes for interesting reading:

Most watched videos on Formula 1’s official YouTube channel
1. 224,000 – F1’s Greatest Lap? Ayrton Senna at Donington 1993 (uploaded 3 months ago)
2. 145,000 – Your Favourite Monaco Grand Prix – 1992 Senna v Mansell (uploaded 2 months ago)
3. 110,000 – Raikkonen Wins At Suzuka From 17th On The Grid | Japanese Grand Prix 2005 (uploaded 3 months ago)
4. 106,000 – Your Favourite Chinese Grand Prix – 2006 Schumacher’s Last Win (uploaded 3 months ago)
5. 95,000 – Michael Schumacher Weathers Stormy Sepang | 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix (uploaded 4 months ago)

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the most-watched videos on their YouTube channel contains archive video as the main draw. Sky’s viewing figures may not show that, but casual fans are clearly interested in archive footage of a bite-sized nature. The amount of archive content has increased on their YouTube channel recently, but they are not uploading much content outside of that during race weekends, with other footage instead being kept solely on the official website. On the whole area of video though, Formula One Management need to be keeping an eye on World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) recent figures for their over-the-top Network.

After a slow start last year, WWE’s new model is proving more popular, and profitable, than their old pay-per-view model for their monthly extravaganzas. With over 1.2 million subscribers for the WWE Network, other companies need to be looking to see if that model is worth investing in. And that includes FOM, as I’ve spoken about before. Wall Street certainly liked WWE’s news. Unfortunately FOM tend to be behind the bend rather than ahead of the bend. One day I hope it does happen. But their journey is only just beginning, whereas WWE began their Network journey years ago.

Personalities fill FOM’s Facebook void
As mentioned above, FOM (or Formula One Digital Media – whichever you prefer) do not currently have any presence on Facebook. The exact reason for the lack of a Facebook page is unclear, although Marissa Pace did state in interviews late last year that the plan was to launch YouTube first, then Facebook later. Whilst it is great that FOM have a strategy, it could be argued that Facebook can be exploited a lot more than YouTube, so should have been targeted first.

On Facebook, Mercedes have a combined audience of 12.26 million accounts, with a reach of around 10 million accounts. Compare that to Twitter. Mercedes there have a combined audience of 4.37 million accounts, reaching around 3 million accounts (the reach is lower than the combined audience as one account can follow many pages). Overall, Facebook from a Formula 1 fan perspective is nearly twice as popular as Twitter. Facebook is worth ten times more than Twitter, which for FOM means that they are losing a huge cut of a potential audience.

How Formula 1's and MotoGP's stars compare on social media, as of July 2015.
How Formula 1’s and MotoGP’s stars compare on social media, as of July 2015.

Trying to analyse social media demographics is incredibly difficult, but the consensus tends to be that Facebook has a broader reach, Instagram a younger reach, with Twitter potentially more dedicated in what accounts may tweet about. Looking at Formula 1 on Facebook, as alluded to above, the official Mercedes AMG Petronas account has a huge 10 million likes. It is not quite the biggest motor sport page on Facebook: Valentino Rossi has 10.77 million likes. Obviously, 10 million is a relatively small number when you compare it to football clubs, for example, Chelsea FC have 44 million likes, but it isn’t a number that should be underestimated. When including Twitter and Instagram, almost two-thirds of Mercedes followers come from Facebook. Lewis Hamilton is twice as popular as Fernando Alonso on Facebook – with 3.2 million likes compared with 1.7 million likes for the Spaniard.

Hamilton is by far Formula 1’s most popular driver across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which is partly why Mercedes’ combined audience is so much higher across these outlets. As good as Hamilton’s numbers are, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Rossi dwarfs Hamilton’s figures, although Hamilton’s combined audience across the three main social media platforms is higher than Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. Marquez and Lorenzo though have a bigger reach than the remainder of the Formula 1 field. It doesn’t help that two of Formula 1’s biggest stars have no social media presence. Okay, I can understand why Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen stay off social media, but you can also understand why Bernie Ecclestone makes comments like he does surrounding Hamilton and his marketability.

The Formula 1 social media statistics, as of July 2015.
The Formula 1 social media statistics, as of July 2015.

Ferrari has the highest skew towards Facebook, with 75 percent of their combined followers originating from there. In comparison, only 36 percent of Toro Rosso’s fans come from Facebook, although that number could drastically change if Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz continue to make an impression in the latter half of 2015. Of course, FOM have zero percent. It’s difficult to say exactly how many likes they would have on Facebook, but you have to be looking at nearly ten million likes, if not higher. The raw numbers in the two figures above really show much much you need a presence on Facebook, as I outlined earlier in this piece. Force India and Lotus have the biggest relative impact on Twitter, the latter shouldn’t be too surprising when you consider the content that they upload to the site in order to be distinctive. Only 23 percent of Mercedes’ following originates from Twitter, but this is down to the huge Facebook number rather than a low Twitter base.

Formula 1 teams, drivers and media are only just beginning to exploit Instagram, and that is clear in the figures. Only Mercedes break the one million mark. Hamilton and Felipe Massa are the only two drivers to really grab hold of the image sharing site. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, who are big on Facebook and Twitter, currently have a very small presence (follower wise) on Instagram.

I think Formula 1 needs to exploit Facebook much more than what it currently is. That will only happen when FOM lead the way by joining the website and share content. I wonder if they are looking to be a part of Facebook’s video monetisation scheme? A lot of work has happened in the past half a year, and it will be interesting to track the numbers further as Formula 1 continues to exploit the various platforms.

Formula E: Your 2014-15 Verdict Revealed

The 2014-15 Formula E season concluded at the end of June in London, with a peak audience of nearly 1.2 million viewers watching Nelson Piquet Jr win the championship live on ITV in the UK. Since then, readers have been making their voices heard on the blog.

I posted my thoughts on Formula E’s first season a few weeks ago. Normally when I ask for people’s opinions, the responses are varied. This isn’t the case here. It is clear from the responses that the first season of Formula E was a success.

I absolutely loved the first season of the Formula E. It breathes fresh way to the sport and enhances where motor sport needs to go. Like Formula 1. – Mikey

Really enjoyed it. Surprisingly great and close racing. – Liam

Not everyone was happy about Formula E, though. Vadim was unhappy that the final round of the season was held in a park, thus closing it for the weekend:

This was a procession. Battersea Park completely wrong venue. No room to overtake and it’s trashed the park in the process. There is no way there were 30,000 people there. If there were 5,000 I’d be surprised.

There were several points made about ITV’s coverage, the first about the length of the pre-show:

I felt there was too much race “build up”, with no development and little in the way of news to report (a few driver changes), they could have cut this down. Similarly the guests in the studio were of little importance. Just some on track grid walks would suffice. – Ross

ITV did a decent job. Too much waffling on overall. There was no need for such large build ups for each race. – thomasjpitts

f1picko disagrees, feeling that ITV should do more with their Formula E coverage:

ITV need to do more with their coverage. At least present the first race, last race and all European races from the track. Show more covergae on ITV, so like, Practise live on ITV.com, Qualifying on ITV4, and then the race on ITV, with highlights on ITV4/ITV at least for all euro races and the first one.

By far the most important point for me surrounded the future of Formula E on ITV. No details for season two have yet to be announced, and as Buzzboy highlights, it is vital that Formula E does not head to pay-TV:

As an avid follower of F1 which following SKY and the BBC sell out deal as someone rightly put we are left with half a book and my interest has waned….so Formula E don’t sell out to Sky develop this sport on every level and it will grow.

The views surrounding the commentary were surprisingly split, with both positive and negative comments:

Loved the entire season and the TREMENDOUS commentary by Dario and Jack. So much fun to listen to. – not Jp

The commentary has been awful from Jack Nicholls as he gets to excited easily, he’s trying to mimic Murray Walker and it doesn’t work. – caine2013

Jennie Gow developed through the year and was decent. Great, enthusiastic commentators helped too. – thomasjpitts

There were a lot more views on the original post, but the above is just a snapshot of what blog readers are talking about.