Which are more out of touch with consumers: the actuaries or the techies?

For as long as I’ve been involved with financial services, it has been a truth universally acknowledged that actuaries don’t know anything about consumers.  And, arising from this undeniable fact, that financial services firms led by actuaries (if the idea of actuarial leadership isn’t too much of an oxymoron) are bound to be as out of touch with consumers as it’s possible to be.

But increasingly, I wonder whether this is still true.  No, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that actuaries have acquired any capability for consumer insight, or any other kind of emotional intelligence.  But I am wondering whether there is now a new generation of financial services business leaders, with completely different professional skills, who are even less well equipped to enable their firms to identify and satisfy consumer wants and needs.

Who are these people and what is their skill?  They are the techies, and across countless numbers of fintech start-ups t heir skill is doing brilliantly innovative and complicated things with digital processes that in one way or another will transform people’s financial lives.

If, that is, the people in question a) want their financial lives to be transformed, and b) are able to grapple with what’s required of them to achieve the transformation.

This is not some Luddite yearning for things to stay as they are, or indeed to go back to the way they were in the quill pen era.  But it is a fairly strong suspicion that quite a lot of the very clever new services now on offer are simply too complicated, too demanding and require too much engagement for most of us to enjoy the benefits they offer.

Probably the best example is the whole subject of financial aggregation, a big theme than comes in many flavours.  Once we bring all our finances together and start managing them as a whole, all sorts of good things become possible.  We can “optimise” our financial lives in ways we never could when everything was all over the place.  But will we?  Do we really care?  Are most of us not more likely to stick with the principle of “satisficing” – that great word invented by that great US Economist Herbert Simon to describe the way we’re willing to put time and effort into solving a problem until, and only until, we find a solution that we decide is satisfactory:  as soon as we do, we’ll stop right there, even if further work would have led us to even better solutions.

Techies have an infinite capacity to engage with technology, just as actuaries have an infinite capacity to engage with financial systems.  These exceptional levels of engagement are what make these people important, special and valuable.  But when it comes to designing and developing things intended for ordinary, unengaged consumers, they’re also what makes them very dangerous.  .

Level playing field, but few goals scored

In the run-up to the implementation of GDPR at the end of this week, heaven knows how many organisations are frantically emailing their customer and prospect lists asking them to opt in to continue to receive their communications – certainly hundreds, probably thousands, possibly tens of thousands.  It’s a level playing field, or almost – give or take the odd regulatory quirk, everyone has to say the same things and deliver the same call to action (“opt in if you want to keep on hearing from us”).  So how’s everyone getting on?

Before I answer that, a word on those regulatory quirks,  To be honest, I don’t understand the rules of the GDPR game well enough to understand the reasons for the differences I’m noticing in message content.  Why can some organisations just send me dull, passive and seemingly completely pointless emails telling me they’ve updated their privacy policy, while others vigorously urge me to click on a button to remain opted in and others still seem to need me to fill in lengthy questionnaires?  I don’t know, and to be honest I don’t care.  I’m creative, me.  Suits and/or planners explain these ramifications in the brief.

But what I do know is that, looking at the hundred-or-so emails that I’ve received over the last few weeks, the quality runs the gamut, as Dorothy Parker nearly said, from pitiful to mediocre.  I don’t think I’ve received a single communication that really did anything positive or good for my relationship with the brand.  And I’ve received a great many which, when they caught me in two minds about whether to opt in or not, filled me with such negativity that I decided not to.

Much of what’s worst about many of the messages are the headings.  I can’t decide which was the most hopeless from a shortlist including one which said only “General” and another which said “GDPR Survey Link.”   (I’m pretty sure, though, that in third place was “GDPR updates to DIBOR emails,” not aided by the fact that I haven’t the faintest idea who or what DIBOR is.)

Most aren’t quite that bad, but they’re not a lot better.  I’d say that only one rung higher up the ladder of effective communication are the ones where, as so often in our industry, stupid useless “creatives” think their job is to do something with words which makes the message incomprehensible rather than actually helping to tell the story.  A retailer called Thyme kicks off “Thyme to opt in.”  The Gatwick Express says “Final call before boarding.”  Given the crisis that generally surrounds email open rates these days, it’s very hard to believe that this kind of opacity is the way forward.

Next there are a few odd men out (and in the case of the first of these I use the word “men” advisedly, since it’s from male moustache-growing charity the Movember Foundation).  Plainly defeated by the whole thing, their email begins “We have to say goodbye soon,” which is strange because the whole point of the communication is that we don’t have to.   And online retailer Hush comes on to me with the line “A love letter from Hush,” which I have to say since I can remember nothing about ever doing business with them is love of a sadly unrequired kind.

Amidst these exceptions and anomalies, the large majority adopt a consistent approach with a headline about staying or keeping in touch, and a short piece of explanatory copy.  This is fairly sensible, although maybe a little short of “what’s in it for me?”, so you might imagine  all is well with this lot:  but not so, because there turns out to be a wide range of things that can go wrong during and indeed after the opt-in process.  Lengthy and complicated questionnaires, forms that don’t work, pre-populated forms pre-populated with the wrong information, processes that take you to websites you had no interest in – a significant proportion of emailers (up to half, I’d say) offer experiences bad enough to put us right off the idea of remaining in contact.

And then of course it hardly seems fair to mention it, but there is the whole tricky business of offering some kind of distinctive brand experience, intended to play some part even if only a small one in shaping our perceptions of difference.  Do you know, in all honesty I don’t think I’ve received any of those.

And one more thing:  although the GDPR timetable has been entirely clear for months, it does all seem to have turned into the most monumental stampede to hit Friday’s deadline.  The first email I received was on Wednesday 9th May, and all the others have been jostling for attention in a period of a little over a fortnight.

It’s true that it’s in the interest of both providers and consumers alike to clean up the database from time to time.  There’s little point in maintaining records of millions of people who have no further interest in what you have to offer.

But the depressing thing about these last couple of weeks is that in quite a few cases, I did have an interest, if perhaps a slightly less-than-red-hot one.  It was only irritation at the uselessness of the message that made me pretend I didn’t.

You’d think that when we’re failing, we’d want to learn from success

It seems, though, that you’d be wrong.  At a conference yesterday, several of the sessions focused on the state of play in digital investments.  It was clear that the game has moved on.  That initial surge of enthusiasm which greeted the arrival of god-knows-how-many new more-or-less-mass-market online services has now morphed into growing anxiety about the difficulty (and cost) of acquiring worthwhile numbers of more-or-less-mass-market customers.

My regular reader will know that this comes as no surprise at all to me.  Almost all new businesses go through a customer acquisition crisis, and I’ve always thought that online investing businesses are likely to suffer more than most:  in addition to all the usual problems, they have one great big additional one, namely a widespread lack of consumer appetite for the whole idea.

But what did come as a surprise at yesterday’s event was the amount of fairly desperate and highly tentative casting-about for any kind of solution to the crisis.  What on earth is to be done, people asked.  No idea, others answered.

I couldn’t help thinking that this kind of exchange reflected a really extraordinary level of obtuseness among those involved.  Over exactly the same period that this wave of new services has been launching and failing, elsewhere we’ve seen by far and away the most spectacular success of all time in the field of online investing, but we’re bizarrely reluctant to learn the clear and obvious lessons from it.

This is of course the area of auto-enrolled workplace pensions, where something like nine million new customer accounts have been opened over the last few years and opt-out rates have remained well below 10%.  This is a figure which compares stupendously well with the 0.1% or so of consumers who’ve opted in to other new investment propositions over the same period.

There is pretty clearly one big reason why no-one has tried to learn anything much from the triumph of auto enrolment, and the clue is of course in the name:  since the auto enrolment mechanism isn’t available to investment providers outside the field of workplace pensions, it’s assumed that they’re playing a whole different (and much harder) ballgame and there’s no point in comparing the two.

It’s certainly true that the auto-enrolment principle makes a huge difference, and results without it will be on a different level.  But quite frankly, even if they were 99% worse, they’d still be better than they are at the moment. And anyway, a few moments’ thought makes it clear that the success of auto enrolled pensions also depends at least in part on other characteristics which are perfectly transferable.  Three of these stand out:

  1. Most important, the principle of a default investment option which means that people absolutely don’t need to engage with the whole business of investing or investment decision-making to get a satisfactory outcome.  (As I’ve said many times, this is a completely and fundamentally different approach from your typical online process with its daunting attitude-to-risk questionnaire and range of risk-rated funds.)
  2. The adoption, at least for those involved from the start, of what behavioural economics guru Richard Thaler calls the “pay more tomorrow” principle, beginning with a painlessly-minimal level of contributions and escalating gradually over several years.
  3. The “lock-away” mechanism,” obviously generic to pension pots which aren’t accessible until age 55 but in fact popular with consumers who don’t want to be tempted to access any of their long-term savings (and also obviously appropriate for investments which are described as being intended for the medium to long term.)

In addition, it’s worth saying that in fact some organisations – particularly banks – could if they chose get reasonably close to the principle of auto-enrolment anyway.  One of the few genuinely innovative propositions on the market, Moneybox, shows the way with its “rounding up” mechanism, rounding all your credit card expenditures up to the nearest pound and investing the amount greater than the cost of each item.  Moneybox doesn’t have the money to make this idea famous, and I doubt if one in a hundred consumers has heard of it:  also, the odd 20-something pence overpayment on a coffee or a sandwich probably seems too small to be worth bothering with.  But if you could round up, say, all payments above £30 from your current account to the nearest £10, you’d really get somewhere.

Tucked away in that last paragraph, you’ll have noted a point about the need to spend money to make new services famous.  This, again, is a challenge, and a cost, that auto-enrolled pensions providers haven’t faced, and is another reason why I’m not saying that the auto-enrolment success story can simply be transferred wholesale into the digital non-pension sector.

But a great deal of it can, and I’m sure it has the potential to help providers achieve very much better results than they’re achieving at the moment.   I simply don’t understand why they’re so reluctant to look at it, or to learn from it.

In hindsight, I preferred it when robo-advisers didn’t advertise

Probably the riff to which I’ve returned most often in this blog in recent years – my Smoke On The Water, my Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) – is the one that goes “None of these trendy new robo-advisers is ever going to acquire a worthwhile number of customers unless they start spending some worthwhile money on advertising.”

Several of them are now spending quite a bit of money on advertising, and I think I was happier when they weren’t.  The trouble is that the advertising is a) terrible, b) all the same, c) lacking in any kind of appealing call to action and d) based on an entirely false hypothesis.

It’s clear that there is now a default expanding-the-investment-market campaign concept, which involves pictures of kooky-looking people (men with ponytails, women with unnatural hair colours, men and women with tats and piercings) and headlines saying in one way or another that they’re now finding investing delightfully easy/accessible/cheap.

But the false hypothesis on which so much of this market is rashly pinning its hopes is expressed more plainly in another current campaign, for another firm whose name I can’t remember.  It’s a tube card showing a pair of remarkably large and ugly trainers among several pairs of polished business shoes, and the headline says (more or less) Now the jeans and the T-shirts can invest along with the suits and the ties.  Clearly the idea here is that thanks to the launch of this funky new robo-adviser, whatever it’s called, the world of investment is now, at last, accessible to younger, funkier, less starchy people who previously felt excluded and unwelcome.

I’m sure there are a few people with whom this message resonates, but I don’t think there are many.  The main reason why people who don’t invest don’t invest, if you see what I mean, is that they don’t want to invest.  As a way of encouraging them to start doing so, offering them an easy, low-cost-welcoming online service is about as likely to be effective as offering me easy, low-cost, welcoming ballroom dancing lessons.  It’s true that I perceive the world of ballroom dancing schools as difficult, quite expensive and not very welcoming, but those aren’t really the reason I don’t engage with it.  The reason I don’t engage with it is that the whole idea of ballroom dancing fills me with horror, misery, suicidal despair and existential dread.  I would rather cut my legs off with rusty scissors than put them to work on learning the steps for the pasa doble or the cha cha cha.  In short, persuading me that I have easy, low-cost, welcoming dancing schools available is a necessary but in itself spectacularly insufficient step towards changing my behaviour.

In writing all this, the thought flickers through my mind that perhaps I’m terribly, disastrously wrong.  Perhaps millions of people with pony tails, pink hair and body piercings are longing for a service accessible and cheap enough to give them an entry into the world of UK Smaller Companies and Strategic Global Corporate Bonds.

In many ways, I’d love to be wrong about it.  But I really don’t think I am.

“Money On Toast targets high earners,” says the newsfeed. Targets how, exactly?

Money On Toast’s You Tube film has had 801 views.  On Twitter, they have just over 700 followers, nearly all of them as far as I can see either IFAs or industry people of one sort or another.  They have about 150 likes on Facebook, which is kind of surprising because there is very, very little to like on their extremely dreary page.

I’ve never seen a Money On Toast ad, online or offline, and although it’s always dangerous testing these things on oneself I am pretty much right in the middle of their target market, as defined in the article appearing beneath the trade press headline quoted above.

You’ve heard me grumble before that the new world of direct, D2C online investment services is never going to happen until a number of the leading players start spending some proper money on marketing communications.  It doesn’t look as if Money On Toast are anywhere near doing so.

If the future is indeed mobile, watch out for happy tortoises

I’ve held off from writing this blog for a long time because I worry that it makes me look foolish, and what’s worse foolish in an old, past-it, off-the-pace kind of way.  But here goes anyway.

If it really is true that the future will consist largely of people much younger than me choosing for preference to do all sorts of things on their mobile devices, then I take my hat off in advance to recognise their extraordinary patience.  Because most of the time that I try to do anything on a mobile device – especially anything which involves a number of clicks – it’s just so incredibly, maddeningly, uselessly just-give-this-up-right-now-and-leave-it-till-I’m-at-my-nice-fast-desktop SLOW.

OK, to some extent this reflects problems of my own making.  My poor old phone is on its last legs, and freezes, hangs and fails to notice my commands (or if it notices, then fails to obey them) a great deal of the time.  Here in France where I’m writing this, our satellite internet connection means that the humblest request to buy an extra litre of milk takes an age to go hundreds of miles out into deep space and back on its way to whichever one of us is in the supermarket.  My texting is pitifully slow and so horribly inaccurate that it frequently defeats even the HTC One’s amazingly intuitive spell-check.

But still, allowing for all this, the fact remains that even checking out the BBC’s totally fictitious football gossip column first thing in the morning routinely involves a hard-fought and narrowly-won battle with the will to live, and, typically, at least two minutes of feeling my blood pressure rise while I stare furiously at a succession of empty white screens.

A few days ago we were driving to collect my daughter from the airport, and, running a bit late, I cleverly thought of using the flight tracker app on the easyJet website to check on her progress.  Now, I thought, we could experience all the wonder of the mobile revolution right there before our very eyes.  Except not exactly.  By the time I’d slogged my way through to the right screen on FlightRadar24, we’d arrived at the airport and Chloe’s flight had landed.  And then the program froze so that I couldn’t actually scroll down to see what was happening at Toulouse.  I was too busy prodding angrily at my phone to notice Chloe emerging  at Arrivals.

Of course if you’re already logged on to incredibly fast wireless, you may not recognise these problems.  But realistically, how often are you logged on to incredibly fast wireless?  Much more likely, you’re either connected to incredibly slow wireless (like on trains, where things happen at the same imperceptibly slow speed as when you watch the London Eye), or to equally slow 3 or 4G, like in the back of the cab when you’re desperately trying to find the address of the restaurant before the driver goes straight past and exits the foodie hunting-grounds of Shoreditch for the badlands of Poplar.

Anyway, apparently the young have no problem with this and are perfectly happy taking 9 minutes to undertake a simple banking transaction, or 14 if they’ve forgotten their password and have to get a reset code sent to their email and then reset two or three times before coming up with a series of letters and numbers meaningless enough to make sure that a) the bank will accept it and b) you’ll have forgotten it again next time.

As a fractious old hare, I think this zen-like calm reflects very well on the young.  But in its demand for a tortoise-esque  mindset, the brave new digital world is once again turning out a bit differently from what we expected.

The only post that got me into trouble: looks like I was (mostly) right

Just coming up to five years ago, right at the end of my time as a sort of semi-detached part of the group to whom I’d sold my previous agency, Tangible, back in 2007, I wrote the only post in the eight-year history of this blog to get me into some fairly hot water.

It was headed “Of lunatics and asylums” (it’s still there, if you want to search for it) and basically it was a bit of a rant about the ideas being promoted by an agency called FACE – which, unfortunately, was then by far the most successful business within the agency group I was part of (and about a million times more successful than my own little agency at that time).

What irked me was FACE’s Big Idea, promoted with great evangelical zeal throughout their website, in conference presentations, in white papers and for all I know on branded umbrellas and golf tees.  According to them, when it came to developing advertising ideas, it was time to consign agency creative departments to the dustbin of history and adopt a process called “co-creation,” in which groups of clients and consumers would get together to come up with the ideas for the ads in workshops moderated by…you guessed it, by people from FACE.

As you can imagine, writing as somebody who was at that time just on the point of emerging from a 28-year stretch in agency creative departments, I struggled a bit with this.  In a mildly and diplomatically expressed post (honestly…) I said I didn’t at all agree with FACE’s basic proposition, that in today’s world creative things are much better done “with” their target groups than “at” them.  I said I don’t believe creativity works like that, and I thought a range of expert witnesses from William Shakespeare to those responsible for the Shake’n’Vac commercial would probably agree with me.

I also said that if I was just a teeny bit cynical, which of course I’m not, I’d be tempted to see this co-creation schtick as a smart and ambitious power-play on the part of the country’s tribe of qualitative researchers, unhappy with the way that their moderation skills tended to play only a minor role in the creative development process (typically checking out the creative department’s ideas with focus groups of C1C2 housewives in Ruislip) and looking for an opportunity to take charge of the proceedings.

The post picked up a few somewhat snotty comments, including one from some bloke in the property industry who said I was clearly a frightened dinosaur.  But the heavier flak came up towards me from people in my own building, and especially those in FACE itself.  I found myself about as popular as…well, as any of the unpopular things used in similes about unpopularity, if not more so.

Five years later, I’ve just been back to the FACE website to experience the pain of witnessing the triumph of co-creation for myself.  The agency is obviously still doing extremely well, which is very good news not least for me as someone who still has quite a few shares in the parent group.  And as you’d expect from any agency doing mostly digital work, its positioning and proposition has changed quite a lot over the five years since I last looked.

But the nature of the changes is interesting. FACE is no longer “The Co-Creation Agency” and the website it was promoting called the Co-Creation Hub, which brought together a whole bunch of sad and anxious Cello Group creative agencies under the co-creation banner, seems to have disappeared.  FACE is now “a global strategic insight agency.”

Co-creation is still there, but only as one of 13 different products and services on offer.  And the description doesn’t say anything about developing creating or communications ideas – it says that the service in question, Helix, is a way to “build disruptive product concepts.”   It looks to me as if co-creation, at least as far as taking over from creative agencies is concerned, has come to the end of its brief shelf-life.

Oddly enough, looking back over five years in which technology, in particular, has changed many things but creative work is still overwhelmingly done “at,” not “with,” the only person I feel cross with from that long-ago time is that property bloke who wrote that patronising “frightened dinosaur” comment.  To him, I have a nice simple message written on behalf of creative people in language that I hope people in the property world can understand:  “Fuck you, tosser.  We’re still here.”

Oh dear, MORE TH>N, I’m afraid you’re much more than a disappointment these days

Of all the financial services brands I’ve had a hand in launching, none engaged me more than MORE TH>N.  It was partly because we had an inspirational client, the legendary Mike Tildesley.  It was partly because we had the biggest, most exciting and at the time most important of the agency remits available, brand advertising (remember Lucky the dog?).  But it was also because, within the mainstream of the general insurance market, I did actually believe that MORE TH>N intended to be a bit special, a bit different, a bit better.

How stupid.  For all the About Us rubbish on the website (for example, “It takes thousands of dedicated and talented employees around the UK to deliver the excellence of service and products our customers demand and expect”. – there’s loads more at www.morethan.com/aboutus) these days it’s just another grotty general insurance business, delivering rubbish service with the one hand and ripping off its loyal customers with extortionate premium increases with the other.

I had to speak to them on the phone to renew my travel insurance recently.  I wrote about this a few blogs back:  it took four calls and a total waiting time of nearly 100 minutes before I actually got to speak to someone. (I only had to give them a new credit card number and ask for a couple of minor policy changes – why the hell I can’t do this online I have no idea.)

After my 100-minute wait, I wasn’t very pleased to hear that with the minor changes, my premium would be going up from £302 to £684.   I did a bit of shopping around (the new business lines almost always answer nice and quickly) and found AVIVA quoting me a great deal less than MORE TH>N – £320, to be exact.  Not a difficult decision, really.

Out of touching and clearly misplaced loyalty to what was then a client, I also had my motor, building and contents insurance with MORE TH>N too.  Motor went a long time ago, for exactly the same reasons – shocking call waiting times and extortionate premium increases.  The buildings and contents I still have, but only till the next renewal – I know I’m being ripped off, and I don’t like it.

In all of this, I don’t suppose MORE TH>N is more than averagely useless and untrustworthy – I have no great faith in AVIVA, for example, beyond the point that over the coming 12 months they’ll save me £360 on my travel cover.

It’s just that my expectations were that little bit higher – partly because of my personal experience with the business in the early days, but also a little bit, I mist admit, because of that rubbish on the website.

Here’s another sample:  “The MORE TH>N brand is grounded in the values of modernity, individuality, perspective, purposefulness, clarity and integrity. It’s underpinned by the desire to go the extra mile for the customer, deliver more than words and treat customers as individuals.”  Absolute bollocks, every word of it.  Unless you have personal experience to confirm it, you still can’t believe anything that any financial services provider says to you.

Do your marketing communications pass the 29 Bus Test?

We were a diverse bunch as usual on my pleasingly-uncrowded 29 this morning – a handful of students, a few office workers, various NHS workers on the way in to UCH, a couple of mums taking small kids to school, someone who looked like a murderer and a couple of seriously off-the-beaten-track Japanese tourists.

But nearly all of us had one big thing in common:  22 out of 24 were on their phones.

I have major doubts about many – even most – forms of mobile marketing communication.  The huge majority of brands are unwelcome in social media.  Display advertising doesn’t work well.  And although people keep telling me that younger users don’t agree, I still think that the large majority of m-commerce applications are horribly slow, clunky and complicated

But if all of this simply means that we have more work to do to start making the most of mobile, I can’t help thinking that we’d better get a wiggle on.  When it comes to reaching the passengers on the 29 bus, mobile is quite literally the only game in town.

We love producing content-driven comms. But does anyone love consuming them?

I think I already said that I did my annual gig chairing the Money Marketing Financial Advertising Awards a few days ago. It’s always a good opportunity for a bit of trend-spotting – for example, after two years without a single specimen, I can now confirm that the craze among health insurers for sending out DM packs which look like reports from an X-ray lab has now definitely ended    And online advertising is still generally pretty dire, but other forms of digital communication – especially those using social media – are improving at a rate of knots.

But sometimes the most important and big-picture trends are the hardest to spot.  They’re the hide-in-plain-sight trends that are so obvious, you almost don’t notice them.

For example.  By the time lunch was served at last year’s judging, I was extremely hungry, and this year I was hungrier still.  And over the same period, we’ve over-run more and more at the end of the day:  I still tell my fellow-judges that we’ll be done by about 4pm, but actually this year it was more like 5.30.

What do these points have in common?  Fairly obviously, they say that the judging process is taking longer and longer from each year to the next.  And the reason for this has nothing to do with the pernicketiness of the judges, but everything to do with the fact that the entries are getting more elaborate, more complicated, more time-consuming to peruse..

Time was when your typical entry might be a poster, or a press ad with a headline and 50 words of copy.  These days your typical entry is more likely to be an integrated content-driven opinion-forming initiative, which includes a 15,000-word white paper, a microsite, a blog, Facebook and Twitter pages, a film on You Tube, a series of HTML emails and a couple of full-page ads in the trade press.

Some of these new-style entries are deeply impressive at all sorts of levels – not least in terms of the huge amount of work and enormous number of skills needed to produce them.  But there is one big thing that worries me about them – specifically, about how they work in the real world and not just on judging days.

It’s pretty obvious what that big thing is:  are we sure we’ve really got time for all this? Frankly, I used to be dubious enough about whether people had time for the poster and the press ad.  I’m twenty times more dubious about whether they have time for the 15,000-word white paper, microsite, blog, Facebook and Twitter pages, film on You Tube, series of HTML emails and couple of full-page ads in the trade press.

Of course I accept that campaigns like this can have a significant effect even on those who don’t read every word in the white paper.  But when – on a day like the judging day – I get a sense of the immense amounts of time, effort, skill and cost that are going into producing huge oceans of content that none of us has the time, inclination or energy to read, I do rather wonder whether we’ve got a bit carried away with all this stuff.

And saying that, I guess I ought to bring this blog to an end without a moment’s more delay.