Well... Free Day has come and gone. It was most definitely not without some hiccups (ok... ok... full belly burps). We apologize for anyone who was unable to take part in the $100k give away. But let's revisit the goals
of the Free Day (from the original announcement) and see how we did:
"First and foremost, we want to give back. We've had a stellar year in 2009, and it's all because of you. So please, have a beer (or a Stepper Motor Driver) on us."
Did we accomplish this? We think so. This was Free Day's primary goal because our customers are the biggest part of what makes SparkFun work. Their innovation and creativity makes this "world" turn. In our opinion, the beauty of DIY electronics is its openness - this type of technology should be available to everyone to play around with. We thought limiting the promotion to just our prior customers would really be going against this notion. So we opened it up - to everyone. This left some people feeling jilted and some people ecstatic - but overall, we think this was a good thing not just for the people who got their order through, but for the whole DIY electronics community.
"Second: We wish we could sponsor more groups but we don't have a sound way of selecting appropriate projects. Because we can't afford to say yes to everyone, we have to say no to everyone. It pains us every time we have to do it. So this is a way for us to evenly enable all the students and great minds of the world to pickup a $100 worth of free gear. Go for it!"
I think the answer to the first questions answers this as well. We hope we helped a few people accomplish projects they've been dreaming up!
"Third: Free Day will possibly create a maelstrom of site traffic, the likes of which our servers have not seen. At the beginning of December, 2009, SparkFun will be graduating out of its high-chair and moving into a server cluster. We are excited to have the breathing room, and Free Day will help us evaluate just how much breathing room we're getting. We'll do everything in our power to keep the site up but please understand that the site may go down."
This was, of course, more than just a test for our servers - we could've done that virtually and I think anyone who participated in Free Day knows how this worked. Our server went down three times during this ordeal. Once, it really broke on its own (the day before Free Day). Yikes. The other two times, we took it down on purpose before Free Day started to make upgrades we knew we'd need to have even a fighting chance of completing the day. Did our upgrades work? Yes and no. Yes, we were able to finish Free Day. No, it didn't go as smoothly as we hoped. Our site was slow as molasseses. We learned a ton in the IT realm of things and will use that information down the line. We hope in the meantime your F5 key is still intact and functioning.
"Fourth: We turn 7 years old! SparkFun is now over 70 employees and is the ripe old age of 49 (in business and dog years). We'd like to celebrate our birthday with a party."
Was it fun? Sure! But what we are really looking forward to is what comes down the line a week, a month, a year from now. We hope someone out there got a few things from Free Day and will create something really cool, or just start down the path of DIY electronics and get the same enjoyment we do out of this cool stuff.
So now let's look at some graphs and stats!
The SparkFun IRC chat room nearly took down Freenode! We love you Freenode!
Thank you Freenode for hosting our crazy day! We where the busiest chat room on IRC for a few hours today. We beat out ubuntu and debian for a bit.