Free Day 2012


http://dlnmh9ip6v2uc.cloudfront.net/newsimages/freeday2012/FD2012-2.jpg

Free Day 2012 will be on Wednesday January 11th, starting at 9AM Mountain Time. We will be increasing the pool to $200,000 this year (2011 was pretty amazing!). We will have some sort of a system to verify you're not a robot and if you're the lucky person that minute, you'll win a $100 gift code. That's it. Now go enjoy your turkey.

Wait, wait - what are you talking about Nate?

Oh sorry! You've not been here for the previous two Free Days. It's this thing we do to give back to our community and at the same time get some new friends to join the party. You come, you try, you might win a $100 gift code.

The Pool: 2011 is finishing up to be our best year yet. It looks like 2011 will be about 30% larger than last year so the Free Day 2012 pool will be 30% larger than last year's pool. That's $200k! That would buy you alot of heat shrink.

The Rules: The give away starts at 9AM MST (I'm sorry New Zealand!) and is limited to $100 per person (I call no cheating). Each winner will get a gift code that can be used on SparkFun within 60 days. There might be some slight modifications to the rules as time goes on, but don't fret - we will make any additional rules well-known prior to the big day.

The System: We're doing away with the quiz system of 2011 and trying to return to a give-away system that is as simple as possible, but can handle the load of the Free Day crowd. The system will randomly give away the 2,000 prizes (2000 * $100 = $200,000) through out the day. For example, if we set up a 7 hour giveaway window, we should see a gift given away about every 12 seconds. We will allow people to try for the prize as many times as they'd like, but we will have a basic system to prove you're not a script (sometimes robots can be bad).

So that's it! We hope you'll be able to stop by and join in the madness. Mark your calendars now, but we'll make a few reminder posts between now and the big day. Also, a reminder we'll be closed November 24th and 25th (Thursday and Friday) for Thanksgiving. In the mean time, enjoy the holiday (USA) and we hope you find some free time to start project #23 of your long list. Remember to join us on the 11th of January as well. No matter how the day goes it's always a lot of fun!


Comments 198 comments

  • How I feel about this time of year.

  • Vid Stream from SFE IT rooms during the day :)

  • please dont hate me but…

    It’s free-day! free-day! gettin' free-stuff of free-day!

    That is all. Good day. :)

    • Spark-Fun, Fun, Fun…. Which Gift Can I Take?

    • (slightly slow rap tempo, something like 110 bpm) Yo, it’s after Free-day, I’m sittin' in a tree and m'mind’s in a fray Yo, it’s after Free-day, and I got stuff without havin' to pay

      Chorus: Free-day is awesome, it gives the kids a chance, when-they-don’t have much money and they need some NPNs. Free-day is awesome, it indirectly gives some education, and now - let’s - all - do a big - freakin' dance.

    • No haters here!

  • Will you be accepting analog entries? I plan on standing outside the building and raising my hand every twelve seconds. Here’s hoping!

  • Too bad I can’t commandeer my work’s cluster…

  • There is some real entertainment value here. The build up, the scramble during the event, the post event cleanup and stats, the fire trucks standing by in the parking lot to douse the servers, EMTs ready when the poor IT guys succumb to the pressure. Customers staying home from work, giving up sleep, generally obsessed with getting a slice of the action.

    Get Discovery Channel to make an episode around this - it would be as entertaining as Deadliest Catch, American Chopper, Cake Boss, etc. There is drama, there is excitement,there are winners and non-winners, there is a wholesome message about a very cool company making a real impact in the community it serves and lots of blinky lights and push buttons!.

    • Deadliest catch, Axe Men, all that kind of crud is silly IMO. It’s for people too lazy to do anything thrilling themselves. Just my 2 cents.

  • we are all engineers here, why not let the best script/bot win? just limit it to 1 per person

    • Because then everyone who has Linux and knows how to use Wget o/e would win. Actually… good idea!! :-)

      • Also because it’s not to hard to make one. Under Windows you could use AutoHotkey, and I’m sure there is something for Mac to.

        • I’m not saying let the best F5 bot win. Just one simple “claim your prize” button will throw off 99% of those bots. It’ll be funny to make it a challenge to get pass that one button though.

          How is your bot going to know you’ve won? search the HTML for “you’re a winner”? What if there are no valid keywords to search for? What if SparkFun throws in a random “sorry you are not a winner” once in a while?

          I encourage everybody to try making a bot! It’s harder than it sounds! We need one winner to tell the script kiddies what the winning page looks like though, so after that, it’ll be a time limited challenge to write the script.

          • Hmm… scrape from ec2 instances, push jobs through mechanical turk for humanity check, pay out at 1,000:0.10 USD… win? Better check the turn-around on HIT’s and start making your accounts now. ;)

            I’m just gunna try the old fashioned way… cross my fingers and hold my breath. It could work.

          • And for an even bigger challenge, on the “You’re not a winner” page there could also be a “Not claim your prize!” button. That would really throw ‘em off. ;)

        • I seriously doubt any kind of keyboard violence can beat a good old fashioned fork-of-death.

  • YYYEEAAAAHHHH, I am so stoked! this will be my first Free Day and it’s gonna be Freakin Awesome!

  • Dunno about anyone else, but ‘Something Broke’ a while ago. At least it’s fixed now. FRIDAY NEW PRODUCTS!!! P.S: I got an error with post.json or whatever 1st attempt… ???

    • Hey Yeah where the heck is the Friday Product Post, Rob?!?!

    • sorry, I thought the post mentioned it! we’ll have one next week, and it will be long because we have a lot of new stuff. sorry about that, I thought the post mentioned it.

  • FREE DAY!!!! Wait no op out loyal customer option this year? :weaksauce:

  • It costs 200,000$ to please SFE customers, for 12 seconds… :P http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY5qJHZCz2I

  • Wait, how does this work again? We just click on something on the server over and over again until we win?

    Are you sure you want to do that to your server? Your IT guys are probably ordering extra sandbags right now.

    • Our SysAdmin room will be bricked off from the rest of the world and have a dedicated supply of espresso and other highly caffeinated staples.

    • It’s kinda like those sites that say “you’re the 1,000,000th visitor, you won a gift card”, but it’s for the reals.

      • All righty then! So basically, people are going to be chain-reloading the page all day.

        What could go wrong? Just slap a red shirt on that server and send it in there!

        • yep! the whole point of free day was the stress-test the servers. we need to have one year where they just take the traffic in stride like a boss. until then, we’re gonna keep punishing them.

          • Let’s be clear: one of the points for the first Free Day in January of 2010 (this will be our third Free Day) was to stress test our then new server cluster. The whole point of the event is really to give a lot of money away to our customers to get a jump start on the new year.

            While Free Days tend to be a good stress test of the servers, that hasn’t been the underlying reason for Free Day for some time. It’s more about the customers than it is about the website at its roots.

            • Yep.

              But an added benefit is the warm, pleasant felling you receive afterwards.. which might be caused by some excess heat from the melting servers..

              • This is not lost on our friends from Solarbotics. In 2010 they sent us five floral arrangements - one for each node in the cluster (we have many more now!) and in 2011 they sent us a couple of fire extinguishers.

                Perhaps they’ll send us something creative again this time around. =)

                • At least in 2010 and 2011 there was a hoop to jump through, you either won right away or had to answer some questions… this year you’re essentially begging every geek on both sides of the Atlantic to carpet bomb you with a DOS attack of biblical proportions for 7 solid hours.

                  It’ll be glorious! Wouldn’t miss it! They’ll call it “The day the internet stood still”.

                  • What if you bombed them with a DOS attack using DOS? The Intertubes would burst with the awesomeness!

                  • Yep, well last year I spent 3 hours waiting to get through about 2 questions and got nowhere, all due to server traffic. Never had a hope of winning anything. No hard feelings to SF, they are great for doing this, just was annoying to waste 3 hours and not even get a t-shirt! hint hint - lol. Maybe it was the poor overstressed under-sea cable leading out from Australia with every SF fan in Aus madly clicking away? :|

                    • I spent about the same amount of time and got through to 5 questions. I think part of it is actual closeness to the servers- we are only a couple states away here. But now it should be easier for Aussies and other to get something! :)

                  • DOS is boring. DDOS and XSS Plus a POD [kinda difficult now :-/ ] Is much more fun…

                • How about nonstick cooking spray, so that the servers don’t melt together?

              • That warm, pleasant feeling is global warming due to the SFE servers.

          • just you wait… I plan on stres testing your servers a whole lot…. :) Time to order a faster internet service….

            • You have no idea how happy this makes me… Owning your own server opens up a lot of possibilities, including ‘stress testing’ (Ping Of Death(ing)) other people’s stacks. ha ha.

              • Yeah- I wonder how long mine would stand up to this kind of test if I set it up to be a server. Its only 3ghz and we have a pretty average connection here…

                • Um, the fastest CPU speed I’ve heard of is a 3.6GHz Pentium. Although there ARE 3GHz, 8-core actually no 12-CORE, 64GB RAM, 16TB HD, Gigabit Ethernet, Never-crash, Never-get-a-virus, $15,000 Mac Pros…

                  • how about this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UKN4VMOenNM 8.429 Ghz 8 core is fast

                  • yep, but my iMac G5 (while still virus free) crashes often and it maxes out at 2gb RAM. So sad… and its 2.16Ghz core duo… And ive heard about faster processors… Unfortunately I doubt they are going commercial :) :)

          • It seems like you want to be much ‘meaner’ to them this year than last… So I guess Free Day is never not going to happen!!

          • Yeah, there could be a lot of entertainment value in this. I like it!

        • Do you mean a SFE red shirt or a RedShirt?

          • What do you mean? <a href=“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2R3FvS4xr4”>An African or European red shirt?</a>

          • The Star Trek reference one. The fact that SF happens to have a large collection of red shirts, and a large collection of red boxes for the red shirt wearing servers to try to hide behind is coincidental.

  • Seeing that nobody has brought this up yet I might as well post my idea: As it already is a random giveaway why cant we have a random winner generator that will pick names out of a list of submitted entries. For example, you log in at 9AM MST and fill out a entry form that checks to see if your a human. Once submitted your name goes into a database. Once the database reaches a preset number of entries the giveaway begins. Winners names will randomly be drawn and rewarded $100. People will be able to enter until the full $200,000 is given away. The servers will have a lot less traffic because each person will only be submitting ONE entry. This also gives each person an equal chance of winning.

  • where be the friday new products??

  • Hey, to pass the time in IT, you could build this!

    • I have that picture printed out and framed on the wall, hanging above my work desk. It saddens me though that there is no mention of a magic, more magic switch.

      • Aahahahaha! That is so funny! I’m thinking of adding one to this old Ubuntu server I got for free from SUNY Press (my dad works there)… shouldn’t be too hard. Just an SPST ground-to-case ground deal.

    • I totally have that as my ipod background…

  • Working at a uni with a 70 Mbit internet connection :D

    • I’m pretty sure we’ve got 100 Base-T over here. :D x2!

      EDIT: Oops, 100 Base-T is 100 Kbps. Yeah, your download speed is about 7 times mine D_:

  • New Zealand here, 9 a.m MST should be 5 a.m NZDT.. on the 12th

    Meh, should still be able to get some of the action, as long as I can login a few hours after it starts

    • We wanted to make sure that people across the globe could participate, not just people near our time zone. That’s the biggest reason we made sure that we would be giving prizes throughout the entire 7 hour window, NOT just starting at 9:00 am Mountain Time until the money was gone.

      The 7 hour window begins at 5:00 am in New Zealand, but continues until noon. Because the prizes are given away randomly that means that you DON’T need to log in at 5:00 sharp. Log in when you can in the morning, and as long as you keep proving that you’re not a bot, you continue to be eligible.

      • Cheers Trev, looking forward to it, been on the brink of ordering stuff off you guys several times but gone with a local supplier instead.. definitely be here on the 11th f5ing like a mad man

    • No chance logging in AFTER it starts ;) even doing it 30 minutes in advance is a pain.

  • Aww…Guess I am out of luck this year…I’ll be stuck in an Army training center with a strict no internet/cell phone policy…

  • Fortunately I am very good at scripting. I am sure I can pass your automated Turing test. My scripts know how to say things like, “Dude, I totally am not a script. Like, at all. Pinky promise.” That last “Pinky promise” really drives it home, don’t you think? Using these strategies my scripts have outsmarted anti-script measures of web forums, social sites, banks, governments, interstellar empires - I have pwned them all. (You and your fancy grandma-adhering friends may think “pwn” is not a word: however, I know it to be a word which, in contrast to the traditional “own” implies not the -state- of ownership, but the -transition- to a state of ownership. And by using fancy words like “neologism” I lend it additional credibility. Before you know it even The Scrabble Dictionary will yield. So there!)

    • your prowess at scripting does not prohibit you from double-posting though it seems…

      ;-)

      double post removed.

      • My first attempt at posting was met with an error message. “You must be logged in to post a comment.” or something. Of course I was logged in, or I wouldn’t have had a post form… I had to retrieve the contents of my post from the URL of the error page (a GET instead of a POST for posting the message?) and edit out all the character substitutions with Emacs, then copy/paste it back into the form. I got the error message again, and then, on the third try, the post went through. So, yeah, might have wound up with a double-post there. Sorry.

    • Of course, those of us familiar with Google’s million APIs will be able to make scripts capable of knowing “what the ‘G’ in ‘GPS’ stands for…” pwned. (pwn is a word :-P)

  • It sounds like you will have to type in a captcha every time you reload/try. I hope its not those really hard to read ones. I don’t understand how they are even possible. Also, will we find out the window of time?

    • I hear that. I always get upside down words, greek or latin characters, sub and super scripts, mathematical symbols, just crazy stuff. ReCaptcha hates me.

  • Finally! Been waiting for this since october :) With christmas and this, I might just actually get everything on my wish list!! Tell IT I said good luck- they are gonna need it :)

  • creates Terminal command “press_F5_at_105_hz”

  • The large Sparkfun Collider is warming up !!!! I wonder if it will time travelling possible? Or will it create a black hole and suck all IT electronics out of order…

  • How would one even MAKE an Alot of heatshrink? http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html

    One thing’s for sure, it would be a gruesome beast…

  • This is finally gonna be the year! (Can you tell I’m a leafs fan)

    I don’t think you intended this, but there is going to be a crowd of people trying for most of that “7 hour window”, myself included! Instead of 2 hours of traffic, now you have the whole day! Good luck :)

    • Upgoat for sticking with the Leafs. You guys could teach the average Avs fan a lot about dedication ;)

      We also know this will be another tough time for our servers (and our data center’s connection to the world), but hopefully it won’t be bad. Good luck!

  • I’m afraid I’m rather unimpressed. This just rewards those people that are not at work and have the time to sit and put in captcha’s all day, rather than those that have been Sparkfun customers for quite some time.

  • Free day!

  • I´m not been able to register my chances of winning… can any one help, please ?!

  • GOOD IDEAR!VERY GOOD

  • I’m sure that this is great for workplace productivity to have employees sitting on the sparkfun website all day waiting to try and win free stuff. :)

  • I'v got a gcse the day after this, and I’m going to be sitting on a computer refreshing a page again and again and again instead of revising :D

  • Ok who can hook us up with a web proxy sitting at ASN 13345? That could be worth something :) LOL

  • the servers will crash but its incredibly generous i hope i will benefit. oh and good luck to everyone knowledge is everything and spark fun ignites it.

  • Nice excited ….. Hope to win need a gps for my next project ….. Keep it up sparkers …

  • Any chance you guys can whip up “mobile friendly” version of the Free Day page?

    Just to make life a little bit better for those who can’t be at a computer and want to sneakily participate when their supervisors aren’t watching too close.

  • Just how many.. followers does SparkFun Have now ; What are my chances here? And what should i do on that day to increase my odds?

  • how to enter this giveaway?? what should i do??

  • So, not only are you going to get the normal Free day traffic, but a constant stream of people, on the site itself, continuously submitting for their chance at a prize?…

    I mean, I’m hoping against it, but if we were to start a betting pool, I’d put my money on the servers first becoming sporadically unreachable -5 to -10 minutes in, with the site going down about 20 minutes after that.

  • Wasted almost 5 hours of my life last year with this nonsense. Do it again? No way… My time is worth more than $100 of free stuff if I just happened to get lucky.

    • Count me out too! I know it’s free so you can’t really complain but last year was just irritating and a waste of time. I will mark my calendar to stay away from the Sparkfun web site on free day.

  • “We will allow people to try for the prize as many times as they’d like, but we will have a basic system to prove you’re not a script (sometimes robots can be bad).”

    How about a quiz? >:)

  • what exactly is this and how do you enter? edit: Nevermind, i actually read it.

  • Don’t the employees ever think if it wasn’t for free day, they could all get $1000 bonuses?

  • Question: how “random” are your “random” selections of customers? see http://www.random.org/

  • How to enter this free giveaway??

  • I really like the concept, and appreciate the Spark Fun gives back to its customers. I hate to be negative, but to me this sounds like just another self-inflicted DDOS attack.

    Basically there will be tens-of-thousands of people/bots sitting at home hitting F5 as quickly as they can. Every 12 seconds, one of those will get lucky and drop off the F5 bandwagon, only to get frustrated trying to finish his/her/its order elsewhere in the system.

    Sorry, but I think I’ll pass on wasting my time this year.

  • I really like the concept, and appreciate the Spark Fun gives back to its customers. I hate to be negative, but to me this sounds like just another self-inflicted DDOS attack.

    Basically there will be tens-of-thousands of people/bots sitting at home hitting F5 as quickly as they can. Every 12 seconds, one of those will get lucky and drop off the F5 bandwagon, only to get frustrated trying to finish his/her/its order elsewhere in the system.

    Sorry, but I think I’ll pass on wasting my time this year.

    • No no, the DDOS is actually part of the point. And the credit is usable for 60 days, you don’t have to try to get your order in on the same day.

  • I really liked the quiz or long-time-customer format. I’ll miss it. There really should be something more to this than Ed McMahon style you may be our next winner BS. Come up with a way to allow arduino based bots.

  • I have too much self respect to fall for this stunt for a third time. I find it to be disrespectful to your customers who deserve better than to be treated like rats in a science experiment being lured with a “chance” of having free stuff.

    • I really doubt they think that over in IT. I believe that SFE does it to give back to the community some- its not really an experiment, they are just seeing how much their website can handle. Then they take that data and use it to make a faster, stronger site. So its basically they give away 200,000$ or pay someone else to stress their servers (Actual customers probably provide better actual data) Last year was my first free day. I won 40$. I’m no EE or even anywhere near that. Many people did not receive anything. This year I do not really care if I don’t win anything- its crazy to even think that I can get something. Its just a lottery, either you win or you don’t- and this year they are making it easier to win by not adding questions. Play if you want, if you win you win, and if you don’t, oh well. You cant really complain that much for something that is designed to be free.

    • Plus- I dont think IT considers this a great day at all. On one day, code they have spent MONTHS working on is reduced to so much server glop. Things that they said were unbreakable break, and things that never happen happen often on the fateful free day..

  • FBI and others will wonder why one day each year the internet crashes in various places around the US, and also the wires to other parts of the world. NASA will wonder why the outgoing internet from the ISS goes up. (if SFE doesn’t use dedicated servers): Other users of SFE’s servers will wonder why their website is down for some hours.

    Simply, there will be a lot of people wondering what is going on.

  • building my projects of robotics :D

  • building my projects of robotics :D

  • looking for luck

  • Just you wait- the times of the prize giveaways will be on wikileaks soon… SFE- guard your code!!! :)

  • If you write “alot” you’ve never read Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents. ;D

  • I feel a cold coming cough cough… yeah it’ll a be full blown cold by the 11th of Jan. if my estimations are correct. darn I guess I’ll have to be absent! I can’t go to school and pass around this sickness. All your cpu time are belong to us.

  • Hey, question: So are you required to login to your account first?

    • I’m guessing so (it wouldnt be a bad thing). I recommend going in the night before and logging it, because trying to log in even 4 hours before it starts can be a pain in the butt :)

  • i missed the last 2 years i swear to all that is holy to DIY i will get there this year!

  • 2010 I got to check out and the website crashed on me, Maybe this year I will have better luck :D Also the 60 days gives me more time to decide what I want :D

  • Happy holidays, you guys!

  • jan 11 is my birthday to

  • I’m in New Zealand and last time I waited until 3am or whatever time it was and then couldn’t load the page due to too much traffic and I was SO gutted. If this happens again I will never attempt free day again.

  • I’m sorry New Zealand!

    That’s ok, I managed an all-nighter for the last one, I can do it again!

  • One can never, EVER, have ‘too much’ heat shrink. I’m in. :)

    Any particular reason that this is occurring on Hump Day?

  • Whadayamean sorry New Zealand :) It’ll be the perfect time (5am local), it mean’s I’ll have 3 hours of hitting the site before I have to even start thinking about getting ready to go to work, yippee…

  • amazing!!!

  • wow thats come around quickly! thanks guys! one thing i will say is i did prefer the quiz/take the amount of money depending how long iv'e been a customer for, but thats just my opinion,

    Dave

  • I am planning to go to a place with Gigabit Ethernet on FD. Not sure where one of those places is though…

  • now say i have alot of computers at my disposal all from seperate nodes or the system, and i have all the computers refreshing (by a help of a few friends) on my account? or am i stuck with one computer at one time?

    also its just lottery if you happen to be the right ip on the list it will redirect you (i would love to know how it works in more detail… even after the day)

  • Sooo… How many sparkfun members are there?(to do the math for the odds)

    • Presently we’re approaching 270,000 customers all-time. If history is any guide than that number will spike in the coming weeks as Free Day III nears.

      • Snot worth pounding your servers. The odds are about 1/135, but most likely all 270,000 customers don’t have 7 hours to spend on the endeavor, so perhaps it’s closer to 1/100 or even 1/10. It was more fun when the chances of winning even just a few bucks was significant and there was some sort of a challenge involved.

        • I disagree, I prefer this new system. I could answer all the tech Q’s last time, no challenge at all, but even with my good fast net connection, I won nothing due to server overload. This time I may have some sort of chance. The one thing I would change - and perhaps SF should consider this - is to have random values also, so somebody could win say a minimum $20 code, somebody else a $50, $75, etc. somebody a $100 and perhaps even a random giveaway like a T-Shirt or a small popular board/book, etc. That would make it a bit more interesting and would actually ensure that more people got something rather than 2000 people getting exactly $100 code.

  • I just hope this time my internet conection can be up to the task, beacuse I allways lose free days cuz my conection sucks

    • We hope OUR connection holds up. Also, I hope people realize that we’re essentially giving away 2,000 gift vouchers potentially spread among a few hundred thousand people. Once again, this is essentially a lottery - just one that gives much better odds than most!

  • YEAH!!!!! I’m a high school student, I have a free block at that time!!!!!! YEAH!!!! THATS HOW SPARKFUN ROLLS!!!

    • I didn’t realise I’d be at school until I saw this this. Thanks for ruining any hope of winning I had :L

      • homeschool FTW! you can always play hooky… ;)

      • We’re giving away prizes randomly for an entire 7 hour block of time, trying to let everyone who wants to participate. There’s no advantage to participating for an hour at the beginning versus the end of that block. If you have a lunch break, or a study hour during the 7 hours, that might be a good time to log in and try to win.

      • Try it with your phone… no wait bad idea. :) hmmm… maybe write a little script to do it “while u wait”? All it would have to do is refresh. EDIT: oh, and read a CAPTCHA, and figure out if it was the winner so it could claim the prize, and actually click the button. :/

        • That would be quite a fun little script to do, but iv been saved by the Earth being round :L Idiot that i am, i forgot that theres a time difference between the UK and America :L oops.. But alls well that ends well, and I’ll get a good few hours manually refreshing the page :)

    • …I am very disappointed.

  • Wait, so is there anything i can do to win stuff? or are you just going to randomly select me for some random item (cause I have an alot of heat shrink already)?

    • You’ll receive a $100 credit to use toward any number of items on SparkFun.com, and giveaways will be awarded randomly to those trying for it throughout the day.

      • I hope the giveaways will at least be a choice amongst, say, at least three products of equal value. Nothing more useless than something we won’t use even if it’s free.

    • We’re giving away 2,000 $100 SparkFun credits - if you win, you can use it to buy whatever you want. Maybe a lot of heat shrink…maybe a bunch of mini push buttons…whatever!

  • This is exciting.

  • Jo jouit! Et il jouira d'autant plus ce 11 janvier!


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