Free Day 2012 is Under Way!


Free Day 2012 is upon us! The event has begun and now is the time to try for your $100 share of $200,000!

Aside from participating in the game itself here are some other ways to stay connected:

  • Hop on the official SparkFun IRC channel. In the past this channel has ballooned to over a thousand users!
     
  • Check out the live stream of the SparkFun IT Den. This is also where you can see the Geiger counter itself that's randomly selecting winners.
     
  • Follow SparkFun on Twitter.
     
  • Hang out here, on the SparkFun home page, and post comments as the day wears on.

Good luck, everyone!

Update from Brennen: As Mentioned on IRC, since we didn't get around to coming up with anything for users of text-only browsers like Lynx, w3m, elinks, et al., IT will be running a side contest with a handful of prizes. If you snailmail us a screenshot, photograph, printout, or related proof of today's SparkFun home page loaded on your terminal of choice, postmarked before the 20th, we'll choose one on the basis of creativity and draw a couple more at random. Prizes to be determined. Please include your customer ID or the e-mail address of your SparkFun user account. Snailmail to:

Dept. of Hack
SparkFun Electronics
6175 Longbow Drive
Suite 200
Boulder, CO 80301

Update the second: It's a bit more radioactive out than we expected this afternoon. At current rates it looks like we may finish up well before 16:00.

 

Update the third: That's that.  Thanks for participating, all. We'll post a follow-up before long.


Comments 1126 comments

  • I’m billing Sparkfun for the brain damage from these horrible Captchas.. Not worth $100 for the headache and time I’m wasting. It sure feels like someone walking up to a group of people and scattering a bag of pennies around them. Come up with a better idea next year, because this one sucks.

    • Wow, you’re getting free stuff and all you can do is whine about “Waaaah this sucks”. Seriously, if you don’t want to do this then don’t. It’s not sparkfun’s problem if you feel you’re entitled to get free stuff your way.

      • I feel exactly the same. It aggravates me so much when people complain about FREE THINGS.

        • For every $1 their “Free Days” have ever given me, I’ve given them $51.

          If you think they’re losing money by having this day, you’re nuts.

          They are, however, losing customers after this “Free day.”

          NOTHING is free.

          • That’s OK I will still be a customer :)

            • As will I and nearly everyone else who is a current customer, not to mention all the new customers brought in by this brilliant promotion. The only customers sparkfun will be losing are the ridiculously unappreciative ones who are boohooing over not winning a contest that was free to play. They should remember… MOST people who play did not win. Such is the nature of a randomized drawing.

          • Yeah, totally losing customers. After 4'ish hours and some random 15 min hits afterward and not a thing… crapload of horrible captchas that I kept failing… retrospect, complete waste of time. Get things cheaper elsewhere anyways.

          • For every $1 their “Free Days” have ever given me, I’ve given them $51. If you think they’re losing money by having this day, you’re nuts.

            You do realize that Sparkfun is losing a lot of money initially with this (this year it’s nearly $200k) event but it is a long term investment as an incentive for customers and as a way to thank them for business (it’s a P.R. event) You have to understand that if Sparkfun gives you $100 dollars (which means in your example above you give them $5,100…I think not sir) and lets say you spend $200, unless Sparkfun makes at least 50% profit on all of their products, they will still lose money. They are, however, investing in you with the idea that you will want to continue to purchase from them which eventually earn back the money they had to invest.

            NOTHING is free.

            As for that, you are absolutely correct, nothing is the only thing free. And guess what, if you just now figured that out and are older than 8, I will pray for you.

            • Sparkfun made 18.4 Million dollars in sales in 2010. (and it increases by 50% almost every year). I don’t think they are hurting anytime fast…

          • That’s OK. For every $1 their free days have given me, I’ve given them 13.5¢.

      • Your argument would apply if Jerry actually GOT the free stuff.

      • I’d like to point this out to everyone who is saying we are “complaining about free stuff.” Technically you’re not getting free stuff if you don’t win. I tried the entire time and got nothing. Plus I don’t think that any of us are complaining about the $100, just the method in which it was distributed. I love Sparkfun, they have really helped me out in my job. Keep up the good work. Next year try something completely different from the previous years for free day. And remember you’re only going to make 2000 people happy. Just try to make it a different 1999 + me next year.

      • It’s not sparkfun’s problem if you feel you’re entitled to get free stuff your way.

        You’re right, of course, but that’s not necessarily what’s happening with most people.

        People feel entitled not to free stuff - but to a fair shot at the coupon. The only reason someone will be upset is because they don’t feel like they got what they were entitled to.

        They feel entitled because entitlement is a normal result of getting invested in something. When someone has marked off their calendar, set up reminders, perhaps reg’d an account, Free Day hasn’t started yet and they will already be invested and as a result (quite normally and naturally) feel some amount of entitlement.

        Now MOST of us will feel entitled to nothing more than getting a fair shot at a coupon. But if those people are also feeling upset, then it’s because the captcha process felt less like a fair shot at a coupon, and more like you marked your calendar and lined up just to wind up running on a treadmill for an hour or two (or more!) while nothing seemed to really happen until you were plain worn out.

        In other words, you felt entitled to a fair shot at a coupon but don’t feel like that’s what you got. You can as result reasonably feel cheesed at the Free Day process while not actually being some whiny spoiled child.

    • “Come up with a better idea next year, because this one sucks.”

      Oh! I have an idea! Have a quiz, where you answer useful questions about interesting topics in a 10-question quiz; $10/correct answer! That would be a great idea!

      baum

      • That is such a great idea. If only SparkFun would try it. I’m sure it would help improve everyone’s understanding of electronic principles, as opposed to this… waste of time.

        • Isn’t that what they did last year?

          • Yup. And the servers went down anyway. I’ve been trying for 3 years, using my lunch periods (I’m in high school). I’m not complaining about not getting free stuff (though I wanted it), this wasn’t the best idea they’ve ever had.

            • Servers going down is something to expect on a Stress test.

              • …and that makes it fun, seeing the 503, etc. errors. Mindlessly answering CAPTCHAs on a snappy website isn’t AT ALL fun.

      • I agree! I won, which makes me happy. It took me 4 hours and hundreds of captchas. I told myself to stop, but the idea of wining didn’t let me.

        If they do something like this next year, i vow to just to spend the time in developing a way to break these captchas…it’s probably better investment of my 4 hours.

    • I totally agree. You can hardly make out half of them, and just as many have symbols I don’t even have on my keyboard. Along with some words I’ve seen upside down and backwards.

      • I swear one of mine was a Triceratops head.

        • I have been on here since the event started and i just finally won. I swear no captcha will ever surprise me again.

          • I have been here since it started and got nothing yet!! For the love of God, a GEIGER!!…

          • Same here. I started thinking perhaps it’s not a test of their system but perhaps of the Captcha software. I don’t like the captcha’s, but I like the idea of a random contest (and this is one way to keep clever people from gaming the system). Thanks sparkfun! For all the whiners out there, get a grip. And remember: use the force to “will” that alpha particle thru the window.

          • With these captchas you really only need to type in the one word that doesn’t look like it came from OCR. You can enter anything for the other word.

            I wouldn’t recommend that as general practice, but when you have accents and other stuff, it certainly helps.

            Like this one: http://yfrog.com/ki15j1j

            • Here is why you can skip it. ReCaptcha are designed to make sure you’re not a robot and digitize books.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ht4qiDRZE8

              • I know that. That’s why I said it’s not something I recommend as general practice. Did you see the image I linked to?

        • Lol. One of mine was an abstract arrangement of grey and black rectangles. =)

          • I got multiple that were either Hebrew or some Arabic dialect! I was really starting to wonder if the system was out to get me!! lol I thought it was pretty fun overall!!

          • hah i got a group of hieroglyphics and the y from the disney logo, a few hundred tries later i got Chinese characters :\

      • By the way, the normal words(the ones that are easily made out) are optional. You don’t have to spell them correctly, just put anything in its place. The only word you need to worry about is the skewed one which never had numbers or symbols in it. All captchas are like this and it allows you to enter them quickly and with less hassle or headache.

      • the secret to recaptcha is that only one word actually needs to be entered correctly. The words that had the black blobs on them were the “known” words that the program uses to judge. The other word/symbol is the “unknown” word that was scanned from a book/paper/etc. You can enter anything you want in these unknown words. I was usually hitting the first letter or 2 for most of them. The particular recaptcha they used here on sparkfun needed at least 1 random character in the unknown word, some recaptchas don’t need any.

      • You don’t have to type it perfectly.

    • I tried another batch, but then it became obvious how ridiculous this entire thing is. Congrats to the people who won, but I’m getting off of this nauseating, insulting ride.

      • “ridiculous”? “nauseating”? “insulting”? Seriously? They are giving away $200,000 and you are complaining? If solving a few captchas isn’t worth $100 to you, then don’t bother.

        The ReCaptcha system that they are using is a free Captcha service provided by google which is used to crowd-source OCR for digitizing books. Sure, some of the scanned words contain math symbols or were scanned poorly, but in that case you can just click the little “refresh” icon in the ReCaptcha box and get a new image almost instantly.

        • A few is fine. And my hat’s off to Sparkfun for their free day. It’s a great idea. I truly appreciate it. Even got $100 one year. But this year’s approach is the worst yet. Entering thousands of captcha’s, on average to win $100? If it’s worth your time, go for it and I feel sorry for you.

          PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, Sparkfun, come up with a better approach next year.

          • I think I must have solved well over six thousand captchas, four hours, and nothing. :( I love the Free Day concept, I love that I won some money the past two Free Days, but this was an exercise in torture, severe eye strain, and a very negative experience in my otherwise positive interactions with Sparkfun. :/

        • They probably care more about turning new visits from $200k promo day into buyers. That requires a bit more effort than just throwing money away with an insanely annoying system.

        • A few??? entered about 10,000 and still absolutely nothing. This is my first year and I would love nothing more to recieve $100!!! please make a better idea

        • These guys are honestly complaining? As if they deserve the $100 for visiting the site?

          Your life’s are a joke. It’s a free day, get over yourselves.

          • Let me guess… You won. People are complaining about the method to the madness, captchas are not fun. They are simply suggesting alternatives that would make the expirience more enjoyable, not complaining about getting money.

        • …or just hit enter, have Sparkfun tell you that you entered it incorrectly, and try again. Then there is no need to leave the keyboard for the mouse, and you can do more captchas!

      • Yeah, how dare they give out free stuff!

      • Captchas do suck, but I will totally spend more time debugging my new robot!!!

        • Teach your robot to do the captchas !) Actually last years contest (electronics questions) would have been a lot more fun than the captchas, if only the servers weren’t in total meltdown. I was disappointed last year, not because of anything bad about Sparkfun, it was just that the servers were overwhelmed x100,000,000! and so it wasn’t as fun as it otherwise would have been (Electronics questions fun? I must be in the company of other geeks) The concept last year was far more interesting than the captchas, but not when it took 3 hours to answer 2 questions. Just so it’s clear, I’m not saying anything negative about SF or the contest, it’s a great idea and it gets all the SF followers buzzing, I just hope it will grow and some new fun ideas will come up for how to run the contest in future and hopefully the servers don’t melt and the poor IT guys don’t have a nervous breakdown!

          • I agree with you. I did not like the captcha thing at all. Hopefully they will come up with a better idea for next year.

    • I’ve got repetitive strain injury as well as brain damage off of that capcha system

    • Love the geiger counter system, but not a fan of the Captcha… you really can only read a few of them.

      • i passed the entire day trying, i probably typed 5000 captchas and didn’t win nothing. if the goal of that is bring new people for sparkfun, failed.

        • Actually, after last year’s free day was when I started being a Sparkfun customer, even though I didn’t win anything. Sparkfun is an awesome company and I am thrilled to support them. They don’t make me fill out captchas, I do it because I want to!

          • pretty sad when the employees are on here trying to act like they are just ordinary people on here who like the service of this company.

            • Yeah, compare SparkFun pricing to any other source… markups here are nuts.

            • I spent a grand total of about 45 minutes typing captchas, then I won. I do feel bad for the people who spent hours trying and did not get anything. I do not feel bad for the people who spent hours trying to win and then complained about a company giving away free money.

              P.S. Not an employee. Just a college student.

            • Am I going to have to paste a picture of Saint Dogbert on your comment?!

        • Well if you didn’t win nothing you should be happy! :-)

    • Terrible, 100$ giveaway that requires you to give yourself a headache and RSI just to get a bunch of overpriced junk. I hope someone sues.

      • SHUT UP! You guys are being silly whiners and forgetting that IT’S FREAKING FREE! IF YOU DON’T GET $100 WORTH OF STUFF, THEN IT’S NOT LIKE YOU ARE LOSING ANY MONEY!

        • You’re right, we’re just losing 6 hours of our life to typing captchas.

          Meanwhile, other people got them in 3 minutes.

          Next time, do a drawing that doesn’t involve wasting large amounts of time. Not like it matters, though, because Sparkfun lost me and I’m sure many others as future customers. This is not the way to drum up a customer base.

          • So you won’t shop at sparkfun because you didn’t like their contest of giving away free money? Good lord.

            • Yes. I won’t shop at Sparkfun because their idea of getting me as a customer was to have me enter captchas for 5 hours in hopes of winning $100.

              This is AWFUL business. The fact that they’re giving away something for free doesn’t make it any better business. I’m sorry that you and society in general think that giving away something for free excuses them from criticism, but that’s not how business works. That’s EXACTLY why I will not be doing business with them in the future.

              • Littlegator - member since: jan 11 2012.

                you will be missed.

              • Well perhaps rather than giving them the flick, you could come up with some better (and practical) ideas on how it could be improved? I didn’t win last year, I didn’t win this year, I was a little annoyed because I spent the time, but it was my darn decision to try, so who should I blame? I understand you think it was a waste of time, it was a waste of time for me, but I did it and I take responsibility for it - I could have not played, I knew all along it was only $100 and only a very small chance at that. I’ve offered up a few suggestions rather than walking away from SF, perhaps you could think of a few positive things to make it better next year? Oh and no I have no affiliation with SF whatsoever, I’m on the other side of the globe to them.

                Oh and though it was a frustrating waste of time and I won nothing, I bet next year I’ll be back here and playing again (though I’m making a booking with my therapist if they run those captchas again!)

              • It’s not about getting you as a customer.. It’s about (1) THANKING the customers by giving them a chance to get somethign free, and (2) stress-test their website so that they can test their own systems.

                I won nothing this time, and although I think the Capcha crap sucked, all it means is that I can finally make that order I’ve been waiting to see if I was going to win for free.. I guess I have to use my own money this time! :-)

            • Nothing is free… The 200k came from their loyal customers and having a free handout (even to those who have never bought anything from them) feels like betrayal. I’m not complaining about not winning, but I am complaining about this irritating captcha crap.. Bring back last years system!

          • Its not like you didn’t understand how the game worked before you played.

            Would you not shop at a store that sold you a losing scratch ticket because you lost $5 on your gamble?

            You took a gamble today. If you didn’t think there was a good chance you’d waste 6 hours trying for one of 2000 prizes then, sir, your quite the idiot. Always someone else who’s at fault tho, right? I think you should blame the condom as it would have saved you from having to deal with such a frustrating world to begin with.

            • Not quite a perfect analogy.. actually, the analogy should be that he would get mad at a store after standing in line to get a FREE scratch off ticket that ended up losing.. However, not mad enough not to stand in line again, and again, and again until the last prize was won, and then it’s time to complain that you stood in line for nothing. :-)

              • Yet again, not a perfect analogy… (Not saying that this one is…) You didn’t stay in line for the scratch off ticket. Everyone got a front row seat, and new tickets were handed out constantly to those who had scratched theirs and didn’t win.

                Still got me a headache though… :P

            • No, I honestly did not expect it to take 6 hours for one of thousands of entries to line up with a geiger counter, especially considering how often it activated on the live stream.

              I figured the odds would be low. I figured I might be at it for a couple hours. I didn’t figure it would be THIS bad.

              Also, enjoy the ban. :)

              • so you figured the odds were low but that you’d somehow only spend a couple hours and win. I know probability and statistics is a difficult subject for some but man, that statement doesn’t pass the sanity check.

              • ??? What ban?

          • Whatevs… if you feel that way, I don’t care.

        • TIME IS MONEY

    • This was the lamest promotion that I’ve ever seen, complete waste of time.

      Since you have some of the most creative and technical individuals as your customers, don’t alienate them with such a mindless, tedious task (we like to automate). Why not engage your audience with a task of some sort. Perhaps a puzzle of some sort, surely you can do better than this!

    • +1

      • +2

        Way too much tedium for no reward.

        • Completely agree. I understand that there’s no guarantee and they’re giving away quite a bit… but this $$ is also probably spread out amongst their IT and Marketing budgets - we ARE helping them test their whole organization. I KNOW I’ve put in 2 hours of frequent attempts and gotten nowhere, so I’m feeling a little stupid for allowing myself to time suck that much. I think it’s $200k well spent, I just got no part of it. I would have liked becoming a first time customer in this way, now I’m kinda turned off.

          • Surely somebody at Sparkfun must have realised how messed up this promotion was going to be. So 2000 winners will be spending $200,000 of Sparkfun’s money, while many more are left feeling like they were punished just for participating. Major FAIL guys. Particularly when there are cheaper places to buy most of the same products.

            • Major FAIL? They’re giving away a bunch of free stuff! If you don’t feel like it’s worth your time entering captchas for the chance at $100, then it’s YOUR CHOICE not to do it. No-one’s twisting your arm. Sheesh, with the whiners that are posting here I think Sparkfun’s most logical decision would be to scrap Free Day altogether. And who wins in that scenario? Luckily I suspect that there are many more people who are smart enough to see the goodness in Free Day, and who can accept not winning (or choose not to participate) without the need to complain about it.

              • choice? CHOICE? speak for yourself! Nate came to my house and is holding me at gun point, forcing me to enter capchas till my fingers bleed! I bet many of the people here complaining are also being held hostage by SF employees and forced to type for hours on end! Wait, no, they’re just mad about not getting free stuff. I wonder how many of them spend hours grinding for XP in some mmo? Freeday = typing skills level up.

              • Yes, major FAIL.

                This year’s contest totally alienated people that have actual shit to do - like making sure OUR infrastructure stays up, and in general just doing our job.

                For the people that get to stay home typing captchas all day, or those who explicitly took off work to participate, there was a chance of getting /something/.

                For everyone else that works to pay their yearly what-once-was-sparkfun budget, there was NO chance.

                Sparkfun might’ve taken the time to think of their own IT staff, but sure as hell didn’t think of anyone else’s.

              • I wish that I could +5 that.

              • What’s clear to me is that you have absolutely no understanding of what so many people are complaining about. Nobody is complaining about not winning. We’re only talking about $100 here. They’re complaining about having to spend hours grinding through captcha’s just to participate. Why not reward people for doing something constructive instead? And as for the load testing. Heavy traffic on one page won’t tell you anything useful about the rest of the website.

            • . I suggested that they randomise the prizes, perhaps vouchers of $20, $40, $60, $80 and $100, that way a lot more people could win something. I think if say 10,000 people had won something, even $20, it would have made a lot more people happier than 2000 winning $100. I don’t agree that it’s a major fail, I still love the concept, I just think that allowing more people to win, even if a smaller individual amount, would have been better - Likely better for their bottom line too. If you win $20, chances are you’d go and buy a few extra goods when you claimed your prize voucher - maybe not everybody, but I think most would. With more people having prizes, more would order something extra while they were at it and overall profit and return on free day would increase (and let’s face it, they are a business and have to make money at the end of the day) So well done for doing free day, hopefully it can be tweaked a bit better each year so it’s more fun for us and more returned profit for SF.

              Oh and a nice touch would be the option of ‘purchasing’ Charity donations with your freeday voucher - so if you won $50, you had the option of donating it to one of a few selected worthwhile charities (like my retirement fund for instance ;)

              How about it Sparkfun? even if only a small number of people took up that option, it would help out worthwhile charities.

              . edit - Oh and how about a few odd runner-up type prizes, an SF T-Shirt, an SF Poster, Hacker Passport, or the ultimate Geek prize - an SF pocket protector and a red SF dust coat, gotta have one of them!. Heck I’d be happy with a red SF box! (especially if it had a T, poster, Poc Prot and dustcoat inside ;)

              .

    • I did not win but it cost me nothing either.

      It was fun…..

      • ya i didn’t either but it was fun. at least we got the chance. maybe next year. some people don’t understand that $100 is not worth 5 hours of your time. but at least they gave us the opportunity to try. i entered about a hundred threw out the day. =) thanks sparkfun

    • The captcha system was the worst idea ever! What they thought when they did that? I waste 5 hours and I didn’t win -.- but some people did it just 3 times and they won. Do you think that is right? Next time maybe you can create something that if the people is online since 2 hours.. maybe you can give to him.

      • Cry some more. Did anyone make you, under threat of force, continue typing captchas? Didn’t think so. Don’t whine about not winning free stuff.

    • Its not like you can buy anything really neat for $100 at sparkfun anyway.

      • Their new auto-ranging multimeter is only $59.99. Sure, it’s slightly overpriced, but I’m not paying for it, so I’m happy. Also, a very nice Hakko (oops, did I just say that?) soldering station is $40. Xbee modules are as low as $23, Serial, 4-digit 7-seg displays are $13… shall I go on?

    • It was frustrating, but thrilling :-D i cant believe the People’s comments here!!!! U cant expect to win, it is a random contest, some Got it after, 3 minuts , some after 3 hours, some dident get it at All, i Got mine after almost 5 hours, and i Can get some things now i dident afford, but it is a contest, it is not about winning or losing, but being a part of it :-)

    • Too bad i can only up-vote this once! One word: Frustration.

    • agreed ….this is stupid

    • The idea this year wasn’t great, I sat there for 6 hours and got nothing, but that’s just the risk you are willing to take.

      But it’s only their 3rd try, it’s not like they’ve had 50 years experience in making really good free day competitions!

      I liked the quiz last year but a bit sad that it was hard to get to.

      Here’s my idea: A Captcha-fest first, then if you get through that, you enter the quiz. $10 per question x10 but it’s TIMED at a minute or two for each question… so no time to be lame and search google, if you answer a question correctly you get the money, if you answer wrong or time out, you get nothing and it goes to the next question. At the end you get the money you got right, the rest stays in the pool. Most likely make it so the quiz is only enterable once, too.

      Captcha would reduce load on the servers and the following timed Quiz would make it require skill and actual thought, and a reason to make people learn things ;)

    • Someone win, most lose (me too). Partecipate or not partecipate is a free choice, so nothing can be added to this sentence. But I’m agree with you: captchas is not a good idea.I would be happier without it, also with the same result.

    • How do people become this ungrateful? Sparkfun isn’t in charge of determining how valuable your time is. If Free Day ended with you feeling like you spent eight hours on a hamster wheel, it’s your own fault.

      I tried maybe 150 or so attempts, and then stopped. I didn’t win anything, but I’m definitely not bitter about it.

    • It would suck less if you knew the secret on how a captcha worked and found out that you might be putting more characters and time in it than is needed. never type words with numbers,puctuation, or roman numerals. also dot type it unless the word is curvy and never type a real word the captcha does not recognize andthing but the curvy word that actually is not a word. just put and alphanumeric character in the place of the non recognized “words”.

    • agreed

    • Wah wah wah! I bought twenty dollars worth of lottery tickets and didn’t win a million dollars! The lottery system is stupid! They need to come up with a better system for the lottery so I win. Wah wah wah!

      • The point is that it wastes little time buying a lottery ticket. We all have loyalty to suppliers with good service but sparkfun is proud to be a profit making company.

        Some of us, not you by the looks of things, also invest our spare time in providing free software to the open source community so time becomes even more precious. This is what open source means to myself and others.

        I suggest that your loyalty would be better directed to the busy community.

        Arduino for Visual Studio

    • Blah. What a pain it was.

    • I know this has been said before, but I feel like I should repeat it. Not everybody can win. Some were lucky enough to win the $100 prize. Others were not so lucky. You should have weighed the risks and benefits of participating in freeday before doing so. Using simple statistics, you could have calculated your approximate chances of winning the prize per hour and based a decision on those chances.

      • exactly. I logged it with the idea that I would have about as much chance of winning as a phart in a hurricane, so I’m not mad.

    • Some people hired Chinese gold farmers to do it for them. Take your anger out on them for unfairly decreasing your chances of winning. Taking you anger out on Sparkfun is unfair to the company.

    • Ugh.. yes.. Although I thank Sparkfun for the opportunity, and happily won money last year, I have to say that the way that they gave it away this time wasn’t up to the spark'FUN' standards we came to expect last year. I’m not bitter about not winning anything, but if I’d have not won money last year, I’d have felt more as if at least I learned something with the cool electronics quiz.. The only thing I’d add to your “handful of pennies” analogy is that I feel that the pennies were glued to the ground.. :-)

    • Ya, and those written in Greek or Japanese or math symbols are dirty pool. How the hell do you type those in on a US keyboard?

      Also the contest just reached $200,000 without shutting down the site. Guess the server hung in a loop.

      • Know your keyboard. Did you ever check those symbols before? Those can come up at other forum sites too, and of course you could refresh to get a new word.

    • you only have to type the parts of the captcha that have a change in background from white to black – the easier to read half can take any string. this is because it is being used, as a side effect, to ocr difficult texts. of course, typing random crap for the ocr half will tend to screw that effort up.

  • Most boring free day ever. Seriously.

  • this system is totally wacky-tobaccy. what’s the purpose of typing captcha 1000 times? why you can’t just type it in ONE time, and then get in the contest pool, from where a random winner will be drawn each 12 seconds. Totally stupid.

    • Though I don’t share your anger (hey, its free), I do think that having a system that allows for the user to do a bunch of tedious work with the possibility of no reward is guaranteed to annoy them. In much the same way that the first free day annoyed people because they refreshed a million times and got all they way to the end of the checkout page, and then it crashed on them, users don’t like to be teased.

      At least last year, the “work” required was easy, and by the time you were doing it, you were already in, so no one did any work unnecessarily.

      A way of lettings users say “Hey, count me in” followed by a random drawing wouldn’t be bad. I also like the idea of just picking past clients. Haven’t ordered from Sparkfun before? Announce it two months in advance and encourage them to be new customers before free day! Give them an uber-cheap option like a $1 sticker or something, just to get them interested if they don’t want to spend more.

      • I should add, I’m not saying “I think this is upsetting”, I’m saying “I think this grinds against human nature.”

        Even when you’re giving away free stuff, its totally possible to do it in such a way that even reasonable people will be annoyed.

      • Very well said.

    • +1

    • Excellent idea!!!

  • Come on people, show some appreciation and respect. Most companies wouldn’t even offer something like this. Sparkfun is giving back $200,000 dollars of their profits to their customer base. In this day and age that’s a very rare thing. Sparkfun has proven many times that they respect and care about their customers and they deserve respect instead of bitching about how you didn’t get something for free that they didn’t even have to offer in the first place.

    • I think is kind of hard to have respect for a company that does this… what If a lot of this money is actually coming from google?? and this year the free day is not to give away money at all but to test some other system?? (the past years they didn’t just give money away but they where testing their servers…) For me I don’t see anything of “free” in this freeday

      • Why on earth would Google pay us for generating traffic for them? If you can find anybody who will pay me for generating site traffic (not for clicking ads, just generated traffic), I’ll be all ears as I’ll be able to retire and buy my own island somewhere. :)

    • Look the 200k comes from their loyal customers (like me) but to win money you don’t even have to buy anything you just have to create an account, takes only a minute. Sound fair to you? I don’t care about winning, I just wish that A. They go back to the Quiz system(way more fun) and B. that they give back to their true consumer base.

    • It is all about luck then? Right ?

      • nope, it is a geiger counter as the giveaway judge… a geiger counter! you must be too lucky to submit the same time an ionized electron is detected. Sparkfun, I am disappoint.

    • as far as I know anyone can enter…not just their customers.

  • I hate Captcha but I have to thank Sparkfun for doing things like this for us. This company spends more time on their customers than any other I’ve dealt with. You guys and gals rock. Keep up the great work!

  • Thank you sparkfun. I never thought I would win but after 3 hours and several billion crazy captchas I got my promotion code. It was a thrill! :)

    • rageface.

    • me too I would have put several more in and then it caught me by total surprise. Now back to the RTOS that will be driving (Price is right voice) my new robot!!!

      • I had captchas in russian, greek, hebrew, and hindi. not to mention math functions. I like that sparkfun is giving back to the community, as many companies do. But most companies don’t give money back too! 2010 was a mad house because of the novel publicity, this year it was much better (SF wasn’t the #1 google search) and the servers were much better. But 10 seconds after it started they crashed and I was terrified when they got it back up and it said free day was over!

  • Having finally won the prize, I feel rather bad writing this, but I feel that I have to say this.

    Last year I didn’t win a lot of money, but I still had lots of fun doing that. So I can say wholeheartedly that last year’s Free Day was a major success. But this year, despite having won a bigger prize, I must say I’m disappointed. Not because of the money (the money is great! Thanks!), but because entering capctas for 2.5 hours is no fun at all. And SparkFun without the fun is just.. Sparc.

    I’m all for rewarding your loyal customers and load-testing your servers. But if you’re going to do it this way, you might as well just pick some customers randomly, give them the $100, and load-test your servers with a script… I’ve been a loyal SparkFun customer for 15 months now, and this is the first time I’m disappointed with you. I really hope that next year you’ll bring the Fun back into the SparkFun Free Day.

    Anyway, 10x for the prize and keep up the (usually) good work!

    • I totally disagree with you about last year being fun - I spent 3+ hours refreshing a page, getting frustrated when I tried to answer a question only to have the page not load, etc, and ended up with nothing. This year, while it may have been monotonous and boring, at least I was involved. Last year, for me at least, it was monotonous, boring, AND frustrating.

    • I agree with you, wholeheartedly. Last year, I had to brush up on my beginning EE concepts in order to get anything (I think I won like $60, and wasn’t even able to finish the quiz before it ended), but this year was just frustrating. I absolutely appreciate the fact that I did win, however, I still have grievance about HOW I won. One can say it was blind luck. Others would agree with this. And even more would question why I spent a total of 5 ¾ hours trying (Not that every second was wasted on this endeavour, however, I believe my total number of captchas is around the 3-4k range).

      A better system would have been to do the captcha every 5-10 minutes, with each captcha generating a unique ID, and the geiger counter would pick from that specific pool every X seconds. This would allow people minimal effort and simply reward them for participating.

      As far as server stress testing goes, this was no-where near as bad as it had been before. Yes, their systems are now able to handle who-knows how many people, but refreshing a javascript or other web-based applet is muuuuuch easier than 250k people refreshing your main page every half second.

    • Ah, so now you need to report this as income to the IRS, and loose half in taxes…

  • All of you people sicken me. Personally, I enjoyed doing this. I liked it and I ended up winning something. You do realize you’re getting free stuff, and complaining about it, don’t you?

    What a bunch of greedy, self-entitled pricks who I honestly think don’t deserve to get a penny if they’re going to act so ungrateful, whiny and downright spoiled about it.

    • It happens every year. Most of the big complainers just registered yesterday or today. They aren’t loyal customers, just people hoping to get free stuff without effort.

      • Actually Robert, there’s those of us that have been around a couple of years that also think this is a stupid idea. I would have liked the quiz last year if the website had stayed up for more than one question, and didn’t tell me I was wrong when it errored out.

        • The site has been up and usable pretty much all day, and it’s 100% random this time. Not everyone can be happy. Sorry your experience wasn’t what you expected. It’s a random giveaway. As we say every year, no one is guaranteed to win, it’s just a luck of the draw. I’m sure at least one person won within a few minutes, and others quit before winning.

          Of course, the feedback is good and we try to keep all the comments in mind.

          • +1

            personally… i’m like more the system of the last year… i love the quiz system….maybe the next year can do a fusion of the 2011 and 2012 free day system.

            best regards

          • I didn’t quit (~6 hours of captchas)… and i’ve been a customer for a few years. I think most people, like me, are frustrated by the thousands of captchas they entered. I’m not ungrateful.

          • +1 for the gracious reply.

            I, too, have been a SFE customer for a few years now and feel that this may have been handled differently. I honestly thought you guys were trolling, or trying to set a world record for number of captchas entered simultaneously.

            I think what ground my gears the most was the fact that I had no idea about the odds. Last year, we were contending against other users; this year, it was absolutely blind chance that you answer the captcha at the exact moment the Geiger counter procs.

            I wonder if we can implement this sort of system for voting in the US …

          • It was certainly ‘interesting’ to say the least. I’d be interested in seeing the quiz come back, assuming it’s in a form the server can handle ;)

          • Well said and thank you Rob.

      • If you’re gonna bash the new Sparkfun users as “unloyal”, why would you let users who just registered for the sake of Free Day enter the competition??

        If you’re gonna reward “loyal” users, shouldn’t you only let customers who previously purchased stuff enter? This will increase the chances of “loyal” customers getting rewarded.

      • I’ve been around for the third free day, spend thousands of $ in products, (very pleased), never got anything for any free day, so i can objectively say, sorry RobertC, this idea was the worst so far. Do realise that this and all the above comments are relative to other free days. Never forget that Freeday and its concept is AWESOME. Oh well you’ll think of something awesome next year.

        • Yeah, I doubt it will ever be prefect. We learned a lot (as we do every year). We solved the issue of people using scripts, and we kept the site up, but it still wasn’t perfect. It’s an iterative process. Thankfully, it’s completely voluntary, no one is forced to participate. Maybe we’ll try that next year (kidding!)

          But hey, thanks for sticking with us!

      • You really think that? Try reading the comments and having a “little” common sense, this was a stupid idea. I hope you are smarter than this.

      • Then why don’t you require only true customers(those who have made purchases with SparkFun in the past) to participate?

        • Perhaps because not everybody who buys SF products buys them from SF? If I buy something from SF it will cost perhaps $20-$50 in postage and take anywhere from 12-35 days, so in most cases I would more likely go to one of the local places that resells SF stuff. There are people who have probably bought little or nothing at all, but do come here and contribute to the site and the SF community on a regular basis.

          • My point is that allowing people to sign up on free day and steal $100 from the real customers is stupid . But I guess this is just a gimmick to get new customers instead of rewarding the loyal ones. Where do you think that the 200k came from? Their customers. Thanks a lot SparkFun.

            • So how would you propose to keep it to ‘Loyal customers’ if many of those customers are unknown to SF, but are still perfectly valid SF customers?

      • I take offense to this. I have spent hundreds of dollars on this site, though I have never saved a dime with a coupon, discount, or free shipping as I have on just about every single other online retailer I have ever shopped at. Of course people want something or free when its offered, who doesn’t? But I have a better chance of hitting the lottery than winning your free day. You offer a good service with your product lines and tutorials, but I believe your free days have been failures in terms of serving your customers. I also attempted last year, and couldn’t get anywhere with the quiz due to the sluggish servers. And the year before that… Nothing. I get the feeling that Sparkfun enjoys the increased traffic and customer base but does not consider the negative impacts on your loyal customers. To say that “most” registered “yesterday or today” is naive and does you a disservice. You have to consider, with every customer that took the time to write a negative comment with their explained rationale, there are ten or twenty more that felt the same way that didn’t take the time to post. Rather, they decided not to fool with it anymore and take their business elsewhere. Why “luck of the draw”? How does that truly benefit your loyal customers? It benefits 2,000 completely random people, and it benefits Sparkfun’s bottom line from all of the publicity and new customers. So really, it doesn’t hurt you in the long run, but that doesn’t make it “right”.

    • It’s not people being greedy or self-entitled. It was the way that the give-away was handled that rankled a few people. I gave up after a few minutes because it wasn’t worth spending hours to win something. I can’t believe that people would actually spend hours entering captchas. I’m guessing that SparkFun may figured the same thing.

      Since I bet that most people hate entering captchas, for all the reasons presented in these comments, the complaints are borne out of frustration. A simple system that gave you one chance might have been less frustrating.

  • After over a thousand entries I’m giving up. It no longer any fun and some of us have to work for a living (and can’t blindly enter captcha codes ALL DAY).

    Screw this, I’ll just order the stuff I need from Mouser..

    • I’m with you on this one. Stupid contest. Just give everyone $10 off their order today and make the world happy. Instead, you made 2,000 people happy and 200k people VERY angry. I’m done and I’m going to DigiKey.

      • I agree too. I think pololu’s idea of discounting items for everyone was better than yours sparkfun. Sorry to say, but this experience has left a real bad aftertaste to make me wanna buy again from you guys. I know some folks here are gonna say sour grapes. But have they tried entering 600+ captcha’s?

        • I have tried. I haven’t gotten anything. But I have made a LOGICAL DECISION: I might get something for free, and I’ll like it if that happens, but I won’t care if I don’t. So what, right? I got typing practice, at least. I also learned what morons many people are.

      • One of the reasons SparkFun is such a fun place to shop is that they are willing to go out on a limb and try new and weird stuff, even if it will piss some people off.

        Personally, I didn’t think this Free day was too much fun, so only tried a few times, but I keep coming back to SparkFun’s site because there’s always something novel, and a lot of it is appealing.

  • Sorry to say this, but by far, this has been the most boring and lack-lustre Free-Day. Neither “Spark”, nor “Fun”

  • The captchas are just awful, 1) they’re a waste of my time, 2) over half are simply unreadable. I’d much rather log in and say “enter my account into the free day drawing” and then email me if I won. I’ll be happier without my $100 than entering captchas. Worst Free Day Ever

    • 1)your call 2)By my estimate I’m getting about 1 in 10 wrong, so I guess I’m really really lucky the other like %50 of the time…

  • WOW! Now I can finish my Nissan Leaf / OBD project since I don’t have to beg the wife for the funds. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  • Won’t do this anymore, not worth it.

  • A hearty THANK YOU! to the awesome folks at Sparkfun for a delightful prize that will help me work on the wife’s geek credentials.

  • I have been doing captchas for nearly 3 hours straight and probably surpassed 1000 entries with no luck. I am starting to ache and about to give up. I should have known that I wouldn’t get anything because this freeday any moron can do a captcha while last year you actually had to have some knowledge of electronics. And because of this, there are probably a lot of winners that are just in it for free stuff and don’t care about electronics.

  • I have an idea for next year. Take the database of accounts that have actually bought something, group by address, sort by a random value and award the top 2,000. That way it’s fair (nobody can get two) and it’s good for employers because their employees don’t spend hours and hours entering Captchas. It’s also goof for SparkFun since they don’t have lost productivity.

    It’s not good for load testing servers though.

    • A lot of folks this year - especially those who’ve been around for past Free Days - are advocating a similar approach. I can’t tell you anything about next year other than that we probably won’t be discussing it in earnest until the fall.

      However, I will say that it’s unlikely we’ll go with something that’s passive for customers. Every year has required some level of continued effort until a prize has been won - be it trying to get your order placed, answering quiz questions, or typing captchas. It won’t be the same next year - that we can be sure of - but it will likely still require players to be engaged and competing for a prize in order to win.

      • Just NEVER do this one again. I am fine with not winning, but not having to enter hundreds of random characters. Also do not guarantee the number of winners and that they will get a certain amount.

        Also the banner at the top never updated for me.

      • Last year was fun (apart from the servers timing out all the time between questions) because it required basic electronics/computers knowledge to win something.

      • I wouldn’t take all the winging too seriously - everyone that won is happy, and most people that didn’t are still happy.

    • As I’ve said in a few comments here, not everybody buys SF products direct from SF, many get them from resellers, we don’t all live in the US! Even in the US, as I understand it, there is a retail chain that sells SF retail packs, what about those loyal customers, they count too, but SF doesn’t know who they are.

      I understand where you’re coming from, but if you’re going to do something like this it would be have to be something like the people had been at least reasonably active on the site (logged in, etc.)in the past year or something like that.

  • Is that an office monome I see on the live stream? That is so cool!

    • yep. there’s a monome 256 and an arc 4 trying to keep up with the massive amount of traffic we’re sending through max/msp.

      • So I take it it plays a harp-like note for every request? What about the bass notes? Is that when a prize is handed out? Can’t be, its too frequent… What about the visualization, what does it mean? Please explain :)

        • audio:

          • chord change = win
          • bass = login failure
          • melody = captcha failure

          monome 256:

          • displays melody notes
          • buttons set chord progression

          monome arc 4:

          • enc 0: set speed of 256 animation
          • enc 1: set key (tonic)
          • enc 2: displays bass note / login fail
          • enc 3: displays chord change / win
  • My idea for 2013: Make an interactive puzzle from a picture of one of the items for sale. I am talking about the puzzles you dump on a table and start with the edges and work your way in. Digitally of course.

    To make it more random, have each successful puzzle count as one entry into a lottery pool. The more puzzles you complete, the greater the chance you have to win. This way it is still random, but the more effort you put in, the greater your chances.

  • Is there some way to check how many times you have tried? That ionizing radiation does not appear to be my friend yet.

    • I too would like to know this

      • Me too! They could provide some fun stats…

        • Exactly. Hopefully the recap will indicate that people entered X number of captchas. How many unique people were actually trying to win, etc… If there were 20K people vying for those 2K prizes, I want to know plus how many people have accounts with Sparkfun. Last, how many NEW accounts are created leading up to and during Free Day?

    • I too would like to see that number, may prove discouraging or motivating..lol, like this MMO http://mmo.smbc-comics.com/login.php which was created for this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD69PAIqiYo

    • I don’t think I want to know. :( I did save some screen grabs of some of the more stupid captchas. I also learned you only really need to get the word with the blob on it. So at least I learned that about captcha today.

      Back to try some more. But these darn things are quite annoying.

      • It’s the recaptcha the other word is from a book Google is trying to digitize. You’re actually helping digitize a wealth of knowledge everytime you see “recaptcha” on a site’s login or something like today. I bet Google is very grateful.

  • This contest is making me hate SparkFun.

    • I cant see why… Would you rather that there was a 0% chance of getting free stuff?? And if you watched ustream you may have noticed additional $50 freebies being shown through the day. If you couldn’t get $100, you could have got $50.

  • Well, I feel like a Chinese worker for Foxconn. God, six hours of pain and nothing to show for it. Kill me now.

    • Same here, even worst considered I kept doing captchas a few minutes after it was over because the meter didn’t update and I just happened to check in a new tab how things were going on. I forgot to participate in the previous free days (usually remembered it a day of two later), so I was really excited about this and even put Sparkfun on my home page so I didn’t forget. I’m not sure I can handle going through all this again next year :(

    • lol

  • Oh for fuck’s sake all of you. They’re giving away free stuff, with no gain to themselves. So stop acting like a bunch of self-entitled pricks and be happy you get the opportunity to win anything at all.

  • Odds of winning are approximately 1:5000 based on the freeday attempts I saw earlier. I quit as soon as I punched it in the calculator. Clearly someone at sparktorture thought it would be clever to piss off the customer base by wasting their time. I really do feel bad for people who have spent hours on trivial key punching that a raffle or the like would have eliminated.

    Whomever made the decision to run free day like this should have their position reevaluated.

  • What a horrible idea #fail sparkfun

  • freeday would take 10 minutes long if done in chernobyl lol

  • Well that sucks… I’m dyslexic.

    Enjoy the contest, all.

  • I got mine!!! i win!! :)

  • I see people on twitter complaining how they have done so many captchas and haven’t won… They haven’t won because they are doing it wrong… Stopping to post on twitter? AMATURES! I got my $100 I did about 100 captchas as fast as I could.

    • “AMATURES”

      lol. Kid, it’s random. If you’re able to convince yourself you won because of something you did, you’re going to be easy prey for hustlers. Stay away from Vegas.

    • This is dissapointing. I’m feeling stupid wasting my time here writing captchas. This shouldn’t be painful, it is supposed to be a gift, not a silly and time consuming activity with no interest at all.

    • Me too. I think I had an advantage though. I have probably posted about 10,000 craigslist ads. All of which have a captcha for each post. Good work!

  • currently:

    losing attempts = 995015

    winning attempts = 175

    (995015 + 175) / 175 = ~5687

    That means you have to enter on average 5687 captchas to win $100

  • Mavis Beacon Typing Tutor for the Insane

  • Sparkfun never disappoints. I have always been very satisfied with anything that I order whether I pay for it or whether I am a beneficiary of Sparkfun generosity.

    That said, I just got my code within a short amount of time and only had to put up with a few not-so-friendly captchas. IMO, it was well worth the effort.

    Now to spend at least double my winnings on the site. WOOT! WOOT!

    Thank you Sparkfun!

    • Consider yourself lucky. I entered over 5,000 captchas over the 6 hours it ran and I won nothing…

    • Short amount of time? Effort? Thats a good one. I spent all day since it started with nothing to show.

  • DON’T PLAY IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT. IT’S FREE STUFF. WHAT ELSE YOU GUYS WANTS

  • It is soo funny…every year you hear it….People complaining about spark fun..how they had to work for there prize…All I have to say even though my hands are hurting like hell is THANK YOU SPARKFUN FOR FREE DAY !!!!!!…ps i am not a winner….(yet)

  • Nate (and the rest of SparkFun),

    Thank you for my $100! I’ll be sure to spend it wisely… and by wisely, I mean all at once.

    Hint: Skip the illegible Captchas by pressing the “Refresh” icon, or by pressing Enter.

  • I think that the idea of a free day is absolutely bloody marvelous and Sparkfun has my highest regard for it. But just having to decode and fill in a single Captcha usually makes me rethink if I want/need to joint the site in question. Solving hundreds if not thousands of Captchas may just be the definition of hell, and just not worth the effort (and potential brain damage) for a $100 freebie.

  • Got it!!

    Thanks Sparkfun!

  • Thanks for another free day!

    It’s amazing how many people are complaining. Yes, the system this year wasn’t their greatest. But you’re not paying them to play and you’re the one choosing whether to play or not. Do you write a letter to publishers clearing house complaining you didn’t win their “free” game? Even though you pay to play, do you complain to the Casino management that they wasted your time because you walked out with no winnings? Don’t like the way the game is played? Don’t jump on the field. You lose nothing if you don’t play.

    Also, the reason I keep shopping at SparkFun IS because of things like free day. They give away money to customers - even if few and random - because they care (and yes, they’re also using our love of free stuff to test their servers). And these days any USA based business that cares about its customers has my full support.

  • Ah mang, those Captchas were PAINFUL. I logged in at 3AM (Aus time) and didn’t stand up again until 9AM.

    Full props to SFE for putting Free Day on, though. It’s an awesome event and I love it to bits. I didn’t win anything this year, but hey - I’m gonna go console myself with my Arduino Inventor’s Kit from last Free Day. :)

    Happy Free Day all, winners and loser alike.

    -Charly

  • Great day guys. Awesome amount of fun watching the live feed. ^_^

    To haters of the system: Go jump of a cliff. If you’re more than willing to complain that someone’s going to give you $100 worth of electronics supply for FREE and all you have to do is copy what’s in a little box, you don’t deserve to be here.

    If you don’t want to copy those words, then don’t, you’ll have no chance of getting that $100 at all, but that’s your choice.

    For such a respected discipline, I didn’t realise I’d find so many mentally challenged people on an electronics site.

    Good day.

  • If ever you run the contest this way again, please give us a “Check THIS out!” button so we can share the silly impossi-CAPTCHAs we encounter ;).

    Some funny stuff.

    I’m exhausted, and I lost, but I’m grateful that they do this every year.

    Thanks guys.

    Chad

    • Hopefully, it will be the same next year. That way, all of the winging people won’t bother, and it will be easier for the rest of us.

  • Hi Sparkfun. Thank You for having Freeday. We deeply appreciate your dedication to the electronics hobbyist community.

  • yay - this was a fun and creative way to do a giveaway. can you tally up and post statistics about the attempts/captchas/etc? would be mind-boggling to see, for sure. thanks, sparkfun - you haz awesoem.

  • So far so bad. 1422 attempts and over half of them i could not read the stupid captcha. What a terrible waste of an hour. This is my last year for an attempt at the free day. Three years in a row of not even coming close is enough for me.

  • I never want to see Captchas ever again!
    But I WON something on Free day for the first time ever!!! Thanks SparkFun! :)

  • I was getting soooo frustrated!!…. then after 5 hours, on the LAST ONE before i said i would give up…. and BAM ! winner!

    THANK YOU SPARKFUN!!!!!! —but boy that was painful. ((i actually feel like i deserve the $100 at this point, hahahah jk)

  • WOW! Now I can finish my Nissan Leaf / OBD project since I don’t have to beg the wife for the funds. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  • I have to agree with most of the comments - it really isn’t right to sit here and waste company time. There really should be a more realistic way to get this done that doesn’t occur in the middle of the work day for the majority of your customers.

  • i won!! Yeahh Thanks Sparkfun. after 3 hours but i won! :D

  • I must say that the SFE website is running like a champ despite the traffic.

    • It was crashing like crazy for the first few hours after the competition started. I was having trouble just up-voting comments.

      • if you googled sparkfun about an hour in, the site description was ‘Something Broke…’ :-P

  • this is so messed up i have been on this website since 11:00…. and i did not win

  • I really liked the quiz idea from last year, although I know not everyone did. Anyway, good luck to everyone this year!

    • Liked it too. I think filling in capchas is a bit tedious and less fun but I won’t complain!

      • It’s a painful necessity. SparkFun customers are some of the most intelligent and sneaky people on the planet. CAPTCHAs help us even things out a bit.

        • I hope you find a better way next year - CAPTCHAs are not FUN and are designed to verify your un-botness only once in a session. I tried a few and only getting 1/3 of them correct, I got bored.

        • I understand, but having a quizz was a way better idea in my opinion. I learned stuff on free day last year. This year, it’s boring and I feel like I’m wasting my time.

        • I appreciate this, I write scripts all the time to make my work easier, but for this I typed CAPTCHAs for 2.5 hours solid before winning! It feels strangely rewarding, and finger numbing… Thanks for this opportunity for some free stuff, and for being generally an awesome company!

        • I give up. After 96 minutes writing captchas with “no luck” I’m convinced that I have better things to do.

          To prevent those super-smart-customers from cheating, you are making feel super-stupid to the rest of customers. I think that this is missing the point.

        • I don’t know what you are talking about; the captcha’s are easy enough for my bot to read and it won on the 451'st try. Word problems can be much tougher for the bot to solve, but using that would go against the whole “no thought required” theme of the 2012 free day. It’s so great not having to learn anything about electronics or be a loyal customer to get free stuff now!

        • Totally understood why it was necessary (I’m a programmer) and I’m pleased and very grateful to walk away with a prize– thanks Nate. I participated in the first free day and though I didn’t win then, I was still appreciative that SF was kind enough to give away free stuff. You guys could spend that money sponsoring other projects, but you are very generous to give it out to your customers. Your love of the amateur electronics community is one reason (of many) why I’ve found myself coming back here for years now.

        • Painful is an understatement. I’ll be forwarding the bills from my carporal tunnel surgery.

          Captchas should really only be used to verify an idenity once (having one ever 5min or so would work too). Having one for every. single. try. is not only aggrivating but insulting as well.

        • So um, you want to torture us, By entering in over 5000 captchas over the whole event (While the page tells you to keep trying, you can do it! and mock you when you get it wrong?

          Also keep in mind this

        • You would have thought that people would stop after 30 mins and no luck… Seems not :-)

        • How about a Captcha that you you have to solve to submit the answer to a question, this would allow you to keep bots out, while people will have to enter only 10 captchas.

        • I am reading that fast/accurate typing is the ticket? I thought this thing was random but I guess it is not? Anyway, I give up - I’m going to go back to doing something productive like designing something.

        • I’m sorry but there’s always one of the two stupid captchas that’s nearly impossible to read.

          I don’t know how people do it, especially since it appears to be made-up words, you can’t guess what those totally scrambled letters are supposed to be.

          I’m not against the idea of CAPTCHAs but for the love of the electron, make them human-readable, I’m beginning to suspect that only those that are using bots are winning.

          For the recap of Free Day 2012, please show us some statistics for those who filled a lot of CAPTCHAs per minute, could be a way to detect cheaters.

          • Given that captchas are meant to stop bots from spamming, and humans are far better at reading them, I hardly think this is likely.

  • Worst Free Day ever!! You guys suck!! Yes I know you are giving stuff away for free, but this is really repetitive crap and after hours I have nothing to show for it. Last year was so much better. Please if you do this again, don’t do this crap and have us do repetitive, mind numbing stuff over and over again just so you get a cheap laugh at our expense … really demeaning.

  • After the past two free day disappointments, I decided I would start looking elsewhere for electronics items. There are a few other retailers that cover most of Sparkfun’s product line, and I go to them first now. This farce of a customer appreciation move is anything but. It’s been a dumb lottery that has the primary purpose of testing their systems. The customer benefit is an afterthought and marketing ploy, a successful one at that. I’m sure their business grows each year. But for someone who has been surfing this site for around three years, they’ve lost most of my electronics business. I still love the tutorials, the posts, and what they stand for, but my perception of how they view their customer is $$$ from these free days. Free shipping day, or 10% off day would be a genuine gesture of total customer appreciation, but you may never see that here.

    They have a few hundred thousand, or more, customers and free day benefits less than 1% of them. That’s laughable.

    • So they gave away stuff in return for some time. Nobody said you had to do it. The site still worked as normal if you had to make an order. So I don’t understand why them giving you the chance at free stuff would drive you to “start looking elsewhere”.

      • It’s done under the guise of “customer appreciation”.

        Quote, “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.”

        It’s a poor gimmick. It works out for them. But I think it’s poor marketing, and whereas this is an open forum on the internet I’ll complain if I want to. I started looking elsewhere to retailers that truly appreciate their customers and don’t resort to gimmicks to make more money for themselves in the guise of “giving back” to their customers. Less than 1% of registered members won. Think about it. Other retailers occasionally offer discounted products (and not just because it’s a failed design or being replaced by a newer version) or shipping discounts for a decent sized order. Sparkfun, to my knowledge, has never done either. They do this. I am part of the 99% that has never won.

        • Did you participate in Freeday from your tent on Wall St, Mr. 99%? Should those of us who were rewarded for our efforts take a percentage of that prize and give it to you? Like we do with welfare and every other system we have to help whiners who are ungrateful that life didn’t live up to their expectations?

          This kind of thinking is what happens when schools remove the idea of LOSING from all of their activities. Now that everyone is a “winner”, children grow up thinking that life works the same way.

          It doesn’t matter what kind of “guise” they used to get you and all of the rest of us here. The facts still remain: You had a chance to win; it was random; trying made your chances higher; there was a possibility you could lose; not everyone wins.

          I can’t even imagine what kind of dialogue you created at the beginning of the recession when investments all went to hell.

  • this was the worst contest i’ve ever tried to play in… spent 6 hours at work and didn’t win anything!! WTF!!!

  • Sure it’s great that sparkfun gave money to 2000 people, but count my vote with the annoyed people who spent hours entering gibberish for nothing. My money will be going to makershed and adafruit. I’ve wasted enough time on this website.

    • Participation was not required.

      • That’s obviously true and so not the point. The point is that for most of the people who did decide to participate, the giveaway totally sucked. Just because someone has money to give away doesn’t mean they should use it to entice people to perform dehumanizing (i.e. robotic) tasks for hours on end.

  • 6 hours of captchas for nothing except repetitive stress injuries

  • You haven’t earned a new customer here. I thought it might be fun, but it has been a total waste of time. Here’s a capcha for you: EATME

  • No, I didn’t win… but thank you SparkFun for the excellent intentions.

    I must admit, however, that if you do to again, and it involves Captchas, I’m going to go play with my cat for six hours instead.

  • crap. didn’t win, spent all day :/


    what was the pie symbol? what was this for: resetwins.php?activatepi “Pi mode activated. Click to boost your odds before every captcha.”

  • “you have been doing a lot of typing today” said my boss. So I guess since I didn’t win anything, at least my boss doesn’t think I pissed away the whole day. lol

  • No win after the full 6 hours. Student needed free money, not happy, Never gotten anything at freedays. Only thing that could cheer me up is a leaderboard of who captcha the most. Iḿ probably in the top 100.

  • I just waisted six long hours on writing random words :(

  • boooooooooooring!

  • 6 hours straight of captchas and nothing for the third year in a row… Maybe next year…

    I wonder how many books we digitized with this… haha

  • I just waisted six long hours on writing random words :(

  • on since it started…headache and no money

  • Ah well, a whole day of trying to win down the tubes.

  • I don’t know what everyone is complaining about. I’m a fan that you are giving back $200K to your community.

    So there’s a tonne of captchas, well worth the effort, I managed to get mine within an hour. To me, $100 / hr is a pretty good wage.

    I’m new here and looking to get some experience with Arduino, this was the perfect opportunity for me. Thanks Sparkfun, you have a loyal customer now.

  • Ottimo lavoro Sparkfun!!!!! from Italy with love. 1101101011011010

  • I won first try! Wow!

  • af73r a11 of' 7he55e caPC,has I c@n on1Y tyTPE' gibbbber1SH! Stil1 hAVe n0t W0n3 yE77. wi1l- k3PP Ttry1NG!

  • sparkFun users digitize 2.43x108 books…

  • I’m afraid I kind of have to agree with the people saying this is a waste of time I understand that sparkfun is doing this to reward their customers, but I’ve been loyal and doing this since 11 eastern when it started and haven’t gotten anything for my efforts. i understand the value of random but it would be nice to be guaranteed something for our efforts maybe a 10 dollar credit after a certain number of trys or something?

  • Sweet! One Hakko FX888 Soldering Station ordered and on the way with my $100.00. I very much appreciate Nate and the great culture he has created with Sparkfun. Captcha is clunky, but what a great way to induce TPS and stretch the servers to provide great service for customers for the rest of the year. Thanks Sparkfun for being an innovative and forward-thinking company.

  • This is like trying to win a BOC from woot but it lasts for hours instead of seconds.

  • If this promotion was intended to attract new customers, I feel like it is failing horribly. I heard about Sparkfun because of this promo, but after the frustration and sheer stupidity of this promotion I really don’t feel like giving them my business in the future.

    If they wanted to do a random giveaway, just have us sign up once and do a random drawing. Don’t make us sign up over and over and over with our odds of winning remaining abysmal each time. The fact that they are generously giving away $200k does not give them a free pass for coming up with such a terrible system.

    I’m going to go buy my Arduino from another site now.

  • well if I could afford to sit around all day filling out captchas for a chance of $100 then I wouldn’t need the $100. I need to earn money. I don’t mind not getting free stuff as part of a fair giveaway because it is a great idea and you take your chances, but not getting a chance (a reward as a loyal customer) because I’m not wealthy enough to sit on my arse all day feels a bit wrong.

    The quiz was a better idea - although I never managed to log in successfully.

  • Thanks for Free Day, but I give up!

    I had been typing in captchas as fast as I could for far too long, I realized. Maybe I can’t stand useless labour, but no 100$ is worth this; I gave up.

    More for everyone else!

  • Their game, their rules, you play it if you WANT! I WON and Im very happy. =D

  • Every Captcha I answered I hated more than the last, and about 1/3 of the way through I decided it wasn’t worth it. For some reason I couldn’t stop though, and I just won! Weird thing is now it was worth it, even though I was 2x past the point where I decided it wasn’t worth it… Some rule of causality was just broken…

    Suggestion for next year - if you want us to go this route again, give us some problem to solve that a script can’t do but yet makes a few neurons fire, I really don’t like turning my brain off for that long.

  • I’m done. I’ve filled out this silly form over a 100 times and no luck. These stupid barely readable messages are a real pain in the “a”. Good luck everyone else.

  • I’ve lost feeling in most of my fingers, my shoulder muscles are rock hard, my stomach is eating itself, my brain wants to type “‘1948] quotimissmiouseofusf”, my mouth is dry, I’m pretty sure I sharted once, and I might have to learn how to walk again.

    Free money. Lilypad in my future. Worth it.

    • Exaggerating your own “manliness” is not helping anybody. For one, you’re just hurting other people’s feelings that they didn’t win anything.

      • It’s sad to think that my postitive comment could hurt other “people’s” feelings. I was simply stating that for me, it was worth my time, and my “womanly” strength.

  • Thanks Sparkfun, you made my day. the captchas werent so bad, kinda interesting.

  • I think I have vastly improved my typing words/min.

  • Caption for freeday image “Sparkfun, teaching nerds a new hatred for Captchas”

  • woot $100! took three hours but still! everything went much smother than last year as well, last year I couldn’t even load the page and only managed $40 in the last few seconds before the money ran out when eveyone else stopped trying. this year, the site only went down for a few seconds for me right at the start and after that it all ran smoothly. I must say though that some of those captchas were very hard to read. now to see what I can make with my winnings!

  • I hate free day I never get anything, been trying for 4 years now. Been at the F*** thing for 4 hours.

  • Fingers… cramping… must… continue… must… win… hate… captchas……….

  • Thank you SparkFun!

  • I believe my typing skills have improved!!

  • Nearly 3k captcha’s in and still nothing….ugh….never want to see another captcha ever after this.

  • So how long will I potentially be decrypting old library books? (aka About what time until Freeday is over?)

  • Just out of curiosity, I notice that if I keep refreshing the SPE home page that errors constantly come up. If I keep refreshing, eventually it comes back online and when I navigate to the capcha page the giveaway $ refreshes. Now, if I stay on the capcha page unsuccessfully entering capchas, I notice 2 things. 1st, I never get an error and second the giveaway $ never updates. So it begs the question, am I “unsuccesfully” entering capcha for nothing at all without first refreshing and waiting for the errors to clear?

    • you don’t need to refresh, just keep solving captchas

      if you blow a few, no biggie, just keep going

      that’s how i got mine! yippeee! (3+ hrs, but somewhat intermittent)

    • I have that problem too.

    • Same here. I know sometimes I miss a character on the captcha and it gives the same response as when I know I got it right. Only if I really mess it up does it nag me about messing up. Either way, the progress bar never changes. It’s throwing me off my game.

  • Wow, just wow at some of the comments here. I can’t believe the sense of entitlement some people have.

    I found the captcha approach a bit boring, but tried it in between other things today. No, I didn’t win, but I don’t get on Sparkfun’s case over it. Sheesh.

    Thank you Sparkfun for creating the contest and giving away the money. I think one bit of constructive feedback from all this was that the recaptcha approach was boring. I figured you’d try something different next year anyway.

  • You’ve simply been fooled by a “give-away” gimmick masquerading as socially responsible corporate behavior. It was a simple marketing trick intended to expand the customer base, energize current customers and create widespread media interest. It’s hard for rapidly expanding company like Sparkfun to keep it’s mojo going. Think Blockbuster. You’ve been scammed by Sparkfun’s version of Ronald McDonald.

    BTW Captcha, I’m pretty sure “1981” is not a word.

  • To all those that are complaining about the captcha’s, I honestly felt like it was more of a fair chance for everyone who wanted to spend the time trying. The past 2 years I tried like crazy and even got friends helping me out but we did not get anything because the site was just 503'ing everytime I tried to load it. Afterwards I had read about people that used certain tricks to make sure their browser would not time out or other tricks that gave them an unfair advantage. This year was certainly the most fair that I feel they could have done since their site was almost never bogged down. If they could truly handle the traffic then I would support the quiz system, but since they can not this was the next best thing.

    …And yes, after 2 ½ hours and doing about 2500 captchas, I finally won for my first time.

    Thank you SparkFun.

    • Couldn’t agree more. The captchas weren’t a bad idea, much better than just pressing F5 (which is very unfair). If there were 6M entries, one would probably have a 50% chance of winning after 1 and a quater hours. of competing with about one captcha every 4 seconds, so it is defiantly fair for everyone who can complete a captcha. I got lucky after just about 1 and a half hours. Reckon you should do it the same next time, Sparkfun.

  • It’s free, folks. If you don’t like it, you do not have to participate.

  • Amazing… every year they find a new way of doing things and people still complain. It’s just like politics: whatever they do, half of the people will complain about it. This is a social experiment on its own.

  • Greetings, i have been a spark fun customer for a few months now and i just want to express how grateful i am to have such a great place to come for my projects needs. I can assure you that i will be coming back for as long as i still do electronics! An amazing place.

  • To all the whiners…Shutit. It amazes me how people complain when they are given things. I didn’t win anything and havnt in a single freeday and i dont feel like SparkFun crapped in my Cheerios. Grow up people.

  • I know I’m probably wrong for complaining, but this was the worst free day. The captcha idea was a terrible. Also, what happened to giving credit to Sparkfun customers that had more than 1 year account? I hope they seriously improve Free Day next year.

  • First, thanks for the opportunity to try to win free stuff! While I didn’t win, at least I was given the fair opportunity to win - and for that, I’m grateful.

    I can see there are plenty of complaints, but no one forced anyone to fill out the Recaptchas. And remember, filling them out helped the community at large. Exactly what Sparkfun was trying to do!

    So, to you ingrates out there, curtail your complaining and stop fulfilling Bible prophecy which prophesied how ungrateful this generation would be. :-)

  • I feel bad for all of you that entered captchas for hours and didn’t win anything. I feel bad because I only entered 5 or 6 captchas for my $100.

    • I did the same thing! as soon as I got out of school I jumped on Sparkfun and only had to spend a couple minutes on here

  • I have read over the myriad of comments about this free day, and I have to ask: Do you know what people will do for $100 in this economy? Look, the capthas were not fun, but it was a pretty mild challenge and it was designed to be random. WIN. Yes, I did win and it absolutely made my day, but do not be negative about Sparkfun giving away $200K! They do not HAVE to do that to remain a great company. Don’t play next year if you feel slighted.

  • After an entire day of 10% productivity at work and 90% Captcha Solving Efforts I actually hit a winning Captcha towards the VERY END.

    I had lost ALL HOPE and was very but very frustrated and mad. Because I gotta admit it was an EXTREMELY frustrating process.

    But by working hard at entering these Captchas(and hardly working here at my job) I got my winning ticket, I feel like Charlie when he got his golden ticket lol

    Thanks SF

    P.S.- In behalf of all of us(Winners & The not so lucky ones), No more captchas next year PLEASE.

  • Thanks, Sparkfun! I didn’t win this year, but the servers were there most of the day. I wasn’t fond of the Captchas, but I felt like I had a chance to win the whole day. I popped in and out most of the work day and tried my luck.

    I’ll be interested to hear what the impact was on your servers. It seems like it would generate a significant, distributed load throughout the day without immediately overloading everything. I hope our labor was helpful!

  • I loved this. Granted I didn’t win anything. I have nothing bad to say about a company willing to give out $200,000 in one day for free. WELL DONE SPARKFUN

  • Didnt think it would happen.. I too was starting to build up anger with this contest.. then low and behold.. i hit enter and the page changed! Winner! ZOMG.. it paid off.. and I hope i still have a job tomorrow, since my boss sits right next to me. I hate captcha now but we at least helped digitize some books. LOL.

  • After reading a lot of the comments I finally understand what SF did wrong here. The thing is that a lot of people just got very disappointed after hours and hours, leaving SF with a bad feeling. You Americans should know this is not something you want to associate your brand with. They did not win: they blame you. If it were a question they didnt answer right they would blame themselves.

  • Typing in captchas endlessly was (as other people have mentioned) really annoying. But at least the Free Day webpage was nice and responsive, there wasn’t any of the page-load-failure futility from the first year. And I won! That was cool. Thanks, Sparkfun!

  • winner winner chicken dinner

  • It’s like playing a slot machine, didn’t win anything but it was worth the thrills. Thanks Spark Fun! :)

  • I got some hilarious capchas. Through the course of the day I entered over 1300 averaging about one every 15 seconds

    Top ones were:

    • for haators ( Thats right, i got my $100 dollars ;-)
    • Katz. ppooked ( I think there is a lol cat in your server guys…….
    • lim t->0 ernswed ( Im just glad i dint have to integrate it ;-)
    • dirided Battleships ( And battleships was in the military stencil text
    • lostEc products, ( Aww i was going to order that part too!
    • hatDid Band ( if sparkfun starts a band, this is your name. the server told me so
    • Itsayst Extraction ( think the lol cat was trying to help me out
    • computers theopoid ( sounds like a sentient walking sparkfun server

    Sparkfun: Thanks again, and I have the actual images for all these if you want them ;-)

  • Lol, bunch of people complaining over FREE MONEY. I won, owned. (And it took me like 3 hours)

  • Thanks sparkfun,

    I was lucky to win, I really can’t believe all the whiners who posted. The odds must be very high to win since many seem to have put way too much time in trying. The fact that you can try more than once and still people gripe. Captcha, maybe difficult for some, but each word entered has just added to digitizing a book for the world. So you did some good today.

  • Not as lucky this year as I was last year… thanks anyways

  • Bad coding on your part. You had it set so if the check.php did anything other than send a 1 or -1 then it said to try again. Why didn’t you check for a proper response from check.php ? If it doesn’t hit your server it would say to try again like everything is OK like actually checked in. So all day long I sat here and worked the CAPTCHA against my local javascript code and never hit the server at all! If I had a indication that I wasn’t talking to your server then I may have been able to do something, switch browsers or something. Bad coding.. The money thing at top never updated so I had to refresh. Others had that same problem. At one point I logged out and tried the CAPTCHA again and it just said try again like everything is OK, so WTF? The CAPTCHA worked OK because it would fail if I messed up. After the money was gone I could still keep going which shows you it wasn’t talking to your servers. You were not testing your servers you were testing googles. Thanks for waisting a whole day I could have been productive.

    • Noticed this as well, when it was all too late. Oh well. gg sparkfun. Hope someone reads the book I digitized for them.

      • It’s not that I didn’t win, it’s that I didn’t get a chance to win at all. There’s no chance to win if it wasn’t talking to the server. There’s really no point of talking to my own local javascript program all day long. The “-1” is marked for “not logged in”. “1” was for win and “-2” is “bad captcha” anything else happens and it just says “Try Again - (random message message here)”. So if check.php returned anything else you wouldn’t know if it actually got a response from the server or not. I like the comment in the code “try again; make it look like it did something” - and that’s exactly what it did all day, looked like it was doing something.

  • Bingo. I had a cart ready, and it was more than $100. Guess what I didn’t do today? Instead, I’ll be spending a while washing the bad taste in my mouth for the hours and over 500 submissions I wasted.

    Sour grapes anyone?

  • I chased that $100 like an astronaut after a lover.

    Now I’m tired with a dirty depends :(

    Love You SparkFun

  • Grr so made..Wish I could have that part of my life back!

  • I have finally managed grab a few hours of sleep (+8 GMT in WA) after digitalising nearly an entire book of captchas. My efforts have been greatly rewarded though, with $100 after only an hour and a half of non-stop entries. No captcha will every suprise me again, some of them were massive formulas and the winning one actually had a scanned word that was nearly completely off the page, good thing I guessed it right. Even though the some of the captchas were so horrible to solve, I still reckon they were a good idea, and the geiger counter too. It gives nearly everyone a fair chance of winning, rather than a just reloading a page (where a bot could be used). Thanks to Sparkfun for this event and to that last radiation particle that happened to hit the Geiger at just the right moment. Now, about those accelorometers…

  • How about doing a raffle next year? Everyone gets one ticket for say every 10 dollars they spent, which would reward loyal customers. Not feeling very appreciated as a long time customer after wasting the better part of a day on this.

  • This year free day was a typing contest with a whole lot of losers… Make a different system next year!

  • Sorry Sparkfun, I got shit to do like a job and a life - I can’t sit around all day typing captchas.

    For those who think captchas will solve the problem of “are they human?”, create an account at http://www.deathbycaptcha.com/user/login

    I am a human. It’s bad enough I have to type in 3 passcodes to get into work VPN and 2 passcodes to get into WoW (fortunately, only once a week, may I add), but if you can’t write a better system than this* then you obviously don’t want paying customers.

    Have a good one. This is making you lose customers.

    • like “prove you’re human once and we add you to a pool that we randomly pick from all day long and email you because we understand you have a life”
    • This was a giveaway. Meaning free and it was not required that you participate. For those of us that have work, school, etc. that interfered, that is the way it works. Somcetimes we don’t get to join in and not everyone won something. That is the definition of a contest.

      • Maybe some of us that work go to work to pay for things like Sparkfun.

        Alienating the people that have the money to allocate budget to you is generally /not/ the best business decision.

        Nothing is free. This wasn’t ‘free.’

        This was “free” for people that spend the least at Sparkfun.

        For those of us that make regular purchases, or regularly recommend Sparkfun to clients and friends as an alternative to other DIY sources, this was a GIANT middle finger.

        • I work 3rd shift. So I still work but I was able to participate so your comment is a bit asinine implying that only layabouts won. We will never know who are the winners and losers based on purchasing power but somehow you and others think that putting our name in a hat would have yielded better results. Had they done it that way you would all be bitching that only the people that created accounts today won and all the breadwinners like you got shafted by a broken system.

          You can please some of the people all of the time etc…

          Suck it up and move on.

          • Also: http://blog.glacier-digital.com/2011/06/captcha-expired/

          • I am. I am allocating what was budgeted for Sparkfun to other vendors.

            Additionally, I will be investing in and recommending their competitors from now on.

            I don’t even really care that I’ve spent money at Sparkfun - last year’s free day was fun and fair - new customers that showed up had to show that they had at least jumped through basic hoops to get free stuff.

            This year was infuriating Captchas (captchas are /meant/ to be infuriating) and completely pointless if you had anything to do during the day.

            Sparkfun’s customer base are a bunch of DIY enthusiasts. DIY enthusiasts generally tend to be people that have something better to do during the day than type in captchas.

            At the least, that’s the demographic I’d expected to see benefit from Free Day.

            And this is why I’m not shopping here any longer.

  • im not shopping here again why a captcha the most annoying thing in the world btw its not random its biased to those who can type well

  • I Won. Here is what I got.

    A day of hard earned Annual leave wasted. Cramped fingers. Tired eyes. Going to have captcha nightmares. Nothing productive to show for today. Lots of typing practice (nah I get that anyway at work typing a lot more use stuff). And finally the sucker, dumb bell, idiot of the day award.

    I can’t believe I let myself get sucked into something like this. If I ever had any urges to gamble this cured them.

    Will I still purchase from Sparkfun. Sure. Taking time off to waste my day is my own fault.

    • I’m glad you took responsibility for your actions in that last line. Thank you.

      I actually did have reCaptcha dreams last night. It was terrible.

  • not worth it. Stupid idea.

  • Once again I’ve futility wasted hours on this. FYI, my company banned purchasing from (and even browsing) Sparkfun last year for a year due to the amount of time employees wasted online attempting to win the prior Free Day far exceeded its possible value. It took a lot to finally get them to even open up their servers to hit it.

    Once my company figures out how much time was wasted again this year, I’m sure Sparkfun will be banned again for at least another year.

    I hope Sparkfun realizes they can’t keep having contests that chew up company employee’s time online, and in the future comes up with a fairer contest (like a random draw) from simple, quick entries.

  • I didn’t win anything and I was trying almost continuously from the time it started until the time it ended. I understand quite well how randomness work, but incredibly frustrating none the less.

    But aside from that, if SparkFun is going to call this a load test, I call bogus. With a dedicated page serving static content that does one check while processing a POST, it is mostly testing the ability of the geiger counter check and the robustness of the load balancers and internet connection, not the web servers themselves. The free page wasn’t hitting the database, the form searches weren’t being executed, and so on. I realize that it’s really difficult to make a good load test that is truly random and resistant to those trying to game the system for a win, but it still seems like a bad test. (Again, if SparkFun still is calling it a load test)

    • It was checking your session as logged in, and your user as not having already won. These could be hitting a database or a database cache. They are also valid items to test.

  • So how many people attempted? What was the average attempts before a win? What was the average percentage of correct solutions per user? what percentage of people attempted actually won?

    I spent most of the day and didn’t win. No worries. But I am curious as to whether I have better luck with the Powerball or if I am simply the most unlucky person on Sparkfun.

    Cheers and thanks for the challenge!

    • I want to know how many attempts would have won, but failed due to an incorrect captcha!

  • Thank you for the chance at $100. Please choose a different system for next year. I know no system is perfect, but this was a terrible choice.

  • Well that was absolutely horrible. It was better to get shut out by a denial of service while trying to get to a quiz than wasting hours and feeling like crap afterwards. I will never forgive you guys for this. Yes you are giving away free stuff, but even if I donated my free $100, It would have been better served to volunteer my time somewhere.

    Hopefully some good captcha QA was done today.

    • I concur with this. 3 years I’ve been trying to win something with SF to kickstart my jumping into the hobbyist electronics world. 3 years I’ve been let down.

      This year was a slap to the face. Hours of entering CAPTCHA’s only to have nothing, it’s soul destroying and quite frankly makes me not want to consider purchasing from Sparkfun at all given there’s plenty of other retailers here in the UK who sell similar (if not the same) products.

      Do yourself a favour SF, don’t do this (CAPTCHAs) next year. It’s not promoting your business, it’s harming it.

  • I never want to do another captcha again….. almost 6 hours of it…my head hurts

  • Well there was a wasted day. would have helped if most of them were legible. The audio captcha was completely illegible.

    • I’m not sure how you would read an audible anything. You should have hit the refresh button for a new one. It would have loaded faster than the audio file you were trying to decypher.

  • over 5 hours wasted on capchas = never again

  • Very disappointing…. I had over 350 attempts and no wins. Also I have spent thousands of dollars over the last few years with spark fun and never won anything. While a clever concept to defer blame of a bad system to some pesky high energy atomic particles…. its frankly insulting and reaffirms to me that spark fun is not the place for me anymore for my overpriced purchases…

  • i swear i was online filling these out for almost 4 hours. no win for me. :(

  • Well that was a joke I sat typing constantly for 6 hours it’s 10pm here in uk I’ve been at this since 4pm uk time and didn’t win next year do something different my heads pounding now with all those stupid words if u can call them words

  • I won, but this was a pretty lame free day, captchas? Come on you can do better…

  • Well, that was a disappointing few hours of submitting captchas.

  • my eyes feel blood and no money

  • Well, another Freeday, another day shot to hell. Next year, you should hold a contest where everyone slams their nuts in a door for 8 hours and then send them a nice email. :-) I hope I never see another Captcha as long as I live.

  • SQUEEEEE!!!

    after years ive finally WON!!! i dont care about the captchas being anoying. im on a different continent and i won

  • I logged in at 10:30 EST. I made consistent attempts for 2 hours straight. I got back on at 1:30 EST and stopped 3:30 EST. I then logged on one last time at 4:00 EST. Got my code at 4:30 EST. At least 3000 of those damned captchas squashed.

  • I just won! $100 for an hour and a half of mindless typing while watching tv? Definitely worth it. I can’t believe you ungrateful people complaining about this. You know Sparkfun doesn’t have to do this? They could hace just split up 200k and given bonuses out to employees. Even if I didn’t win, I would proud to be a customer at such a generous store that does this every year.

  • hmm, here is how I spelled one captcha:

    regret wasted day

  • Fair? Sure… fun… no way in h***! This needs to be a lot more fun if I am going to participate again, endless Captchas of doom are not fun. How about quizzes, pick some random people, quiz some people, and captcha some? Mix it up, make people guess - have some fun?

  • After over 5 hours of mindlessly typing thousands of captcha’s and still not winning anything, I must say this giveaway is a nice way to get rid of customers. This is so stupid.

  • I think I just finished randomly typing the complete works of William Shakespeare. Still haven’t won anything.

  • Thank god!!! After 5 hours I’ve got my 100$ share… Happy as never before :D Good luck to everybody that trying!

  • I give up - you win.

  • I won! Thanks to everyone @ sparkfun, I know the true cost is more than the 200K, so to all of the hardworking people thanks!

  • Thank you captchas…for getting me 100 dollars and +15wpm to my typing skill set

  • I’ve pass over 3 hours to enter damn capchat codes … and give up !

    Then eat an “onion soup” done by my wife … and try some capchat again … the second try was the good one !

  • Oh silly buns. This. I’ve now wasted an hour and have nothing but a headache to show for it. Way to lose a customer, SparkFun. I’m honestly not shopping her again after this.

  • Terrible, 100$ giveaway that requires you to give yourself a headache and RSI just to get a bunch of overpriced junk. I hope someone sues you.

  • People…consider the cost of your time. If you “won” after being here for 2 hours, you’d be better off working those two hours. You’ll make more than $100. This is even more true for everyone who’s been at it for 3-4 hours.

    This is an incredibly inefficient way to do FreeDay, which rewards nothing but persistence and greed. Last year was better (and I have no ulterior reasons to say that: i was unable to compete last year, and refuse to compete this year)

    • What a ridiculous statement. Where do you work?

      I make a very comfortable living doing what I do but I think it’s safe to say that most people on here don’t make more than $50 per hour as you imply. That equates to $104K/year.

      It’s probably also safe to say there are quite a few peeps on here that are working and trying to win at the same time. The best of both worlds!

  • Totally hate this system. Not worth it. Next time come up with something better.

  • I won after around 200 tries. I think that’s a remarkable achievement.

  • Seeing how many hours some winners take to win I think i’ll give up now. Having some extra cash to start some projects would be nice but I have other stuff to do. I feel that this freeday events are kinda unfair to people that have other things to worry about such as work. Other freedays you got a little something for being loyal or it was something that you can jump in and out quickly in a reasonable amount of time. I suggest maybe you should reward the folks who spent an extraordinary amount of time on this years event and haven’t won because I think there will be some poor fan who spent 4+ hours and haven’t won.

  • After hours of reading Captchas, I found out that if I can keep the pace and efficiency, I can graduate from SparkFun School college of Captchaology in no time.

  • Seriously… I took part in each of the last two year’s free days. They weren’t easy, but this one is just painful… I’ve entered hundreds and hundreds and hundreds (etc, etc) of captchas in over 3 hours so far dedicated to this, and I have to wonder if they’re even going through (minus the 1/5 that’s wrong or unreadable).
    The other years were tough, but at least there was some indication if it was progressing. This year is just plain strenuous work and now my wrist is acting up. :(

  • Apparently the Gotcha is some kind of joke. I tried about 30 times. I can’t imagine I had it wrong every time. So long and thanks for all the fish!

  • Well, no luck this time. I spent almost 3 hours non interrupted typing captchas really fast. Now I have to give up to go to a client’s office. I don’t think it’s that fair as SparkFun’s people says, may be random, but don’t know, I am very disappointed.

  • AGREED. AND IT’S NOT FREE IF YOU ARE SITTING HERE WASTING TIME WITH THESE HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE CAPTCHAS. “I’m billing Sparkfun for the brain damage from these horrible Captchas.. Not worth $100 for the headache and time I’m wasting. It sure feels like someone walking up to a group of people and scattering a bag of pennies around them. Come up with a better idea next year, because this one sucks.”

    I did think your site was interesting now I’m just pissed at your stupid contest. I will never be one of your customers. =p

  • Been sitting here constantly typing for over four hours this is a terrible idea

  • I’ve wasted too much time today… I’m giving up. Next year put the money towards some kind of rewards program for loyal customers.

  • WOOT. Got one. Now to decide what I want. :D

    Yes, captchas suck, but scripts eating up all the $$ sucks too…. I kinda like the random picking idea, just something different.

    Good luck all, and thanks Sparkfun.

  • Thanks SF for the $100! Was totally shocked that I won. I must have entered 500 times! Now the hardest part is deciding what to get… decisions decisions…

  • No seriously Sparkfun, look at this CAPTCHA. I can’t type sanskrit

    (http://www.google.com/recaptcha/api/image?c=03AHJ_VutRnDNzhl0QUexJU3Pker40ht9M1_fXnyeKI99L-3iI8HGRiMLFugXZ5Xlnux4aQAbieBQ-93K5oFXxsRZWGMmblEpBu5O8mFfYDidhbw-ku-IoFERZhKpO5BeQr5A7Y7VLbYSJ94hUm0lmQbp3JSczcDlIsw)

  • i don’t mind captcha and i understand the need, but perhaps it would be less painful if everyone was limited to 1 try every 10 min. as it is, it just seems like a pointless and frustrating exercise.

    (not to be unappreciative, i’m still your biggest fan, sparkfun!)

    • Exactly: If everyone halved (or more) the capcha’s they do, the chances could be set doubled per capcha, and everyone wouldn’t waste so much of their time.

  • Thanks for the $100!!!

  • Thanks Sparkfun! It was my first free day and I won!

  • New to SparkFun…and a winner!!! Will be using to place my first order.

  • Keep your shit Sparkfun, it’s not worth the trouble

  • I think I was lucky. Got a win after 10 tries…:)

  • One of my CAPTCHAs looks like the Troll Daddy face. Does anyone know the keyboard shortcut for this special character? I think this one will be the one!

  • BOOOOOOO!

  • I won after 3 tries :)

  • 4 hours and thousands of captchas later I won!!!

  • I gave up and went to work. Once at work, I could resist retrying. Won on second attempt. :D

    • you better be trolling because im sure i just passed 5k tries… returns to freeday page MUST HAVE FREE STUFF

    • I had similar luck. I tried at home this morning, then came to work and couldn’t resist giving a few more goes. Then I gave up, but found that I just had to try once more, and got a shocker when I won. Total effort: about 45 minutes. I feel very lucky after reading some of the comments here.

  • I have been doing this for 2 hours now(break for lunch). You should give 100$ to the person who spend the most time putting in Captchas without winning.

    Seems to be slowing down($/hr), are people’s fingers getting tired or the radiation in the office going down? :) Almost half way at 2:10 EST or is there lag?

  • should be a booby prize for most captions entered.

  • … 3 hours of hard labor and haven’t win … need a break ! I will go looking the sparkfun train turning.

  • I won one! Thank you!

  • My devotion to lord inglip grows with each attempt, all praise.

  • The best captcha from yesterday: screenshot

  • Free Days are awesome [I have won $30 over the last 3]. I just found this one not half as much exciting as the previous one!.

    Either ways, I’ll still be a loyal sparkfun customer (it’ll take a lot more than 1000 CAPTCHAS to drive me away).

    However, here’s hoping for a better free day next time around!

  • I am happy to win. The last two Free Days I came away with nothing. I thought this time would be the same. I only had a total of 2 hours split up through out the day where I had time between classes to enter Captchas. The 30 minutes between my library visit and physics was when I got lucky.

  • I just had an idea; hopefully it won’t get buried under all of the comments below.

    Why not design a kit for a device that people can buy (for as little as possible), assemble, and plug into their computer that does what we just did this year for us? You can still have the random drawings, limit to one prize per account, and test the servers, but do so in a way that doesn’t require mindless, unproductive effort. Rather, it encourages some to start in electronics, and no one feels swindled out of their time. (Yes, I realize we all chose to participate.. but with this year’s method there is a huge, unintended cost in the number of man-hours of work and creativity lost to the hours of typing and recovering from said typing. I’d even be so bold as to guess the cost exceeds the $200k given away.)

    You could advertise the device a few months in advance, with pre-ordering so you don’t make more than necessary. As long as the kits are delivered no later than two weeks before Free Day, everyone should be able to find enough time to put it together and test it.

    Just an idea.

    • I think this is a great idea, but have to bring something to your attention. As was said in previous comments, SparkFun customers are some of the most intelligent in the world. That means that if the specs for the kit leaked (which they would), if they made it open source (which they most likely would, and should), or if someone could decipher it from the photos and description on the purchase page, it is guaranteed that we customers would find a way to overclock it, or otherwise drastically increase the efficiency of the system. That means that those who have engineering/programming degrees have a much higher chance of winning than the newb. This is especially true if the device can be purchased ahead of time, reverse-engineered, then posted as an article on www.hackaday.com. The game would be over before it even starts.

      Like I said, a tremendously good idea, but it would be very difficult to implement.

    • I think this is an awesome idea. I would have jumped all over this had it been offered. I think you should get $100 for the idea! Sparkfun staff…are you listening?

    • This actually sounds like a really interesting idea. Not sure how well it would work, but it would definitely target the “most loyal” of SF’s customers. I like the good idea!

  • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

  • h8ers..h8ers..

    free stuff is free stuff, don’t get mad if you actually have do something to get it.

    yes, I won..did stay on for hours on end…NO, like most of the whiners, I too have a job, one that is actually pretty heavy on the workload at the moment (just went public etc, etc). But I don’t work for a slave master so I do find moments between testing and coding where I can get online. So I probably logged on 4 or 5 times through out the day for about 20-30 minutes each and eventually I won.

    It’s almost the same story when I bought my first Android phone and all the ‘END USERS" complained that Android is open source, which means free, why do I have to pay for this app? losers….

    200,000 dollars is no small amount even if it gives them 100% percent return visit’s. Sparkfun is still a small company, compared to others. Radio Shack ever give away free stuff? Digi-key? I commend spark fun for their effort and contribution to the maker community,

    • Let me preface this by saying I agree that what they do for the community is great. I just think they could do it a lot better.

      200,000 is actually not that much money. Remember, they gave away 200,000 in revenue, not profit. Revenue - Cost of Goods Sold = Profit. So, their true cost of this is the negative profit which is equal to the Cost of Goods Sold. They can probably write this off as a business expense, marketing or server seem like good candidates, further reducing the cost.

      They would be far better off decreasing the prize and increasing the prize pool. I would suggest something like a prize of $30(the cost of an uno excluding shipping) and a pool of $300,000. That would give you 10,000 winners, which is at least better than the absurdly low 2,000. Now, I doubt may people will forget to spend $100, but they may forget to spend $30, helping to reduce the cost. Also, I would think not many people will go over the $100 prize, but I would think many would go over the $30. That would help offset some of the cost of this. Plus, since people would be going over, they would also be paying for shipping helping to further offset the cost.

      Now I realize that fewer prizes spread over a long period of time helps you get higher sustained loads over a longer period of time. I think the whole system was genius from the standpoint of server testing. The problem with that is you have a lot of customer upset about spending a lot of time trying to win and ending up with nothing. It just isn’t good for business.

      • I don’t know about those other folks, but I used my 100$ toward a purchase of 225.86$ I gave them more than they gave me, including the time spent typing gibberish and ruining the efforts of book digitization.

  • Sparkfun, you guys rock. I won and I love you, but seriously the captcha system sucked. Let’s go ahead and get rid of that. It took me almost 2000 captchas to win and my brain feels like mush. Love you guys though.

  • I didn’t win but I’m glad I had the chance. Thanks SparkFun.

  • I came, I tried 1000+ captchas, I failed and definitely am not bitter. Well, maybe my wrists and fingers are a little sore. Good on you guys for offering something like this when you certainly don’t have to. You’ll still get my business…

  • Filling 2 hundreds Captchas for 100$, that was a good deal!

    And that was the first time I participated in a contest that was fully random AND didn’t need preparation or hours of waiting and refreshing web pages.

    I earned more that day with Sparkfun than with my job, and I’m an engineer! (ok, that’s just a slight exageration)

    Thanks a lot Sparkfun!

  • What a sad picture of an all too large part of our society that does nothing but bitch and complain when they are getting something for FREE. These are the people that sit in their rent subsidized home smoking there $5.00 a pack cigarettes while drinking a beer they bought with FREE food stamps and complain that the FREE cell phone that Obama gave them doesn’t work to their satisfaction. It is a proven fact that the more you have to work for something the more you appreciate it. SparkFun has taken $2,000,000 that could just as well have been considered profit and given it back to YOU their customers. SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION! Support SparkFun. If you still complain read this comment again.

  • To everyone complaining about how free day worked this year…honestly…did anyone force you to try it? The only possible entity who forced you to participate was…your personal greed. Please bit your quitching.

    To Sparkfun…thank you for an event that allowed this bored and currently broke hobbyist a way to get parts for projects.

  • Just amazing that you give away such an amount of money. I love Sparkfun! :)

  • I do appreciate that they give back to the customer base that supports them and makes them thrive but I do wish they had kept the years of customer bit from last year - not anywhere near $100 but after typing in captchas for a little over 2 hours before not being able to read them straight in any manner did kind of suck. To all those that won congrats for those that didn’t oh well. I didn’t win the first year and took the easy route the second and took my $30. Thought that this year’s was a neat concept but the implementation through its pure random chance didn’t make it nearly as fun as bashing keys to just get logged in. But anyways. Thank you SparkFun for the opportunity to win (even if I didn’t) and I will continue to support them as a company

  • Thanks, Sparkfun! I got much better at doing the Captchas by the end of the day. I thought it was pretty neat that I was ‘playing against’ the radiation in the air in Boulder. One of these year’s I’ll win & until then, I’ll keep buying stuff from you!

  • This free day sucked! That random geiger counter is crap. I spent hours trying to get randomly selected and Didn’t. Thanks Nate! Keep up the great work.

  • I’m really amazed that so many people can’t comprehend what the others are complaining about. Nobody is complaining about not winning. We’re only talking about $100 here. They’re complaining about having to spend hours grinding through captcha’s just to participate. Why not reward people for doing something constructive instead? And as for the load testing. Heavy traffic on one page won’t tell you anything useful about the rest of the website.

    How about this as an idea for next year that actually rewards people for participating?

    Reward the existing members. Get one entry for.. * Every year that you’ve been a member. * Every purchase that you’ve made in the last year.

    Reward new members. * Get an entry for signing up. (With a verified C/Card to avoid people signing up ,multiple times).

    Reward participation on the day. Get only one entry for each.. * Participate in a survey. * Voting for your favourite product. (Possibly in several categories). * Reviewing a product. * Recommending a new product to sell. * Promoting SF. Twitter, etc * Finding hidden Easter Eggs. (A more realistic load test)

    Then at the end of the day, let the geiger counter go nuts for an hour choosing winners.

    If you don’t have much time, just log in on the day to get a couple of entries. The more you participate, the more entries you get. But at least your chance of winning isn’t tied to how fast you can type, and how many hours you can devote to sitting in front of keyboard.

    Obviously the devil is in the details. But at least this way the SF community as a whole will benefit, and you’re rewarding the right kind of participation.

    • +1 fogger. I am happy I gave up after 20 captchas, and twice as happy I did not participate previous years

  • I would also like to be sceptical to this years free day.

    Last years event was fun. This year it was no fun at all, so I left after 10 min. And the point of having the event is to get a lot of people to visit AND stay on the site, right?

    For me it is not getting the 100$ that is the fun part, the event is. If you are having a free day next year, I won’t be there if the event stays the same as this year.

  • here’s a suggestion. If you want to make it random, then just do a random distribution without having everyone destroy braincells over Captchas. But that defeats the excercise for having free day to some extent.

    I really appreciate Sparkfun as a resource but the 4 hours of button bashing could have been better spent. Next time a quiz or even some web app for solving stuff in a given time etc would be a better option. The app could run the traffic you need and the user wont want to throw the monitor out the window!

  • Haha, at least this year we can throw away the entire keyboard instead of just having to replace F5 :)

  • I see this no different than Black Friday.

  • Well, it’s finally over. And I’ve had time to sleep on it as well…

    Living in Norway, I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to annoy my employer, or skip school to participate. But going straight from punching codes, and to bed, does not do wonders for any sweet dreams…

    I must say that in part, I agree with one thing… Maybe not the best way to get new customers?

    I had moments where I drew my own sanity into question, thought about the futility of it all, rubbed my temples to stay the pounding headache… And some times I was a bit pissed off at the whole thing…

    But then at some point, right before I keeled over and died (or was it after?!?), it struck me… What a total geek I am for sitting here punching captchas for hours on end. If anything, I must be glowing with geekyness right now. I’m letting my geek shine!! YAY!! That was the heart of it… From there on out, it was just a matter of keeping from getting crosseyed.

    100$ could easily have “disappeared” from the credit card, the wife would never had noticed. Yet you get cought up in it all, and when you get to the stage “just ONE more code, then I’ll go to bed”, sanity has fled.

    So, I didn’t win anything this Free Day. It was my first one, it won’t be the last.

    Thank you Sparkfun for letting me shine! Now I’ll just have to shop for 100$, because I had looked forward to that.

    With regards Torstein

  • Now (finally!!!) I', allowed to post comments.. During “freeday” commenting was impossible and more then couple of times I got “ended” “please log in” etc. So, I’m not complaining on inability to comment but on possibility that my typing of captcha was just waste of time without real chance to win anything but pain in my fingers :(

  • They should hide 2000 prices at random specsheets and product descriptions, so that all the users are going bazurk browsing the website instead of translating books..

  • I tend to agree with the others. I wasted over an hour entering over 1000 of those damned things and got nowhere. I was up for playing the new game, but it turned out to suck badly. Random chance is gimicky and not worthy of the intelligence often used on this site. Bring back the test used last year.

    Given how many hours went by and how few winners there were, it seemed most people wasted their time all day for little in return. CAPTCHA’s are irritating enough in single units. Having to enter thousands isn’t any fun and tends to generate ill will towards the game and provider.

    From the sales&marketing point of view: (and it’s really sad an engineer has to say all this…)

    • This was to bring in new customers. Maybe the game did. Free stuff is appreciated if there’s a real chance at winning.

    • This was supposed to reward existing customers??? Major fail.

    • This was supposed to promote good will towards the company. The people who won within 10-15 minutes will say so. Everyone else will say not. A general fail here.

    • Games of chance are appropriate on retail sites like Amazon where the general IQ level isn’t that high. The people who use SF range from amateur engineers to full engineers. Big difference there. Please keep that in mind.

    • A game of chance does nothing to encourage studying electronics like the test last year. Getting people to study how to use products on this site would have been another major win since they would be likely to buy more products that they know how to use. If the buyers get their projects to work quickly because of know-how, they are likely to come back and buy more projects.

    • I partially agree with some of your points. However, given enough diligence, even the Captcha system could have been beaten. The game was introduced at least a day in advance. A sufficiently intelligent/experienced engineer/programmer could have written some code to intercept the video stream as it was transmitted to the screen. The captchas only showed up in the same spot every time, which narrows the amount of data, and the page that loaded was pretty plain, which makes it easier. Then you just automate the entry and RETURN parts to complete the system.

      Barring that, one could possibly have used some webcam recognition focused on the screen to read the captchas and enter them automated. Like facial recognition, but obviously more complicated. Even if the bot got it wrong when it was completely illegible, it wouldn’t be any worse than manual entry. There was plenty of time to engineer a solution before hand, and tailor it to the specific game during the 6 hour window during which they gave away money. It wasn’t over until the last minute, so the odds were still in anyone’s favor.

  • Why not be a little more fair. I like what REI does. Give me a dividend back on what I have spent. It keeps me going back. It would be a little more fair to loyal customers who pay. This Free day really made me mad. The $200,000 came from somewhere, out of paying customers pockets.

    OK, I understand marketing for driving new customers. Then give a new customer a one time $10 discount on any purchase $20 or over. That would be more helpful.

    For the amount of money I spent here last year a dividend would have been much appreciated.

    Thanks for nothing.

  • So, here’s a company willing to give a way, yes give a way $200,000 of its own money by holding a contest. Wait, let me check and see how many of the other electronics companies I buy stuff from are having contests.

    Only one, Sparkfun!!

    Now this is my third year trying. Didn’t win, I’m not pissed off, to be honest I didn’t put a lot of time in to it. A little before taking the kids to school, a little on my way to work. Oh, and a little more while I was on a conference call.

    Like Sparkfun 2012 Free Day contest or not, it cost them more then they gave away and for me any company willing to give back must feel comfortable doing so. That despite all the positive and negative comments posted each year.

    • Nothing is free…..If I were SparkFun I would create a customer reward program, not a let’s have everyone type in Captchas (even members who signed up the day before) to win “free” money.

      • I think a major point of free day is to bring new customers in. I don’t think it will work as well as they hoped this year, as new customers got frustrated, and you never want to have any customer, let alone a new customer leave your site frustrated.

    • Hmm Parallax Inc has contests, Digikey has contests. Tons of companies give away money.

  • Does everyone fail to realize that free isn’t free? The 200k came from their loyal customers, while contest allowed anyone off the street to join in. This is a stupid marketing ploy and really pisses me off. I don’t care that I didn’t win, it’s the principle of the thing. SparkFun, you may have gotten some new costumers through this gimmick, but you just lost many of your loyal ones…… you will find out that this was a disaster… Captchas, really, what idiot thought that up? Why not do something that requires more than 2 brain cells, like the quiz last year? It is sad that SparkFun really messed this up.

  • At least I know I have to find the money for the things I want to order from Sparkfun. I was holding off of an order to see if I had $100 from Sparkfun to help. As I was not supposed to be using the work computers for things like this at my retail employer, I hope I do not lose my job. Maybe Sparkfun could hire me as a kitter?

  • Member #288208, Swee - I wouldn’t waste my time with these complainers. Remember there are people who would knowingly sit on a sharp pointed rock and when it gets uncomfortable for them they complain because they have to get up. Which brings me to my next point. I doubt it very seriously if they spent the time they say they did.

    Thank You Sparkfun. I could not have bought anything on my own if you had not provide this oppourtunity,

  • Terribly bad event. I am not a bot! Spent a lot of time. CAPTCHA is not work for me. I tried in different browsers (firefox, konqueror, IE text/audio).

  • Terribly bad event. I am not a bot! Spent a lot of time. CAPTCHA is not work for me. I tried in different browsers (firefox, konqueror, IE text/audio).

  • I have an idea for next year. Have the contest be done in 15 or 30 minute windows. One entry per window, and award the winners randomly by email at the end of each window. This would solve most peoples complaints about not having the time to play during work hours, while still keeping it a fun and involving game. The captchas would then be unnecessary since a bot would give you no advantage over manual entry.

  • I have an idea for next year. Have the contest be done in 15 or 30 minute windows. One entry per window, and award the winners randomly by email at the end of each window. This would solve most peoples complaints about not having the time to play during work hours, while still keeping it a fun and involving game. The captchas would then be unnecessary since a bot would give you no advantage over manual entry.

  • Blame Recaptcha ( a google gig last I checked ) for the captchas. I thought it was neat whether I won or not, but I prayed and somehow managed to win.

    Kudos sparkfun, this is golden to a college kid who can’t set aside too much for building things. I will be back, don'tchaworry.

  • It’s really awesome that you guys do a free day and it’s appreciated!

    My only criticism is that (ab)using Captchas in the manner you did was very distasteful. I only beat my head against that wall for five minutes before I realized that spending $100 was less painful to me than sticking it out in the Captcha gauntlet for some random particle to come to my rescue. It’s almost like placing a gift certificate in a row of 50 clogged toilets and no gloves provided.

    Anyways, keep up the good work and products and hopefully in the future someone will come up with a more creative and tolerable idea. May I suggest whack-a-mole combined with particle detection?… Surely that can be done in HTML5. As for the folks running lynx and other text browsers, …well., this isn’t a BBS so what do you really expect?!

  • You did manage to slow us all down with those horrid captchas… After ten minutes my brain finished slagging.

    I think I will have this horrid twitch the rest of my days from that. Praying you do something else next year… PLEASE

    (the black blot and warped lettering over it are what made my last eeprom give it up)

  • It seems to me that I will never get free stuff on free day, I was all day long trying to get a writing Captchas, I even used my phone while driving (I had some close calls :P), to sum up if I see one more Captchas I´ll throw myself out the window and I guess that it is My destiny to always pay for stuff, any way free day is always fun and stressfull at the same time.

  • i think this one was my favorite http://www.flickr.com/photos/66299084@N02/6682312183/in/photostream hope yall know your geography :D

  • Awesome event once again guys! Have followed you guys almost from the start ( Member # :) ) and hope to see you guys continue to rock! Keep growing, keep healthy, keep awesome.

  • It drives me nuts to see all of these mean and unappreciative comments. Thank you Sparkfun! Keep up your great work you have one very cool company and the majority of us appreciate it very much! (Even if we didn’t win on Free day)

  • Lol I spent all day doing this in school now I’m overloaded with finals prep + homework and I didnt even win :( :( :(

  • People! Stop being such Debbie Downers! What other Co you know has a free day and gives away 200,000$???

  • So there was 10 of us in the IEEE lounge at the college trying to do this. Two people won =). One was a freshman EE major and the other was a business major that walked in….made an account and won in less than 10 minutes O.o.

  • Wow, this really sucked. I tried 100’s of times with no luck. Hours lost. As someone else mentioned, just pick some random customers and send them the $100. If SF’s goal was to reward its customers, then give a rebate of a percentage of purchases made over the last two or three years. If its to gain new customers, then offer rebates on your first purchase. Otherwise, this just pisses off everyone that didnt win.

    • Otherwise, this just pisses off everyone that didnt win.

      Please look up the definition of “contest”

        • Well, it would, if the contest was only for new people. It wasn’t, so the ad doesn’t sum up anything related to this.

          What many here are complaining about (and you as well, I assume) is that the current customers aren’t entitled to some sort of boon just because they’re a current customer.

          It was a contest, not a breadline.

          • The whole point of this freeday (i believe) was to gain new customers. Last year you could pick a reward based on the first order date, or attempt a quiz. Point is, they “Wanted to give back to the sparkfun community”

            A quote from nate:

            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.

            Not mad or anything, but still.

  • Ok, at least we learned something about reCaptcha (in its current state):

    • one or two mistyped characters don’t matter.
    • ignore case in the botched word. It won’t hurt.
    • replace the legible word with a random letter, especially if it contains weird characters. It won’t hurt.

    I am not sure how they use the collected data to scan books, but I sure hope they do double checks…

    • This is all so true. But those little quirks are what make it such a great captcha engine for the web… and it helps translate books.

  • Proof positive that Sparkfun views its own customers as nothing more than lab rats to play experiments on! I refuse to fly an airliner for 20k a year, and I refused to play captcha’s for a “chance” of some goodies… Too much self respect.

  • Proof positive that Sparkfun views its own customers as nothing more than lab rats to play experiments on! I refuse to fly an airliner for 20k a year, and I refused to play captcha’s for a “chance” of some goodies… Too much self respect.

  • Entered about 3000 captchas and didn’t win. I was home sick with nothing better to do, but still decided it wasn’t worth the time. This seems like more of a way to punish the loyal customers rather than reward them.

  • I support, I am also a lucky person you!

  • Thank you, SparkFun, for another Free Day. Though my tired hands are typing this message more slowly than normal, any frustration felt while punching through many non-productive attempts is gone. I will enjoy many hundreds of hours with my new, $2 (local pickup ftw) Hakko FX-888. I agree that last year’s quiz system is more in line with SparkFun’s stated objective of electronics education, and hope that people aren’t too pissed off about not winning free stuff after lots of captchas. Next year: randomly assigned, electronics-related pop-up questions throughout the day, with a captcha attempt before it allows you to answer the question??

  • Hmm? Did I miss something today?

  • This was my first year as a Sparkfun customer and my first Free Day celebration. About 30mins to an hour of filling out captcha after captcha, I finally got one! Cleared out one of my wishlists. Thanks guys for a great site, great stuff and $100 of free stuff.

    • “Finally”???? After 30 mins? You poor thing. Some people like me spent the entire day filling in captchas and we didn’t get anything.

      • I think it was more of a timing thing that anything.

        • I’ll guess at my own question. If there really were 6,000,000 tries and it took about ten seconds per, that’s about 16,600 hours. If half of the people were on the clock at their jobs (and this being a weekday in January, my guess is that it’s higher) and their average salary was $30 per hour; that would equate to about a quarter of a million dollars in lost productivity. This is not cool.

  • Still love Sparkfun, however, I found this year’s Free Day very disappointing. I think of Sparkfun as a fun, creative, innovative company, that help make electronics exciting. I think this year’s Free Day lacked all of that. I am really curious how they went from last year’s model to this year’s? Last year loyal customers had a chance of being rewarded for their loyalty, the mechanism for winning was fun and really embodied what the company was all about. This year it seemed like it was phoned in. The mechanism to win felt like busy work only more frustrating, it required no knowledge, it was not exciting, it was not creative. In my opinion the whole experience was dull. Now note, you cannot just expect to win, everyone should get that, but at least with last year’s system the experience seemed worthwhile and fit with what the company was about. Again I love the idea of a Free Day but I felt this year’s really fell flat, I will try hard to look forward to next’s years.

  • Today’s free day was NOT a stress test for Sparkfun. The page was verifying the answers with ajax calls to a page called “check.php” which returned a maximum of 2 characters (in case of a bad captcha). I’m pretty sure even my server could handle such lightweight transfers.

    For every “try” reCAPTCHA had to create a challenge and transfer the picture to the client and then it was called by Sparkfun’s servers to verify that the answer was correct. On the other hand, Sparkfun’s server only had to receive the answer and return an integer representing various statuses.

    The real one that was doing all the work was reCAPTCHA which is backed by Google and even an event like “free day” isn’t a real challenge for them. In fact, it is quite an opportunity since the reCAPTCHA system helps them digitize books, which gives them content that they can use for advertising later on.

    To be a REAL stress test it has to be representative of the actual traffic. Today’s free day was absolutely not representative. Usually a webstore server is mostly busy sending pictures (since it’s really slow) and doing requests on the database.

    Don’t get me wrong, giving money to your customers is awesome. But don’t try to make me believe this was a stress test for your servers. Sparkfun’s free day 2012 was a RAFFLE, nothing more!

    Last year’s free day was so much better. It was more representative of the actual traffic (and it was a real stress test!), I learned stuff while doing it and I won 60$.

    • No I don’t think so. The servers did auger repeatedly at the start. So some very useful data was captured. By that measure, it WAS a “stress test.” And the test was a resounding success! Enough people were reloading the page to tank the incoming connection, but people doing “Captchas” were still able to access that sideband function, thus servoing the server stress as people were awarded wins.

      The captcha mechanic was perfect. Annoying enough to limit use, but at the same time sufficiently compelling to a core group to ensure that the goal distribution of 200K was reached.

      I gotta bow and scrape to the Sparkfun IT guys on this one. They did a brilliant job of both designing a stress test that would result in valuable data, and kept the servers pretty much up.

      • The only thing that could have been “stress tested” is their homepage and their login server. But once you were logged in, the requests were very light (I analyzed the Ajax requests) and I personally never got a timeout or an error. It took me an average of about 7 seconds to solve the captchas and on every try it sent about 140 characters (the challenge key and the answer) and received 2 characters or data back (the status). Including the HTTP headers and considering that wasn’t HTTPS, this really isn’t a lot of data.

        I wonder how you can affirm that “the test was a resounding success!” and that they “design[ed] a stress test that would result in valuable data”. I’d love to understand your point if it’s backed by real information. To my knowledge, to stress test a system, you have to test the system itself.

        To give you an example, if I want to test my car I won’t go for a ride on my bike even if it’s on the same road.

        • I know for a fact that in at least one synopsis leading up to Freeday, I read or heard Nate say that only the first Freeday was really a stress test for the servers. He openly admitted that this was a way to improve their client base by generating buzz for a raffle (he didn’t say raffle). I know that I personally told at least 200 people - through various social networks - and at least 3 of them participated (including a 13 year old).

          You’re right: this wasn’t a stress test for anything other than the login server in the very beginning, but this year that wasn’t the point.

    • I don’t think they really advertised this year’s free day as a stress test. Maybe that is why it fell so flat. They wanted to continue the tradition but without the task of stressing the servers it became just a raffle and to me became much less interesting and worthwhile…

      • You are right. I just hope that they find something more clever next year. Unless they admit it’s a raffle and simply asks people to fill in a form.

  • I commented earlier but figured I would give more input after the adrenaline had subsided from my system.

    Yes I am disappointed that I chose to waste my time entering random letters to try to win $100 dollars that I don’t have. Rather than complain and tell Sparkfun they are stupid for finding a way to engage thousands of people for a full day(something I could probably never do). I will simply give my thoughts for maybe a more pleasant ending to Free Day that would result in less angry comments on this page.

    I suggest something(quiz, game, whatever) that would allow everyone as many entries as they want and winners would be the top 2000 or so people that performed best in that something. Then all of the customers are happy because they didn’t waste the entire day if they lost and all of the winners wouldn’t know it until it was over. Everyone would waste as much time as they wanted and could stop if they are happy with their score or whatever.

  • Didn’t get any satisfaction on the giveaway so I’m going to do the next best thing and buy stuff with my own money. Thank you Sparkfun for being the great American company that you are.

  • Ok I’m glad I won. I’m glad it wasn’t a quiz just because I’m a novice without certain knowledge and without a lot of cash to spend at this moment. But I want to get started in electronics. Those cap things do suck especially on a tablet. I do have to say I was extremely lucky as it started at my lunch break and I won at the end of my lunch break. My hands do hurt a bit right now but my job even aggravates them sometimes. Congratulations to the other winners but to the whiners out there especially the ones that took the day off work to try to win. If I was going to loose more then $100 bucks in pay for the chance to win. I wouldn’t have taken off. Heck I’m coughing and stuffed up with a annoying head cold and I still went in even though I’d never loose pay if I didn’t. I’m grateful for the contest. I didn’t expect to win. I wasn’t going to spend my day trying. I lucked out. Someone posted the odds as 1:5000 or something like that. That’s better then most lotteries.
    Personally how a contest is run doesn’t affect my opinion of how a business is run or whether or not they will win my business. I judge that simply by how they act when I want to buy something from them, how is the selection, prices, availability and especially product description. If someone else has a better description of the same or similar product for a comparable price, after I weigh other pros and cons I will go with the one who meets the most criteria. I might even spread the order out over two or more companies do to what my needs are. At least it wasn’t where you had to eat a bunch of fast food for hopes of getting a couple of little game pieces on a board. I’d love to win $1,000,000 doing that but I’d rather eat healthier and tastier food. If you have a problem putting in captchas then don’t. Is there a better way to run a contest probably. Does it reflect on their business practices not really. If you want to complain about the captcha weird characters tell google to proof read their stuff better. If you wish to complain why slam Sparkfun about their business and just stick to what you disliked about the contest format and do it professionally and or at least politely. If you have a customer service complaint shouldn’t you be contacting the company or voicing it in their forums? This could be a good way to get new customers maybe a poor execution of it but a good way. There might be someone out there who wants to try a new ardunio, stamp or picaxe but didn’t want to drop the money out of their pocket. Given a chance to win those people might try, win, get said product and enjoy it thus returning for more.

    Thank you Spark fun for having this contest. I hope your server test went well. It seemed to be working well for the first hour or so of the contest when I was on. Yes I would be thankful even if I didn’t win. I’ve been thankful for a lot of things in my life when I didn’t have anything much to show for it. Just the chance to win is wonderful. At least this one versus another contest that happens every time the video airs I had an equal chance to win. The other one usually involves a quiz and I’m not knowledgeable enough to know half the answers. Sorry for being long winded. It probably took me as long to write it as you read it. I am trying to think before I type. Rich

  • Webservers and geiger counter work. Test done.

    Order fulfillment, shipping, … time for your stress test.

  • My Sparkfun order turns up today so I’m a WINNER and you’re all losers, unless you’re a winner, then you have sore fingers.

  • I spent my entire lunch period (I’m in school) trying out around 200 Captchas right after 11:00. I didn’t get anything. I’m not complaining about not getting free stuff (so don’t hate), but this is my 3rd year trying to get stuff for free day. It gets irritating after a while. I go for Free Day because my parents aren’t all gung-ho about my ventures into electronics and stuff, and after I (accidentally) killed 3 Arduinos and a Roomba (I think the Roomba was defective and fried the Arduinos), I’m on my own to get new parts. So getting free stuff would be nice. Sparkfun, maybe you should do a Free Day for new customers and then a seperate points system for people who buy things constantly? Like those credit card points? And then members can cash ‘em in during Customer Appreciation Week or something. Just an idea.

    • You killed 3 Arduinos and a Roomba in some eccentric and elaborate experiment? Your parents should be proud. Failure breeds success, please continue your endeavors.

  • DISCLAIMER: I spent about an hour and won nothing.

    I love SparkFun. I love that SparkFun is giving back. I will still shop SparkFun. I will still load up the page every Friday to check out what’s new.

    But I will definitely not be participating in future giveaways if they require so much effort on our part. Unfortunately, my time is too valuable, so I stopped after it became obvious that the probability of winning was tiny. I honestly believe that this was a huge waste of time. Take a second and figure the aggregate loss of productivity. I’m sure you can produce a rough figure using the server logs. This giveway method is biased against loyal customers that don’t have the time to dedicate to filling out captchas like a factory worker.

    That being said, thank you for giving back. I’m sure we all appreciate and respect the gesture. I’ve simply adjusted my expectations and will resign myself to never becoming a recipient of SparkFun’s generosity.

  • After an entire day of 10% productivity at work and 90% Captcha Solving Efforts I actually hit a winning Captcha towards the VERY END.

    I had lost ALL HOPE and was very but very frustrated and mad. Because I gotta admit it was an EXTREMELY frustrating process.

    But by working hard at entering these Captchas(and hardly working here at my job) I got my winning ticket, I feel like Charlie when he got his golden ticket lol

    Thanks SF

    P.S.- In behalf of all of us(Winners & The not so lucky ones), No more captchas next year PLEASE.

  • well that was interesting. I lost count of the captchas and now have sever wrist pain.

    Next year an idea would be to have one captcha and everyone enters once and the Geiger counter randomly picks people from the list. This way people don’t spend hours entering in captchas.

    Keep up the great work when I have some money to spend I will gladly buy something from you guys since you give back to your customers.

  • 8 hours of captchas - $0 Losing 8 hours of work - >$200 Finding a new supplier that’s -not- Sparkfun - Priceless

    It’s going to be a while before I subject myself to Sparkfun again after this abomination.

    • Yea! Reminds me of that time I scratched of an entire scratch ticket and didn’t win anything!

      Why the heck did I waste all that time scratching it off?!?

    • Key words “subject yourself” Yep, that’s right. You got nobody to blame but yourself.

      • The real loser in this is actually google’s OCR efforts. The sheer amount of false data they got today because of people wrestling with those nearly indecipherable captchas will set their efforts back a lot. Especially when people realized that the non-distorted word wasn’t actually checked.

        Way to stick it to Google Sparkfun.

  • You all should make a CAPTCHA patch that you iron on or a t-shirt…because i am a CAPTCHA master after 5 hours of that… PS…it still rocked

  • Around the second hour i was thinking that someone should come up with a program that solves these automatically. I caught myself when i remembered the point of the captchas.

  • 13 People won from my Physical Computing class. We spent an hour in class just typing. EPIC!!!!

  • All this free money stuff is cool, but what I really want to see is statistics for today. I wonder how significant the change in traffic to reCAPTCHA was

  • how can anybody possibly complain about getting something for free with odds better than almost any lottery LOL

    PS I didn’t win either :)

    • If my calculations are correct, you had a better chance at winning the Cash 3 then this.

  • Entered Captchas all day long…must have gone through a million…no love :‘(…sigh.

    I’d love to see some stats…like top 50 by number of entries…distribution across the world on a map…total entries…

  • My computer restarted before i completed the order!!! I LOST MY CODE!!!!!!! AGHHHHHH and “RETRIEVE YOUR CODE” doesn’t work…. im about to cry! i spent 5 hours deciphering those codes.

  • This was the first time I’d heard of free day, and spent all day entering those things. It was frustrating to say the least, and the more I entered, the less I want to shop here. I did see one neat product on the site while waiting for it to start, but I’ll be buying that on ebay. If there was a short cut to the capchas, that should have been explained so that we’d all be on a level playing field. I had no idea that the odds were less than 1 in 5000- knowing that, I would not have wasted all day. Also, knowing that, I’ll not return next year. I do hope those winners report the income to the IRS- that’s close to $100,000 to the US Treasury… Now to remove spark from my bookmarks…

  • Third year, no biscuit. I still love you Sparkfun, but I’m not going to bother in future.

    • This is my third year without winning anything; and, I got cross-eyed from the captcha images. None-the-less, I love Sparkfun and I will continue playing once a year, just to say I did. In fact, now I’m going to place an order and I hope the orders really deluge the order system and shipping departments.

  • SF:Free day is awesome. But, the way they did it this time around is a bit lame. It would be nice if we did something relevant or slightly related to SF, not typing capcha’s all the time. I don’t think Captcha’s should be used in this way either, because you see which world you don’t have to type and just type a letter for that, and write out the other part. At least, that will happen with most people after at least 10 captcha’s. So you can’t state you’ve been really helping with OCR at all, you might have made it worse. I am certain that people typed hundreds of these. I did, most of them correctlyish.

  • I like last year’s quiz-based prizes a lot. At least it’s a way of learning. Sparkfun can use it to help with their educational mission. Captcha? not so much. It’s really a waste of a lot of people’s time. I tried it for 20 minutes and decided that my time is worth more than the $100…

  • Didn’t win anything this time, but thanks to Sparkfun for improving my typing skills.

  • Big pat on the back to all of the guys in IT at SparkFun, thanks for the great day. Only noticed one crash… :-P Fact: To give every account $100, it would cost 20 MILLION USD. stop complaining.

  • This was very hard i am a person that has very low vision and this process was very hard and i hope next year they take ADA practices into consideration

  • Your CHANCES OF WINNING:

    total: 6,000,000 attempts (excluding failed captchas) that’s 1m attempts per hour. that’s more than 270 attempts per second!!!

    Even if you’re SUPER-FAST you need more than 2sec on average per attempt. On average, you’d have to sustain this brain-killing, finger-numbing rate for 10mins before wining (on average!).

    However, you’d make mistakes too so I would expect at least twice that time (again, on average), which is not too bad.

    I could verify that your chances were “not too bad” as follows:

    • there were 6,000,000 attempts

    • assuming that people made about 100 attempts (some many, many more, but others gave up much earlier than that), about 60,000 unique people participated.

    • the chance of winning then would be 1/30, which again is not impossible, especially if you made more than the average number of attempts.

    data source: https://pachube.com/feeds/43969

    EDIT:

    • If we distribute 2000 awards evenly in a period of 6h, you get about 1 award every 10.8secs.

    • At the rate that SF received successful attempts, there would be about 3,200 attempts within that time.

    • Within the same time you would have made about 2 successful attempts on average, which gives you a probability p=1/1600 every time.

    • If you plug this into a binomial, you’d still need about 1,000 attempts to get a 50% chance of getting at least one winning one.

    • at about 1 attempt every 5 secs, this would take about 1h20mins.

    • Hmmm I’m not sure about that, as I made about 3600 attempts for 6 hours and was doing a captcha about every 5 secs, non-stop and still didn’t win. I think you have to take the Geiger counter into play, as that makes it truly random, and very hard to calculate the odds.

      • The geiger is irrelevant, it’s mostly there to create additional buzz and to ensure that wins are awarded based on a poisson process (which is more fair than what a random function would do).

        Also, see my edits for more info.

  • Spent a few minutes playing during lunch at work and won nothing. The reason I’m not upset is because I only spent as much time as I was willing to sacrifice given the low odds.

    Nobody held a gun to people’s heads. If they didn’t want to spend 6 hours typing mindlessly, they didn’t have to.

    • Well said. I got what I deserve (a waste of valuable time never to be recovered) and no one but myself made me do it.

  • oh well no cigar this time. But, I’ll be super fast with recaptcha for all those online forms :)

  • I loved this system! I’m a captcha pro now! This is going to open up a Pandora’s box of projects for me! THANK YOU SPARKFUN!

  • This system sucks. Long after it was over it was still accepting entries and say to keep trying… so no way to even know if it ever worked or not. :(

  • So, yea, I gave up a few hundred CAPTCHAS in. Ah well, made $100 in that time anyhow, which will probably be spent at SparkFun at some point :P

  • The most un-fun thing I done in a long time. Thank you for trying though. Don’t think $100 gift was worth the carpel tunnel surgery. Maybe broaden the prize variables and makes some flash game or something. Variable prizes would be nice as well Say 50x 1000.00 prizes, 500x 100.00, some 75, 50, and 10.00 or offset with lots of 10 & 20 coupons off certain order size to broaden the winners. Not fun sitting for 8 hours and not winning anything but pain.

  • This method was too time consuming. I’m at work, took 10 mins here and 10 mins there during the day to hit the server, but is was futile, I just couldn’t spare the time too keep trying.

    Sparkfun if you are going to give money, give it to the folks that actually buy from you, not the entire world including people never been a customer!

    Establish some sort of rewards program based on how much you buy in the year (something like “this product gets you 6 sparkfun points”) similar to REI.com. Then once you have accumulated enough you can redeem them at the end of the year. just a thought..

    • You people are so missing the point. Of course there will be some first time users that are rewarded but pretend for a moment that you owned SFE. What is one way to get new customers? Give stuff away. So yeah, I’m sure that some of the winners were first time log ins. So what, from SFE standpoint they have just potentially snagged another long time customer. A lot of the long time customers already buy their stuff from places like Mouser and Digikey and only pop in here to see the Friday vid or do some research since SFE puts most of their schematics up for free.

      For newbies to the electronics world, SparkFun’s slightly overpriced components are worth it since they have the support and other pieces that make it so much easier to get into this as a hobby or otherwise. Without SFE many of you would not have been able to migrate to other sites because you simply wouldn’t know what to buy.

      Suck it up and move on.

      • Just so you know… I spent about $300 in digikey last year; I spent over $1000 at sparkfun in just the last two months!

        I just felt, I didnt have a chance to play the game. I could not get online because of work. A suggestion could be to do this on a sunday, or after work hours.

        But all and all I love sparkfun, their magic, their ingenuity, and the cool community they have created. Didnt win, but happy they are around so I can keep buying their cool stuff :-)

        • I do agree with the timing. Since I work 3rd shift I was not affected but the bulk of people that work were really screwed unless they were able to do it at work. I feel for the them and think they got the shortest end of the whole stick.

  • Who else legit slept through free day? FML. (don’t judge it was my day off..) I was on top of this the past few days, hell I even logged in the other night to make sure I remembered my password.

    Welp I’m here now, might as well buy that light-pipe I’ve always wanted.

    :|

  • Can they post a list of the users who posted the most capatchas? I had at least a thousand, i was doing them nonstop through school… I hated when the loader would freeze on “checking” and you’d think “I WON” then it would display ANOTHER FREAKING CAPATCHA!! Happened to me dozens of times :(

  • Update the second: It’s a bit more radioactive out than we expected this afternoon. At current rates it looks like we may finish up well before 16:00.

    My evil plan worked! HAHAHAHA! Tomorrow, I retrieve the plutonium.

  • How about some post-party numbers?

    How many CAPTCHAs were solved by Sparkfun participants?

    How many users (accounts) participated?

    What’s the median number of CAPTCHAs/person?

    –Joe

    • 6,469,449 entries.

      2065 wins. (it must have kept running after $200k) https://pachube.com/feeds/43969

    • maybe next year we could have, say $10, winnings with a cap at $100 per person? This will allow for more winners, more orders for SFE, more bandwidth usage (as uncapped winners will continue to grab at the money), and of course more Sparks, Fun and Electronics. :)

      Thanks for putting this even together.

    • +1 It would be great to see some statistics

  • Thanks Sparkfun for the free day. I sure wish you could login and just get to roll the dice once for the day! And be told immediately whether you’re a winner or not, instead of all the frustration of trying over and over. It really was quite frustrating, even though it was darn nice of you to give away free stuff.

    I tried for quite a bit of time, and I’m now finding I can’t type or spell very well, because my brain is stuck in Captcha mode. :-/

  • Okay… that was… interesting. ;-) My sore fingers agree with the others that maybe next year you do things differently. :-) Onward and upwards, Sparkfun! [rides on his unicorn down the beach and into the sunset]

  • Thanks for the chance to get free stuff! Instead of F5 I need a whole new keyboard. Can’t wait for the recap.

  • You guys all understand that in a sweepstakes some people don’t win?

  • Well, half the work day is gone to captchas and I didn’t win anything. However, I do want to thank SparkFun for putting on these events. Even if I didn’t win, it’s been great going through the products and thinking how I’ll spend $100!

    Unlike previous years, I didn’t notice any significant slowdown with the site either, so I’m chalking that up as a definite win for the SparkFun IT team.

  • Well spent over 3 hours trying to type with a smart phone, not fun tring to get the symbols to come up. And after of of that still not a winner. Maybe next year.

  • Meh. Last years was exciting and challenging. This year was boring and tedious.

    Hope for something better next year - even a return to the quiz format would be preferable.

    Cheers!

  • I have to say, this year’s method definitely had it’s ups and downs.

    I understand the need to prevent bots or whatnot. The captcha or the quiz work fine. The captcha wasn’t as fun as the quiz was last year IMO. The big thing that got me this year was the length of time. I liked it better that at least when you fail (which I’ve done my fair share of over the years) that you fail within a few hours. Not spending all day failing.

    Otherwise, didn’t get anything, but happy to try, and happy to be a SparkFun customer.

  • 6hrs and 1000’s of Captcha’s later and I am still not a winner. :( Going to go do something worthwhile now, my eyes and hands hurt.

  • I think I would have had better luck playing the lottery!

  • Пиздёж все это!!!

  • Thank you Sparkfun, for providing an exciting and fun distraction while sitting at my desk at work! (Made all the more fun by the fact that I actually won something!)

    Now I just have to decide between getting a real, ‘grown-up’ soldering iron, or a bunch of fun pieces-parts. :-D

  • Well I’ve been typing captchas for 3 and a half hours, and what did i win? NOTHING!!!!!!!

  • This was a terrible experience. I spent the time from 9am mst to about 2:55pm mst trying to type in all those stupid captias and didn’t win. One guy on irc won on his first captia! I really liked the customer loyalty method from last year. Bring it back next year please.

  • Interesting thought for you all…. Spark fun gave out 200,000 in money. But there system was so convoluted and time intensive that it likely has cost businesses a rough estimate of 10,000,000 - 35,000,000 in lost productivity, revenues and opportunity costs.

  • I liked this contest much better than last year, even though I didn’t win anything. A lot more fair for users. I did however keep trying after the the $200,000 was given away because the total didn’t update. I liked being able to try a few times through the day instead of having so be chained to a browser. Still fun. Thanks.

  • Thanks for the opportunity at free stuff! The real winner… sparkfun as I am still going to buy my cart full of stuff despite not winning free money, haha.

  • thanks for the gift sparkfun

  • More then an hour and half of typing practice and win. I wonder if is because my operating system is Linux?

  • 5+ hours and Lost =( o well better luck next year…yeah kind of a crazy test for someone who has dyslexia. that was way fun. hands are killing me hahahahahahha

  • I agree with most of the comments that SF needs a better system for the next year. I vote the quizzes!!! But anyway, thank you SF for the opportunity for $100. Please continue the tradition, but improve upon it for the years to come.

  • no win after 6 hours, want leaderboard with most captcha if possible.

  • A couple of my Captchas were in arabic… after staring at nonsensical english letter, I just sat there and starred at the screen for a few seconds before I knew what to do.

  • Well, now that I’ve spent a day trying to get $100 (and NOT), I once again am reminded why I don’t even walk near a casino. Not the worst little contest, be nice to just put my email into a hat instead- will need a week to get my brain used to looking at sensible text again. Spend the $200K well all!!

  • It’s over :( Btw I think it needs some improvements for next year some times when you type a wrong word it computes and says for you to try again but it does not show that it’s wrong! I'am happy with 100$ :) Much better than the past year only 30$…

  • Using my average words per minute, found via a typing website, and the total amount of time that I spent doing this, I have estimated that I made 21,600 attempts at winning, and not one made it through. Disappointing, but as always, thank you SparkFun for doing something awesome for the community! There’s always next year for me!

    • Not possible. If you took 2 seconds to do each one, it would result in 12 hours of typing. It lasted about half of that. I’m sure the number was relatively huge, but not THAT huge.

      See you next year!

      • Very possible, actually. I never said it took me 2 seconds to do each one. I clocked myself on the typing website as doing about 60 words per minute, or about one word a second (I don’t remember the exact wpm value the site gave me.) Also, take into account the fact that you only need to type one of the captcha words, and just leave a single letter for the OCR word, and that shaves off a few fractions of a second per captcha. Also, so there’s no confusion, I was entering the captchas using the return key, not my mouse, so that makes it even faster. Finally, take into account the fact that I was here for the entire 6 hours, or 360 minutes, and you get 21,600 captcha attempts. Granted, that’s an estimation, so it could have been more like 20,000 or so, but still… :)

  • Third year in a row of building excitement followed by frustration and time loss. Maybe next year? Thanks for doing this all the same SparkFun!

  • I liked the quizzes from previous Free Days. The Captchas were a pain.

  • Seems as if the servers came through with flying colors! my eyes are crossed and my head hurts, but there was really no response lag on the site. Well done, IT! Also, I personally digitized at least the first 22 chapters of War and Peace.

  • Is there not going to be a “Free day over” message? It’s hit 200,000, but nothing changed. However, no more money seems to be going…

  • so one page tells me it’s over, the captcha page just keeps on letting me enter, saying “Try Again - Don’t give up now!” Makes me wonder if it really kept entering me or only on a page refresh before entering captcha.

  • I couldn’t read half the Captcha’s… that was really frustrating.

  • my hands hurt, d@% you Captchas!

  • Thanks Sparkfun for putting on the Freeday once again. Although I spent almost 3 hours of captcha'ing and didn’t win, thats ok, cause it was all free to begin with. Hopefully people do not complain that they didn’t win, its FREE!. I’m going to go to the doctors now and see if I have carpal tunnel syndrome :P

  • Why is it still letting me enter Captchas? Do I still have a chance? No it cant be over, must type captchas…

  • Seriously thanks for wasting my time. Maybe next year try randomly selecting good customers whose emails you already have as opposed to the non-sensical Captcha system (½ of which are totally illegible).

  • I know Kung Fu….and speak Captchakian as well!!. Thanks Sparkfun!. Grettings from Uruguay!

  • I want some rainbow cake! Thanks for a great FreeDay!

  • Ah well, didn’t win this year either. On the other hand, Captcha gave me plenty of ways to name my band. I think Orklet Studies is a great choice.

  • AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

  • Thank you SparkFun for putting on this event! And the website is running like a champ - would have never known it was going on except for the banner!

  • I just won, but i have to tell you that it was not fun. Not fun at all!

  • I just digitized 100 books today… oh well I won $100 so I don’t really care.

  • Free Day is the best =) …when you win at least. Sorry to all those entering captchas all day long for nothing =\ Better luck next year!

  • I spent about 3 hours on and off, but finally got it. The captcha I won with was “Redrum chief”

  • I have to wonder how many upset customers this is making. Also, think about how much time I’ve spent on this site doing data entry when I could be spending time shopping for my next project. Can I get the stats on my specific account’s entries?

    • I didn’t actually win.

    • Its a great new year!I am happy with the today’s Free day, compared to last year in which the furthest I managed was to log into my account! The rest of the time I was just hitting F5 and waiting for the page to load………

      Thumbs up to Sparkfun Team… for having chosen to give 200k freely, I am one happy customer! I love Sparkfun!

  • Thanks Sparkfun, I won a code. It took the better part of >4 hours, but eventually got it… Again, thanks

  • It’s interesting to note how many complain about getting a chance at winning free stuff. If you are not having fun and don’t want to do it then don’t. I think it’s funny when someone says they will refuse to participate. To me that’s one less to compete with. :)

    • There is no competition. You have the same chance of winning even if you were the only one participating. You either submit when the Geiger Tube goes off, or not.

      • If fewer people tried for the prizes, then (assuming the odds of each one winning remained the same) it would take longer for all the prizes to be awarded. So, yes, there’s competition.

        • Just some technical clarification (since that’s my job). First (MedicOfOld), when the Geiger tube goes off, it sets a flag which lets the next (correct) captcha win. Therefore, if you’re the only one playing, you would win on your very first entry. Thus, the fewer people playing, the greater your chances of winning.

          Also (tetsujin), the Geiger circuitry sets this flag about every 10 seconds (plus or minus a few seconds, which is the random part). Thus, one (and only one) person will win about every ten seconds. This limits the rate of how fast the pool is depleted; it will always go down by $100 about every ten seconds, no matter how many people are playing. (This is different than previous free days, which did finish faster with more people playing).

          As Rob said quite far above, we’re still trying to find the best way of doing this. We used a captcha to keep script kiddies from walking away with all the money (nobody wants that), and captcha does provide a small side benefit to the book-digitizing project so it’s not entirely wasted work (although I’m sure it felt like it!) Sorry for the onerous nature of this year’s free day, thanks for the kind words, and we’ll definitely try to make it more Fun next year.

  • Thank you very very much sparkfun.

  • I give up… 4 hours and nothing! congratz to those who did win :) I suppose I should have read the comments first about the reCaptcha, it would have saved me some time!

  • winner winner, chicken dinner!! Thank you Sparkfun! It took me four hours, but it was worth every minute!

  • Awesome Free Day Sparkfun! Keep up the great work! We all hate Captcha’s but they are a fact of life.

  • I had to work for it but I won. No complaints here ;)

    • What about all those folks who didn’t win? How’s going blind, proving the definition of insanity saying you worked for it? If it’s truly random, you did not win because you worked for it.

  • I have started seeing captcha’s every where, I just hope I dont start dreaming about them

  • Thanks, Sparkfun. For all the crap that you’re getting about the captcha thing, it’s fair and gives everyone an equal chance. You guys still rock.

    • Actually, it’s not. Fair would give everyone an equal chance regardless of the time they put in.

      • Yes. After 5h and several repeated captchas it is infuriating to see that many had the luck to get a code with few tries.

  • with these captchas it’s hard to win anything!

    http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/5834/lolcgh.png

  • Damn all that work was soo worth it :D

  • I am now officially ‘Captcha’ certified…. At least I got a reward for all the clicking I did.

  • With all these captchas I hope there is now a congressional blog site filled with anti-sopa messages!

  • Got mine, Thanks Sparkfun!!!

  • Won over my lunch break on the ipad. yay Slow typists unite!

  • 5 hours of captchas for $20/hour? not a bad deal. I love you SparkFUN!!!

  • I was pretty frustrated at first but then I won. So it’s not too bad :P

  • Hehehe, I beat my Dad. He’s been up since 9am and won his code after almost 4 hours. I just won mine in under 30 minutes. Good luck to everyone else, there’s still time!

  • My hands hurt, but I’m still at it.

  • Leave it to the masses to be mad about free stuff. Can’t make everyone happy. I haven’t won yet, but at least this year is fair. Nothing to do with being close to CO, or the fastest connection, etc. Just pure luck sent from the heavens. For all those getting upset and quiting, here’s to you. You’re giving the rest of us more time (and chances) to get the prize. :) Congratulations Sparkfun!!

  • I’m done…I quit…not worth it.

  • OMG, this captcha thing really sucks. After many hours i finally won. Nevertheless, it is great that sparkfun have this kind of “promotions”. Good luck to every one! Greetings from Mexico.

  • you should save part of the money to the distribute to top captcha solvers

  • I think that I’m finally giving up, just got the captcha: ridiculous | obsessive.

    Cool idea. Wish I had been one of the winners. Congrats to everyone who did and congrats to Sparkfun for the opportunity.

  • Win, finally !

  • My entire class of 50 students in physical computing is typing in captchas at 200 a minute

  • Not a particularly stimulating way to win $100, but I came back for a few minutes worth of typing every 15 minutes or so and just won. I agree with others - there must be a better way to test Sparkfun’s servers. As for rewarding us with some free goodies, I like the idea of logging in on Free Day, getting into the pool, then Sparkfun using a random number generator to select winners rather than us having to type Captchas. But, I won, so I’m not feeling too bad!

  • Thank you!! I won!!!…Still lots of money to go!!!

  • I got mine earlier today. The website stayed surprisingly fast although there were a few error messages and I think the comments went down for a while too.

  • Oh the pain, must keep typing… want BITS. Please? NO? How about now?

  • the title tag says it all: “FREE DAY 2012: REVENGE OF FREE DAY”

  • Literally just knocked my chair over. I WON I WON! WOOT! :-) Thanks SF!

  • yay, got a code :-)

  • Finally after a good hour and a half of entering captchas as fast as I could, I got my $100 code… Now excuse me while I put my fingers on ice.

  • Just won! Finally after several hours of typing. Honestly these captches were just too terrible. I got captches that were having lamdas and deltas and Chineese syllables in there.

    At last won it. Thanks Sparkfun!

  • I banged away for about an hour and a half, but had to stop when I won. :D Thanks Guys!

  • Thank you Sparkfun!

  • Sparkfun. Thank You.

  • Woohoo, I won! Thanks, SF!

  • Does anyone else feel like Schrodinger’s cat?

  • please somebody tell me where the inventer of this captcha is….

  • Thought some of you might be interested in this little clip about the captcha’s, at least if you don’t win you know you’ve not been completely wasting your time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQl6jUjFjp4

  • Thought some of you might be interested in this little clip about the captcha’s, at least if you don’t win you know you’ve not been completely wasting your time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQl6jUjFjp4

  • the rapture was in one of them now i truly believe in 2012 lol

  • really getting tired of typing these things…. I bet google is happy though… only an extra 1000 or so books completely digitized by sparkfun today!!!

  • I estimated the number of attempts I’ve made using my typing speed in words per minute and the number of minutes I’ve been sitting here trying this: 11,160 attempts and counting. I comprise approximately 0.265% of the total number of attempts.

  • Anyone else notice the pi in the lower right of the free day page? The source includes an eatpi() function but it’s not very apparent what is does. Any ideas?

    • The function was meant to create a popup alert box with the word ‘yummy’ in it, but it didn’t appear to work in any of the browsers I tried it in.

    • Haven’t you ever seen “The Net”? It’s obviously a backdoor into government computer systems around the world.

  • Over two hours with out working on captcha. Bye Bye sparkfun.

  • Taking a few breaks from work to type in captchas I won in about 20 min of trying. Not a bad hourly wage. Now off to the product pages!

  • I guess I’m just one of the lucky ones. Thanks, Sparkfun!

  • I’ve been at it almost continuously since the start. No luck.

  • Thanks for the migraine! I don’t like you anymore.

  • Honestly this is the pits! Why not reward the people who have spent more money than they’d care to admit filling the coffers you’re now ‘giving’ away, rather than tricking them into time wasted, hand numbing idiocy. I know, if you don’t like the rules then don’t play the game, but this is beyond the pale!

  • I’m giving up. While I appreciate that this is free money and the intent is for Sparkfun to load their servers, this just doesn’t make me want to participate. I’d much rather try and answer 10 questions with the knowledge that the connection could be intermitant and I might only end up with $10 instead of $100, than spend my time typing garbage in the blind hope that I get lucky somehow. And add to that that there seems to be no way to know if your responses to the Captcha are actually correct. I can get the same response for an unsuccessful try even if there are clearly letters missing.

    Roll on Free Day 2013.

  • What a waste of time, Sparkfun. I spent half an hour typing in codes. Find another fool.

  • 403 forbidden…nice.

  • Class action suit for Carpal Tunnel anyone?

  • Is there a different screen when you win? I’m getting in a trance of entering captchas. I sometimes realize I’m not even looking at the result before I type the next one in. I’m like a MACHINE!! (but not in a good way…)

  • I won yay!!!!!!

  • Not fun. My eyes hurt now. Also the amount on the bar at the top doesn’t update unless you refresh the page. So how do we know it’ll tell you, you won?

  • I feel like Google has the reCaptcha knob between “Unreadable” and “OCR can crack it” turned a little too far towards “Unreadable”. More than 25% I just give up and hit enter with crossed fingers. It is a very cool system Spark Fun has set up, no one can complain about the randomness / cheaters!

  • well i gotta go 2 work now. I guess im not gonna win. good luck everyone. Maybe next year.

  • As Eric Cartman once said:

    “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”

    Been at this since 11. Got the long pause “checking” screen 3 times. who knows. Good luck. I’m off to buy a lottery ticket. At least the expected value is better…

  • I’m Trying since when started.. and NOTHING… =/ I just stoped for 15 minutes to rest .. =(

  • Does the train in the Sparkfun IT den carry any radioactive cargo around that track?

    http://ustream.tv/channel/free-day-2012

  • The Captchas are awful. How about next year you just let everyone login to their account and click the ‘Enter me in the drawing’ button. Then randomly give them out.

    • yes, just do a random draw. this was the worst promotion ever! But hey, thanks to this contest I found another place to go buy a DSO nano… See, there is no such thing as bad marketing :)

  • no way… sparkfun has goined with google to get their costumers do OCR for them?? and after all the words that I have decrypted there is only a “random” prize which I never got????

  • Lord Aurius Rivendare’s Deathcharger’s Reins was an easier drop than the Free Day prize LOL!

  • Captcha are very hard to read, some of them are completely nonsense. For the event, i tried like total 2 and a half hour got nothing. All i get are dizzy head and pair of exhausted hands, thanks…

  • It slightly worries me that I got kinda good with capchas. Anyway, thanks Sparkfun. This promotion was the final push I needed to start on my UAV.

  • I glad to take in this activity.

  • OK 5 minuets into Freeday and I got my $100. Had issues but I just kept trying till I got to the capcha page and after 3 tries bingo. As I have never played with the Arduino before I bought the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit for Arduino before they all got bought out. So I still have $5.05 left but I’m not sure if I’ll ever use it because shipping charges are kind of hefty on this site.

    • Over 2 hours into free day for me and all I have is a headache. I’m quitting and going to another site to spend my money. This is no fun when you don’t win. How about rewarding customers like REI does with money spent at sparkfun in the past year?

      Some of us cannot waste a day sitting at our computers. We have to show up for work. The capthca is way too frustrating!!

    • That’s why I use USPS snail mail. It is really cheap but takes a while. I have never gotten anything from Sparkfun in less than 7 calendar days which really sucks but it’s all about the $$$ for me.

  • Well I gave it a full hour and I have to say this does really SUCK. Its simple if your lucky in Vegas you will win. If you loose money in Vegas you will win NOTHING! I used to love this site I would visit everyday but after really trying hard for a whole hour I give up. Heck I would have love winning just $10 base on my sale history or quiz. Someone is having a lot of fun looking at us loosers.

  • Anyone else thinking that sparkfun is actually using us to create spam accounts on hundreds of sites? ;) j/k

  • This is definitely not worth it, you guys can keep your money. Bring back the quizzes!

  • I don’t like these captchas. Sometimes hard to read. Typing and typing… Hope i can get the $100.

  • Woot!

    I know the captchas suck and after every one I kept thinking this is my last. But I won and I did it in well less than 100. Maybe 30 total! If you watched the video, they are case sensitive to a large degree. There appears to be some room for error like a period instead of a comma.

    • My order is in. An Arduino (I have historically used PIC), an RFID reader, two RFID buttons, a serial 7 segment display, 2 328p’s to test the arduino as an ISP, and a bunch of extra goodies to make it all connect and play nice including some headers for the Xbees that I will be buying next. Oh and a breadboard USB power supply. I am soooo happy. I was going to buy all of this anyway and had the order ready to go even if I didn’t win but winning let me add some more stuff.

    • And for some reason Sparkfun is no longer blocked at work for shopping by our firewall! Thanks for that. Now I can spend countless hours browsing at work!

    • Lucky You! :P

    • what video?

  • and thousands around the world inexplicably developed carpal tunnel today.

  • someone please put an old smoke detector next to the Geiger counter already..

    i wonder if sparkfun knows how much highly qualified workforce they are tying up doing captchas today..

    haha

  • yay, 3 hours of hard work, at about 8 captchias a minute, so far ive earned carparal tunnel and gone might need glasses…i still want my $100!!!

  • Its a great new year!I am happy with the today’s Free day, compared to last year in which the furthest I managed was to log into my account! The rest of the time I was just hitting F5 and waiting for the page to load………

    Thumbs up to Sparkfun Team… for having chosen to give 200k freely, I am one happy customer! I love Sparkfun!

  • What happens if you’re just going through the motion and fill out another CAPTCHA after you’ve won? Do you lose your code/gift or does it register automatically into your account?

    • Once you win, you cant enter any more captchas, even if you want to - so no, you wont lose your code :)

  • Old way much better! I hate Capticha. I liked giving it out on years of customer =)

  • I hate Captchas!!!!!!

  • could you have done the resitor captcha like Adafruit That one ties to your area as well.

    Resistor Captcha

  • Holy crap.. I think i’ve entered enough captchas to earn some good money from captcha trading websites…

    Is Sparkfun harvesting captchas??

  • I could only make it a few pages down and couldn’t keep reading. I actually had a bit of fun trying to win something for free. I hope that next year there is a change. I also hope for a quiz about electronics knowlegde. It should also be challenging, so I vote for the quiz to be in Swahili. If you don’t like the game, stop playing.

  • I think the problem was the structure of the giveaway. 20,000 $10 prizes would have been preferable to 2,000 $100 prizes. Let people win a max of 10 times if you want a $100 pp limit.

  • Please spare us the update. The only thing worse than typing mindless captchas for hours with nothing to show for it will be reading about it.

  • Is this something that needs said? Am I the one who has to say it? BwaHahahahahahaha

  • SF!! its hurting now, can you put away the banner from homepage now.. for every log in it reminds me that em unfortunate.. I Accept, accept accept..

  • yeah, the Captcha thing was kind of annoying, But it’s ok. Thanks for the chance, though next time, a simple drawing would take less effort on everyone’s behalf. =) It only felt like a waste of time, not because I didn’t win, but because I put a good hour and a half of work time into it.

  • This is a Captchas system really disgusting. A total stress and a big waste of time! I was very disappointed.

  • This went better than last year, but still could use some tweaking. The problem this time around is that you could spend all day submitting Captchas and feel that just one more might do the trick….It was especially torturing to see the IT dept. playing with trains while we slaved away. I suggest Sparkfun do the same system next year but limit each person to say 10 or 20 attempts. That way a person can have some fun making their tries but once you have used your allotment you are done and dont have to feel bad that you dont keep trying. It worked well to spread the pay out over a larger part of the day for those who could not get in to the system early but it just was too open ended to be fun.

    • If it wasn’t clear (sorry), the train was an integral part of the random-number system that determined who won. There should be a homepage post about it today. Thanks for trying, we’ll do our best to make it more Fun next year.

  • After all of this, I want to see some Captcha statistics posted! How many books did the Sparkfun community help decode for Free Day??

    • Oops… Considering the hundreds of times I entered words for male genitalia (in Swedish) - and presuming others took a similar approach to the Captcha Chaos - we might have done culture a disservice.

      And no, I didn’t win. x(

  • Kudos and thanks to Sparkfun for this initiative in the first place. I think it shows great support and encouragement for the DIY/Maker movement. Congratulations to those who won.

    But, having stayed up all night (I’m in Australia) to participate, I could not get one of the many hundreds of captcha’s that I received to work. So far, every free day has been a frustrating exercise in futility. There’s always been some technical drama on Sparkfun’s end preventing me from participating.

    My sleep is worth more that $100usd (especially since the USD is in the pooper right now :-)

  • entered captcha, redirected to winner’s page(???), forgot password, sent email confirmation, LOST PRIZE :(

  • Stay tuned for “hangover day”

  • free day start on 00:00 in my timezone, got bored and sleepy with this captcha thingy, wake up in the morning and yet there is still captcha that may be i dreamed about during my sleep. 200k is alot, and thanks to SF to share it with us. but it was not free day at all for me, it was Sparkfun’s 2012 CAPTCHA DAY. i am out if i see more 1 captcha i need to enter to win in 2013 :)

  • NO!!! All day long I’ve had this nagging feeling that I was forgeting something…. FREE DAY!!! The same thing happend to me last year, I feel like a fat kid that just dropped his icecream in the road :(

  • I think this system wasn’t good this year. The captchas were tedious, and the whole thing wasn’t fun. I think what you should do next year is the quiz system again, but add captchas to slow people down. Like have it where the person has to type in a captcha or two to start the quiz, and then do the same after each question. That way your servers should be able to handle it, and people have a higher chance of winning.

  • I support, I am also a lucky person you!

  • Hi Sparkfun, You did give me a spark of fun. Thank you very much. It was a great idea. Just a question, I would like to place my order and pay it with the promotion code. But if I want to pay it ask me to check my CC or it let me sign in at PayPal. However my total is under the $100. Why do I need to sign in at Paypal with my $100 promotion code? Thank you.

  • What a waste of time. After setting my alarm for 5am (yes NZ) and typing captchas in for over 2 hours straight in a semi zombie state, I decided that it was stupid and went back to bed. And yes I released the odds in the first 5 min looking at the live attempt numbers. If it wasn’t for the time I would have stuck at it longer. Now just some calculations here for the 6.5 Million attempts people did, if they took 10 seconds each, that is equivalent of 18,000 hours of our time wasted.

    • at 18000 hours, that’s over $11 an hour. More than minimum wage in any US state! What a deal.

    • hell this was so boring and stupid!

      i really expected the free day would be a bit more exciting…

      to spend a hole day entering captchas in a box like a compulsive maniac is so sparkless and unfun!

      you should at least have imagined some kind of game or something…(i mean to keep it simple and brainless but funier and exciting…)

      i dunno… maybe like duck fishing or a fart contest or something…

      this was so pure obsessive masochism, i quited quite early this nonsense for more productive activities.

      100 bucks for so much typing is absolutelly not worth

      i hope at least you have collected all the stupid captchas to build a collective novel of absurdities…

  • thank you sparkfun!

    here’s a collection of my most favorite “WTF?!” captcha’s.

    [i-luv-captcha]http://i.imgur.com/SGkQ3.png

    http://i.imgur.com/SGkQ3.png

  • Is there anyway to use it to cover the shipping charges as well?

  • +1 for not liking capthcas I would definitely prefer the system last year, where you get $10 for answering a question right. Thanks anyways.

  • Here is my 2 cents; this is not complaint in no way, I was curious. I live in Midwest NC . I took into consideration the delay from my laptop to the Spark Fun’s server, Internet communication is in no way instantaneous. While watching the timer on the homepage, I waited till it was at 2 seconds, I hit F5, I got a 502 Bad Gateway error, which is what I expected from the sudden flood of traffic, after a few more F5’s, the home page popped up saying free day was over, what’s up with that?

  • I suppose I’m most curious as to how many hours were spent on participating in this promotion by people being paid by others to perform actual work. In other words, how much does SparkFun owe the planet in lost productivity today? I am (or was) a big fan of the SparkFun brand. But I have to question the wisdom of this year’s Free Day promotion. OK - I’ll guess at my own question. If there really were 6,000,000 tries and they took about ten seconds each, that equates to about 16,600 hours. If half of that time was spent by people on the clock at their jobs (and this being a weekday in January, my guess is it’s more) and the average participant earns $30 per hour, that equates to about a quarter million dollars in lost productivity. Not cool. Not hip.

    • It happened the same way last year. People mindlessly refreshing pages equals lost productivity, at least this year it felt like we had a chance …

  • Those Captcha’s were crazy…. but agreed, why are people whining about free stuff? I spent my coffee time this morning trying. Alas no win. Congratulations to those that won… and if you aren’t gonna spend it all, I have a wish list that needs help. :-)

  • This was awesome.. THANK YOU

  • …double post…

    • This (below) is the very definition of “Sour Grapes”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fox_and_the_Grapes

      Or perhaps that famous line from Yogi Berra: “Nobody goes there anymore, its too crowded.”

      I gave up after only a few dozen attempts. I couldn’t figure out half of the Captchas. That’s how they weeded out the fools. Brilliant! :-)

      • If I had won, I’d still feel the same way about how they handled it. But I would have a few more electronics on my workbench. There is no doubt, free stuff is good. But I’d rather get $10 off of a $100 order, or something along those lines. You know. Like normal retailers do.

  • the cake is a lie :(

  • Last year’s Free Day was fun, interesting, and educational. This year’s was ghastly. At some point I decided even if I won, it wouldn’t be worth the eye-numbing, finger-numbing, brain-numbing tedium. If you do a Free Day next year, please make it something enjoyable.

  • Attempt Captchas on Google Chrome for 5+ hours: nothing. Switch to Fire Fox: WIN ON FIRST TRY

    But seriously, you guys have an excellent site, and excellent selection. I used your “Big Easy Driver” for a senior engineering project, and it worked well.

    I plan to use the $100 to by myself some Arduino goodies, and of course a little Sparkfun swag to spread the word! :]

    • I was on chrome too. I spent 5+ hours entering codes and got nothing!!!

    • please say that isn’t the case. :( I did the same for the whole contest. As a side note, my touch typing has improves considerably.

  • I don’t want to complain, really. Don’t.. Want… to.. Commmmmmmm. OMG OMG! I have to! I hated the Gotchas!!! I didn’t win! I gave up after my brian freaked out thinking, “This can’t be healthy for me.” Without sounding too whinny.. what about the option of taking part in freeday, or simply a rebate of say 1% on your yearly purchases with the next purchase? I just never win on freeday.. ever!

  • I agree that they should come up with a better idea next year. I know that you ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’ but this was a long and mindless task. I gave up after 40 mins and was frustrated that I even spent 40 mins. So much else I could have done in that time including learning more about Andrino. There is fun and then there is torture. I am a perfect potential customer. Interested in Andrino enough to attend the San Diego Andrino Club and haven’t purchased hardware yet.

  • o come on lol i couldnt do it at school so when i got home it was over great day to pick tho its my birthday

  • If it makes you feel better we all helped in translating print words into digital text. I think that we collectively translated thousand of books for the price of the possibility of a 100$ Credit. I really wonder if we could figure out how many print words we translated in total.

    TED VIDEO- MASSIVE SCALE COLLABORATION

  • My computer restarted before i completed the order!!! I LOST MY CODE!!!!!!! AGHHHHHH and “RETRIEVE YOUR CODE” doesn’t work…. im about to cry! i spent 5 hours deciphering those codes.

  • It was a lot of effort with nothing to show for it. After putting in what I value as $300 of work, I stopped. But that doesn’t mean I get to say I accomplished anything.

    A lot of captchas were actually 3 words, or a formula (chemical or math) or partially upside down. I estimate that 10% of my captchas failed because I tried to tell the system what was actually written there (alphas and deltas included). Also the important word with the black splotch was often totally illegible, making the OCR aspect seem pointless, since you knew you could OCR the unknown word, but couldn’t get the random text right.

  • Sounds like I tried for a lot less than a lot of people (1.5 hours) and still found it pretty frustrating. Maybe they should’ve given $25 to 8000 people. I don’t think I’ll play next year if it’s in the same format. SF is a good company but I think by the looks of the comments they may have done more harm than good with this one. They made 2000 people happy and 10,000 people really mad!

  • my crummy computer restarted right before I ordered…. i hope i can retrieve it. THANKS sparkfun!

    • I lost my code… yeah, that’s it… I just lost it. Maybe I can get one of the ones that do not get redeemed to replace it. Yeah…

  • This was really fun. Not so much the contest, but making several wish lists for my next project over the last couple of weeks. I could only play on my lunch time and didn’t win. Still I have a very good idea of what hardware I’ll buy next time I turn in my cans.

  • I liked last years free day a lot more. Yeah it wasn’t good the first couple of hours of hitting F5, but once it worked I at least got $30 credit for my efforts. Whereas this year I spent all my time typing in mind numbing Captchas, mostly correct, for hours and have absolutely nothing to show for it other than blood blisters on my finger tips. Definitely not as fun.

  • “free beer tomorrow” :)

  • captchas are a waste of time on a good day

  • That Geiger counter hates me.

  • It appears that I am a robot, however not radioactive.

  • Lets get something straight -

    I’m not whining because I didn’t win anything… I’m whining because this was actually painful to “stay in the game”.

    This experience left a terrible impression that there was a complete lack of foresight into potentially maiming your otherwise content “loser” customers.

    “I don’t often shop for electronics, but when I do, I skip sparkfun” -the most disinterested customer in the world

  • I tried a few times before deciding this was a complete waste of time at the rates I bill. C'est la vie. At least I was able to decide to ditch HTTPSEverywhere for good. Thanks for that data point, I guess.

  • Member #101725:

    If you don’t want your prize, PM me and I’ll send you my address to send some goodies my way.

  • The mindless work sucked and the progress bar not updating really made it feel like it was never going to happen, and it didn’t. Still better than RadioShack I guess.

  • Only real complaint for me was the fact that the Ajax code on the page did not take into account the “Money Given Away” bar… I worked the thing for 1.5 hours, all the while seeing $200 I finally closed the browser and reopened it… THEN the amount updated to some tens of thousands…. next time, even changing that 1 thing would show “progress” (But I assume that was designed to reduce the load on the servers… Don’t do a postback unless you’re a winner…)

    loved some of the code on the page… cussing about commas, or this: function eatpie(where) { //$.get(‘/free_day/resetwins.php’); heh

    • I just reloaded the page when I wanted to see an updated “Money Given Away” bar…

      • F5 did not do it… that just gave me a new captcha… Oh, found the code I mentioned (Did the coder not KNOW his code was readable??? heh)

            // add a damn comma
            money += '';
            var rgx = /(\d+)(\d{3})/;
            if(rgx.test(money))
              money = money.replace(rgx, '$1' + ',' + '$2');
            var formatted = '$' + money;
        
  • uhhhhh this might be retarded… but how can i retrieve my code now? I didnt save it on the PC since its the schools pc and saw that i can view it at any moment thought il just Retrieve it later… any way to get it back?

    • Vladimir, contact customerservice@sparkfun.com and they can help you out.

    • There should be a link in the center of the main page that says congratulations on winning, here’s your code. That’s what mine says, at least.

    • Oh wow

      I don’t know what to say… oh wow

      Stand by for some serious flames…. You actually won, and didn’t like… I dunno… GRAB A PENCIL, or a screenshot?

      Jeez, don yer flame retardant jammies kid….

      • like i said i was on a school comp so the screenshot would be useless. Also i saw the page does not dissapear so i didnt save the file.

        Note: they fixed the error and the page displays correctly.

        Good to know some “ass*****” didnt get their 100$

  • well the captchas apparently where not working for me! I was still enter captchas well past the end of the contest….had I not paused to refresh the page I would still be trying well into the night!! what’s up with that???

    • +1 Money won never went to more than $1100 on the meter. Made me wonder if the site was broken.

  • Are the codes transferrable? as in could I give my code to another registered user?

    • The codes are actually tied to your SparkFun account, so they are not transferable. But, you can ship an order to anyone you want! Contact customerservice@sparkfun.com if you have any questions.

    • Couldn’t hurt to try.

  • I tried for more that four hour and couldn’t get in. This system sucks!!!!

  • Hmm I didn’t won anything, just returned from school to try for the last minutes with an empty hope because of some error that showed me there was still lots of money… when suddenly a 403 error appeared killing my last hope of winning something… you should make it later more opportunity for students :(

  • I hope everyone figured out that for each two captcha words only the curved word with the inverted color region needed to my typed (nearly) correctly. The other word would often by in hebrew or math symbols and any guesss worked. Even if the second word was easily readable you could enter “SAD;FLKJ” or “p” and it would be valid. I think these are the words where the captcha users are helping the optical character recognition. If any number of sparkfun users figure this out then they just loaded the captch database with a boatload of crappy data.

    Oh, and I hated this contest but only because I did not win. How about next time you only let users enter once per radioactive ‘hit’. Perhaps choose from the non-robots that entered since the last ‘geiger tic’ but I hated sitting their, not knowing when the money was being given away, even if anyone else in the world was winning. Ugh. So much lost productiviy.

    And yes, next time my lab needs parts I might go to digikey instead out of spite.

    • i also think from the 6M captcha’s there were MOST probably 1M+ invalid ones. That’s how you screw up reCaptcha. They are not meant for this kind of thing.

  • This was very hard i am a person that has very low vision and this process was very hard and i hope next year they take ADA practices into consideration