My two favorite words: Free stuff

Sparkfun had its second annual? Free Day on January 13. This year there was a choice of two ways to go: you could get $10 for every year since the first time you ordered something from Sparkfun, or you could take a 10-question quiz and get $10 for each correct answer. Since I’d never ordered anything from Sparkfun it seemed more prudent to opt for the latter.

Their servers, as one might imagine, got slammed really hard. Pages took forever to load or, more often, fail to load. Still, by liberal use of the reload command, I managed to get through six questions before the $150,000 they’d allocated ran out.

The quiz questions were pretty easy. Actually they weren’t just questions, they were pages consisting of tutorial information and then a question, multiple choice, which generally the tutorial gave the answer for or told how to get it. For most of them I knew the answer anyway. I got all six right, thereby earning a credit of $60. Turns out that seems to have put me in about the 95th percentile — I suspect more because most people managed to get fewer questions to load before the money ran out or they gave up than because I knew more than most.

I went to the Sparkfun store and picked out a Herbie mousebot kit and a MintyBoost kit which added up to $59.90. A dime left over? Horrors. So I added a $2 tilt sensor. I would’ve spent more but I just bought an Arduino kit.

Okay, so I ended up spending a couple bucks, plus a few more for postage. Not strictly free. Close enough though.

Besides handing out $150K to their customers, Sparkfun also donated $23K to charity. I don’t know what that does for their bottom line but I figure it makes a lot of people happy.

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