Greetings to one and
all. My name's Frank. But around this digital world that is the
internet people call me the 'Station Chief'. And no, I am not a
fireman nor have I ever been one. Seriously, I don't know why people
seem to think that. 'StationChief' is a reference to 'Star Trek',
specifically the spin-off series 'Deep Space Nine' that ran from 1993
to 1999. My internet persona, if you will, is named after 'Chief'
of 'Station' Operations Miles O'Brien, played by the brilliant
Irish actor Colm Meaney. Chief O'Brien is the handyman's handyman. If
anything at all breaks on the entire ship or station, he can fix it,
and he will in less than an episode's length. I've always loved this
character because he can put his mind to it and do absolutely
anything. I'm a computer and electronics handyman myself, so I've
always been inspired by such a character. I guess that's why the name
'StationChief' stuck to me all these years.
Anyhoo, since you're
here you've probably heard, or hopefully taken advantage, of the
Black Friday Product Charts located at www.blackfridaycharts.com.
These charts are my creation and I thoroughly enjoy sharing them with
everyone out there every single year.
The product charts are
put together by myself and a small band of volunteers from the forums
a very popular deal finding site. Really, you should go sign up and
check it out. It's saved me tons over the many years that I've been a
member and has been more than helpful to many thousands
more. My name's 'stationchief' around the forums there (look me up).
These product charts list all of the hot electronics items for sale on
Black Friday, which is the Friday after Thanksgiving in case you
haven't noticed people camped out at your local Best Buy© since the
week before. If you're looking for a particular item on
Black Friday they'll show you all of them that's on sale, including
the specs, when the sale starts, for how much, and help you find the
absolute best deal during the biggest and busiest sales of the year.
They have been very popular and helpful to many
throughout the years. These charts are my children, and they have really become a
whole part of me and my internet avatar.
That last line sounds
pretty cheezy, I know. But think about it. Every year during Black
Friday season my life around me determines how these things turn out.
That means a lil' bit of my life story is found in each one. I
realized this because I was recently going through my storage
hoarding stash and managed to come across the file backups I've saved
to all of my product charts, dating all the way back to the very
first one in 2005. Yes, it's been that long. Going through all these
old files is like getting a chance to go back in time for a blast
from the past to me. I figure it's about time to share not only what
they looked like many years ago, but share a bit of how and why they
turned out the way they did.
So, without further
ado, I give you StationChief's GottaDeal.com
Black Friday Product Charts. This... is the story.
Let's see where it all began. It was a dark age. A new forum
that opened up just a year ago on a deal grabbing website called
had folks arguing and debating rampantly which desktops and laptops
rumored to be on sale during Black Friday season were the better
deal. They needed help to bring order to all the chaos. When
suddenly, a stranger breezed through the door. A new member of the
forums that, for some reason, goes by the name of... with a
thunderclap... the 'Station Chief' (see above).
when I stepped onto the stage. I'm a computer guru who just happens
to love learning about all kinds of computer and electronics parts and
detailed specifications as much as I love working with them. Plus, I love to do everything I can to help people. I'm a customer service kinda guy. So, on a whim I whipped up a 'comparison chart', which is literally what it was in every way, filled with the
desktops from all the 2005 ads. Another forum user did the laptops in
similar fashion. Don't remember what his/her name was, and
unfortunately he/she hasn't been heard from since. My chart was just
your typical ugly and poorly formatted Excel spreadsheet
auto-converted into bad HTML code all wrapped up in a
free-with-spam-ads Geocities web hosting account. Oh, the humanity!
But hey, look at that eMachines Celeron desktop for only $149.
According to legend that very desktop is still working to
Who can forget getting writer's cramp sending out hundreds of
envelopes for Best Buy© bucks, dumpster diving in front of McDonald's©
for spare Monopoly© game tickets, and visualizing some of the first shopper stampedes
horror stories on a video sharing site called YouTube©. Must be Black Friday season.
Ah, those were the days.
I was quite
surprised when people remembered my previous chart from the year
before and were asking me to do another one. So, as desktops and
laptops were my specialty, out popped both run-of-the-mill
spreadsheets, this time with a lil' help from a guy on the
forums named 'RossMAN'. But now with new and improved PRETTY COLORS!
Hot yellow and neon blue? Great mother of rainbows... what was I thinking?
2007 was the year everything started to change. I was
thinking about going back to college. Programming, which was and
still is my true love, was what I wanted to do for the rest of my
life. And, once again, I was asked to contunue the product charts. I
remember when GottaDeal.com
owner/administrator named 'Brad' contacted me about them (don't try
to deny it, Brad! I have the proof!). He was going to help make them
easier to work on by providing me a web page to show the charts on
and update them online with. I, of course being the cocky self I was,
said, 'Hey! I'm a programmer! I can do it!' Therefore I whipped up
some of the ugliest ASP code one can possibly imagine. Completely
incompatible with GottaDeal's server which was where the charts were
So, I got some books and taught myself how to code web
and how to be a 'real' programmer. I made a pretty nice web page (if
I do say so myself) where both charts can be viewed and even
sorted dynamically at the same time. I also did the web form to
update them easily online. In the end, it gave me the drive to get
back into programming, made me want to get back in school, and learn more
about all this stuff I've apparently been missing out on. Thank you,
2008 was pretty much the same deal for the charts as
the previous year. Mostly because I was going through some rough
patches during Black Friday season with emergency gallbladder surgery
thanks to my naughty family genes. So it was pretty much the same format as
the year before, only including all the previous years' charts so
you'll be able to see all the previous desktops and laptops on one
page. Not bad, eh?
Let's see here. Don't I
have those 2009 charts around here somewhere? Oh, wait. I
remember now... THERE WERE NONE!
Yup, yours truly was
officially M.I.A. throughout 2009 and part of 2010. I was going
through a really rough chapter in my life. Between my ongoing health troubles,
losing my job, my divorce after thirteen years of marriage,
and basically starting my life over from scratch again while I found
a stable place to be on my own, it was a world without the
'StationChief' for a while.
A big thanks goes out
forum user 'Swim100flyy' who whipped some charts up while I was away.
But where was the internet guy called the 'StationChief'? In limbo
somewhere out there in the information world of my mind, I suppose. As for
myself, I was stuck in a messed up mid-life crisis with no access to
Suppose you can call this, 'The Year of the Return!'
Regardless of the mess that became my life at the time, all
throughout the previous year I never stopped thinking what I can do
to step things up a notch for these product charts. I loved putting
these things together and I wanted to do something extra special to
make up for missing the year before. In the meantime I managed a new
steady job with a federal government contractor, found a stable place to live, and finally made my
official return to the GottaDeal.com
community. I just happened to be temporarily unemployed for a few
months while between contracts so I needed something to pass the
time, plus I figured there was no reason to stop at just desktops and
laptops. I had big ambitions for these things, but in order to bring
them to life I needed a lil' help. Therefore, everything about the
product charts was about to change in a major way. With some coding
skills, a lil' ingenuity, and with Brad's blessing, in a few months
time I built a complete website where folks can view charts from
every hot electronics item on sale for Black Friday as well as where
volunteers can log in and put all the information into a form for as many product
charts as necessary.
Why, you ask? Well, the answer is
several-fold. One reason is because I wanted to give back so much
more to this great online community of ours. I've lived vicariously
through other 'Gotta-Dealers' all this time and these charts have
always been my way of saying thanks. Another reason is because I love
researching and learning all about specs on electronics. Not just computers,
but ALL electronics. It's what I do. It's my thing. The final reason, and
perhaps the most important, was simply because I wanted
to see if I could pull it off. I'm an aspiring web programmer/coder
after all. I needed some real world experience and a lil' something
to put on a resume. So I wanted to see if I could build a fully
functional and interactive website completely from scratch. That's
right. No tools. No programming suite software. Just a handy text
editor and a simple home server to test it with. And I'm pretty
confident that I succeeded. Sure, the code got a lil' messy on my
end, but I think the part that everyone else can see came out nice.
At least that's what they said. That's what really mattered.
That year was just a lot of tweaking my new life around as well as the charts, since the new charts site and the volunteer site from the previous year was more of a 'Can I Pull This Off?' trial run. Pretty much the same thing it was previously with an extra lil' sorting feature, more products, more stores to list, and making things a lil' simpler for all my volunteers to help me put all these crazy things together.
Ah, what a year. Finally got the opportunity I've been wanting
for quite a while and went back to full time college at Arizona State
University. It's been nearly a good decade since I've been through
college life and I got to re-experience what it's like in full force.
This was also the time when I was finally able to give
everything with the charts a complete and total overhaul. Re-wrote all the code from
the ground-up, and even added a few handy tools to the site
here and there. I felt I already proved myself by putting
this website together strictly from scratch through the last few
years, so it's time to shine things up a bit. New look for the
charts, new functionality, and a better, more user-friendly volunteer
site. Everything revamped for a new year. Oh, and a special gift of
the product chart's own website: www.BlackFridayCharts.com.
Gotta love those good 'ol family genes that come back to haunt you. Special thanks go out to a chunk of basal cell carcinoma skin cancer
on my bald scalp that required surgery, with one lil' spot still being stubborn not wanting to heal right. That, plus changing
to different contracts at my job, along with several emergency in-community moves from one apartment to another in the months
right before the ads came in, this was a year that was certainly just as exciting for me as it was for everyone else going shopping.
The overall look of the charts pretty much remained the same as the previous one. I thought we had a good thing going already,
and I was just too busy to change things up just yet. So just whip it, ship it, and send it out!
This year was certainly not going to be any less, um... 'entertaining'...
than previous ones. As we prepared for the ads to come rollin' in, out comes another surgery I had just a few months
prior. This one brought to me by two large hernias and severe acid reflux, all of which needed major repair. Gotta love those family genes
that love 'ya back. And let's top it off with going back to college to finally finish up my degree right before Black Friday. What can I
say? I like to make things as tough as I possibly can.
But rest assured through rain or shine, in sickness and in health, just as
they have since many years ago the product charts will persevere onward. Might as well add a few extra features onto the framework
that runs the website and rock on to a new year.
Anther surgery? Got it covered with another victory over basal cell skin cancer!
Busy with work and goin' back to school? You bettr believe it! The future of the product charts? Who
This year I'm looking to celebrate our tenth
(count 'em... TEN Black Fridays for TEN product chart years!) anniversary. I was thinking about whipping up a
t-shirt or something. But, by popular demand, I'd rather put together a few extra cool things
which involves the overall prettiness of the charts, the ability to view a previous year's chart,
revamping things on my volunters' end to make my army's job easier,
and even a few surprises which involves making
those wanting to see a more mobile-friendly, portable-devicey chart very happy.
And, most importantly, if I've learned anything over the many years of putting
these things together is that anything is possible.
Oh, don't worry about
me. I'll be around and kicking somewhere out there where I'll
still be producing these babies. Besides, I thoroughly enjoy putting the product
charts together for everyone this time every year as much as
everyone likes to use them to find the best deals for the biggest shopping day of the year.
Rest assured I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.
Maybe when I get about
a few dozen more volunteers I'll do what everyone always wants me to
do and produce a chart for not just the hot electronics but each and
every single item on sale for Black Friday. Someday. Hint, hint. Need more
volunteers, hint. But in the meantime, I smell the first few ads for this
year about to come in!
Well, that just about sums it up. The story of the man
they call 'The Station Chief' and his GottaDeal.com
Black Friday Product Charts. Hope you've enjoyed what
they've become over the many years I've put them together as much as
I've enjoyed the adventure of doing so. They really have become a
whole part of my life over the many years. Thanks for reading, a very
special thanks for taking advantage of and supporting them every year,
and here's to many more years and many more charts to come!
a.k.a. “The Station Chief”