The GottaDeal.com Black Friday Product Charts

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 GottaDeal.com 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 at GottaDeal.com, 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.



2005:
http://www.blackfridaycharts.com/previous/2005/2005Desktops.htm

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 GottaDeal.com 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).

And that's 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 this day.


2006:
http://www.blackfridaycharts.com/previous/2006/2006Desktops.htm
http://www.blackfridaycharts.com/previous/2006/2006Laptops.htm

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 GottaDeal.com forums named 'RossMAN'. But now with new and improved PRETTY COLORS! Hot yellow and neon blue? Great mother of rainbows... what was I thinking?


2007-2008:
www.blackfridaycharts.com/previous/2007-2008/gdcc2008.php

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 going.

So, I got some books and taught myself how to code web pages properly (good 'ol PHP, JavaScript and how to use style sheets) 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, Brad!

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?


2009:
?
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 to GottaDeal.com 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 the internet.


2010:
blackfridaycharts.com/previous/2010

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.


2011:
blackfridaycharts.com/previous/2011

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.


2012:
blackfridaycharts.com/previous/2012

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. Good times.

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. Sweet.


2013:
blackfridaycharts.com/previous/2013

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!


2014:
blackfridaycharts.com/previous/2014

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.


2015+:
blackfridaycharts.com

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 knows!

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!


Frank
a.k.a. “The Station Chief”
10/25/2015


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