FRC Blogged - FIRST Choice

Taken from the FRC Blog, 12/17/12:

FIRST Choice

Blog Date: Monday, December 17, 2012 - 13:35
**Today’s post is a guest blog from Kate Pilotte, FRC’s Kit of Parts Manager: **

Last week I asked Frank if I could borrow his platform to talk about the opening of FIRST Choice, the issues we experienced when it opened, and what’s happened since.

Bottom line, there were two unexpected issues that caused problems for a few hundred Teams when they tried to log in and place orders. The first problem was that Teams with numbers under 1000 couldn’t log in for approximately the first 15 minutes. The second issue was a software bug exposed by the high volume of orders. The result was that the inventory quantity on the website was calculated using incomplete data. Both issues have been remedied – the first one was fixed in less than 15 minutes after going live and the second one was resolved Monday evening. We chose to reopen Tuesday at noon so that we could give notice that it was opening back up. Meanwhile, we’ve contacted the Teams affected and offered compensation for the frustration they experienced.

It was gross. For that I’m so sorry. I know that the others here at FIRST as well as the team at AndyMark are also disappointed.

The current system in not perfect in other ways as well, and we are continually striving to improve it. With your help we can do this. Please remember to send any specific or general issues and questions to

Given what happened though, I’d like to dedicate the meat of this blog celebrating your response instead of dwelling on what went wrong (although please know that we’re taking what went wrong seriously, identifying root causes, and adjusting procedures to prevent such issues from happening again).

Of course people were frustrated and expressed it in various ways. A few people dropped their anger bomb (on a forum, on a blog, etc.) and moved on. Others contacted AndyMark and FIRST directly to state their issue and express their dissatisfaction. Those that we’ve heard from directly have been incredibly gracious, even in voicing their discontent. Almost every email had a clear, concise description of the problem. Several offered to help in any way they could. Many expressed sympathy for the situation we were in!

I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve worked for FIRST for 6 years and even the most trying times, I know I’m surrounded by a community that celebrates constructive, supportive thoughts, words, and behaviors. These emails are just the tip of an amazing community iceberg with which I’m honored to be affiliated.

Like many, and probably all of you, I’ve been reflecting on the travesty in Newtown, CT. Of course, I wouldn’t venture to write about that here – I just don’t have the capacity to address it in a meaningful way - but there’s a meme that went viral in the aftermath that makes me think of you. The meme quoted Mr. Fred Rogers,

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’"

The FIRST community is one of helpers. We help each other, students, mentors, teammates, schools, competitors, communities… I am so grateful, as a member of society, for that.

So, what I really want to tell you today is - thank you, so much, for being the helpers.

As Kate touched upon, R.I.P. all of the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our most sincere thoughts and prayers go out to you, your families, your friends, and your entire community.