As you probably know, Amazon offers free “Super Saver Shipping” on most purchases of $25 or more. But what do you do when the item you want is, say, $21.95? Do you bite the bullet and pay $4.95 for regular shipping? Or do you look for a $3.05 item to get you to $25?

If you’re the latter type of person, you might want to check out It’s easy: just figure out how much you need to get to $25. Heck, if you’re bad at math, your Amazon shopping cart will helpfully tell you how much you need:


Then go to filleritem and enter that amount:


The site will then give you a list of items around that price. The results page will be plain HTML, with popular items listed in bold face and really popular items in boldface with a thumbnail of the product. Just click any link to go to the Amazon page in question, then add it to your cart and get your free shipping!

I’ve known about for a couple of years now, but only used it for the first time last week. I have a beach trip coming up somewhat soon, and both of my pairs of flip-flops are on their way out. I’ve long heard that Havaianas sandals are the best in the world, so I went to Amazon to see what they had. I found a pair I liked, but they were $21.27. Shipping was $4.98, for a grand total of $26.25.

I went over to filleritem and looked for a $3.73 item to add to my cart. It was kind of fun looking at all the random stuff you can buy at Amazon for $3.73: really awful CDs and DVDs, odd spare parts for aquariums, and weird bits and bobs from the hardware department. It took around 15 minutes and a couple of searches, but I ended up ordering an 8″ micro USB cable. I have one of those external “battery pack” chargers that I mostly use for my phone. The regular 36″ USB cable that came with the phone is a bit much to carry around… but the 2″ cable included with the charger is too short, and includes various (easily lost) adapter tips for multiple devices. The 8″ cable seems like a nice compromise. It was only $3.95, making my total for the order $25.22, a savings of $1.76 over buying just the sandals with standard shipping. It’s not the “Deal of the Century” by any means, but I saved almost $2 and got a USB cable out of it, versus paying $2 more for… well, nothing, really.

The only downside to filleritem is that if you’re in a hurry, it’s not the site for you. The results page(s) give you the name of the item only, with no context. If you can figure out what Sue Devitt Silky Sheen E/S – Prague or Fart Bombs are just from their names, good for you. But if not you’re going to have to click the link to figure out what the item is. And some items – like Dorman HELP! 85568 T-Tap 16-14 – have no additional information on Amazon’s site, either. I went to the page but still have NO IDEA what a “Dorman HELP! 85568 T-Tap 16-14” is! Do you?

Win7: Checking Battery Health

For years, laptop users who wanted to check the overall health of their laptop battery in Windows had to hope that their OEM included some kind of monitoring software on the OS install, or had to track down a utility from the third-party vendor.

Happily, Windows 7 has a built-in way to check the overall health of your laptop’s battery. It’s not very elegant, and it’s kind of hidden, but it’s a way to know how well your battery is doing:

1) Fully charge your laptop’s battery. It doesn’t matter if you do the remaining steps with the laptop on AC or battery.

2) Click on the “Start” button and type “cmd” (without quotes) in the “Search programs and files” box.

3) Right click on the “cmd.exe” icon in the Start Menu and choose “Run as administrator”.

4) At the command prompt, type “cd %userprofile%/Desktop” (without quotes) and press the ENTER key. Note that the next step will create a report as an HTML file on the desktop; if you want the report in a different location, change to that location instead of the desktop.

5) At the command-prompt, type “powercfg -energy” and press the ENTER key.

The command-prompt will say “Enabling tracing for 60 seconds” and then “Observing system behavior”. After a minute or two, the process will complete and you’ll see a file named “energy-report.html” on your desktop (or wherever you decided to save the file). You may exit the command prompt by typing EXIT and pressing the ENTER key.

Open the “energy-report.html” in your favorite web browser, and scroll towards the bottom of the report. Look for a section called “Battery Information”:

Battery Information

See the two entries called “Design Capacity” and “Last Full Charge”? This tells us how much capacity the battery was designed to have, and how much it actually reported the last time it was charged. I don’t know exactly what units the report measures, but if you divide the “Last Full Charge” by “Design Capacity”, you’ll get the overall percentage your battery is charging to. In the screen cap above, you can see that the battery on my netbook is around 92% (44820 / 48840 = .9176), so that’s pretty good. Once that number gets below 50%, it’s time to replace the battery.

RETRO TECH: The Metric System

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering how the metric system, a system of measurement used almost everywhere in the world except the United States, and which appears to be in no danger of being replaced any time soon, can be “retro”. Well, for Americans of a certain age, it certainly seems like a retro tech.


The United States has toyed with the idea of the metric system since… well, forever. In Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, Congress is given the power to “fix the standard of weights and measures” for the nation. And, in 1789, the first Congress looked at a proposal from Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who decided to ditch the English system for a decimal system of his own making. It was very similar to the metric system… however, the big shortcoming of Jefferson’s system was that although it adopted 10 as a base unit, it had unique names for each individual unit of measurement (so no centi- or milli- prefixes). What’s worse, Jefferson’s system used existing names for his new units. The basic unit of measurement of the Jefferson system was the foot, which was subdivided into 10 inches, which were further subdivided into 10 lines, with each line subdivided into 10 points. And the less said about his long distance and volume units the better.

At any rate, Congress looked at Jefferson’s system and half-heartedly liked it. But no academics or powerful businessmen advocated for Jefferson’s system. Many in Congress saw Great Britain (and, by association, her Imperial measurement system) as America’s most important trading partner. Many Federalists (the main political party of the time) disliked France generally and were deeply suspicious of anything French. And since adoption of Jefferson’s system could cause mass confusion, at least for a time (“Is that an English foot? Or a Jefferson foot?”), Congress let the whole thing die.

America flirted with the metric system from time to time, but the metrification of the rest of the English-speaking world in the 1950s and 1960s led to ever louder calls to adopt the metric system. The end result was The Metric Conversion Act, passed by Congress on December 23, 1975. It declared the metric system to be “the preferred system of weights and measures for United States trade and commerce”. Unfortunately (or not), the act lacked any means of enforcing this. People and businesses were free to continue using customary units.

Continue reading “RETRO TECH: The Metric System”

The Great Oktoberfest Burger Battle!

Believe it or not, I’d never been to a Red Robin before. But for the past week they’ve been running TV spots for their limited time “Oktoberfest Burger”: a yummy looking burger with “Swiss cheese, beer mustard onions and black forest ham on a toasted pretzel bun”. It sounded so delicious that I made the executive decision last Friday to drive to Northlake Mall and get one. Of course, Lisa came along, and as I was telling her about wanting to get one of those burgers, she said that we’d recently gotten a Steak ‘n Shake flyer in the mail which advertised an almost identical Oktoberfest burger. So I went out and had one those yesterday, too.

Red Robin’s Oktoberfest Burger:

Red Robin Oktoberfest Burger

Steak ‘n Shake’s Oktoberfest Burger:

Steak N Shake Oktoberfest Burger

So… which one will reign supreme? Read on to find out!

Continue reading “The Great Oktoberfest Burger Battle!”


SimonHey, ya’ll! It’s Simon again! Your football feline went 9-5 last week, and is 45-32 for the season so far! Not bad for a little kitty, eh? Let me put down my MANmosa and give you my picks for week 6, honey!


Steelers at Titans:
Wow… the boys from Steel City sure looked like a more balanced team with the strong, sexy legs of Rashard Mendenhall in the lineup, didn’t they? And even though that hamdsome James Harrison didn’t have a great game stat-wise, the Iggles still had to account for him. Even though my boys gave up the Eagles touchdown in the 4th quarter, they looked pretty good for most of the game. And here’s the thing: the Titans ain’t the Eagles. If the Steelers can contain Chris “Sexy Legs” Johnson and force Matt “My Best Days are Behind Me” Hasslebeck to throw, it will be an easy win for them. I take the Steelers to win this game, hopefully easily.

Oakland at Atlanta: Matt Ryan… Tony Gonzalez… Michael Turner… Julio Jones… the Falcons aren’t just stacked with talent… they’re stacked with sexy! They’re 5-0 and, barring some kind of unforeseen disaster, will be 6-0 after this game. Ya’ll know I love me some sexy pirate mens… but Atlanta’s just got too much talent. Take the Falcons to win this one! (Sidebar: so the Falcons’ quarterback is Matt Ryan, but the kicker is Matt Bryant? Well that’s confusing!)

Cincinnati at Cleveland: One word: Ewwwww! Take the Bengals.

St. Louis at Miami: Ahhhh… South Beach. All those handsome mens in Speedos rollin’ around in the sand… Oh MY, girlfriend! The Dolphins have been surprising all season, and the Rams aren’t all that bad, despite they’re being from St. Louis. I’ll take the Dolphins, although the Rams could make this interesting!

Indianapolis at New York Jets: Simon’s got a funny joke for you: “the New York Jets”! If this game were in New York New Jersey, Simon would give the Parade of Incompetence that is the Jets a slight advantage. However, they’re playing in Indianapolis, where the home crowd will give the Colts a slight advantage. I’ll take the Colts, but I’m not really sure about them.

Detroit at Philadelphia: My beautiful man Calvin Johnson! I’ve got me eye on yooooouu! But seriously, Captain Walrus and the Dog Killer are still smarting from their loss to Daddy’s Steelers last week, and they’ll be out for blood here. I think Philly just has more talent than Detroit, and if Dog Killer can hold on to the ball, I think the Eagles win this one!

Continue reading “SIMON’S PICKS – WEEK 6”

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-10-07

Powered by Twitter Tools

FRIDAY FUN: Bond Theme Trivia!

So…. the Internet kind of blew up over the past couple of days since Adele’s “Skyfall”, the theme to the new James Bond film of the same name, leaked on the Internet (hear it for yourself here). Of course, this got me thinking about Bond themes… and I found a bunch of nifty trivia I thought I’d share:

– Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” is the only Bond theme to reach #1 in the music charts in either the US or UK.

– Amusingly, Duran Duran became involved with the theme after bassist John Taylor approached Albert Broccoli at a party and drunkenly asked when he was “going to get someone decent to do one of [his] theme songs” (after Dr. No was an international hit, American film producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli started a company called Danjaq, which owns the copyrights and trademarks to the Bond properties; its subsidiary, Eon Productions, actually produces the Bond films).

– New Wave group Blondie really wanted to do the theme for 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, and sent the producers a tape of a song they’d written for the film. Producers preferred another song written by Bill Conti and Mike Leeson, but offered to let Blondie perform that song on the film. The band refused, and the song ended up on Blondie’s 1982 album The Hunter:

– Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better”, the theme to 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, was the first Bond theme to not share a title with the film. Simon does, however, include the title as a line in the song:

I wasn’t lookin’ but somehow you found me,
It tried to hide from your love light;
But like heaven above me,
The spy who loved me,
Is keepin’ all my secrets safe tonight.

– “All Time High”, the theme to 1983’s Octopussy, is the only other theme to not share a title with the film in the pre-Daniel Craig era. In fact, it’s the only Bond theme to not mention the film at all (perhaps not surprising, as it would be kind of hard to work “Octopussy” in normal song lyrics).

– Conversely, Adele’s “Skyfall” is the first Bond theme of the Daniel Craig era to share the title of the film. Casino Royale’s theme was “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell and Quantum of Solace’s theme was “Another Way to Die”, by Jack White and Alicia Keys.

– Scottish singer Sheena Easton, who sang the theme to For Your Eyes Only, is the only artist to actually appear onscreen singing the theme during the film’s title sequence:

Continue reading “FRIDAY FUN: Bond Theme Trivia!”

DUMB RANT: Cashiers

I am a cash-only person. There are two reasons for this, which I’d rather not get in to right now. I’ll use a credit or debit card when dining out sometimes, especially if the check hasn’t been divided in advance – it’s much easier to just hand the waitress a Visa and say “put the burger, turkey sandwich, the Bass Ales and Shock Tops on my tab, everything else is on [the other couple’s tab]”. But if I’m buying something in a store, a fast food place, or a bar, 99.999999% of the time I’ll use cash.

So… the missus and I were on vacation recently, and twice a cashier accidentally “hit the exact change button”, meaning that the register didn’t tell her how much change to give me. In both cases, the cashiers panicked and looked furiously for a calculator. The first time it was a young white female, and she had a calculator handy, so it didn’t take her long to figure it out. But the second time the cashier spent a full two minutes looking through every drawer at the checkout stand for a calculator. She even called over to another cashier for help in finding a calculator! I was so tempted to say something, but since she was a young black female, I didn’t want to be the “old white man telling her how to do her job”. So I waited, almost amused by the whole thing.

I don’t know what’s worse… the fact that employers don’t train cashiers worth a damn these days, or the fact that neither of those two young women could figure out on their own the age-old practice of counting up change.

See ladies, it works like this: at one store, my total was $13.42, and I handed the cashier a $20 bill. All you have to do to make change is count up from the total to the amount of money the customer hands you. So you’d take my total ($13.42) and put three pennies in your hand (to make it $13.45). You’d then put a nickel in your hand (to make it $13.50), then put two quarters in your hand (to make it $14.00). You’d then put a dollar bill in your hand (to make it $15), then put a $5 bill in your hand (to make it $20). You’d then have $6.58 in your hand which, if you want to figure it out on a calculator, is the correct amount of change for that transaction. No calculator is needed… at all. Trust me: it works. Millions of your cashier ancestors used that method for decades before registers even showed you how much change to give the customer!

And while I’m on the subject, a few times in the recent past I’ve gotten the stink eye from cashiers for giving them “odd amounts” of money. You know the drill: Maybe your total is $5.52, and you give the cashier $11.02 so you can get $5.50 back in nice, even bills and coins. It’s like they’re paralyzed with fear and confusion. But fear not… the same system works here, too! Just subtract the 2¢ I gave you… put two quarters in your hand (to make $6) and then put a $5 in your hand to make $11. See? Was that so hard?

Am I alone here? Is it just me? I might be a little different because my father owned a wholesale grocery store and he often worked the register there. So as a kid I had a lot of toy cash registers and grocery store playsets. My dad taught me early on how to count money. I could be exaggerating, but I could swear I knew how to count up from the time I was 4 or 5 years old… and here are these teenage girls apparently unaware of even the concept of such a thing. Am I the lone voice in the wilderness here, or are teen cashiers even stupider today than they were 20 years ago?


SimonHey, ya’ll! Simon here! I went 10-5 last week, much better than my previous two weeks! I’m up to 36-27 on the season. Let’s see if I can knock this week out of the park!

Here are my picks for Week 5!


Cardinals at Rams: I just looooveee birds! I can sit at the window and stare at them for hours! And I can also stare at that handsome Larry Fitzgerald for hours, too! Come see me, Larry… I’ve got something you can do with those good hands of yours! Girls, Arizona is looking like the team to beat in the NFC West this year… take them to beat St. Louis, but if the same Rams team shows up that beat the Seachickens last week, it’ll be close!

Dolphins at Bengals: RAWR! My cousins the tigers should feast on dolphin meat this week, although the ‘Fins are a better team than most people give them credit for. The fish – and that cute little twink Ryan Tannehill – might make it a game, but I think Cincinnati just has too much stud power to lose this one!

Green Bay at Indianapolis: Awww! That poor lil’ Aaron Rodgers! First the replacement refs make him lose a game, and last week the regular refs gave him a hard time, too! Why? He’s soooo handsome, although I prefer the long blonde hair of that chiseled Clay Matthews any time, girlfriend! That hair, just flowing in the breeze… those strong thighs… holding me down… and… what? Oh yes, the pick! I think that lil’ Andrew Luck is as cute as a button, but I don’t think the Colts will be able to get past the Packers! At least, that’s where I’d put my money!

Continue reading “SIMON’S PICKS – WEEK 5”