Thursday, December 23, 2010

Of mice and men - Two mice for two platforms

Here are my reviews of two mice: An Apple Magic Mouse for Macintosh and a Logitech M305 mouse for Windows. Both are wireless.


  • The mouse is extremely sleek: while handling, you hardly feel as though you're even touching it! Smooth and shiny top and bottom for easy gliding.
  • It only comes in a white color so all kinds of mouse gunk that normally attaches to mice with use will appear. But it's easy to wipe clean.
  • The mouse takes a while (approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute) to pair with your computer. For the non-techies, pairing means that your computer realizes and acknowledges your mouse.
  • Connectivity is perfect. It pairs automatically with any Mac with Bluetooth capabilities and requires no extra software or hardware.
  • Scroll wheel (which works horizontally as well as vertically) and buttons are integrated within the mouse - which is touch sensitive.
  • People who aren't accustomed to the Magic Mouse will find it confusing when they click anddifferent functions occur because of proximity of "buttons".
  • This mouse is extremely small, and not everyone prefers that. Big-handed individuals might like something larger.
  • Scroll wheel is smooth and scrolls in increments. 
  • Sides are covered in rubber so the mouse stays firm in your handhold. It's also contoured so your palm leans downward, rather than flat across, which, I assume, is supposed to relieve the stress on your fingers.
  • The mouse comes with a small (postage-stamp size) plastic piece that must go into a USB port to allow the mouse to pair.
  • Pairs with computer extremely fast: within 3 seconds of powering up.

Monday, November 29, 2010

General Statement about Buying #3

Third in this series, this post tells you how to get free shipping at almost any online store! There are several ways to go about doing this, some easy and some that require more effort.
  1. Shop at stores that offer free shipping on every order. Shoe stores usually fit into this category.
  2. Use a free shipping coupon code. If you're lucky you can get these in the form of an email from the store. The email will usually read something like "Free shipping on any order, no minimum! Use code: FREESHIP10" Another way to find a code is to look at coupon websites. Some worthy of being mentioned:,,
  3. But what happens if you find a code, but there's a minimum. You can only receive the free shipping on orders of $50 or more, for example. RELAX! Don't worry if you don't plan on purchasing stuff for that amount! Here's an option that will work if the store you're shopping at has a B&M (brick and mortar) location near your location. Make a purchase for the full amount (throw in stuff you don't need to bring your total up to the minimum), and then return the extras to your store! You will not have to pay for return shipping this way. This is an excellent idea when you shop at places like Gap, Old Navy, DSW, Macy's, American Eagle Outfitters, and other stores with many B&M locations. Recently, the Gap stores have added a "free shipping on every order" to their website, but there is a minimum of $50. This idea will help you squeeze around that clause.
UPDATE: Seems to me that Lands' End has had enough with the free shipping. Their offers still include free shipping benefits, BUT with a minimum order. You might still want to take advantage of the offer, so remember to go with option #3 in this post!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - Cashback from your purchases

  • Receive a percentage of your purchases in the form of a check.
  • Many stores participate in the Ebates program.
  • Just for signing up and making a $20 order, you get to choose a giftcard from a selection of stores.
  • You get $5 for every friend that you refer (and has made a purchase).
  • Some of the most popular stores don't participate in the Ebates program - namely and
  • There's no phone number to call if you've got an issue.
Bottom Line: Ebates is an awesome, scam-free way to make money while shopping online. While you're anyway buying stuff, it doesn't hurt to earn some extra dough for a future shopping spree! Here's how it works: You sign up and choose a gift card. Then, any time you are ready to checkout on a store's site, check to see if the store participates on Ebates. Click the store's name (while on and it will transfer you to the store. Then, complete your purchase. Each store gives you a different amount of cashback. Cashback accumulates in your account until you have over $5, and they will mail you a check every 4 months. You can also earn more by referring friends directly on Ebates - each friend who makes a purchase gets you $5 in your account! 

iRiR's experience with Ebates: I bought an $1100 computer on MacMall which gives 3% back. I made $33, which let me buy accessories for free.

Some popular participants in this program are: eBay, half, Shoebuy, Old Navy, GAP, Apple, J&R, Lands' End, Target, Barnes & Noble.

Remember, check your store to see if it's on! 

Sign up today and see if you can beat my current total of $250+ earned on!

Monday, November 15, 2010

General Statement about Buying #2

Second in this series, this post highlights a very important point that may cause some people to think "Duh!" and others to think "Huh?"

Gift cards are free money. If used correctly, they can do amazing things! If you got a $10 gift card, for example, you have two options of spending the money:
  1. Go to store, find $10 worth (or more) of merchandise, present gift card and, if necessary, pay remainder.
  2. Go to store when there's a current promotional event, find $30 worth of stuff, present $10 off $30 coupon, receive 50% off, pay with gift card.
In the second example, you're tripling the value of your gift card! So my point is, wait until there's a sale at the store you're planning on shopping at, and then use your card. It's a good idea to check the expiration date on your gift cards because some store cards don't last longer than a predefined time. Keep your card handy so it's accessible when you want that slick deal. By the way, the same applies to other forms of free money, such as reward certificates, cash cards, refund checks, etc.

How iRiR maximized $20: In October, I was mailed a DSW Rewards certificate valued $20. I wanted these really cute slippers that cost $34.95. Using a 30% off promotional code, I brought the total down to $24.47. Shipping was $7.95 (the free shipping code only applies to orders above a minimum), and the subtotal was now $33.09 including tax. Then I applied a $5 off coupon and my $20 Rewards certificate, and the grand total was $8.62!!! Postscript: I ended up receiving the order with a small problem and was ready to exchange them. They didn't have my size so I was offered a partial refund of $8.62. I argued with the sales rep that I should really be getting $20 because they should refund my costs, not my shipping charges! I got what I wanted :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

General Statement about Buying #1

Just a tip for the wise shopper, so listen up! Companies will always tell you, "If you're not 100% satisfied let us know and we'll issue a full refund" or something to that effect. In truth, companies have a set amount allotted for such occurrences. That's why it's your duty, as a buyer, to make sure you receive everything you deserve to. Sometimes you'll have to raise the sympathy-evoking tone a bit.

There are several possible outcomes for complaining: (a) full or partial monetary compensation (b) full item replacement (c) full item replacement but you have to ship the old one back (d) no response. If you see the customer service rep is banking on Choice C, make sure you stress that it's impossible for you to send it back (i.e. I threw it out already, It will cost too much to send back).

Examples of experience with such situations:
  • Glaceau: My Vitamin Water drink had white-ish gunk on the bottom that kind of made me nervous. When I called, they explained that it's perfectly safe and mailed me a few coupons.
  • American Greetings: I bought a birthday card for a friend and it had a spelling error ("truely" instead of "truly"). They apologized and sent me a coupon for $7 worth of AG product.
  • Del Monte: Can of mixed fruit cocktail should have contained pears, pineapples, peaches and grapes (as per label) but only contained grapes and pears (oh, and one chunk of pineapple). Received many coupons.
  • Colgate: Colgate 360 Toothbrush bristles fell out after 2nd use. Got an impressive stack of coupons for assorted Colgate products.
  • Ralph Lauren: Nightshirt sleeve disconnected from body after approximately five washes. Got to keep nightshirt (which can be sewn on) and received a $20 gift card (valued more than the item).
  • Crayola: Markers got dried out too fast and the black marker was really dark grey. They sent me a coupon to buy the same stuff again.
  • Epson: I opened a brand new package of glossy photo paper and there was a hair embedded underneath the shiny coating! Received shipment of a brand new package instantly.
  • JC Penny Photo Studies: The woman at the desk treated me like dirt. I got reimbursed (by the manager) with several free photo sheets for my next photo session!
11/15/10 Update: I bought slippers from and ended up paying only $8 for the item (the shipping cost). The stitching was undone by the time I received them so I called DSW. Since they didn't have the pair in stock anymore, I asked for a refund - they gave me $20! Hence, bringing the shoe cost down to $-12. 

Tell me about your own experiences!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Swagbucks - Search & Win website

  • You can earn prizes such as giftcards.
  • You get rewarded for doing something you normally do - websearching.
  • Prizes are awarded in a timely manner.
  • Swagbucks makes fun in your life with cool things to do and see.
  • Bucks (points) are given in very small increments.
  • In order to really make anything, you need referrals. 
  • Many people doubt the powers of SB so they won't follow your referral.
  • Legally, you can only have 1 account so earning happens slowly.
  • Search features are much less sophisticated than those used on Google.
  • Customer service is the pits.
Bottom Line: is an awesome site that works like a search engine does. I have made about $320 worth of Amazon Gift Cards using Swagbucks. You simply search in the appropriate place and if you're lucky you may be awarded Swagbucks. After you accumulate enough bucks, you can cash them in for cool prizes such as Amazon Gift Cards. It does get depressing, however, when nobody follows your referral link. Your referred friends are valuable because each time they search and win, you win the same amount of Swagbucks! Aside from winning that way, you can also gain bucks by doing special offers, entering time-limited Swagcodes, and several other ways. For more information, you can look at their site directly. Be very careful if you operate more than 1 account. If you need real search features, use Google instead.

Sign up today and get yourself some fabulous prizes like I did!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Afrin - Nasal Decongestant Spray

  • Works within a minute - really!
  • One dosage lasts for 10-12 hours
  • Relieves nasal congestion and stuffiness better than oral decongestant pills.
  • Minimal (but often none) side-effects.
  • If used for more than a few consecutive doses, there's a rebound effect (you feel even stuffier). 
  • Smallest size bottle (which is tiny) costs approximately $10.
  • Leaves slight aftertaste in mouth once it drips down (which is easily alleviated by taking a drink).
  • Painfully tingles for a few minutes after spraying.
Bottom Line: Afrin (Oxymetazoline) nasal spray is used to relieve nasal discomfort caused by colds, allergies, and hay fever. It can also be used to relieve sinus congestion and pressure. Basically, you are getting your money's worth when you buy this item and have a need for it. It's perfect for colds, especially during the night when you have trouble falling asleep because you can't breath. Remember, though, that Afrin is a steroid (but over-the-counter) so don't use it more than you have to or you'll feel even worse after! Afrin can also be used before a plane trip if you anticipate ear pain because it clears the nasal/ear/sinus passages.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Google Chrome web browser

  • Faster than Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer.
  • Address bar doubles as a Google search box so you can input websites or search terms.
  • No extra buttons to distract or confuse you.
  • You can decorate your borders and tabs with themes.
  • Features "incognito tabs" that let you browse "off the record".
  • Is available in a Mac version.
  • Not compatible with certain secure website features. 
  • Updates automatically so you never know when to expect something new.
  • Many add-on toolbars that work for FF and IE don't install in Chrome.
Bottom Line: For fast everyday browsing, Chrome is the best way to go. Of course you'll encounter some incompatibility while using certain websites, but IE also has its own share of weird compatibility problems. If you stumble upon a site where something loads improperly, you can always switch to another browser. Chrome is great because of its dual-purpose address bar. You can use it to type in a web address (like "") or you can fill in search terms (such as "ways to earn money"). Try searching like that in IE or FF and you'll get strange errors.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 for Free Downloadable Fonts

  • Tons of free fonts to choose from.
  • No-hassle downloads.
  • Allows you to preview your custom text with each font and font-size displayed.
  • Neatly categorized by font style and advanced filtering options.
  • Clear and user-friendly.
  • Can't search by font name if you don't know the category it belongs to.
  • Not all fonts work well with Microsoft Office on Mac OS X (they work fine in Windows).
Bottom Line: Sometimes you're not content with Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia and Impact. And let's say you want a funky, handwritten font? Most websites that offer free downloadable fonts have a catch. They either let you choose from only a few preselected fonts, or they might ask you to first create an account and enter your credit card info. There are other sites that also offer totally free fronts; however, most don't have good searching and browsing options like does. It may be hard to remember the name of the site so bookmark it. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BudgetRambler - Save $$$ by knowing the inside tricks!

  • Easily provides instructions for obtaining maximum dealage.
  • Updates frequently with new posts.
  • Written style is engaging and entertaining, aside from being informative.
  • No advertisements distracting your reading.
  • Lengthy, rambling style. But that's the blog's name after all.
Bottom Line: BudgetRambler was created by someone I know quite well and I can assure you that the author has spent a lot of time gathering the best deals for you. She has been 'slickdealing' at several major stores like CVS and Target for over 4 years! The site is new but is quickly gaining popularity - after all, who can refuse a free deal? They say TINSTAAFL, but there actually IS such a thing as a free purchase! Make sure to become a follower of this blog so you can frequently check on newer posts that are added almost daily. There is also a contest running right now, which will end when there are 25 followers, so hurry up!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Glaceau Vitamin Water

  • Only 13 grams of sugar and 50 calories for 8 oz, and full of essential vitamins.
  • Amazing taste which is neither too sweet nor diluted.
  • Almost always on sale for $1 at stores like Target and Walmart.
  • Many, many flavors to choose from.
  • Really funny messages on the labels that keep changing.
  • Customer service is mostly nice - they offer cool freebies just for calling. 
  • Caps are hard to open.
  • Variety packs (that you can buy at club stores like Costco) only feature four flavors, and they're not necessarily your favorite ones.
  • One or two flavors are downright nasty - namely Connect (blackcherry lime) which tastes much like Robittusin and Formula 50 (grape) which reminds me of Tums + Children's Tylenol gone bad.
Bottom Line: Vitamin Water's a great drink for any time of day! People mockingly ask, "You think you're really getting your vitamins in there?" But it's true, you really do get them. Of course you can't compare the Vitamin C quality of an orange with the Vitamin C in a bottle of Essential, but you're receiving the nutrients anyway. It's an affordable drink and quenches your thirst much better than Snapple or Powerade because it has just a bit of sugar. If you have a problem with a bottle, call up their customer service and you'll be sent replacements in the form of coupons almost immediately! Drink up!

Friday, August 20, 2010 - do your shopping the slick way!

  • Lists the newest deals, coupons, price-errors, and promotions in separate categories for easier searching.
  • Allows users to post comments about their slicking experience.
  • Anyone can post a deal if they're a member - registration is free.
  • You can set up alerts to receive emails when new deals that include your keyword are added.
  • People get nasty with the comments.
  • Too many acronyms are used, and not everyone knows them.
Bottom Line: is an amazing site for you if you plan to save money and get good bargains on stuff. Or if you enjoy when items you buy cost a grand sum of $0.00! I advise you to check this site at least twice a day because deals are added by the minute. If you can help it, don't post any comments in the forums because most of the users who comment a lot are bored and nasty so you have a great chance of being slammed. When you see a deal, make sure you read its "wiki" section to find out if there are updates such as "deal is dead"!

For your convenience, here are some of the more commonly used acronyms and their description:
BOGO - By One Get One (if you buy one, you get one free)
YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary (your experience with this company may be different)
OOS - Out of Stock (exactly that)
OP - Original Poster (the person who originally posted this deal)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lands' End - from totebags to tshirts

  • Return Policy - you can return items for life.
  • Frequent email promotions - if you sign up for their emails, you get at least 1 promo a week.
  • Ebates gives you 2% cashback.
  • Promos always include free shipping
  • For returns, items can be taken to a Sears location to avoid return shipping charges.
  • Quality clothing - and if it goes defective, it can easily be returned.
  • LiveChat and phone assistance available 24 hours.
  • Sizing runs much larger than other brands.
  • Some apparel is in a 1900s time warp.
Bottom Line: Lands' End is a great company to shop from, whether you need shoes, t-shirts, coats or gloves. Just be sure to order a size smaller than you think you would need (this applies to shoes and t-shirts, especially). To conserve time and energy, order 2 consecutive sizes and return to Sears the one you won't be using. This avoids unnecessary hassle. You do not need a receipt to return items, which is a great thing that enables you to return at any time. When you take advantage of a free-shipping promo, understand that it will take at least a week for the items to arrive. 

Monday, August 9, 2010 for shoe deals


  • Good pricing on shoes - many are sold below retail price.
  • Frequent promotions - there's a percent off or dollar off coupon at least once a month.
  • Ebates gives you 10% cashback.
  • Free shipping and return shipping (you don't pay the shipping to return an item).
  • No sales tax.
  • You can check out without creating an account, which saves you time.
  • Selection is not that big.
  • Stock doesn't change often enough.
Bottom Line: First sign up to receive Shoebuy promotional emails by clicking here. If you're looking for a specific shoe, first see if Shoebuy has it. If they don't, then go ahead with another store. Otherwise, do stick with Shoebuy because chances are, they will have it for a good price and you'll have a discount email. If you're just browsing for shoes, Shoebuy may still a good place for that because you won't have to sift through 17,000 pairs of black leather shoes with 1/4" heel in size 8. On the other hand, you might enjoy doing just that. If that's case, point your browser to Zappos!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Glad Sandwich (non-zipping) Bags - I'm not glad with Glad!

  • Container makes it easy to remove a bag.
  • Doesn't have that plasticy smell that Ziplocs have.
  • If you have a problem, Glad will send you a replacement coupon.
  • More expensive than store brands - approximately $2.99 for 100 sandwich bags.
  • Top flap that tucks under often rips at the seams.
  • Food kept in the bag for more than a few hours gets a smell.
Bottom Line: If you have an option, go with a store brand for bags. I've found those to be much more durable than Glad bags, even though Glad is more pricey. Don't keep your food, especially wet ones such as fruit, in the bag for too long because they'll get this plasticy taste. If you do end up buying them, and the seams rip at the foldover flap, don't hesitate to contact them to receive compensation. Make sure to tell them you're not glad with Glad!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Therabreath toothpaste - America's Most Effective oral care

  • Actually works to eliminate bad breath throughout the day
  • While following the regimen, you never experience morning breath!
  • The mouthwash doesn't burn your tongue off with its sting.
  • Food doesn't taste distorted after brushing teeth (think orange juice after Colgate or Crest)
  • Enhances self-esteem :)
  • Expensive - both the mouthwash and toothpaste run at about $9 each and that only lasts for about 2 months or less. Deals happen, but it's best to buy in bulk.
  • Mouthwash tastes horrible, and the toothpaste has very little flavor at all.
  • Must consistently use to maintain the effects.
  • Takes about a week to kick in, during which your tongue feels really awkward.
Bottom Line: If you have a breath problem, the cons are worth it. I was once given a whole bagful of the Therabreath products (which the buyer had gotten for free) and figured I'll give it a try. It was amazing, really, to see how the stuff works. It contains no alcohol so the mouth doesn't dry up like it does after traditional products. If you decide to go ahead with it, make sure you use both the rinse and paste together. You do not need to use it 3x a day (as per instructions on the bottles), but be sure to use in conjunction with floss.

NOTE: This was reviewed a while ago and the products have since been updated. Efficacy is the same for both but tastes have greatly improved!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pilot G2 Gel Pens

  • Clean, undrippy ink that does not leave splatters and spots on your document.
  • Comes in a variety of thicknesses (ultra-fine, fine, medium).
  • The point retracts easily with one click. 
  • Grip is sturdy and does not fly around as you write.
  • Ink lasts a long time and does not dry out mid-way.
  • They cost approximately $2 a pen. 
  • Shirt clip snaps off easily when chewed.
  • Fine point pen writes thicker than average medium size point in a comparable brand.
Bottom Line: Stick with the ultra-fine (0.5mm) size since those are like most medium-thickness gel pens.The ink writes smoothly without skips and stains, but when writing on even slightly shiny surfaces, take care not to smudge. The ink does not dry that fast on glossy papers, but will dry extra-fast on regular matte papers. To save money, buy them in packs of two. Rubber grip may double as a teething ring for adults (while wisdom teeth emerge). Store upright whenever possible.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bath & Body Works - Pocket-Bac hand sanitizer

  • Good price - these items often are on sale for $1 (reg. $1.50).
  • Slick filler - when you need your order to reach a minimum amount (like when you want to use a certain coupon), these are one of the few very cheap items in the store.
  • Keeps hands soft and not dried out, as other popular hand sanitizers do.
  • Contains alcohol which can be used as an antiseptic on the go. This is especially handy when you're trying on earrings in the store.
  • Handy size - it fits a silicone skin (must purchase separately) that can keep the Pocket-Bac on your keyring.
  • Scent is very strong. Hands smell from the Pocket-Bac even 2 hours after application!
  • If not on sale, the price is $1.50 for the small bottle.
Bottom Line: The Bath & Body Works Pocket-Bac is essential for a purse, especially in the summertime when you are often out and away from a sink. The wide array of choices feature smells much more pleasant than comparable brands like Purell, but be sure to get a scent that you enjoy because you'll be smelling it on yourself for a while!

Friday, July 9, 2010

A.K.A. Pella #4 - Platinum Album

  • Sounds mostly like music - some of the songs sound better than their real-music counterparts!
  • Good songs that are popular - not the traditional Hamalach Hagoel and Mi Adir songs.
  • Full length CD with 14 tracks
  • Makes you feel guilty for listening to it during the Three Weeks. 
  • Features the Yafyafisa song two times. It would do better having just the Shalsheles Jr. version.
Bottom Line: The CD is really good for the Sefira days, when the theme isn't all about mourning. However, the album does make you feel slightly uncomfortable if it's listened to during the mourning days of the 3 weeks and 9 days. It has a wonderful blend of fast and slow songs. It also features a really cool track ("Greatest Medley Ever") that starts off with a rather humorous introduction.Worth every penny. Save yourself about $5 by downloading it (i.e from the Mostly Music website).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Costco Photo Printing - How do I choose?

  • Prints are only 13 cents each - Comparable brands charge around the same price (Shutterfly at 15cents, Snapfish and 9cents).
  • Quality of paper is amazing - printed on thicker-than-average paper, which is good if you're tacking it up on your fridge with a magnet. Other brands' paper will curl. 
  • Coloring of prints are true to life - other brands use colors that are off from  your original picture (i.e. blacks look grayer).
  • Photos can be picked up in as little as 1 hour at a local Costco warehouse. You can even submit your digital files at the warehouse and pick them up after you conclude your shopping. This avoids the shipping fees that other companies tack on.
  • Slightly more pricey than some other online printing companies. 
Bottom Line: If you want to print your pictures just to have in an album or to use as proofs, you can use a cheaper company such as Shutterfly. Snapfish is not recommended because of its bad quality paper and inks. To avoid shipping or if you want full quality prints, go with Costco. - Buying and selling books

  • Affordable listing fees - listing is free, but takes a percentage only if item sells.
  • Items are listed for eternity until they are actually sold.
  • As a buyer, you are protected by their Buyer Protection.
  • 4% Ebates Cashback
  • Customer service is terrible - there is no phone number to call in case there is a problem with buying or selling a book. They will allow you to return a book to the seller should there be a legitimate problem, however the process to file a claim is lengthy and frustrating.
Bottom Line: To buy books, is the way to go. It's simple, there are many books to choose from, and shipping is always a flat rate of $3.99 for books. Just be careful and read the entire description of any item  you plan to buy. Sellers who leave cryptic messages are hiding something so be sure to contact them for additional information. Remember, if your book has a problem (i.e. isn't as described) you can only file a claim if it's within 60 days of purchase. As a seller, it's one of the most cost-effective options, versus other book-selling websites.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Herbal Essences "Hello Hydration 2 in 1 Shampoo + Conditioner"

  • Good scent - supposedly orchid, but doesn't seem to smell like the flower.
  • Cap opens easily - unlike many other brands (Garnier Fructis, in particular) which have impossible lids that have to be opened with soapy, wet hands.
  • Very liquidy - comes gushing out of the spout too fast, causing spillage and leakage.
  • Doesn't form a good lather - bubbles are non-existant.
Bottom Line: This shampoo plus conditioner should not be used if you actually want to wash your hair. It may be used, however, should you want to give off a nice smell.

Welcome to iRate iReview

Hi, everyone! If you visited this site, it means you care about what you buy. And you care about your wallet. After all, why blow bucks on something that won't work, gives you heartache, isn't worth its weight in copper, etc. etc. On this site, you will find personal, detailed reviews and ratings for products that I myself tested, services I've used, sites I've visited, and so on. You'll learn about their pros and cons and my opinions of the item in question. If you want me to talk about something you tried (and it's accessible to me), let me know and I'll try to feature it on iRate iReview! Have fun getting educated!