A Tribute to NP-Complete

Inspired by an xkcd comic, NP-Complete, and also because I was buying some DVDs from Amazon anyway, I decided that I wanted to place an order from Amazon that was as close to $100 worth of merchandise as possible after tax and shipping.

The rules:

  • The order must be as close to $100.00 as possible, including tax and shipping charges (note: using free shipping options is not considered cheating).
  • Items in the cart at checkout must be things that the buyer wants and will use. You cannot?????? simply select something that will round out the price tag.
  • All items must be sold by Amazon.com, not their resellers (this is because resellers tack on extra shipping costs for certain items).

This took a bit of work, especially since I already had three DVD box sets in the cart that I was buying via one of Amazon’s TV DVD sales. Values as follows:

  • Stargate Atlantis – The Complete First Season; DVD; $24.99
  • Stargate Atlantis – The Complete Second Season; DVD; $25.00
  • Eureka – Season One; DVD; $25.00

компютри втора употребаI tried first throwing stuff in from my wish list, originally throwing in a paperback copy of Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous. After that, I realized that I had been looking for either a spork or a set of stainless steel chopsticks for home/travel use. I was able to add in a set of stainless steel chopsticks fairly cheaply. With the chopsticks, the book, and the three DVD sets, I got to $98.29 after tax and shipping – roughly $1.70 short.

I spent a bit of time trying to figure out if I could fill that extra $1.70 by buying something small, useful, and cheap – apparently Amazon doesn’t believe in selling individual packets of Post-its or M&Ms or something trivial like that (at least not without going through a reseller, which would break the rules).

I finally managed to get it to $99.75 total with free Super Saver shipping after swapping Weinberger’s book out with another book on my wish list. The breakdown looks like this:

  • Stargate Atlantis – The Complete First Season; DVD; $24.99
  • Stargate Atlantis – The Complete Second Season; DVD; $25.00
  • Eureka – Season One; DVD; $25.00
  • Serves One: Simple Meals to Savor When You’re on Your Own; Toni Lydecker; Paperback; $11.53
  • Global Decor Stainless Steel Chopsticks, 4 Pairs; Kitchen; $4.99

    Subtotal: 91.51
    Free shipping and handling
    Estimated Tax: $8.24
    Total for this Order: $99.75

This is actually an interesting exercise because it exposes information about what Amazon does and does not sell, and also gives some hints as to the usability of the site overall. While I was doing this, I was instant messaging a friend of mine that’s currently serving in Iraq (and coming home in the next couple weeks, I might add) – I originally described this as an “intellectual exercise in consumerism”; he shot back that this is actually interesting social commentary.

This was after calling me a geek/nerd/dork/weirdo/etc.

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