Buying a Buff Online

Before I tell you about the experience of buying a Buff online, from the manufacturer’s own site, I should probably explain what a Buff actually is, for those who haven’t already spent time in ‘outdoors’ shops, staring at the looping video demo.

It’s a tube of microfibre polyester, that can be worn as a scarf, hat, headband, wristband, etc. For more info, Wikipedia have summary of it, and their own site will give you videos showing you what it can do:

I decided last Sunday evening that it was time to get another Buff – my old black one is a little worn now, and I was in the mood for a change to something more colourful. I browsed the pics on their site, and found the one I wanted, with a nice leafy pattern.

Ordering was easy enough, and i paid with PayPal.

The Buff arrived on Tuesday – impressively quick – must have been sent out the day after I ordered, which is always nice, especially when delivery is free. I know from my own experience that online retailers can be a bit on the busy side on a Monday, catching up from the weekend’s orders.

There was a nice surprise to come, though. The package contained the Buff I’d ordered, and a neat little 09/10 catalogue. Also, though, were a couple of Buff stickers, a DVD of the demo videos, and a little branded mobile phone screen cleaning pad, along with promo stickers and a postcard for another venture they have, SueMe.

The whole experience was made good by being simple and efficient, and the extra little freebies made it even better.

Evernote: Making Searchable Without Reading

As impressive as Evernote’s ability to read handwriting (even my awful scrawl, occasionally) is, there was always something about it that didn’t seem quite right. Firstly, that it could recognise writing in situations that nothing else can. Also, it seemed odd that it would convert your writing to text, but not give you access to that text afterwards.

Evernote themselves only ever said your text was made searchable – they never said they’d convert it to text.

I’d suspected for a while what was really going on. I figured it might be working out what the images could match, but not being too specific – knowing that some images could match various different combinations of letters is probably a lot easier than working out which ones they actually match.

I wasn’t sure, though, until I searched on two completely different words, and both highlighted the same bit of text. I’d written ‘Tuesday’, and scanned the page. It matched for a search for ‘Tuesday’ perfectly. It also highlighted the word ‘Tuesday’ when I searched for ‘Testing’.

Evernote has no idea what the text says, but it can still make it searchable. They’ve been very clever, and realised that they don’t need to actually read handwriting in order to make it searchable. They just have to match to anything that might say what you’re searching for, on the grounds that false positives will be fairly rare, and don’t actually matter.

The technology behind it isn’t as amazing as it first seems, but the thinking that went behind the technology is brilliantly simple.

Dust Storm in Australia –

For any major event, The Boston Globe seem to gather the best photos, and present them well – here’s their photoset for the huge dust storm that hit Sydney:

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A Day of Finding Things

When we sold our house, one of the first places we had a shopping spree was Cotswold, the outdoors shop. Even with out new-found wealth, I shied away from the price of the coats I liked the look of, but I did buy a hat (North Face) and gloves. I loved those gloves. They were from Lowe Alpine, the non-photography side of Lowe Pro, maker of my favourite bags. They were fingerless gloves, with a fold-down section that turned them into mittens, and matching foldaway tips for the thumbs. I could use my camera without having to take them off, but still be kept nice and warm when I wasn’t taking pics.

I lost one glove.

I figured I liked them enough to replace them, but when I managed to find somewhere to buy replacements (a cold spell had sold a lot of gloves), I realised I’d forgotten how expensive they were. A little further from the glow of a house-sale, with a couple of iMacs sitting at home, they looked a bit too expensive, so I didn’t replace them. I found alternatives, but nowhere near as good.

I also lost my buffs (what? Scarf/Hat/Thing – see link below). I decided to go rummaging in boxes to find where they were hiding before winter arrives. I found them – standard and cyclone. And the missing glove.


Only one problem now – I had no idea what I’d done with the other glove! Fortunately, Sam remembered where it was, so I was reunited with my very nice, very expensive gloves, and both of my buffs. I’m now well prepared for winter.

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