Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Pop Quiz is cancelled...
In fact every Pop Quiz in the world is cancelled. There is no point in having a Pop Quiz ever again. From now on every person who enters a Pop Quiz can get 100% of the answers 100% right. There is now no skill involved. Everyone's a winner. The games over. The answers are out there. Bye, bye. Thank you. Good luck. We're outta here. It's over. Le Fin.

Why? Do I hear you ask? Why? I'll tell you why.

Chris Barton, that's why. Chris "bloody" Barton. Chris is a 32-year-old American, the founder and chief executive of Shazam. Shazam is a company that works on a very simple idea. It gets mobile phones to recognize music. Instantly.

You simply dial a number on an ordinary mobile phone, point the phone at any song playing on the radio, in a shop, in a club or, more crucially, at a Pop Quiz and then a few seconds later a computer generated voice on the phone tells you who it is - both artist and song title. A short while later, a text message arrives confirming the artist and title. A simple yet brilliant idea. The calls cost 50p per minute.

The system works by the software analysing the song very quickly and producing a unique structure that identifies the song. It then checks it against Shazam's database of songs. It can distinguish artist, title, date and song version. So far it has just 300,000 songs on the system, but by the autumn it will have over 1,600,000. The key algorithm was designed by a graduate from Stanford University who has four degrees no less. It is going to be big.

So now anyone can know the answers. Anyone can cheat. Pop Quiz is cancelled. For good.

(OK, OK, so not all PQ questions are based around recognizing songs but it's certainly going to a be a real body blow if people turn on phones under tables and in pockets and then read the SMS answers from their screens)

[Thanks to Marky and the Guardian for the heads-up]

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