Another Kind of Green

The grass always looks greener on the other side.

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The Jump

Shazam

I’ve always been amazed at Shazam, the song identifying application on my iPhone. It’s come in handy and has been the envy of friends at times. It’s fast and accurate, but how does it work? The short answer is Shazam analyzes the acoustic fingerprint of a song, crosschecks that fingerprint with a database, and delivers the results to your phone.

The long answer, found in this document, is:

To perform a search, the fingerprinting is performed on a captured sample sound file to generate a set of hash:time offset records. Each hash from the sample is used to search in the database for matching hashes. For each matching hash found in the database, the corresponding offset times from the beginning of the sample and database files are associated into time pairs. The time pairs are distributed into bins according to the track ID associated with the matching database hash.

After all sample hashes have been used to search in the database to form matching time pairs, the bins are scanned for matches. Within each bin the set of time pairs represents a scatterplot of association between the sample and database sound files. If the files match, matching features should occur at similar relative offsets from the beginning of the file, i.e. a sequence of hashes in one file should also occur in the matching file with the same relative time sequence.

Master Lock, unlocked.

Gizmodo posted an article regarding how to crack a Master Lock, but the accompanying diagram is a bit difficult to follow. Of course, there are Youtube videos showing the technique.

This could come in handy if you have a lock sitting around that you’ve forgotten the combination to, but would still like to use. Also, if you’re creepy and want to get into someone’s stuff, this’ll do the trick.

The Pitch

I’ve been working at my current place of employment for nearly 5 years, and while I consider my job to be extremely technical and mostly focused on providing IT service, it does involve sales. I’ve been trained to sell, to pick up on cues from my client, and to show the value of a product and how it will positively affect their life, family, or relationships with others. I’m been trained to pitch.

I’ve been sold things in the past, e.g., my car, my house, and my bicycle, and I have picked up on the pitch. Being in sales, I reward good sales people with my business. Selling is an art, developed over time with good practice. When you can pitch well, you can sell anything.

From Confessions of a Car Salesman, the best pitch on how to sell a pen:

Dave extended a ballpoint pen to me, one of those 59-cent jobs made of clear plastic. “You want to be a car salesman. OK, sell me this pen.”

…I picked up the pen, paused dramatically and began speaking slowly and deliberately. “Dave, you’ve asked me to make a recommendation about a pen. You’re in luck because I know a lot about pens and I’m in a good position to point out the features and benefits of this model of pen. The first thing you’ll notice is the cap. This can easily be removed and stored on the other end of the pen so you don’t lose it. The next thing you’ll notice is how it feels in your hand. Also, you’ll notice it’s easy to see at a glance how much ink is left. This means you’ll never run out of ink without…”

I continued in this ridiculous fashion for a few minutes. Then I set the pen back in front of Dave and stopped.

While this is an excellent pitch, that highlights the great features of the pen, some sales people would say the respondent made a grave error. Some might say he should have asked several questions before delving into features of the pen so as to ensure that the product, in this case a pen, meets the needs of the client. This is solution selling, what I do everyday. Identify the client’s needs through asking questions, recommend products to solve the need, and encourage the sale by showing the value of the product.

An excellent article showing this strategy is Sell Me This Pencil.