The Calais Web Service

The Calais web service automatically attaches rich semantic metadata to the content you submit – in well under a second. Using natural language processing, machine learning and other methods, Calais categorizes and links your document with entities (people, places, organizations, etc.), facts (person ‘x’ works for company ‘y’), and events (person ‘z’ was appointed chairman of company ‘y’ on date ‘x’). The metadata results are stored centrally and returned to you as industry-standard RDF constructs accompanied by a Globally Unique Identifier (GUID). Using the Calais GUID, any downstream consumer is able to retrieve this metadata via a simple call to Calais.

This metadata gives you the ability to build maps (or graphs or networks) linking documents to people to companies to places to products to events to geographies to … whatever. You can use those maps to improve site navigation, provide contextual syndication, tag and organize your content, create structured folksonomies, filter and de-duplicate news feeds or analyze content to see if it contains what you care about. And, you can share those maps with anyone else in the content ecosystem.

Jeff Atwood writes on his blog Coding Horror  about a password cracking technique that uses rainbow tables.  The premise is simple, taking advantage of the time-memory tradeoff of storing massive amounts of pre-computed hashes in memory. 

The multi-platform password cracker Ophcrack is incredibly fast. How fast? It can crack the password “Fgpyyih804423” in 160 seconds. Most people would consider that password fairly secure. The Microsoft password strength checker rates it “strong”. The Geekwisdom password strength meter rates it “mediocre”.

Coding Horror: Rainbow Hash Cracking

 Y Combinator is a VC-slash-Incubator organization that seems to be producing some interesting companies (with a definite leaning toward Flash based technologies). They recently held a demo day to showcase some of their apps. The following ones caught my attention for the reasons described.

I have been using for a couple of weeks now and really like it. Although I have a bit of an aversion to Flash apps hosted in web browsers this actually seems like a great implementation. That said, it wouldn’t be that hard to pull off as an Ajax app. My company’s next product code-named m*******t will do some similar things and with a much better interface 🙂 For now, you can create an account at, upload your music collection, the stream it from any other Flash enabled browser. From a SoNet perspective you can stream, but not download, your friends music collection too.


Another product out of the Y Combinator world is Versionate. While it is yet-another-wiki-as-a-hosted-service it is dead easy to setup and use. I think one of its biggest attractions to me is that is has so few features. If you need a feature-rich and robust wiki solution then look elsewhere. However, if you are looking for something easy to setup that loads quickly and allows you to capture a thought mid-stream then this is well worth the consideration. We have a very informal (aka non-existent) documentation process where I work. I am finding versionate invaluable in capturing, storing and organizing critical information.


I just came across fauxto this evening so I have not had any opportunity to use it yet. According to the claims it offers a lot of the functionality of Adobe’s Photoshop in a web delivered Flash app. Since my forte is in server-side development I can not justify the license for Photoshop. However I do find myself having to do basic image manipulation from time-to–time and it is almost always for low/non paying charity gigs where I can not leverage the kick-ass front-end skills of some of my designer friends. I’m looking forward to trying out fauxto in the coming days.

If you are interested in learning more about Y Combinator then check out the link. If you think you have a great idea that is worthy of their financing then take a look at where they talk about their application process and deadline for next round of financing and assistance.

Y Combinator Demo Day: The Summer Startups

It looks like Microsoft is starting to get worried about OSS IDEs such as Eclipse.  The article here indicates that Microsoft is readying a stripped down shell to ship with Orcas that can be used freely by anyone to host their own languages and tools. 

Visual Studio Shell to bring configurable IDE to developers

From the microformats blog comes this interesting article. While microformats have an interesting appeal I have not yet seen a real-world use of them yet. Perhaps it will take something like Webmail to kickstart them? So far I have not bothered spending the time to implement hCard in some of my current development. Maybe it’s time to start rethinking that?

A document by Sean M. Burke that introduces some interesting new concepts in JavaScript.  I like his version of a print format function and example of functions passed as parameters to other functions for callback purposes.

Higher-Order JavaScript