Archive for February, 2006

The Most Promising Web 2.0 Software of 2006

February 27, 2006

The Most Promising Web 2.0 Software of 2006

Posted: February 17th, 2006, 5:07am CET
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It’s been almost three months since my last major roundup of Web 2.0 software and I thought it’s about time to release another update.  The pace of innovation in the next generation of online software has continued unabated and we’ve seen dozens upon dozens of new entries into the market since December.  And while a few of the market niches are starting to fill up, almost as often as not these new software products are inventing completely new spaces in which to serve.  It’s been thrilling to watch TechCrunch and eHub continue to announce new product after new product.  I personally get at least an e-mail a day asking me to take a look at new applications. This article will reward many of you who have waiting so patiently.

Ajax desktops alone are changing the public perception of the possibilities of online software.  And with the yesterday’s release of Office Live beta, businesses too will increasingly look at moving their operations to online software. Concerns about privacy, reliability, and lock-in with online software are going to continue to mount while at the same time we’ll see attempts to address these issues.

Finally, the term Web 2.0 itself remains as unevenly accepted as ever but more and more people now know what it means: online, two-way, collaborative software that is interactive and easy to use, often creating a community around it.  There is more however, much more to Web 2.0, and I encourage you to study it since it can help you find as well as create terrific online software experiences. 

A couple of notes:  This list is only new Web 2.0 software that was released or extensively overhauled since January 1st, 2006.  And the usual disclaimer: This list is my personal list, is not official, and is completely subjective.  I do hope you enjoy it however.  Check out my last two lists (first, second), especially the comments, to get a good feel for everything else already out there.

Also, all readers are very soundly encouraged to contribute their own entries in the feedback/comments down below.  Make sure you leave clickable hyperlink so users can see what you’re created.

The Most Promising Web 2.0 Software of 2006

Category:   Personal Productivity and Organization

Best Offering: Zoho Planner (overhaul)

Zoho Planner

Description: Zoho Planner is a very capable Ajax-powered online planner that can handle to do lists, appointments, notes, and more using a very elegant, clean interface.  It’s now my favorite online organizer and I use it every day.  Zoho Planner supports tagging, collaboration, e-mail notification, and much more.  There are lots of Web 2.0 online planning products and while some are more detailed or more feature rich, none so far have quite the right feel like this one does.  For more details, read my review of Zoho Planner at the Web 2.0 Journal.

Runners-Up: stickipad 30 BoxesSpongecell Near-Time

Category: Search

Best New Offering: Google Desktop Search 3.0

Google Desktop V3

Description:  Although privacy concerns abound, Google’s latest version of its Desktop product is slicker and more powerful than ever.  And it even offers the eyebrow-raising feature of keeping a copy of the search index of your local hard drive on Google’s servers so it can be accessed from anywhere. While other search engines are increasingly moving to social capabilities, Google instead raises the bar on raw features.

Runners-Up: Gravee

Category: Video Storage, Sharing, and Search

Best New Offering: Stickam

Stickam

Description:  Video is finally maklng a splash on the Web and though big players like YouTube have virtual domination of the space, new players continue to enter and Stickam is one of the more interesting new entires.  Billing itself as an easy to use multimedia tool that "does it all", Stickam allows users to host all sorts of media including podcasts and video on their blog or website.  It even supports uploading of media from mobile phones.

Runners-Up: FireAnt Videobomb

Category: Real Estate

Best New Offering: Zillow

Zillow

Description:  The real estate business has been one of the very last traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to fall prey to customer self-service on the Web.  Zillow is helping change that and despite criticism for certain quarters, it’s actually a pretty compelling application.  Zillow gives home buyers and sellers with tools to get estimates of home values and to compare it with similar offerings in the area.   Loaded up with deep pockets, if Zillow canjust continue to improve the accuracy of its data, it’ll be a huge hit.

Runners-Up: hotpads

Category: Music

Best Offering:  Podbop

Podbop

Description:  One of the more innovative music applications to come out this year, Podbop has a visceral appeal that is immediate.  A mashup of several underlying services including eventful, Podbop allows users to type in their city and state, listen to bands coming to the area and if they like them, then arrange to go actually attend a concert to listen to them.  Sporting over 1,500 bands, Podbop works well, is fast, and seems to have a very appealing mix of music.

Runners-Up:  Songbird Jamendo

Category: Ajax Start Pages

Best Offering: Pageflakes

Pageflakes

Description:  I covered Pageflakes in a lengthier review recently based on the fact it was one of the best Ajax start pages I’ve seen yet.  Sporting multiple pages, an open platform design that allow users to contribute new gadgets, and integration with Zoho Writer and much more, I encourage you to try it out. And I’m apparently not alone.

Runners-Up: Linkedfeed

Other Promising Web 2.0 Software:

Cocomment – Keep track of your conversations in blog comments from around the blogosphere in one central location.

Zoomtags – The first tag-based affiliate program that include geo-based targeting, customizable tag clouds, content filters and more.

NewsAlloy – An Ajax-based newsreader with a reputation for speed and results, Newsalloy supports all the features you’d expect including river of news, tagging, integration with del.icio.us and digg, and much more.

Springdoo – Talk your e-mails using your computer or phone and never type an e-mail again if you don’t want to.  Rumor has it that Springdoo will offer video e-mails soon.

Campfire – The very latest entry from Web 2.0 innovators 37signals.  Not to be missed, a real-time group chat application with the 37signals twist.  Via Michael Arrington.

ESBN.org – Tirelessly promoted by founder Chris Matthieu, this innovative Web 2.0 application helps track and protect intellectual property on the Web including blogs and even includes a new blog tracking mechanism.  Extremely slick and getting lots of attention.

I’m off tomorrow morning to Silicon Valley and I still have one more slot on Saturday for interviews with Web 2.0 companies in the Bay area.  I’ll be on my Blackberry all day tomorrow, please let me know if you have an interesting Web 2.0 consumer, development, or enterprise product.  I’d love to come by, get a demo, and even do an interview or podcast.

More Entries Please!
Web 2.0 Blog Chat Courtesy of 3bubbles:

Imaxinarios honorábeis

February 23, 2006

Imaxinarios honorábeis

Actualizado: 23/02/2006 21:56 por magago
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Na Casa das Culturas do Mundo, en París, faise tódolos anos un Festival de Imaxinarios. Patrick Labesse, xornalista de Le Monde, pregunta a Chérif Khaznadar, director do festival, sobre o risco de descontextualizar a experiencia da tradición oral e convertela nunha caricatura:

C’est un danger qu’il ne faut jamais minimiser. Nous en avons toujours été conscients. Il faut sans arrêt réfléchir aux moyens de “limiter la casse”. Par exemple les accompagner de films, d’explications données par des spécialistes. (…) A partir du moment où l’on sort une forme de son contexte, on la dénature et on prend des risques. Le tout étant d’évaluer si le risque pris ainsi est plus grave que celui de la laisser peut-être disparaître en ne la sortant pas. Le fait de mettre ces expressions en évidence à l’extérieur leur a permis parfois de retrouver une certaine “honorabilité” dans leur pays d’origine. De même des artistes marginalisés ont pu ainsi reprendre leur place dans la vie culturelle locale.

É o problema da reconversión da tradición. Moitos antropólogos saben da renuencia para obter rexistros da tradición oral entre os habitantes dun lugar. Moitos motivos explican este silenzo: dende reparo cara o estraño ata unha gran desvalorización das historias de seu, confinadas sempre a un ámbito doméstico, transmitido como xogo, como entretemento, non relevante para a supervivencia.

Lembro a cara de estupor dalgunha informante cando a gravaba en video nalgunhas veces que teño traballado de campo.

-¿E con isto gañas cartos?
-Non.
-¿Entón para que queres saber sobre isto? -dicía a informante realmente intrigada.

Nos últimos anos, mercé a Luar, ás veces, a cousa cambia. Porque, como dicía Khaznadar, moitos paisanos viron reconvertida a experiencia tradicional nun espectáculo televisivo e iso incrementa a súa honorabilidade. Hai unha frase que define a nova situación desta tradición:

-Onte pola noite estiven vendo as ghalleghas en Luar.

As ghalleghas xa son algo diferente á experiencia cultural do mundo tradicional. Como se falaran dunha nova identidade diferente a eles. Sorprendente.

-Señora, quen vivían aló no alto do castro.
-Non che sei, meu fillo, pero a min cantábanme isto:

Carballeira de San Xusto,
Carballeira de Ramada,
naquela carballeiriña
perdín a miña navallaaaaaa….

-Ah, que curioso, señora, pero…

-E tamén isto:

Arros con chícharos, patacas novas… ¿es da televisión?
-Um, pois non…

Coñezo bastante aos últimos artesáns das dornas que quedan no mundo. A xente que se achega ata o seu obradoiro de Aguiño obsérvaos con estupor e con respecto. Cámaras. Americanos e loiros europeos. Eles déixanse mirar. O seu status social na vila cambiou: agora hai un respecto cara o seu traballo. E ao mesmo tempo, convertéronse en atracción turística. A dorna como obxecto de luxo. E a tradición como unha nova honorabilidade. Agora fan dornas para que compitan deportistas de oficina en torneos sociais de sábado pola tarde. E deixaron de ser estritamente artesáns.

Windows Defender Beta 2: Updated Version Available

February 23, 2006

Windows Defender Beta 2: Updated Version Available

Posted: February 21st, 2006, 4:44pm CST by blogmalware
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An updated version of Windows Defender Beta 2 is now available from the Microsoft Download Center. This update resolves the two issues described in the below blog post relating to non-English versions of Windows and referenced in KB915087.  If you are running on a non-English version of Windows, then we advise that you uninstall the previous installation and install the updated version.  If you are running on an English version of Windows, then no action is required.

Also, a new definition update package is now available from Microsoft Update which should resolve the problem described in KB915105.  Users with Automatic Updates enabled will be notified of the availability of the release in a manner consistent with their Automatic Updates settings.

Redmond Mag Article: Message Hygeine

February 22, 2006

Redmond Mag Article: Message Hygeine

Fetched: February 21st, 2006, 2:23pm CST by William Lefkovics
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Redmond Magazine, a self-proclaimed independent voice of the Microsoft IT Community, has a great 2 part article on Message Hygeine with Exchange Server 2003 written by Joern Wettern.

The articles appeared in January and February 2006:

William Lefkovics

Pimp Madonna’s Ride!

February 21, 2006

Pimp Madonna’s Ride!

Posted: February 21st, 2006, 2:08am CET
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MTV UK aired their special ‘Pimp Madonna’s Ride’ episode during the week-end. The show, mostly recorded on the set of her Sorry video, features the whole process behind the making of the super disco van used in the video. Madonna asked the people behind the ‘Pimp My Ride’ show to customize a 6 years old van to be shown in her video and to turn it into a ‘nighclub …

read more ::

Adirai Career Development (ACD) Group

February 17, 2006

Adirai Career Development (ACD) Group

Fetched: February 17th, 2006, 6:58am GMT
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A new Yahoo Group has been created for the welfare of Adirai Muslim Community by the name Adirai Career Development (ACD) Group. Now ACD Group has around 80 members. This group has been created for the following objectives:

பெர?மானாரை இழிவ?பட?த?தியதை கண?டித?�

February 17, 2006

பெர?மானாரை இழிவ?பட?த?தியதை கண?டித?�

Fetched: February 17th, 2006, 6:58am GMT
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டேனிஷ? பத?திரிக?கை ஒன?ற? சென?ற செப?டம?பர? மாதம? தன?ன?டைய ஈனப?த?தியை உலகிற?க? பறைசாற?ற, பத?திரிக?கை ச?தந?திரம? என?ற பெயரில? ஒர? போட?டியை நடத?தியத?. அத? இறைவனின? தூதர? ம?கம?மத? நபி(ஸல?) அவர?களை கொச?சைப?பட?த?த ப?கைப?படப? போட?டி நடத?தியத?. பின?னர? எதிர?ப?ப? வரவே தன?ன?டைய ஒவிய ஆசிரியர?களை வைத?தே 12 கார?ட?டூன?களை வரைந?த? தள?ளியத?.

The Sword of the Dragon, Part 1

February 17, 2006

The Sword of the Dragon, Part 1

Posted: January 26th, 2006, 9:48am EST by the wench
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been a while since we’ve had a ‘story’ posted. Hope you enjoy…. *g*

The Sword of the Dragon

by patty

The morning dawned shrouded in mist. The Lady rose and stepped out of the hovel where she’d sought shelter in the night. The wood looked much like the land of fairies she conjured in her mind those short years ago, when she sat at her governess’s feet listening to stories woven just for her.

The mist hovered near a foot from the ground, leaving clear view for the tiny folk, and stopped in swirling wisps not four foot above leaving clear view above for the Lady. She stepped into it and spun around. The wisps spun with her in a current like a whirlpool.

Magic! The Lady thought.

She was seen. The watcher was intrigued. Who was this fair child who danced in the mist? From where had she come? Where were her people? Did she know the danger she courted alone, here, in this place?

The Lady was quite alone. And it was so by her own design. Months had passed as she planned this journey to anywhere. A year had passed since she stepped away from taboo and fear and gave her word to her soul to find freedom.

All of her life she felt drawn away from the world she knew. Separate from those she lived with. The myths and tales woven for her as a child were more real to her than the life she lived. And she came to believe the encouraging words of woman who spoke the tales for her. The old woman assured her that the places of the myths were real. That it was the Lady’s destiny to rule there.

Dreams of the world beyond her home consumed her. In the last weeks, they occupied her day as much as her nights. The dreams were compelling and the messages persistent. In her dreams she saw a man. It was clear he was a man of rank and power, yet in her dreams he came to her in the humble attire of a peasant. Something about the man made her feel safe. He was strong. She knew instinctively that his arrival in her dreams was a cue she must not ignore. The Lady sensed that it was time.

So she set out. She knew the risk she took to escape the castle and then the walls of the city, was great. But it was as if the world she was leaving stopped and its existence parted to let her walk free. No one saw or challenged her. The ease of her escape was not apparent to her though as her body thrilled at each turn, anxiety pulsed through her as she moved past people; sure she was recognized, and certain that at any moment she would be stopped.

It took only an hour to leave the city and enter the woods. Her way was clear, her sense of direction innate. Before the day was half over the Lady found the farm with the horse with four white socks promised to her in the tales by the old governess. The Lady did as she was taught in the lessons at the old woman’s knee. She laid a purse of gold on the table, donned clothes from the chest in the home, packed bread and cheese and jiggers of wine in the leather pack she found there. And then she mounted the horse and rode him where her instinct would take her.

Now looking back the Lady wondered at her luck. Was it luck, or were the words of the old woman true? It was her destiny to leave.

Here in this magical place this misty morning, the Lady knew, it was her destiny.

The Lady found a stream and refreshed herself. The sun rose higher. As it did its rays filtered through the trees danced briefly with the wisps of the mist, and then chased them away.

She returned to the hovel and retrieved her pack. The horse was well rested and sated on the grasses that grew near the stream.

“Where will you take me now kind sir?? The Lady spoke to the animal as she drew her finger nails down the muscles of its neck. The horse whinnied and leaned into the delicious touch of his mistress. “You like that do you fine sir.? The Lady rested her weight against the warm and yielding animal.

Quickly, anxious to continue her journey, the Lady broke fast with a crust of the bread and some of the cheese. Blackberries grew near the stream. She collected as much as would fit in the leather pouch and then ate her fill.

She mounted her horse, and again they moved forward, destiny guiding them.

The watcher, stood up from behind the natural blind of the sumac bush, his eyes following the child. Near grown he determined. Foolish and wanton, she was, to be alone in these woods; beautiful, and enchanting as well. Something about her drew him. But unlike the woman he watched, the man had no illusions of destiny. His thoughts were occupied by curiosity, interest and an odd paternal annoyance with her. Something gave him to know he should follow and protect her. He turned and quickly and went to his camp. In minutes he was leaving the path assigned him by duty, and was following the Lady.

The man’s duty was discovery. The wise one held him a full year longer than the others of his rank. When finally he was released for his journey, he was told only one thing.

“You are to find and tame the Dragon. You must earn the title of The Dragon Tamer.? The wise one said nothing more to him as he finished the ritual of cleansing under her gaze. It was not his place to question, but he could not control what rolled through his mind.

As he prepared to leave the safety of his father’s home, the Wise one spoke again. “She will fight you my son. She will not know her destiny is to bow to your will. You must be strong. And you must trust your heart.?

As he looked into the eyes of the old woman, with questions churning in his mind, he saw a face flicker in the black depths of her pupils. Recognition flashed for a moment and then was gone.

Four days now he had traveled, and if not for a brief bout with illness, he would have been a full day north of the stream where he spied the child

****************************************************

“Ahhh, it unfolds as it should.? The old governess stood by the well in the courtyard of her master’s castle. She looked deep beyond the surface of the water and watched the young man mount his horse to follow his Lady. The flapping of wings overhead broke the old woman’s reverie. A large shadow crossed the ground. The woman smiled and looked up.

Above her flew a Dragon, translucent and luminous as it crossed the land of mortals, it was fully visible only to her.

“I will.? The old woman said. Her head nodded as she took in the silent message from her kindred. The Dragon dipped and spun playfully and then was gone. Its path took it west over the wood. The same direction the Lady took only 30 hours before. Again the old woman smiled. “Yes, playful one, your mistress seeks you, as does your master.?

Inside the castle the old woman made ready. Her role here was finished. It was time for her to return home. Peace spread through her. The future was turned over to the fates. Her exile was ended, her duty abroad was done. The child was grown and must now find her way.

****************************************************

As she traveled sounds came to the Lady’s ears. At first they were distant and indistinct. But in the last hour they were becoming clearer. Tiny voices. Singing and laughing. She looked around in earnest trying to locate the source. A few times she tried to stop the horse, but it would not heed. Her good humor and something deeper told her this was as it should be, but her curiosity was awakening.

The watcher saw her attempts to stop her mount. T’was a good animal who knew better, but it was loyal too. Surely the wench knew better than to answer the siren call of the pixies, and would not overrule the horse’s sense. But the watcher did not know that the Lady was new to his world. Again he heard the insistent call of the wee folk. Now they used her name.

“Marie! Marie! Come play with us! Come play!? The tiny peels of laughter were filled with seductive melody.

The child pulled the horse with white socks up short. It reared and resisted.

“You must obey me kind sir!? The Lady spoke softly to the horse. The noble animal shook its head, as if it knew what his mistress said. “Why not sir?? The Lady asked, but she was not yet fully aware that steed beneath her truly did hear and know her meaning. The horse took its own head and trotted onward.

For a moment the watcher was ready to lunge his animal forward, as he thought the foolish child might actually mean to get down. When he saw that the stop in her progress was brief and she was again pushing forward, he relaxed.

This pattern of starting and stopping in response to the lilting pleas of the pixies continued until the watcher was certain he would flail the child to within an inch of her life for the fear he place in him. He imagined her stops were done to tease him, yet he knew she did not know he trailed her. He spoke to his own mount before long. “I swear she will take my good nature if she persists in this game!?

As soon as he spoke he knew that his voice alerted the pixies to his presence. His cloaked presence lost to him, their voices beaconed him.

“Reed! Reed! Please leave her to us. She is so fair. It is all in the game.? The melody of the song teased him. But he was a master at fighting the seduction of the wee folk.

The Lady heard the new name called by the voices. Reed. What was this? She stretched and turned to look behind her, but she could not sustain a scan on a horse that would not heed her signals and commands.

As the afternoon sun dropped below the tree tops, the light in the forest shifted. Shadows were gone, but dark places deepened. Something about the change made the Lady feel unease. But only seconds later she felt more than heard a purring sound. It came from in ahead, and her mount heard it too. The horse with white socks seemed to quicken its pace.

In minutes the sound was louder. It was much more pleasing and seductive than the laughter of the pixies. The Lady felt pulled to it.

The watcher, Reed, felt a subtle tremble in the air, but he could not hear the purring. Foreboding settled into his gut, but he kept his distance behind the Lady Marie. Her mount appeared energized and had quickened its pace. In a short few seconds he lost sight of her.

******************************************

The purring became louder and Marie felt a sense of urgency. It was a sense that she was near something essential to her being, and a sense that her destiny was calling.

Very soon her mount carried her into a clearing. It was shrouded in a mist much like the one that greeted her that morning. But here there was no sunlight, and here the mist did not move.

The horse stopped, and allowed his rider to dismount. The purring sound was deafening and the earth rumbled with it. The sensation invaded Lady Marie, and somehow told her she was with her kindred, her kind. Sensation commanded that she must be pure, and in only seconds she removed her clothing and moved bare into the mist. She made the currents that set it in motion.

The mist spun, swirling around her and then lifted. There before her was a nest of large eggs. Their soft shells were pulsing with the life within them. The purring sound came from here. These eggs and the infants within them purred with contentment.

But one seemed to spasm. The Lady Marie knew instantly from an instinct deep within her. It was birth. Birth of a kindred was about to happen for her eyes. She moved among the eggs. They rolled for her. One tilted down and the unmistakable message for her to climb on, seeped into her being.

She trembled as she watched, felt and heard the birth.

The man Reed, the watcher pulled up short of the clearing. He felt a sense of peace, but the siren call and seduction of the pixies was fresh and still dancing in his mind. The purring heard by the Lady was only a faint rumble he felt in the air. He stepped down. He was aware that the child was stopped and dismounted. How he knew it he could not fathom, but he trusted his instinct.

As he came to the opening between the trees he saw the child nude and sitting on a huge smooth oval rock. Her eyes transfixed on another rock that moved and shuddered. In a moment he realized it was a cluster of rocks all of them moving and pulsing.

“What has she done? The fool has stepped into a nest of Dragons! She is to be the first meal of the spawn of a monster! His thoughts tried hard to push him forward to rescue, but the sudden cracking sound of the egg held him transfixed.

A head appeared and then translucent wings. It was born! The beast was born. Reed watched the eyes of the beast and the child lock. She was gone! He could do nothing to stop it.

He turned away, and as he did the trembling in the earth intensified. The air vibrated with it too. Reed turned back to see that the Dragon was in flight, and the child watched safely from her perch.

Lord help her I will whip her raw! The foolish child!

*********************************************

The newborn Dragon hovered over the woman child. Reed stood transfixed. She lifted her hand to reach out to the beast.

“No child you must not!? Reed moved to call out to her, but no sound came from him.

The Dragon leaned down from the air its snout mere inches from Marie’s outstretched fingers. Reed watched as her eyes closed, her face relaxed. It was as if she were enveloped in a shroud of serenity. ‘The creature has seduced her with its power.’ Reed thought.

What he did not know was that it was Marie who was seducing the Dragon.

Instinctively Marie reached out to the Dragon. Surges of energy pulsed through her in a rhythm that matched the resonant purring that vibrated the earth and the air. The only language she could perceive was the word ‘Kindred,’ but she was aware of images flashing in her mind.

She was in flight over the village from which she had come. She soared above the old woman who looked up to her from the courtyard of her father’s home. Her shadow was broad and dark over the ground below. She could hear the old woman’s voice, though her mouth did not move. The tops of buildings and then trees flowed by beneath her as though they floated on currents of water. The air and the wind shimmered with translucent colors of blue yellow and green.

Her trance kept her only a few moments, but within it Marie felt she had flown for many days, and had been to the farthest reaches of the earth and beyond.

The purring ceased suddenly, and was replaced by a roaring sound. Marie opened her eyes to see that she was engulfed in the licking blue flames from the new dragon’s nostrils. They licked, and caressed her bare skin. The caress of the flames left no burn, only an odd tingle that spread through her. Her body arched, her arms outstretched, in this way she opened all of her torso to the sensual embrace of the flames.

From his position at the edge of the clearing, Reed saw the child disappear within the flame. His heart filled with both dread and rage. Was this his destiny, to see the birth of the very dragon he was sent to tame? To see it claim its first victim?

The roar increased in volume with the spread of the flame, and then as quickly as it began, it stopped. The new dragon was gone, and the lady was standing, her arms stretched wide and her torso arched so her breasts were lifted toward the sky. The air around her shimmered with a lingering blue aura.

Reed was struck with awe. She was not burned. And what had become of the beast? It was as if it had blown itself inside out and the flame took with it and consumed its very essence.

No matter, the man thought, breaking his own reverie. ‘I must remove this foolish girl from this place, before she tempts her fate further.’ With that, Reed moved into the clearing and into the cache of eggs. The lady did not hear nor did she sense his approach, so that when he appeared below her and took hold of her hips, she was startled into momentary terror.

Her eyes dropped and took in the face of the man who had just boldly lifted her from her footing. Reed was struck by the glowing blue of her eyes, and she was struck by the deep black of his. Their gaze locked for only a moment, before Marie’s terror boiled into rage.

Her arms and legs flailed the man. The suddenness of her reaction took Reed by surprise, but his reflexes were quick. Taking only a few blows to his legs and torso, he was able to turn her so she could only flail at the air.

“Come imp! Away from here before you become a meal for the next beast to emerge from this demon’s nest.? He shifted her so she hung by her middle under his right arm, her legs able to kick nothing, her hands with nails ready able to scratch only space. Reed retrieved the girl’s clothing as he carried the squirming bundle back to the woods, where the two grazing horses and the cover of trees awaited them.

Marie increased her struggling, which made it a challenge for Reed to maintain his hold on her.

“Who are you to man handle me! Put me down I tell you, put me down!? Her screams and demands were laced with language Reed had not even heard in the barracks and guardhouse. He laughed at her spirit.

Safely under the canopy of trees, he dropped his burden onto the loam. Marie assumed a posture of recovery on her hands and knees, her breath coming in short pants and gasps. She warily eyed the man near her, flinching slightly as he tossed her clothing onto her back.

“Cover yourself child!? Reed commanded.

Blue light seemed to flash from her eyes as the waning light of day reflected off of them.

“What gives you the right to interfere with me?? Marie demanded as she pulled her shift over her head. As it fell into place, she settled back on her heels, sitting up so she could see the man fully.

“I claim the right of any man who finds a child alone, willfully courting danger. You should be whipped for the risks you have taken this day!? Reed leaned against the thick trunk of an ancient Elm tree and took in the image in front of him. ‘She is barely of age.’ He thought, and then he added, “Where are your people? Who guards you in your travels??

“What do you know of the risks I have taken?!? Marie’s response was haughty and sharp. “You have been a spy lurking behind me??

“I have!? Reed nodded. His voice and his demeanor had become stern. “You will answer me now child, who guards you here?!?

Marie’s expression changed as she attempted to bolster courage she did not feel at that moment. A mask of defiance and disdain took over her face. She did not answer.

“You are a runaway. I might have known.? Reed shook his head at her choice to be silent, and answered his own question.

“I am not a runaway! I am a traveler.? Marie looked away from the stern glare of the stranger. His power unnerved her. Worry entered her mind also, as he seemed to have guessed that she was indeed alone on her journey. It crossed her mind that he might make it his duty to return her to her father and the world where she knew she had never belonged.

“Where have you come from? And where do you go?? Reed pressed further.

“It is not your affair!? Marie retorted.

“It is my affair!? Reed’s voice boomed. “These are my lands, this is my domain!?

Marie stopped her efforts to put her clothes right and looked at the man more carefully.

“Your land? Your domain? You make me laugh! You are not the king!? Marie did laugh, and when she did the sounds of the forest blended with it so that it resonated and filled the air like soft wind chimes.

“No I am not the king. I am his heir.? Reed answered.

Marie felt an energy pulse through her. It was as if the stories from the nursery were coming alive again. The words of the old woman echoed in her mind for her. “These are the tales of your destiny child they will be myth only if you deny them life.? If what he said was true, this man was the first of her trials. He was the Dragontamer. The man who would subdue her and harness her will.

“You are the Dragontamer!? Marie spoke her voice was soft, but full of accusation.

Reed was taken by surprise. Only the wise one knew the purpose of his journey. Not even his father knew what the visions revealed for him. Yet this creature before him spoke as if she had been waiting for him. The knowledge she had did not appear to please her. Reed was curious. Why should his journey and purpose be a source of irritation for her?

“What do you know of my purpose?? He demanded.

“Why? Are you not apprised of your own business?? Marie let arrogance and more distain for the man into the manner of her speech. She rose to the challenge she now recognized.

Reed was becoming frustrated by her questions in response to his questions. “Do not interrogate me imp! I will ask the questions, and you will come forth with answers, or I will pry them from you with my hand on your backside!?

Marie regained her feet and planted herself firmly in a posture that spoke of the defiance she intended. “I will not! I do not answer to you! You have no power or authority with me.!?

Reed laughed. She was spirited, he would give her that.

“I have the power to put you to death and the authority to order it done.? He said with amusement. “You might keep that in your mind, as I ask you again. Who are your people? What do you know of my purpose??

Marie knew this was a boast. She dismissed him. “I will resume my travels now sir. You may do the same.?

Reed stepped toward her. His tall frame dwarfed hers. She sensed his power, again it unnerved her. Keeping her eyes locked on his, Maries stepped back. A mild wave of fear spread through her. If he chose to subdue her physically, there would be little she could do to prevent it. As she moved she also sensed a tingling in her skin as though the dragon’s flames caressed her again.

“I know nothing of your purpose sir. And I have no people. I am quite alone. I am seeking my future and my destiny.? Marie vowed she would not tell this man about the myths the old women told her.

“This forest is no place for a female child to travel alone.? Reed spoke. “Where do you go? I will see to it you get there.?

Without thinking, Marie answered the truth. “I know not.?

“You know not? You come into these woods and meander on horseback without a destination?? Reed felt fury build within him. His own journey had been sidled so he might follow a child going nowhere!

“I will know where I am when I come upon the place. I will know it instantly.? Marie could not explain the logic to herself. It was unlikely that she could make another understand the faith she had in her instinct.

“Get your horse imp! We will discuss this further after we a secured a safe place to pass the night.? Reed issued a command. He fully expected it to be obeyed.

“I will not! I will remain here. You move on and away to your own business.? Marie stood her ground. Her stance and expression were much more firm and defiant than she felt.

“You will do as I say now, or you will do it later. If you choose now, you will suffer only punishment for your foolishness. If you choose later, you will not sit your saddle with comfort as wee seek shelter for the night. Now do as I say!? There was no mistaking the intent in his voice. The quietly firm tone of his voice was as effective at reaching into and taking hold of her will as if he had boomed the command and moved her bodily to her horse.

As Marie moved to climb onto her horse Reed was aware of the faint shimmer of blue in the air around her. Marie was aware of the renewed memory of the tingling caress of the dragon’s flame over every surface of her skin. The sensation was sexual, sensual and very pleasing. Her horse’s movements under her and the currents of air around her intensified the experience for her.

The words the man had spoken to her echoed in her mind. Many minutes passed before their meaning clicked for her. ‘….suffer punishment only for your foolishness.’ What did he mean by that? She wondered……

to be continued next week.

Gyvenimas ant „aš“-menų

February 16, 2006

Gyvenimas ant „aš“-menų

Posted: 2006/02/14 @ 23:34 by Audrius
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Ko gero pasirodysiu baisiai ciniškas, ta?iau rašydamas savo tekstą „Trisdešimtme?iai. Epitafija pilkajai kartai“ kaip tik tikėjausi ir siekiau tokio atsako, kokio ir sulaukiau. Vangaus savo kiekiu ir itin spalvingo reakcijų gama. Pasiteisinimui pasakysiu, kad ciniškas buvau visų pirma savo atžvilgiu. Ko gero neįsivaizduojate kaip sunku kalbėti daugiskaitos pirmuoju asmeniu ir tuo pa?iu metu galvoti apie […]

Chicago’s New Subway Signs Go Nuts (Guess which OS they’re running!)

February 14, 2006

Chicago’s New Subway Signs Go Nuts (Guess which OS they’re running!)

Posted: February 14th, 2006, 4:26am MST
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The Chicago Transit Authority is spending millions on new technology to bring the system screetching into the modern age. Among the purchases – new information signs, some of which are very evidently running Windows. Now the subway displays “Your computer might be at risk.” Great.