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Now, enjoy Internet, without the Net

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Anand Parthasarathy

India-U.S. start-up offers free software to create `Web packs' on your PC

Webaroo uses a unique algorithm to function Users can search the `web packs' without having to go online Software can be downloaded for free from www.webaroo.com

Bangalore: Surf the Internet without going online? It sounds like a bad joke, but earlier this week, the Seattle (Washington, U.S.) and Mumbai-Delhi-based start-up co-founded by two Indians, which "unplugged" web-based search and put it on the user's computing device Webaroo, is the brain child of Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai graduates Rakesh Mathur and Beerud Sheth.

Mr. Mathur (class of 1978) became famous as the co-founder of the "virtual" database company Junglee that he sold to Amazon, the Web's biggest bookshop, in 1998.

Mr. Sheth (class of 1991) founded an early online services marketplace, Elance.

They have joined with American Bradley Husick to start Webaroo (as in kangaroo) and their first major product ("For a snapshot of the Web," The Hindu , April 11 2006), has created huge waves with its cheeky premise: Why go online every time you want to do a search? Why not store the parts of the Web that you need to reference frequently, on your own desktop, laptop or hand held computer and go online only to update it every now and then?

Quick update

Webaroo has created a unique algorithm or mathematical formula to do just this. Once the pack is installed, users can search its contents whenever they like, without having to go online. When they do get connected, the contents are quickly updated.

The idea was so compelling that a Taiwan-based PC maker has since decided to bundle it with the laptops which it sells in the future.

The rest of us can download the software for free from www.webaroo.com

The software works with Windows XP or Windows 2000 on all desktops and laptops and the website gives a list of handheld computers and smart phones on which subsequent searches can be done if required.

The download occupies about 7-10 MB of space. Initially, the user needs to download one of the dozen readymade web packs available, such as "World News," or specify a web address to search.

This correspondent found that the first time the download can take 30-90 minutes. Subsequent searches within the pack are very fast, since it is done on one's own machine.

Each web pack on a chosen subject will need between 60MB -250 MB of disk space a small price to pay to have the stuff of the worldwide web on one's own computer. Well almost!


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